|So this is what it's like to have an adult relationship? (Mush alert!)
||[May. 3rd, 2010|05:00 pm]
Pre-emptive warning: I may be compelled to say sweet/mushy things in this post. If this is bothersome, you may want to skip it and wait for some more innocuous post. Fair warning for those folks who don’t feel like hearing gushing.
So it’s been like... 5ish weeks since I confessed to the girlfriend that I had romantic feelings for her, and around 4 weeks since she told me she returned them. And, I’ve gotta say, this has been an absolutely wonderful time.
The vast majority of my relationships have not lasted more than 6 weeks. In fact, I’ve only had three relationships that have lasted more than 6 weeks, if you don’t count 2009 (where there was so much ping-pong it’s hard to count them as ‘relationships’) - my marriage to my ex-husband, which was 5 years, a 6-month stint with a guy who was supposed to be purely a physical relationship a few years ago, and about a year and a half with my crazy ex. But even in those cases, I had serious misgivings or knew it wasn’t going to work out within weeks of beginning to date them - I just let those relationships continue in spite of that.
In the case of my ex-husband, I’ll plead that I was young and didn’t know any better. I was 18 when we met, and had just unexpectedly lost the first man I’d ever let myself love - and had to put my dog to sleep, who I’d had since I was 7 - and was afraid I’d never find love again. So I latched onto the first man I met after that. Stupid, I now know, but I’ve made my share of stupid relationship mistakes.
With the 6-month relationship with the guy in 2006, it was never supposed to be a relationship at all. We were just two people who met in a bar, had a good physical relationship, and were going to enjoy ourselves together. It sorta developed into hanging out *and* a physical relationship, but I knew all along it was never going to go anywhere, and I thought he did, too. We actually still kinda talk - he friended me on FB, and used to chat with me on Yahoo every now and then. It’s fine now.
The crazy ex - I knew on our second or third date that something was seriously wrong with him. But I choose to plow ahead anyhow. I was lonely (again, on the rebound) and thought I’d rather deal with whatever than be alone. I was still in a mindset where I thought I had to accept sub-par because that’s all I’d ever have.
Last year, both of those guys, I knew there were issues with - but I thought it was ‘good enough’ for now. I still shudder to think I actually agreed to marry one of them. I knew, in my heart, that it was a huge mistake - and I don’t think I would actually have gone through with it - but it was quasi-comfortable and I was trying to adjust to a new life and so I latched on to what I thought was comfortable.
After things went down with him, I resigned myself. I didn’t want anything to do with any more men. I wanted to be alone, because relationships were just too much hassle. Guys were just too much hassle. I was happy in my little twin bed; happy with the thought that I had my friends and I could be perfectly happy alone, and lead a fulfilling life on my own.
I hate this cliche, but people always tell me you find the good relationships when you stop looking. I was totally not looking for anything when things started with the girlfriend. I was happy with my life, and content to be alone. And then, one day, driving back from upstate NY in a rental car with her riding her new motorcycle behind me, it totally hit me what I’d managed to ignore for who knows how long - that the feelings I had for her weren’t just friendly. That I ‘cared’ for her. That was the most I could characterize even to myself, at that point, it caught me so by surprise - that I ‘cared’ for her.
And then I started agonizing. It was a revelation to me. I’d never had romantic feelings for a girl before. I didn’t know what to think. And it was complicated by the fact that I was living with her - that she had let me come stay with her when I moved back up to Boston. I didn’t want to make things awkward between us by admitting that I’d gone and developed a crush - but on the other hand, I’ve tried to make it a guiding tenet of my life to tell people when I care for them. Not to hide it.
I almost told her when we got home that night. I started to tell her, but then chickened out at the last minute, and she didn’t notice that I’d left out part of what I was saying. I must have started to tell her a half dozen times over the next 5 days. I did talk to friends about it, and try to think about what was really happening, because it was still so strange to me - that I had somehow developed romantic feelings for a girl. But late one night, after almost telling her yet again before bed, I decided to tell her. It felt dishonest not to tell her. I felt awkward about living with her and having to hide this big thing. I figured it’d be better to have it out in the open, and I rationalized that it should never be a bad thing to hear that someone cares for you - isn’t it nice to know you’re cared for, even if you don’t return the sentiment in the same way?
So I drafted an email. I know it was a totally chicken thing to do, but I’m a writer, and I wanted the option to deliberate over what I said. I also thought it would be a less confrontational way to talk with her about it than talking to her in person - with me in her face, she might feel compelled to defensiveness, or whatever, instead of having the impartiality to react however she wanted to react when she read it. (And yes, it would save me having to look at her face when I told her. I didn’t think she’d return my feelings, but I still couldn’t face the prospect of seeing her be sorry for me, or whatever.)
I drafted the email at midnight, decided to sleep on it, couldn’t sleep, and then ended up sending it at like 3:30AM. And then still couldn’t sleep. I agonized practically all day, wondering if she’d read it, wondering how she’d reply, and wondering whether I’d fecked up our friendship. When she did reply, it was to ask for clarification, as my wording had been vague. Intentionally so, I might add - I was that cowardly. So I had to come out and say it - ‘romantically’ - and dread her response. As it turned out, she was totally cool about it - she didn’t make me feel like a complete loser, and basically just said she’d never thought about me in that way, because she thought I liked guys. I took it as a polite dismissal, and told myself to be glad she was so cool about it (which I was).
But then, during the rest of the week, I noticed things changing. I was suddenly propelled into a world of giddy glances, wondering what things meant, longing for casual physical contact; something different was in the air. It was more than I had dared to hope for, and yet still not quite what I wanted. But I was satisfied to let things proceed at their own pace, and convinced that there was something special developing.
Now I’m thinking that something has probably been developing for a long time, and I was just too stupid to notice, since it never occurred to me that I might have romantic feelings for a girl.
She waited until I had finished my MSF Safety Course to tell me that she, too, was having ‘romantic’ feelings for me. She said she didn’t want to distract me, because I’d been busy with work and would need my concentration for class, which was totally awesome of her. But that, if there was an opportunity for something, she’d like to see where it went.
So we did.
We had our first date on April 4. We walked down to Inman Square to have dinner at an Indian place to celebrate me passing MSF class and getting my motorcycle class. And then I got ice cream after, and we walked home. And sat on the couch, and chatted and stuff.
I’ll admit things happened kinda fast after that. I suppose it was, in some ways, not a surprise, since I already lived with her and we already spent a lot of time together. But in retrospect, I’ve noticed a lot of things in a new light, and I think this has really been coming on for quite a while.
For example, I noticed that before all this happened, we never touched. Ever. I’m not a particularly touchy-feely person, but I do hug my friends, or I may touch them when passing them or whatever. All completely casual, innocent stuff. But before we started dating, I *never* touched the girlfriend. And I’ve known her for years. On the occasions when I accidentally did touch her, I was immediately like “sorry” and would immediately draw away. And she did the same thing. After I realized I had romantic feelings for her, but before I admitted things to her, I started experimenting. I’d stand closer to her, and she’d move further away. I’d lean toward her to look at something she was showing me on her laptop, and she’d lean away. It was actual avoidance. Of course, then I despaired - I figured if she was so careful not to touch me, she must really not like me.
Hah. I think I was wrong about that.
The shift to girlfriend was completely easy and natural. There wasn’t any awkwardness, after my initial “ZOMG I TOLD HER IS SHE GONNA HATE ME AHH!??!” We just sorta slipped into a relationship like it was completely normal, and that’s how it feels to me. It feels completely normal, and easy, and comfortable. There’s no conflict. There’s no “Oh, what the hell am I doing with this person?” There’s no “God, this irritates me, why can’t she be more like/not do...” It’s just “Oh, hi, here’s this person that I adore and YAY, she’s home from work!” or “Yay, I get to spend time with her!”
And that’s not even the best part (although she totally *is* the best part, but that’s not what I mean). The best part is that this doesn’t bother me AT ALL.
I don’t trust easy. I’ve had such a fucked up life that easy makes me anxious; I keep waiting for something bad to happen, or ‘the shoe to drop’ - or whatever cliche you wanna use. I couldn’t start calling myself a writer for close to a year after I started freelance writing full-time - because it was too damn easy. I just decided to do it, and started doing it, and I was doing it. I didn’t trust the motorcycle thing for being too easy, either - and I kinda wonder if that’s why I made such a stupid mistake and crashed, since Freud is all like “there are no accidents.” Did I crash because I thought that getting and riding a motorcycle was too easy, and so I had to make some sort of challenge for myself?
But in this case, with the girlfriend - it’s easy to be with her, and easy to have these feelings for her - and it doesn’t bother me at all that it’s easy. I’m not asking myself what’s wrong, or waiting for something bad to happen, because it’s ‘too easy’ and I don’t trust it. I’m just enjoying her, and being with her. It just feels right, and comfortable to be with her. I don’t question my feelings for her, or hers for me. And yes, this is all kinda fast - but that doesn’t even bother me, because I think this isn’t as fast as it seems. I think it’s been happening for a while, and I was just too blind to notice. I don’t want to run for the hills. I just want to be with her.
And it’s awesome being with her.
I love spending time with her. I’ve always enjoyed spending time with her, anyway - and that hasn’t stopped since moving in with her. I’ve been living here for 7 months now, and spending a lot of time with her, but I never get tired of it. And there really isn’t any conflict. We can generally agree on what to do, or what to have for dinner, or all of those stupid trivial every-day details; even before we started dating.
But the dating part is awesome. (And it might really start getting mushy, here, so if that offends your sensibilities, flee!)
I love holding her. I love cuddling with her. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed just vegging on the couch and watching a movie so much. I look forward to snuggling with her. I look forward to greeting her when she comes home from work, or first thing in the morning.
I adore this woman with an intensity that has caught me somewhat off-guard, but which I just can’t help. She’s just that awesome.
I love the conversations we have about language. I love the intellectual conversations we have. I love just walking around the city with her. I love sitting on the couch with her, or holding hands with her while we walk the dogs. And I love, love, love kissing her. When I’m kissing her, it’s like the whole world stops, and there’s just me and her, and I just can’t help but sigh because it feels so perfect.
And I enjoy spending time with her even when we’re both in our own little worlds. Like when she’s sitting on the couch with me, and she’s doing something important on her laptop, and I’m working on mine, and we can just be together in the same space, each working on our own things, but still spending time together. I don’t feel like I can’t get shit done because she demands my attention, and I don’t feel like I need to demand her attention - we can just get stuff done, because I know I can kiss her if I want, and eventually we’ll be done and we can snuggle, and in the meantime I’m with her.
I don’t feel like she needs taking care of. I don’t feel like I need to rescue her, or ‘fix’ her, or finance her life, or do any of those other things I always end up trying to do for guys when I’m in a relationship. And I don’t worry that she’s going to leave me because I’m not doing those things for her. I know how I feel about her, and I trust how she feels about me, and that’s enough for me. I don’t have anything to ‘prove.’ Some old habits still die hard - it’s hard to let her do things for me, like walk the dogs, or especially financially - because I don’t want to ‘be a burden.’ (She loaned me most of the money to buy the Mac, for example, but I insist that I’m paying her back ASAP because I can’t let her just buy it for me.) But even that doesn’t carry the same weight in my mind as it used to. I know that if our roles were reversed, and if I could do something for her, I would in a heartbeat - so I don’t feel like I can’t let her do things for me. It’s both humbling and liberating.
So this is what it’s like to have an adult relationship?
I am definitely in favor of this. I want more. Lots more.
That 6-week wall? So not a problem. I have absolutely no misgivings about our relationship - zero - and that’s a first.
I am most pleased. To use a word that a friend of mine used the other day - I’m ‘smitten.’ I adore her, and I’m totally happy and content with this.