New Boy came to visit me this weekend.
New job, new love, New York, New York.
I like new things because they’re never dull. They can be confusing, challenging, and excruciating. And they’re usually uncomfortable. But there’s a fun kind of mystery to it. I feel the same way about relationships. I think the substantial part of a relationship comes with the long-term, with the knowing each other and the being comfortable, but I still have a deep appreciation for the beginning; for the getting-to-know-you, and awkward silences, and not quite knowing what’s going to happen next. For getting gussied up, thinking twice about your outfit, and being annoyed for caring all too much. That’s an important stage in a relationship. You’re looking your sharpest, trying your hardest, being on your best behavior. And of course this isn’t the meaningful part of a relationship. This isn’t the real connection you form with a person. It’s not the deep conversations, or the way he sings when nobody’s around, or the way she snorts when she laughs. It’s not the little things we learn to love about someone. It’s the beginning stuff, how people project their ideal self, the superficial stuff. But it’s still fun.
I understand that that feeling of mystery and excitement fades. Later on, after time, you don’t get excited about what to wear around him, or worry that a text you sent sounded stupid. It changes into something different, something routine. You develop an understanding, a comfortable silence, a place where your head fits on his shoulder. You know each others little ticks and faults. You become comfortable talking about more and more things as you build trust. But that’s something you earn with time.
Boy came to visit me in New York this weekend. Our relationship was still very new, and then we suddenly found ourselves in a situation where we were living together, spending every waking moment together, for an entire weekend. Suddenly the option of being on my best behavior all the time became less and less feasible. He was there when I woke up. He was there when I went to bed. He was there when I got out of the shower, before I’d had my caffeine fix, at my best but most certainly at my worst.
But I still wanted to keep things new, I still wanted to try. So I attempted to look and act my best all the time. I got out of the shower before bed, put on makeup, and went back to my room to get my pajamas.
He looked at me, confused. “Did you put on makeup?”
It was then that I realized that was a really ridiculous thing to do.
I hate when I do something stupid but I hate it more when people realize I’ve just done something stupid. Solution? Do what all the great leaders of our time did in moments of stress and panic. Act cool and pretend like nothing happened. Lie. Lie, lie, lie.
“Yes you did. I know you did.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. My eyelids are just naturally glittery.”
He wasn’t convinced.
“You just lied to me. Why did you put on makeup before bed?”
I couldn’t bring myself to let the words, “I wanted to look pretty for you” escape my lips. It was too stupid and pathetic. Suddenly my makeup felt more like a sign I had plastered onto my face saying, “Hi. I’m insecure. Please love me.”
Needless to say that was a mistake I wouldn’t be making twice. But quite honestly, I didn’t want him to see me without make-up yet. I wasn’t ready for that. I liked getting gussied up, doing something special, being perfect in someones eyes. But he didn’t expect me to be perfect. He didn’t want me to work to get him to like me. He already liked me. He already thought I was perfect.
And perhaps that’s not so bad after all.
Falling in love is annoying. Amazing, exciting, adrenaline inciting, but also annoying.
It happens so fast you barely have time to stop yourself before you’re compulsively waiting for him to text and stalking all his Facebook photos. Well, not all of them. Just those really good ones of him with the puppy.
And then you’re doing cute things and he’s doing cute things and before you know it you’re in love. There it is. Every love song is about him, every outfit is for him, and every word he says is the greatest poetry there ever was, like:
“Hey can you move, you’re blocking the tv.”
And then there’s falling out of love. It doesn’t happen quite as quickly, it just kind of dwindles. The passion fades, you take each other more for granted, start to view each other less as companions and more as employees hired to ensure one another’s happiness and esteem. Tempers get lost more easily, flaws become more emphasized, and love turns more and more into something you say and not do or really think about.
And then one day you’re arguing about something insignificant and stupid. You’re running late and he left the toast in for too long. Suddenly it comes out:
“I think we should see other people.”
And you just kind of sit there for a while, not sure what to do with one another or how drastically your life is about to change. You talk it out.
“I think we should stay friends.”
But it probably won’t happen.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
And the fact that I don’t like you.
“I’d like us to leave on good terms.”
So you don’t hack into my e-mail account.
“But I think it’s best we don’t speak for a bit.”
Until you forget that you lent me your toaster.
I did love you.
But I love toast more.
If you are single, like me, you’ve most likely experienced a myriad of horror stories by this point. You’ve dated the guy who talks with his mouth full, the beautiful man with the terrible personality, the ugly man who’s extremely nice to you, the Mr. Perfect who’s just not ready to settle down, and someone named Steve. Everyone has dated someone named Steve. Even straight men, at some point, I’m sure. Steve’s have a way of sneaking up on you.
I met my Steve at a cookie store at two in the morning while getting a late night snack. I asked him what flavor he was getting. Chocolate chip. I love chocolate chip. I decided we were destined to be together.
Perhaps it was the flavor preference, perhaps it was the romantic 2 am atmosphere, or perhaps it was the fact that he had dreamy eyes like that guy from ‘Cheers.’ No no, not that guy. The other one. The cute one. Yea, that one.
He wrote his number down on a napkin and told me to call. The napkin sat on my dresser staring at me for three days.
“You should call,” it suggested.
“No, that’s okay.”
“Look at you. You’re clearly not doing anything.”
“Yes I am, I’m talking to a napkin.”
So I did. And one date led to two, and two dates led to three, and on the third date he shuffled about awkwardly and leaned in for a kiss.
We pull away and he tells me how much he likes me, how he doesn’t want me seeing anyone else, how it was destiny that we should find each other in the cookie store and how Jesus meant for us to be together.
It was the perfect first kiss. But it was just that, the first kiss. The very first kiss. I was no where near ready to label it as anything yet. We barely knew each other, made clear by the fact that he seemed to think Jesus had some kind of deciding factor on my love life.
“Well, I don’t know…” I said playfully, “I talked to God and he seemed to think we should just be casually dating.”
I hadn’t actually consulted with anyone on the matter, but the napkin seemed to think it was a good idea.
He looked confused. “Jesus is God.”
I shrugged, “Right, well, for some people.”
“Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?”
“No…But I think we might be Facebook friends.”
Nothing. Apparently this was not something to be kidding around about. Jesus takes his Facebook page very seriously.
“So you’re a heathen?”
“No….I’m just Jewish.”
At that moment it seemed clear that Steve and I were not going to be compatible. We had different taste in movies, television shows, and music. He was a Taurus, I was an Aquarius. He voted republican, I voted democrat. And also he thought I was the Anti-Christ.
Oh, well. Other Jesus fish in the sea.
Few people have the confidence to just approach anyone and start a conversation without trying to sell you something. In fact, recently the only time a stranger approached me was to have a lovely conversation about my purse and how he would like me to give him all the contents of it. He found my movie stub for Sex And The City 2, we agreed that the tv show was much better, and then we had a nice goodbye in which I said “Nice to meet you” and he told me not to tell anyone about our encounter or he would kill me. This is actually how most of my dates end.
Random-Criminal-Man was my first friend in New York City, followed soon after by Homeless Beggar, and Scary-Man-On-The-Subway-At-3-AM-Who-Asked-Me-If-I-Had-Any-Cheese. With these being the only people with the courage to approach me, it’s no wonder that people grow highly skeptical when strangers make conversation. You can’t just randomly talk to people anymore. It doesn’t work that way. There’s too many crazies, too much crime, too many reasons not to trust people.
So we’ve learned not to talk to one another, not to be creepy. Instead we just sit tight and secretly hope maybe some day that cute guy on the bus will say something, and hopelessly post things we would have said on the Missed Connections section of Craigslist. Because apparently that’s less creepy.
Recently I tried to ask out a guy I like. We live in the same building and often say hi. He took the elevator with me one day and I knew that it was time to say something. So I wracked my brain to try to think of something to say, anything to say that wouldn’t be weird or awkward or creepy. Suddenly asking him out just seemed much too stressful and embarrassing. So I just robbed him and left.
Clearly, something needed to happen. Someone needed to step up and bridge the gap between people, give them a reason to trust someone, talk to them, give them something to say that didn’t make them sound stupid or awkward or crazy.
And that’s where a wingman comes in: Someone to introduce you, give charming little details about one another, help you find something to talk about. The hardest part about finding someone isn’t the getting-to-know-you, or the finding compatibility. A lot of time it’s just saying hello.
This is why hiring a professional wingman is the greatest idea in the whole world. I didn’t even know they existed until I read about one on thedatingwingman.com. Why say hello when you can get someone else to do it and it comes off as way less creepy?
If I had a professional wingman I would take him everywhere. On buses and subways, in elevators and to cafes. I would have him talk to that cute guy who’s always walking his dog in the park. And then I would have him talk to his dog. I would use him to meet everyone. It’s just someone who can strike up random conversation with people who isn’t Uncle Bernie when he’s drunk at a party. I don’t want to initiate conversation with people in real life. That’s why I have a Facebook. I don’t have time to get to know people, to wrack my brain for ways to casually introduce myself. I’m getting old, I have a job, I like to take naps. I don’t recycle just because I’m worried that at this point I’ll be dying alone and the only thing I’ll have to leave behind is my carbon footprint. And I want that to count for something.
I don’t want to say, “You had me at hello.” Hello is scary. Hello is what strangers say before they take your purse.
I want to say, “You had me at, ‘Hello…I’d like you to meet my friend.”
Day 1. I wasn’t looking. He fell into my lap.
Day 2. We hung out. It was incredible. It was clear both of us were interested.
Day 3. He asked me to hang out again and I was busy.
Day 4. He asked me to hang out again and I was busy.
Day 5. We hung out in a group. It was awkward.
Day 6. We hung out in a group. It was awkward.
Day 7. He was busy.
Day 8. The time apart made us unsure of the others feelings. We had really only hung out once because we kept missing each other. By the time he walked me home that night, the build up and expectation to kiss was so high that neither of knew what to do. The night ended with a kiss on the cheek, an awkward shuffle, a prolonged hug, an awkward shuffle, another kiss on the cheek, and then a one-sided prolonged hug where he let go and I was still holding on. I blushed, apologized and promptly said goodnight.
Day 9. He called by mistake.
-I called him back.
-He called me back.
-His work was cancelled because of the weather and I asked him to hang out.
-He said he could hang out later that night.
-Later that night he called.
-He didn’t have work the next day but could only hang out for a bit because he was tired.
-I said we didn’t need to hang out and he said okay.
-He said he was making pancakes the next day.
-I didn’t care because I was discouraged.
Day 10. I texted him to ask how the pancakes tasted. He did not respond.
Day 11. He is out of town.
Day12. He is out of town.
Day13. He is out of town.
Day 14. He is out of town.
Day 15. He is out of town.
Day 16. He is out of town.
Day 17. He is out of town.
Day 18. He is out of town.
Day 19. He is back in town.
Currently it is day 13.
Do relationships before marriage yield meaningful insight into our true needs or do they scar our hearts and darken our minds? I have had relationships that brought me down, and though I repaired recovered nicely, I remain strapped with the memories of anger and pain unavoidably associated with my love life. I do not know if these experiences have made me smarter and tougher or if they have hindered my ability to be emotionally available. If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, why are war victims traumatized? If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, why do beaten children go on to beat their own children? It seems that the consequences of pain linger long after the fact.
I do not want to be a broken commodity; but I am not ready to be married. I do not feel like waiting for companionship and intimacy until I settle down, even though I know the meantime relationships that fill this time will invariably end. The consequences of terminated love are self-evident. And indefinite ending gives way to definite heartbreak. I cannot for the life of me decide if it is worth it.