With Matters of the Heart, Hope is Not the Destination

src: greatist.com

When I hopped back onto OkCupid a couple of weeks ago, my sole purpose was to reactivate my profile and prove to my ex—I-don’t-know-what-he-was—and, yes, to myself that I was truly completely finished playing games. I was done pretending to be a couple on the weekends, kind of friends during the week, when the only true commitment we had was sexual exclusivity and a reliable activity partner. Because when I pulled myself away long enough, I realized that’s all we really were anymore, and ending the charade didn’t hurt me as much as staying in it did.

OkCupid was how we were introduced, and so I decided OkC was where I would officially make my exit. I wasn’t expecting anything more would come out of turning my profile back on than that.

I certainty was not prepared for the fact that within a couple of days, a man from one state over, originally from another country, would send out a teaser that I would be unable to resist. Not only did this man greatly appeal to my visual senses, he was also educated, athletic, and social, appearing to be kind, funny, playful and “deep”. His emails went beyond the surface questions, and his curiosity about me led him to play detective in the cutest of ways.

Yet keenly aware, now more than ever, that appearances can be deceiving, I was grateful that the weekend he asked to meet for the first time was the weekend I was leaving for a week’s vacation. I could get away from the dramatic backlash that somehow I had allowed myself to fall into (and let’s face it, help create) from the “breakup” with the ex-something-or-other. And I could also see if this new fellow would find someone else to become entranced by in the days to follow.

What I discovered during my relaxing, sunny days away surprised me. One, I realized that as much as I was disappointed by—and in some ways, disgusted by—what went down with the ex, I also felt sorry for him seeming to be stuck in this phase of his life. I realized that being angry with him wasn’t going to change anything about the situation, and this period together, just the few past months, were really just a teeny drop in the ocean of my life. I could just…Let. It. Go.

The second thing I discovered was that my new pal from OkC was really becoming a new friend. Our communication was becoming more personal, more open and even a little flirtatious. I found myself really looking forward to coming home because that meant my date with him was right around the corner.

We’ve all had terrible blind dates and so-so blind dates. But I was unprepared to have my expectations blown away—in the very best way. Not only was he even more attractive in person than his photos could really give justice, which were really darn cute too…but he was also the absolute gentleman, incredibly perceptive and sensitive, a great listener, funny and just the right amount of flirtatious. At the end of the date, he asked me to play him some songs, which he enjoyed. Then, saying he was worried he had tired me out, he gave me a hug, said he hoped we would see each other again and left.

To be honest, as amazing as our time together had felt, I worried the rushed end of our date meant I had somehow had been reading things incorrectly. Apparently, thankfully, I was wrong. After a few tentative texts back and forth later that night, we had plans set for the next day as well.

I really don’t want to try to describe how lovely our next date was; words can’t fully capture how truly wonderful it felt. To say that we talked for hours about things that really mattered to us growing up, that matter to us now and that we envision for ourselves in the future is oversimplifying it.  We felt accepted and understood, after baring bits and pieces of ourselves, and surprisingly close to one another afterward.

IF-Caution by Karee Barrett

Even though he revealed a few of his own insecurities, which is part of the reason he left so abruptly the first night—he apparently thought I wanted him to leave—and even though we had two great dates, and even though we’ve been keeping in touch whenever we can this week, my guard is still so way up. On the one hand, this is probably a very smart thing since we are just starting to get to know one another. One the other hand, this is someone new who shouldn’t be silently questioned and doubted at every turn just because of someone or something that has absolutely nothing to do with him.

Yesterday I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day than to wake up to his email, which read, “Hello my little sunshine!” I carried that happiness in my pocket, took it to appreciate it in between my work, and then tucked it away again for later. All through the day, he reached out to me, making me feel connected.

Today, I woke up, and there was nothing. I went through the day with one voice telling me, “He’s just really busy,” and the other voice saying, “See, I told you so.” There was no email or text to dispute the argument, and the people in my life were just as conflicting. I tried to pretend like it didn’t matter either way. There were plenty of more fish in the sea.

And then, finally he emailed me apologizing for making me wait so long, telling me how busy his day had been, commenting on all the important things from my last email. He ended with: “Any plans for the weekend already? Would you like to meet again?”

He earns extra brownie points for asking me out on Wednesday, but even more for reminding me it’s okay to still want to believe.

Do you become vulnerable putting yourself back out there like that again? Yes, there’s no question about it. But you also become available for something potentially beautiful. Could you get hurt? Yes. Could you potentially find love? No one knows for sure; possibly so.

Is it worth the risk? Sometimes fear of being hurt is enough to put down screeching brakes. Maybe you’re simply not ready to put yourself out there yet, or this person just isn’t worth chancing it. Trust your intuition, ignore the noise. Sometimes, hell yeah, it’s worth throwing yourself in the race.

So for now I will proceed with caution, but I won’t be afraid to enjoy the journey and hope for happy trails ahead.

Back Off, Love

So apparently I am not even behaving appropriately while watching a movie alone in my own bedroom anymore. Somehow that is code for talking to someone I’m not “supposed to” after hours, to my dear boyfriend. This morning at 6:10, I receive the following text interrupting my deep slumber:

Stop protecting me using dishonesty. We said goodnight at 10, you watched a film until 11? Why tell me this? I don’t care who you talk to… [note to the reader: totally not true; if it’s an ex, he is definitely going to have a problem] But why hide it from me? U can’t watch a movie in an hour. and I don’t like this feeling that u have something to hide. Anything but that.

I was confused and also a little t.o.’d, to be honest. Last night, as Mr. E and I began a Skype conversation, I had put in the movie, The Invention of Lying (no, the irony of the title is not lost on me), to load up so it would be ready to watch whenever we were done talking. It automatically started playing the film  after the previews–I had it on mute. When Mr. E and I said our goodbyes, I hit the top menu, expecting that when I pressed play, the movie would start from the beginning. Apparently it did not.

According  to Detective E., who actually got back on Skype this morning to check our transcript for when our conversation ended to match it up to when I texted him goodnight, I missed 36 min or so into the movie.  I did notice that the movie didn’t really begin but the character was starting a new chapter of his life, so I didn’t really miss enough to think “I need to rewind, I must have missed some scenes here.”  I was pleased it was such a short movie because I was sleepy and ready for some zzz’s.

Now, this simple misunderstanding might seem humorous if a) it hadn’t begun at 6 a.m. and b) if it hadn’t followed weeks of distrust, insecurity and lashes of jealousy, and almost two weeks of steady arguments.

Sparking one argument was an ex asking me if I can help him work on a set list for a gig coming up. He’s a one-man band, uses a lot of effects, and I’m one of the only people he trusts to be honest about his sound. Still I put off helping him because Mr E doesn’t trust him at all, and it’s not worth an extra battle.

Then, as the she-devil Former Dream Girl who tore his life in pieces repeatedly tries to contact Mr E and he showed signs of giving in (he’s since accepted calls from her twice), I ask him why he wants to be friends with her. I don’t give judgment or tell him he’s stupid for wanting to, I simply ask why. He immediately attacks me for my friendships with men, and says being friends with FDG is just fair if I’m friends with my exes (who actually, you know were loving toward me and didn’t deceive me for two years.) Comparing bananas to jackfruit.  Of course, this still doesn’t answer my question, but it ruins a perfectly good weekend.

Then I get the new job. He feels threatened because he loses the chance for me to move in, take care of him, and he loses the ability to keep tabs on me. He loses control in terms of when and for how long he gets to see me because the news does that for me. He also is extremely uneasy that the videographer I’m working with for the welcome video to launch the site is none other than the V-Man himself.

Mr. E is most threatened by V-Man because we have the most recent past, are still very friendly, and while the conversation is “appropriate” (according to Mr. E’s eavesdropping), we talk too often, for too long, and too late at night (10pm after is my phone curfew apparently).  I understand Mr. E’s uneasiness with us working closely together, but V-Man is a complete pro, the best at the job, is willing to do this as a favor in his free time, and I definitely am not going to pass that up. This is a short work project, not a couple of romantic dates.

Mr. E. is also panicking at the loss of control over my time right now as I plan and organize ahead of time for work, while finishing up a picture book series assignment due next week. He’s trying to have some control over my one week family vacation coming up, and he’s hijacked this weekend to take me down to Maryland with him to see his sick friend. I, of course, am under deadline, have a ton to do in the next week and half, and cringe at the thought of losing three full days. The 6 a.m. wake-up call of course means I have a migraine and limited productivity today.

So this morning’s diatribe made me lose it. I’ve tried to be understanding. I know his last girlfriend was a deceitful ho bag of the worst kind (who’s still trying to tempt him to be her man on the side of her marriage bed), so he has trust issues. I know she and his ex-wife didn’t make him feel needed and wanted enough. But just how many excuses am I expected to give for his constant accusations, negative inferences, and downright idiocy?

This was my final response in our hour-long texting battle this morning:

Lately you’ve been overanalyzing and second-guessing even the most innocent and simplest things I do–or don’t do. It’s not fair, it stresses me, and it needs to stop. I think it would be best for us not to talk for a couple of days and maybe whatever circular thought patterns you may be currently stuck in will have a chance to die out. Otherwise it’s going to choke us and kill the good thing we have between us. I’m not being dramatic when I say this, I’m merely speaking truth.