I guess I'll go back to Tuesday, when BT came over for a movie night. Shortly after he arrived, he got a text from his sister, who just arrived in New York (she lives across the country). He completely forgot that she would be passing through and said he might have to leave to meet her, since she was only going to be in town briefly.
"Are you serious?" I asked.
"I'm not even kidding you," he showed me the text message.
Not an auspicious beginning.
BT called his sister, said he had dinner plans, but would see her later. I was already on edge, because now I felt like the date had some kind of expiration timer on it. Still, I decided to be flexible and not make an issue of it.
Things got better. We chatted a bit as we picked out a movie and I was happy to see that our physical chemistry was still strong. After fooling around a bit, we ordered food and watched the movie.
As soon as the credits started to roll, BT stood up, apologized, and said he had to go. The date clocked in at a mere three hours, and felt very abrupt.
"Maybe I can see you on Thursday," he said, as he was leaving.
"I might be having drinks with a friend," I answered.
"Ooh, so popular."
"We'll figure something out."
After he left, I felt... I don't know how I felt. Confused? Uneasy? Dissatisfied? A little empty? The date with BT felt like the kind of date you'd have in the middle of a relationship, when both people are a little out of it, but spend a few low key hours in each others' company. The night felt like we had bypassed all of the fun early relationship buzz and went straight for the comfort. I would have liked things to be a bit more affectionate, and also wasn't sure that we were connecting on a conversational level as much as I'd want to be with someone I was dating. At the same time, everyone is allowed an off night, so I was willing to see how the next date went before deciding anything.
The positive thing about having the date end so early was that I was able to wake up at 6:00am the following morning and make it to an early exercise class with my favorite instructor. Getting the endorphins flowing helped set my mind straight.
I realized a few things. A relationship means setting aside a certain amount of time for the other person, and I felt anxious about committing so much of my schedule. I'm scared of a relationship interfering with certain routines I have set for myself. I had already missed one workout due to sleep deprivation on Monday, and was expecting the same to happen yesterday. As much as I am a night person and love staying up late, I still have a day job and BT's schedule would have really messed with my circadian rhythms. The thought of dating a guy who works nights was becoming more surreal to me, anyway; it's like being involved with someone who lives in a different time zone. BT would rarely be able to go to sleep and wake up at the same time as me; it would always feel like he was just passing through.
Then there was the matter of his job. The fact that he is paid to flirt is not the issue with me, but more the fact that he is also a writer and is also dissatisfied with his job, and on the verge of burnout. It's one thing for one person in the relationship to be at a loss career-wise, or to have lofty, creative, and possibly unattainable career goals. For both people to be in a similar situation is asking for trouble. I know I definitely want to have a family someday and I want to be with a man with career stability. I'm not talking loads of money, but I am talking security. A month or so before BF David and I broke up, I remember thinking that his love of theater and desire to return to acting did not add up to the kind of stability I wanted in a potential mate. But since I had developed all these feelings for him, I felt like I had to accept it and make the best of it, even though it was a source of anxiety. With BT, it's still early days, and those emotional attachments haven't formed yet. Which means I can still be sensible and rationally consider whether this is a man I could build a future with.
I spent much of yesterday mulling all of this over, I decided I didn't want to wait until I heard from him or saw him next. I needed to say something. I should have picked up the phone right away, but I was at work, so I texted him instead. I wrote:
Last night was weird. Can we go on some regular dates and get to know each other better?
He replied: Sure. What was weird?
I replied that I just wanted to make sure we got to know and like each other as people, and he replied that we did rush into things and should slow it down.
I ended up stepping outside and calling him anyway, to clarify. He said that he broke up with somebody at the beginning of the year, and ended something recently, and that maybe he should spend some time on his own.
"See, I want to know about those relationships and why they didn't work out. And I've spent the last few months purposefully single because I was working on other things, and I want you to know about that, too. There's a lot for us to talk about."
"We'll talk. We'll still date, I'm not cutting you off, we should just take things slower."
"See, I think we are so similar in a lot of ways, and maybe not all of them so great. Because I also have a tendency to be compulsive and rush into things, so it was easy to get carried away."
I know why I let myself get carried away. Since the beginning of the year, I have regimented my life in many ways. I am strict about what I eat, I am strict about how often I exercise, and even my social calendar, while flexible, gets filled in an orderly way. I may come across as a party girl from all the boozy weekends I write about, but I keep track of every single drink I have and do intense 90-minute cardio workouts Saturdays and Sundays, to balance out the weekend's indulgences. I have also been scouring job sites regularly, and doing research on various career options, spending countless hours mulling over what my skills might be suited for. Even my vacation, which was lovely and beyond wonderful, had an itinerary with every day mapped out.
Even though I'm the one who drew them, it seemed like everything in my life had to adhere to certain rules and borders, despite the freedom I had within the lines. When BT came along, he broke the rules by being so direct and off-beat, he went beyond those borders. His unpretentiousness was so refreshing, it made me less reserved, too. If he could tell me openly that he had a crush on me, I felt free enough to tell him I had been thinking about him all day. No games, no bullshit: this is how it's supposed to be.
That's why, when he asked to be my boyfriend, I agreed. Yes, the sensible thing would have been to wait a few dates, have some heart-to-hearts, make sure we were truly compatible. However, I spent the last several months being so sensible and disciplined in these other areas of my life, I just wanted to go off the map for a little while. It was like a mini-emotional road trip.
And now? I'm back to the regimentation, but I love it. I'm thirty pounds lighter, my body is the strongest it has ever been, which has in turn helped me become more resilient on a mental and emotional level. I have also developed a confidence and autonomy that I never had before. I'm still fine-tuning it, but I love the life I have created for myself. The idea of letting someone into that life is overwhelming to me. Not inconceivable, but something I know should not be a priority right now.
I wasn't looking, and they always say it happens when you aren't looking, so I thought BT was this wonderful, not-sought-after surprise.
Well, I am still not looking, so lord knows what's in store next....