I don’t remember how to date.
It’s a sad fact, and it’s totally throwing me for a loop. When I sat down to think about it, I realized that it’s been almost SIX YEARS since I had a normal, non-long distance dating relationship. You know, the kind of gig where two people get together after work, make dinner, watch TV and then someone goes home to their own house. Where you spend the weekends doing your own stuff and then meeting up for dinner, a movie and then one of you sleeps over.
I get that part of things—maybe it’s like riding a bike and you never forget, but I feel like I keep having to take a huge mental step back and remember what I, as a female in a new, “Let’s take it slow and see what happens” kind of dating relationship, am supposed to do. What’s kosher? Is there a dating book I need to read again? It’s like taking the GRE and desperately trying to wrest the memory of how to apply the Pythagorean theorem from that dark corner of my brain where all things math-related were banished immediately after I absorbed them.
Mostly, I just need to relearn how to get to know someone. Are they solitary? Do they like to share the cooking responsibilities, or are they territorial in the kitchen? What side of the bed do they sleep on? Can they be disturbed when “24” is on TV? This is the fun stuff, the nitty-gritty part of seeing if two people can successfully be in each other’s lives. It’s a process, and that’s where my brain is struggling to shift gears. Last time I was with someone, we lived together and that’s just a totally different way of navigating the process. For the longest time, I was focused on the end result. We had made the decision to get married and that was exactly where I wanted to be in my life.
Cut to the present. I'm back at square one and for the most part I am okay with that. There's kind of no point in feeling impatient or frustrated with starting over because the only thing I can do about that is be patient and remember that getting to know someone has its own rewards, regardless of the eventual outcome. It feels great to have my own life separate from the relationship. I like staying at his place, but I also like coming home to my own place and doing my own thing. I like that his job means he’s out of town 3-4 days a week because it means that the balance between my time and us time is geographically enforced.
The other day, after things had been resolved and the tension had started to dissipate, I had a moment of deep calm. I realized that while I WANT this, I don’t NEED it. I had a full, rich life before meeting lunchboy. I don’t think that was always the case in past relationships, and so there is a definite feeling of freedom now that I didn’t enjoy before. The guy always became the center of my world and then when we broke up, that world fell down around my shoulders. This time that’s not the case, so if things with lunchboy don't work out, I'll be fine. For the first time I think I may actually be starting something healthy, and that feels good.