Monday, July 21, 2008

Crash and burn

I did it. I had the dreaded conversation.

A couple weeks ago, MML and I were out to dinner and I casually mentioned that my girlfriends had recently debated an interesting topic - dating habits at the point in your life when you've dated enough to know what you're looking for. I explained that there had been two distinct camps; one side felt strongly that you should commit to one person at a time until you realize that person isn't right for you, and the other camp thought that you should date people - maybe one person at a time, if they are extra dreamy - but if a really great guy comes along and asks you out for dinner or coffee, you should go because it's not pragmatic to put blinders on when you are looking to find the best possible life partner. I then asked him for the male perspective on the subject.

He considered me carefully for a full 30 seconds, and then said that because he has dated enough to know what he's looking for, and can recognize those qualities quite quickly, he rarely dates people for very long (specifically no more than a couple dates) unless he is fairly certain it could get serious. But at the point when he knows it could get serious, no, he wouldn't want to date other people.

He then asked which camp I'd been in - a question I knew he would ask, and the reason for bringing up the debate in the first place. Even though I'm not currently dating anyone else, it seemed like a good idea to let him know where I stand on having a boyfriend at this point in my life. So, I told him I thought both sides had an excellent point, but that it doesn't seem to make much sense to reject the possibility that there might be someone else - someone who is a better fit - until you've reached the point in a relationship when you're sure you could spend your life together, and you're engaged to be married. I also told him that when the time is right, I look forward to committing to one person.

The rest of the conversation is a little blurry, but I do remember getting a distinct visual image of train falling off the tracks, rolling down a mountain and exploding in flames. Definitely not one of our better conversations, and of course he was probably thinking, "what the hell is she trying to tell me." It's not so much that I said anything wrong, but I suddenly felt like there was no good way to explain my situation to a guy (And yes, I realize half of you are muttering "I told you so" under your breath).

Since that night there has been a distinct drop off in the frequency of our dates...and our communication in general. At first I tried to find ways to let him know that my feelings for him are real and that I'm taking our relationship seriously, but I didn't say anything to him directly because I thought I was just being sensitive because I'm afraid of getting hurt. But when he continued to be a little distant and a direct conversation became an obvious necessity, bad timing moved in and took up residence - I was in Austin all of last week and he is out of commission this week, buried in some big case at his firm. I know that talking to MML about this directly is the only way to get on the same page, but I can't camp outside his office and wait for him to go to the bathroom just so I can have some resolution. Plus, over time I've learned that when it comes to my romantic endeavors, additional effort (read: crazy acts, such as stalking office bathrooms) rarely elicits the desired outcome.

For now, I'm disappointed (mostly in myself)...and just plain sad. But this situation has made me realize that I really do care about MML and want to be in a relationship with him. Perhaps this will end up being nothing more than a hiccup, perhaps it will be the end of MML, but hopefully it's nothing a little communication (and patience) can't fix. Stay tuned.


Laurie Stark said...

Wait, this makes zero sense to me! Why wouldn't you just tell him how you feel and ask him how he feels? I don't understand the purpose of being vague in this situation.

Dating more than one person at a time requires an immense amount of maturity and communication, unless you're just hooking up and don't care about a real relationship with any of them.

I highly recommend the book The Ethical Slut!

Nikki said...

While I think your theory is interesting and possible - perhaps - in the earlier part of the century, I'm not sure it will work in this day and age. But you should definitely try to talk to him to see what he says once you have that opportunity. Tell him exactly how you feel (don't just hint). And also be flexible with your theory. You can't expect him to want to marry you today (you just met!), but maybe he doesn't mind if you want to keep dating multiple people for a few months more. My guess is you probably won't even meet anyone you like and you're saying this to protect yourself. Most people who insist on dating multiple people in the face of someone they really like normally do it because they are afraid. Nobody wants to get hurt. But at some point you have to jump. Nothings's for certain ever in this wonderful world. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You should tell him how you really feel about him, so that he is no longer confused as to why you had that whole conversation with him. Unless you don't care about moving forward with him, and then let him know that as well.

Anonymous said...

Although I might be the only one who actually "gets" what you're doing, I do think the kid is probably a bit confused. Hopefully it can be cleared up when you talk to him.

Also, I don't know why people keep telling you to be honest. It seems to me that's exactly what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people give advice when really they know nothing and most likely aren't being honest with themselves. "this day and age" PLEASE!
Tons of people date more than one person at a time, care about more than one person at a time and are completely dishonest about it. YOU, however, are putting yourself out there, you're willing to be honest and OPEN to all ideas and all people. You have so much to give and I'm really amazed at your openess. It pisses me off that people can't appreciate that!
People and women especially are so scared to say that we are different from men. Why? I understand that we have been through a lot to get to where we are today but now that we are on our way to equality, why not be more self aware and acknowledge and accept our differences. I think it would make us even more powerful. Be willing to explore new ideas!