As I’ve previously shared, I haven’t tried dating in quite some time. At first, it was because I had a lot of anger I had to process. Understandable, given what I’ve been through.
A year ago, though, the anger went away (had a bit of a religious experience, where I literally felt the anger lift off of me), but the anger was replaced by fear – crippling, paralyzing fear. Of men. (Again, understandable, given my past.)
It took me more than a few months to identify the specific emotion, and another few to process it through, with my therapist’s help. (I’m not actually afraid of all men. Just ones who have power over me, because that’s how you get hurt. It’s scary being vulnerable!)
Finally, I got to a place where I thought maybe it was safe to dip my toes back in the water. So this weekend I gave it a try. Turns out I was incorrect.
Back at the end of January I’d met this guy who was a friend of a friend. We kind of hit it off in conversation, and he seemed interested. (I mean, he even bought me drinks!) We saw each other a few times in casual, group settings, and he still seemed nice. And cute. And we had a few things in common. We texted a bit here and there – nothing big, but nothing to make me think he wasn’t interested in taking this to a dating-level.
For my part, I’d kept it professional-slash-friendly. No, I don’t work with him, but I don’t know how else to describe the at-a-distance place at which I keep people until I know them better. Which, in the case of most guys, is never. But I was beginning to feel like I was getting over my fear, and maybe it was time to see if I could try dating again. So this weekend I decided that if he showed up at the group event I was going to on Friday night, I might test the waters and try actually flirting with him.
He did show up, and I flirted with him. He flirted back. Score! Things were getting comfortable and a kind of “touchy,” but in a good way.
[Speaking of touchy: Ass-Grab Guy from my last post showed up randomly, too. He knows some of the same people I know, but I didn’t know he’d be there. So, still being mad at him, and not wanting to be a victim, I walked up to him. He started to introduce himself, but I interrupted him and said, “We’ve met.” I refreshed his memory on when and where, and he said, “Oh, yeah–.” Whereupon I interrupted him again and said, “You grabbed my ass that night, and it completely ruined my evening.” He said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” but he looked past me when he said it, and he said it like he was confused, like maybe I got my story wrong and didn’t know what I was talking about. I got the distinct impression that he was not actually sorry. But I was very clear on what he’d done and how it made me feel. “Just steer clear of me tonight,” I said firmly. Then I turned on my heel and walked away. And that felt really good. (Dang, I need to drink tequila more often….)]
Anyway, back to the other guy: So we’re talking and flirting, and he’s paying for all the drinks. Things are going well, and I’m thinking maybe this could go somewhere. Maybe I could try going out with this guy. Then he let me know that he’s looking for “more than fuck-buddies, but not ‘in a relationship.'” (Direct quote.)
My heart sank and my insides went to chill-frost. On the one hand, he was a nice guy, and he insisted on paying for the drinks (I even tried, for real; he wouldn’t let me), and he was honest about saying what he wanted. And I never felt compromised or pressured by his behavior. On the other hand… holy cow.
I gently informed him that, first-off, “more than fuck buddies” is kind of a definition of “in a relationship,” so probably he should revisit his goals-language. Second, I said I’m in a place where I’m looking to not have sex right now. Not until I’m actually “in a relationship” – with a best friend, whom I’m in love with. (Or will be in love with, whenever I find and develop said best-friendship with whomever.)
What I didn’t point out to him is that what he was wanting from me made me feel cheap and less-than-human, like an object to be used and put back on a shelf. And, if I hadn’t gone through the long, anger-fear healing process that I’ve been through, I would’ve stopped there and wallowed in the misery of “why does he think that’s all I’m worth?”
Fortunately, however, I can see past that. I mean, from what he’s shared of his personal life, he’s been through a lot the past year, and I think he’s just depersonalizing relationships so that it doesn’t hurt so much. I get that. Further, even if that’s not it, he has a right to want what he wants and to express those wants verbally, without violating anyone else’s boundaries – all of which he did. So I don’t feel any anger toward him, just a bit of frustration and sadness: for him that he’s in a place which I suspect might be a result of his grief, and for me because when I finally think it’s okay to open the door a crack, I get it slammed in my face.
At least I have my own back enough at this point to just walk away. Even if there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other fish in the sea.
Saturday night is still date-night, so the next night was back to date-night-with-myself. I really want to find someone I can snuggle up and watch a movie with, but the level of trust it’s going to take to get to that place seems insurmountable. Because trust comes with time, but it starts with respect. And right now I’m on an island, surrounded by shark-infested waters. Good thing I’m also a pirate. 😉