I’ve been thinking a lot about dating lately. Not as in I would like to start, but just as in I know there will come a day when I am ready to dive back into the dating world. Or dive in. I don’t really feel like I was ever “in” the dating world.
I haven’t been on a lot of dates, not in the traditional sense. I find this is actually pretty common. I didn’t date – at all – in high school. I had cast myself in this outsider role, and I played it well. I was Laney Boggs, except without the painting, or ending up with Freddie Prinze, Jr.
I stuck with my small group of friends, adding a few members as the years went on. These friends were male and female, and a lot of them actually dated (other people, not each other). I still fail to see what happened with me. I guess I didn’t put myself out there as a potential girlfriend candidate for anyone.
I was totally unprepared for the social experiences of college. I’d never snuck alcohol as a young teen, I hadn’t kissed a boy (much less had sex). And I was thrown into an environment where there were five times as many boys as there were girls. Boys and girls lived in the same dormitories, on the same floors. My dorm neighbors to the left and right were boys. I felt overwhelmed. And hormonal. I remember that first day when my mom and step-dad were helping move my stuff from our cars into the dorm room. What was on my mind?
I kept note in my head of which rooms on the floor had boys (all but two) and which rooms held boys that would be potential boyfriends (pretty much all of them).
I’m slightly embarrassed of my obsession that first day of college, but there it is. I wasn’t at college to find a boyfriend, but I sure was going to get one!
And I did. About a month after everyone moved into the dorms. He was literally the boy next door, and we had been friends since an introduction in some psychology class (I think it was Psychology through Literature, but I can’t be certain). The two of us had grown close and then one day my friend Candace (who was also a friend of the Boy Next Door) told me, in perfect middle school fashion, that he “liked” me.
I may have squealed.
Because I “liked” him too. I had for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I just really enjoyed being his friend, or if I wanted to be his girlfriend.
So we went on a date. We ate dinner, saw a movie, and he walked me to the (dorm room) door. A week later, he was my first kiss (yes, it took that long. I was lame). We continued to date for a month. Then, he broke up with me, citing that we “functioned better as friends” (I’ll never forget that awkward wording).
I was devastated, as any girl secretly planning a future together would be.
I didn’t handle it very well at all. I got drunk for the first time that night.
By the next school year, I was sleeping around in some desperate attempt to get another boyfriend. I may or may not have been slightly crazy. I’d spend the night with any half decent-looking guy that would have me. And nobody takes a girl on a proper date when she’s slept with him after only a few beers at an off-campus party.
I did get another boyfriend though. Somehow.
He was the brother of a boy I’d been friends with since that first year of college. My friend and I had entertained a mild flirtation over the years, but then I met his brother, who had come to visit during my Junior year to go snowboarding.
We fell for each other immediately (no, not love at first sight. Lust is more appropriate). I vowed not to sleep with him right away. I lasted three days.
We were a long-distance (500 miles) couple for ten months. We visited when we could, but it wasn’t very often and never for very long.
I was set to graduate that December – a semester early. I made plans to move to be with him. He had a reasonable concern about it. I couldn’t live with him, since he lived in his mother’s house, and he couldn’t afford to move out (at the end, he was paying his mom’s mortgage). He told me once that I shouldn’t move for him, because what if we were to break up? (Warning signs anyone?) So I told him and convinced myself that I wanted to move and would remain there, even if we ever broke up.
So, of course, only a couple months before graduation, he broke up with me (remind me to tell you that story some day. Oh wait: IT WAS VIA TEXT MESSAGE WHILE I WAS AT WORK. There. Story over.)
The devastation returned. I spent the next couple of months trying to complete my courses, edit the literary Review, copyedit the newspaper and oh-my-god-don’t-fall-apart-crying-again.
I didn’t move to his city. I did briefly consider it in a weird plot to win back his love (thank goodness that never came to fruition). Instead, I hung around until the graduation ceremony in May and then moved to Oregon with my friend, with no real reason besides we could live with her parents for free until we were employed.
I slept around a little bit while living in Oregon, allowing myself to be my friend’s friend’s consolation prize (What? He loved my friend from afar, she wasn’t interested. I kind of liked him. End of story.).
In fact, the man I would eventually marry (and subsequently divorce) was a one-night stand. Or was supposed to be.
He was the childhood friend of my friend’s boyfriend (who, by the way, are now married with a kid). He came over to hang out, and – let’s face facts – friend’s boyfriend was trying to hook us up. He knew I still was working on healing myself from the last devastating breakup (Mr. TEXT MESSAGE). Solution? New boyfriend.
I, however, thought I didn’t want a boyfriend. So I met his friend, determined he was good-looking, and made the decision to sleep with him that night.
I’m a whore I guess. But I was successful.
Next morning? I had to go to work. So I left him in my bed (okay, futon mattress on the floor) and went on with my day. Eight hours later, I return and he’s still there. He had just hung out with friend’s boyfriend at the apartment (they were both unemployed, fresh from the military).
And, our story goes, he never left. We had dinner, we kept sleeping together, and we kind of fell in love at some point. Seven months later, I was pregnant. And a year later, we had moved to Reno and married. Five years later (give or take a few months), we were divorced.
That brings this story to current. So, my dating history is pretty much that I’ve been on about two dates pre-relationship, had 3 boyfriends, and I’ve had a lot of random sex (depending on your interpretation of “a lot” and “random”).
Some days I am content being single. When T is with me, it is just the two of us and we have fun (What? I’m ignoring any meltdowns for the purposes of this post). When T’s with his dad, I rather enjoy the time I have to myself.
Like right now. I am writing this post, by hand, while sitting on the patio outside my apartment. It is relaxing and quiet (except for the crazy lady next door who comes out every few minutes to have a cigarette, cough painfully loud and yell at the birds for cooing or the leaves for rustling). Nobody needs anything from me. I can take care of myself. In a little bit, I’ll go inside, eat a light dinner, read while digesting, and then I’ll head to the gym. I find a peace in all of this.
And then there are days I think it might be nice to be in a couple. Being around friends in relationships, seeing the way they interact with each other. I like cuddling and kissing and cooking dinner together while talking about the day (Okay, in my fantasy he is cooking and I am sitting there looking cute, possibly with a beer in my hand).
I am not jaded from my experiences. I know that I may never marry again, but I would like someone to share my life with. However, I don’t know that I’ve completely learned from my mistakes. I don’t yet know all of my mistakes because there wasn’t a lot of honest communication in the past about why I was broken up with (Is it strange that I’ve never been the one to end a relationship? In my marriage I knew it was coming, but the other two took me completely by surprise). My ex-husband and I have had a lot of conversations about the end of our marriage, but I’m still sure there’s a lot I don’t know about myself as a wife or girlfriend.
I have thought about getting in touch with the two ex-boyfriends to find out, but that seems weird and could be viewed as slightly obsessive.
I do know there are things I have learned about being in a relationship, and a lot I’ve learned about myself (not just as a wife or girlfriend). So, I hope to take this knowledge into any potential future relationships and maybe, one day, find a relationship that is perfect – for me.