Speaking of bad dates… June 30, 2008Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
Tags: i love being single
I’m glad Christina went ahead and posted about what we have been discussing between ourselves; we are both ambivalent about whether or not it’s possible to describe the state of being Onely without framing it in relation to previous relationships/dating experiences. But the truth is, I think that Christina and I have both arrived at our current place, writing for this blog, because of the happiness we’ve discovered as a result of not being in relationships. In fact, I’d even argue that if it hadn’t been for being happy in our previous relationships, we wouldn’t understand how valuable it is to now be happy by ourselves today. For me personally, having previously been in a six-year relationship that took up most of my 20s, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be this happy being single agin. I think that my past (long-term, committed, and happy) relationship is fundamental to me being – and preferring to be – Onely today.
But none of this has seems to have anything to do with bad dates just yet, does it? So let me continue, because there is a connection – I swear! My point is that being Onely now has taught me that there’s a lot more to lose if I don’t pay attention to myself when it comes to dating/pursuing relationships. Before, I always wanted to be wanted – part of the game of dating was keeping him interested (presumably so that there would be more time to “get to know” him). As a result, I often initially ignored my instincts and/or needs-desires. Even today I have trouble paying attention to myself when on the cusp of a new relationship – because I genuinely love the feeling of being desired by someone else.
So when a guy who I dated for a couple of weeks about a month ago stood me up after we had been on several really great dates, it was a big step for me to actually tell him that he couldn’t blow me off like that. Because, well, I liked him. We had amazing chemistry. And I wanted him to like me too, damnit (a woman has needs! did I mention the chemistry?) We were supposed to meet up after I got home from a class I was taking at the time. I called him at 8:00 – I had gotten out of class about 15 minutes early, so I understood when he didn’t answer the phone. After waiting 35 minutes and trying him again, he still didn’t answer…. He didn’t call me back until 9:30. When he finally did call, it was clear from his tone that he didn’t have any idea that calling me back an hour and a half after I called him – and an hour after we were supposed to get together – might be a problem. I saw two options: go with the flirty conversation he had just plunged into, pretend as though his not calling me back didn’t bother me, and set up another date. Or I could go with option number two, just tell him the truth: When I make plans with someone, I assume they’re going to happen – and if there’s going to be a delay, then I expect a phone call. Being honest in this case wasn’t an attempt to “correct” him or to make him feel bad (and anyway, I couldn’t have known whether it was miscommunication, or different expectations, or him moving furniture – which turned out to be the case – that made him call me back so late). Being honest was the best way, I figured, to let him know where I was at so that he wouldn’t be guessing in the future.
And — here’s what really matters — as I made my decision about what to do, I realized that I didn’t need him to like me. In spite of the chemistry, and the fun dates, and … did I mention the chemistry? Nope — I realized at that moment that none of that really mattered as much as how I felt waiting for his phone call. As I waited, a whole gamut of emotions flooded my brain – emotions that I shouldn’t have ever felt this early into a potential relationship – I felt confused, sad, defeated, surprised, disappointed, cynical – even guilty for feeling any of those things – and when the phone finally rang and before I answered, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck go all prickly: anger. At a near-stranger. None of these emotions were worth making sure that he liked me in the long run.
So I decided to be honest; I told him that if we were going to date, he needed to let me know when he was going to be late. I’m a teacher; I’m good at getting my point across clearly and quickly, and as a result it probably sounded ‘bitchy’ to him. But it was honest for me. When I told my best friend about it, the first thing she said was, “You know, he probably doesn’t like it that you called him on it. He might not like you anymore.” And she was right, but I was right too when I replied, “Maybe, but I don’t like him all that much either since he stood me up.”
In the past, I wouldn’t have actually articulated my feelings at that moment. I would have gone with the first option – avoided the conflict in that moment and hung up the phone totally confused, only to hash it over and over again with anyone (besides him) who would listen. I may have continued dating him, excusing what he termed (during our conversation that night) his perpetual lateness, kept my irritation inside – all because I didn’t say it when it first bothered me. I would have saved it for later when things got serious and I needed him to change, which makes for a solid beginning to the rest of one hell of a mess.
Yay for being Onely! - L