1 October 2017

Dating diaries: my three week relationship

Sometimes the things I want to write about the most take the longest to write, and are the hardest to write. I've written this in my head more times than I can count, but as soon as I tried putting fingers to keyboard, the words dried up.

Our 'How did you meet?' story couldn't have been better, given the dating app climate we live in today. We met on holiday, and got together on the final night. Cute, right? And to my relief - and delight - when we met up outside the rosy holiday bubble in Blighty, it seemed to be more than just a summer romance.

As mentioned in my previous Dating diaries post, I haven't had a 'boyfriend' in over six years. I love the idea of being in love, and I wear my heart on my sleeve - but me and relationships just don't happen, like, ever.

Except with him.

We were sitting very closely overlooking Regents Canal and the sun was shining and it was just a little chilly and we'd had a lovely meal and the words, those words, were on the tip of my tongue. On the one hand I didn't want to say them because it meant being vulnerable and opening myself up to rejection, but on the other hand everything just felt so good and very right and why not? So I asked if he was my boyfriend and he blinked and then said I hope so and then he asked if I was his girlfriend and I said I don't know, do you want me to be? and he said yes and I said well... I guess I am, then. And I felt giddy and we kissed and that was that.

Until three weeks later, when he came around to mine because he was meant to be staying over for work, and instead of staying over, he broke up with me.

After three weeks.

It embarrasses me, just writing that. I inwardly cringe every time I think about it, faced with the mortifying fact that after six plus years of being single and finally entering into a mutual boyfriend-girlfriend situation, that it lasted under a month.

But I've had time to think; to cry, to share, to vent and to process, and realised that the crap moments force you to learn more about yourself and the people you experienced them with. And so these are some of the things I've learned:

Things are aren't certain (at least at first)
Previously I thought the uncertain part was when you started out - Do they like me? Should I kiss them or wait for them to kiss me? When should I message back? Are they seeing anyone else? Will they like this outfit? Am I too much? etc - but actually, putting a label on your relationship doesn't necessarily make it more secure. I thought that having a boyfriend meant I could finally relax after years of dating and second-guessing myself. I pictured him meeting my friends, my family, and assumed it was okay to mentally consider - and get excited about - plans for the future. I was wrong. When you take the leap it's not onto solid ground; things only stabilise over time.

Not everyone is on the same page
I was - am - at a point in my life where I'm ready to be in a relationship. A bold statement, I know. I want to consider someone else, make dates and align my diary with theirs, share experiences and parts of myself I haven't wanted to before now. With him I was ready for the highs, lows, compromises and considerations that a relationship brings. Even though he said he felt the same way - even now, I don't doubt that he did have feelings for me - he just wasn't on the same page. I saw an issue as something to work on, together, coming out stronger and better for it; for him they were impossible obstacles which meant dismissing them, and in turn, us.

Being warm doesn't make you weak
In the past I've been told in not so many words that being honest and open is a mistake; in being so I am positively asking to be hurt. Which is true... but I can't help it. I see holding back as being untrue to myself, and I want the person I'm with to know who I am from the get-go, otherwise what's the point? Openness is ingrained in me from an adolescence of talking therapy and the negative experiences of keeping things bottled up. I know that it's risky showing someone that I like them, but it's also brave. And I'd rather be warm and open than cold and closed-off, like he was (in the end).

I'm too quick to settle
On the phone to my mum soon after, I said to her, I'll be okay, he wasn't the love of my life, and it was only as I said those words that I realised they were true. The problem with being single for so long is you build a wall of expectations around yourself that seem impossible to meet, and it can be a lonely place. These high expectations, however, can be weakened by simply having the kind of company you've been subconsciously craving, and you don't realise you've been making compromises until you're suddenly removed (or dumped) from the situation. So what, he doesn't make me laugh until I cry? He's intelligent and has interesting things to say. So what, he isn't forthcoming and talkative? He balances me out, and that's a good thing... But actually, those elements are really important to me, and I was too quick to brush those expectations aside.

It's a mistake to pretend it didn't happen
If I consider the seven stages of grief, I'm currently in the 'reflective' phase - hence this post - so it makes sense that my first reaction was shock and denial. This can't be happening, I thought, we literally have a spa weekend planned this coming weekend... but it also occurred to me that I should deny the fact I was in a relationship. After all, wouldn't it be, y'know, easier to say that we were just seeing each other and it fizzled out, rather than admit I had only managed a relationship for three weeks? But to do so is to cheat myself of all the good bits, and there were good bits - great bits, even - and honestly? I refuse to feel ashamed for taking that leap. I'm proud that after six years I was strong enough and brave enough to put myself out there, regardless of the outcome.

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