Reading time: 19 – 31 minutes
There are a lot of people waiting for my blog post about my 20+ year family reunion that took place in Peru, Indiana a couple of weeks ago, but I have video footage that is downright unbelievable and more perfect than any words can be, so I have to make time to edit and upload that… but until then, you get this entry.
It’s been just a year now since Jip and I broke up after our amazing summer of Love and Hell in Amsterdam. That was pretty tough stuff. Following your heart across the globe only to find a hospital bed that might be your last stop in life is a pretty harrowing and life-changing experience. If you are not up-to-date about that adventure, start here and work your way forward in time. Being the one who almost died, left with a deadly (though scientifically-unsound) diagnosis, a life empty of all possessions, dumped over Skype, and having to learn how to breathe and walk again, I have taken my time getting back into the dating scene. Of course, my wonderful Jip has not only moved on, but had a new, publicly-proclaimed boyfriend within a few short weeks and has now traveled to globe to be with him.
Believe it, or not, I am really happy for him. That boy deserves the world. Especially after all that we went through, but not because of what we went through. He would deserve that love on his own.
It is a bittersweet pleasure to know that he has gone on to find the potential bliss that we thought we might have had, but we transcended our time, space, and pain to make a halfway decent friendship and there’s something panoramic… epic, about surviving that kind of thing together.
And, oh, it was NOT an easy transition, so don’t get me wrong. I had my tantrums; he had his defenses; we had our tears and our hopes and our despair… and all of that was mixed into our love to set for a while. I still don’t think we really know exactly what to do with each other, but we’ve made the room for what might grow over time, and that is the part that most people leave out when transforming a loving relationship.
It’s easy to focus on love when you know what you want from someone because you then do all you can to get it from him or her. But what if you just know you love each other and you are left only to receive what the other person has to give?
That’s scary. And most people turn their backs to begin the search for the next prey that might hold the nourishment needed for the heart.
Which brings me to my report about my first steps back into the world of dating and THAT big adventure!
Let me first clarify that I do not “date.” This has been mentioned in other entries where I describe “how to be my boyfriend.” I don’t know how to date. Sure, I can meet you and we can have drinks and get to know each other, but I can’t make a “date” date until AFTER that. I like the first Not-Date Date to be just about hanging out and being real. When people feel they are on a Date-Date then the emphasis on sizing each other up as mates is too pronounced; too spotlighted. I don’t want to interview you and I sure as hell do not want to be interviewed. Let’s just hang out and play and share and if the flirt buttons start to get pushed, then let’s talk about a date, but if the energy is flat in the area of romance, then it’s a beautiful possibility that we now, each, have a new friend.
And if you are one of those people who think you “don’t need another friend,” then that eliminates you from my spectrum of potential boyfriends right there. So no worries. You go date and I’ll go Not-Date and that’s that.
After all that I had been through last year, I was not enthused about being with ANYONE. It wasn’t a sorrowful feeling, but a feeling of really needing to take care of myself and be close to my tightest, most-inner circle of friends. I needed that.
But over time, I began to open back up to the world again. I never really shut myself off from the world on any superficial or social level, but on a deeper, psycho-spiritual level I had curled up and held myself as close to me as possible until I felt safe again. It took me a while to feel safe in the world again. The truth is, I’m not quite there, yet, but so much more so than I was even 6 months ago. I’m in no rush. You can’t rush something like that.
I’ve been asked out, flirted with, and had many a sweet and kind message sent to me over the past year trying to persuade me to be available for coffee, for a drink… for a kiss, but I was just not ready.
So imagine my thrill when I was contacted through Facebook by someone who struck my fancy.
An adorable, self-proclaimed geek who found me through a random click to find others who shared an interest in Battlestar Galactica, of all things. The timing was right… and I tweeted that I was going out on my first date (not-date) in a year! Being the playful geek that this guy was, he even joined Twitter and was able to tweet along with me throughout the date what a good time we were having. Yes, that’s retarded and really REALLY corny, but THAT is the kind of guy it takes to go out with me. Someone who embraces technology and social networks for the warmth that they CAN be. I don’t care what anyone thinks, it was fun bringing my Twitter friends with me on the date-not-date and keeping them in the loop! (Stop rolling your eyes, you.) Besides, it was nice to have that sense of support.
So… we hit it off.
Not surprising, considering my modus operandi. I tend to put off dating, put it off, put it off, and then suddenly I “KNOW” and that’s the one… not THE one, but one that has high potential for mutual empathy and friendship and love. (I’ve never subscribed to the idea of THE one… maybe the ONES.)
All of this happened just a few short days before my leaving for Chicago and Indiana for my work and for my family reunion, so I had a lot to deal with already, but now, I had met this guy (for the sake of privacy, I will refer to him as “my geek”). Regardless of our only having just met, it was a very nice idea to do all I could to make sure my trip was not something that would eclipse our possibilities after my return, so I did all I could to keep in touch over that time. We hung out a couple more times before I left, he met my friends, they loved him, and it all seemed healthy and good. We had our talks about my recent year and my tentative steps back into dating and that was all out and on the table and not an issue.
It was really nice to feel that potential for love and intimacy again, I have to say, but I was not unaware of the need for my continued return to a sense of safety in myself and my life, and I was not about to use someone to regain that sense. If I were to date this guy, I wanted it to be real; not a sanctuary or salve. Knowing my position, he was touched and awed by my intentions.
Over the time I was away, we kept in touch every day and he hung out with my friends over those two weekends and even met Nick for lunch on more than a couple of occasions. I loved this. I love when people like people and I loved that my friends were so inclusive and that my geek was taking such initiative.
When I returned from my trip, who was there to greet me at the airport? My geek! Not only did he show up to escort me safely back home, but he came bearing gifts. Wonderful! He is more than thrilled to see me.
Over this short period time, in fact from the moment he saw me, he had concluded that we were pretty much boyfriends. The me from the past would have easily have done the same, because when you know… you know. And I knew. But I was not ready. Not yet. I needed a little bit of time to continue getting my footing in my life, my work, and also because I just don’t feel like diving blindly into ANYTHING right now. This was fine with my geek… at first.
And then the cracks started showing.
On a few occasions, my geek had mentioned that my “taking it slow” was causing him some anxiety and panic. I reminded him that my taking it slow (which was NOT slow in reality) was because it was a form of honesty, which was very important to both of us. I didn’t want either of us falling in love with an IDEA of the other, but with each other. I wanted us to get to know each other. By the time of the first crack in my geek, we had only spent three times together. That didn’t cause me any sense of alarm because I empathized. I know what it’s like to feel insecure and panicked and I wasn’t going to make him feel bad for that.
Over the time while I was gone, he made plans for me to meet his friends. Another scoreboard-full of points! I love it when someone I’m dating invites me into his circle and shares me with those who are important to him. I was thrilled.
Small cracks were showing here and there, but nothing of any concern.
I went with him to the cookout hosted by his friends and found it to be a sheer delight. They had gone out of their way to make vegan food, the bouncing conversation and laughs were really comforting, and they said some really nice things to me about their sense of me. I was smitten.
Another friend of my geek had brought his freshly-found date, as well, which I had only known a tiny bit about before the cookout, but knew that it had happened fast and furious over the course of a week or two, already proclaiming each other as boyfriends on Facebook. But “what burns bright, burns fast,” and the evening took a short dive into the drama that was apparently brewing between those two and never really recovered. It’s always awkward when a couple “fights” in the middle of a group, however discreetly, because everyone can feel it.
My geek and I left the cookout in a long walk home, arm in arm, talking about how it was so nice that we were “going slow,” because the sincerity, foundation, and patience were far more preferable to the frenzied, self-indulgent, self-delusional passions that can leave each other (and others) burned out in the end.
One of my geeks concerns came from our not having had sex and from my not having let him stay the night. Not counting the time I was away on my trip, we had really only been dating 3 weeks, so I didn’t think this was that big of a deal, and he agreed. I assured him that it had nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we were just getting to know each other. When I really like someone, I don’t WANT to go to bed with him right away. I can do that with anyone! Sex is EASY to get. You can do it alone, if you have to, but you can’t always find someone who really cares about you, or can hold a conversation about passionate interests, or sit with you silently as you do menial tasks. Foreplay to a really nice relationship starts above the neck for me. It was explained to me by my geek that this was refreshing and exactly why he was attracted to me.
It was going into our 4th week and I was feeling pretty good about taking a deeper dive into the relationship. I was working out my schedule and my sense of space (internally and externally) to make room for the greater possibilities of this relationship. I was smiling in my mind, knowing how happy he’d be that I was going to ask him to stay the night in the coming weekend. He and all of his friends and I were in the middle of many email exchanges planning a Friday playday out at Coney Island and I was going to ask him if he wanted to just stay that Friday night. All was good…
And the he snapped.
Out of nowhere, he sprung upon me a conversation (over the phone) that was inspired by his friend with the drama a the cookout. Apparently, something snapped in my geek that revealed that he was not only unhappy with the “slowness” of our relationship, but that he was REALLY unhappy. He said that he had broken down, crying, sobbing. He then began to spout in lecture-form how he really just didn’t think he could do it, hang in there with me, be patient and that he felt that all of his needs were just not being met (in these 3 weeks). He explained that he had suddenly realized that he HAD fallen love, but with an IDEA of me, and not me. He felt that it was important to pull back and to not go forward with the relationship.
Now, considering how on-the-brink I was about taking that dive into the next level of intimacy, you would think this might be upsetting, but it wasn’t. It was actually a huge relief! I was so happy for him that he had this realization. THAT was more important to me than our trying to take from each other something we might not be able to give. I told him that I totally understood and that it didn’t change a thing for how much I care about him. Awkwardly, he thanked me for this support and expressed a lot of gratitude for my understanding. It was a shock and a surprise, and yes, it was really sad to think that the possibilities of intimacy as boyfriends were all gone now, but it just meant that new possibilities had just arisen and I was fine with that.
The night passed and into the next day… emails and texts were exchanged, lovingly, not only between he and I, but among he and my friends. Everyone was on board and being considerate and supportive of my geek’s sudden twist.
And then he snapped… again.
The evening following the “breakup,” we were in the middle of a conversation about how he still wanted me to go to Coney Island with he and his friends and that he was so touched by all of the kindness and understanding offered to him by me and my friends… and his pace of speech started to quicken… to get defensive… and he started saying some really odd things, such as “I can only apologize SO much, what else do you want from me!” and some other phrases that I can’t remember right now, but they were completely non sequitur and inappropriate, considering no apologies were necessary and I was actually the one doing all I could for him, not asking for a thing in return or expressing any hard feelings! But the conversation stumbled along a bit awkwardly because of these interruptions from his thoughts and at some point we were just about to talk about his falling in love with the IDEA of me and not me (he had been in therapy all evening, so we were briefly going over what he had covered) and suddenly he shouted, “STOP BEING A VICTIM!” and hung up on me!
I thought his hanging up might have been a mistake, so I texted him jokingly about his saying that he could never hang up on me, which was just a silly part of some silly conversation over the weeks before. No response. I called him. No response. I emailed him. No response. A day passes. No response. Now I’m getting worried.
It would be okay if he were upset or angry or something, but I had no idea what had just happened! Now I began to worry for his safety, not really his physical safety, but his mental safety. The next day I write to his friends and say that I know it’s a bit uncomfortable that I was writing to them and that I presume I was no longer invited to Coney Island, but could at least one of them write to me just to say that my geek was okay? No response.
Everything had gone dead from his end. Then I noticed he disappeared from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now I was really worried for him. I wrote one more time to his friends and ask if someone would just let me know if he was okay… nothing more. Just a simple few words, “he’s okay.” Something.
And then one friend wrote to me. He was brief. My geek had suddenly “freaked out” and had told everyone to not be in contact with me anymore and that I had “really really hurt him.”
Okay, so… Okay… umm…
1. I got dumped out of the blue and over the phone.
2. I got told that I was not what someone wanted and that I had just been used as a “prop in a fantasy ideal.”
3. I was suddenly cut off with no explanation, no reason, no response.
4. I was the one offering kind, patient support.
5. I was making a fool out of myself to make sure he was okay.
And *I* hurt HIM?
Does. Not. Compute.
So here’s what my genius has concluded, just in case you feel left with a mystery, yourself:
1. Considering the cracks that had begun to show in my geek before even a third date, he was still dealing with some serious self-esteem and needs issues that he really needs to figure out for himself and not use someone else to supply that for him.
2. Considering his feeling threatened by our “slow” pace, he felt it was a clever move to suddenly throw down an ultimatum in a tantrum so that I might react and jump to accommodate him.
3. This went terribly awry for him because I don’t respond well to manipulation and I actually took him at his word that this was an important realization for him, offering him my support.
4. In the aftermath of his miscalculation, his anger builds uncontrollably to a point where he can’t just admit or talk to me about his miscalculation, but collapses into his self-esteem and issues, blaming me for all of it.
5. To get from his friends what he had wanted from me, he has to tell a tale of rejection and pain that is clearly caused by me.
6. He can’t reconcile the delusion he has to impose on his friends with the truth that keeping me around would reveal, so he not only cuts me off from his life, but demands that his friends no longer contact me, either.
7. He remains in that black hole of need, delusion, and self-pity and I’m no longer invited; his friends turn a blind eye to his real needs and just keep it simple by just giving to him what he demands of them.
And that’s really a fair observation and conclusion and not a defensive one or a catty one. It really is just the only thing that makes sense. It might not be true, but since there is no one to give me the whole story, or the accurate details, then that’s all I have is what I see.
And all I can say is, THAT was a close call.
After all of that happened, realizing how dishonest, delusional, needy, and manipulative this person was, I am truly grateful for those cracks and breakdowns to have come sooner rather than later. And I am really grateful to myself for having been honest and true to what I had to offer, what I was able to receive, and that I did not give in to the pressure. I can’t imagine the mess I would have had in my life if I had taken on such a disaster ON TOP of my not being such a great catch, myself!
So… I remain single (and, ooohh laa laa, available).
The hardest thing about all of this that has haunted me for days is trying to make sense of it when no sense can really be made. It also haunts me that this person was in my home, in my friends’ home, and that I had considered opening my life to him… and he was THAT close to snapping the whole time and I didn’t pick up on that?? That bothers me a little.
But one thing that this experience has done for me is to make me realize that I am now really back to myself, enthusiastic, and alive and feeling solid and ready to date (not-date). I am happy with how I handled this and I feel good about having enough confidence and sustenance to care about both myself AND the other person without either losing out. I know my geek may have felt my pace was too slow, but I really don’t consider it too slow that we hadn’t slept together or stayed the night with each other within a 3 week span. I know it’s a very fast-paced world in which we live, but I am NOT some kind of downloadable porn to gratify your needs, and I am NOT some kind of Oprah episode to immediately unkrinkle your bandaged wings.
I’m just me. And I have a lot to offer, even if you don’t get it all in one bite.
But that’s the nice thing about gifts. They are GIVEN.
You really shouldn’t feel you have to take them from me.
So… call me. We’ll go out sometime… I’m Datable, I swear!
Worst-case scenario is that you completely cut me off and I blog about how crazy you are. Deal?