Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bachelor (Season 3)

Well, I'm back stateside. A bit earlier than planned, and happy for it! So, one year ago I posted one of my last messages before I became sporadic with my posts. Entitled The Bachelor (Season Two), I shared the latest in my dating life and did a bit of a run down on the various men I was meeting. In honor of that post, one year ago, I thought I'd share some of the latest (which I'll refer to here as Season 3), including some folks who stayed on the list from Season 2.

Before I jump into the details, what have I learned from the last year about dating, love, and men? In short, I've learned to open up, to let myself fall in love (even if it was with a person I shouldn't have), that I'm too old to care if my sex numbers stay low so long as I'm not completely out of control, and that everyone's pretty much just looking for the same thing in different forms...a connection with another human being. Strangely, most of the men I wrote about one year ago are still in my life, even if they're not romantic relationships. So, I must be doing something right in the world! All the guys below are from my previous post, except for the ones I've marked as *new*.

Nice (Enough)?
I met this guy on sabbatical last year, and he's a great guy. I wrote about him in my post a year ago (so you can read more there), and happy to report that a friendship has ensued. When I met him, I also met a woman in his circle who I became quite close with. Over the year, I noticed that they seemed so well matched and were both single. After hearing from them separately that they were attracted to eachother, I not-so-subtly told both of them I thought they should quit worrying about the friendship and jump in. Now, I'm not saying I'm responsible, but I am happy to report that as of a few months ago they're officially together, which is awesome.

Group Effort
Who'd have thought that an invitation for a threesome would result in a lovely friendship? But, strangely, it did. We're still in contact regularly and see each other every couple of months. He's this great intuitive guy who challenges me and makes me really think about whether or not the things that come out of my mouth are platitudes or real core beliefs. And, frankly, he's great to have around since he's constantly telling me how wonderful I am. Maybe he's just biding his time until he can bring up the group sex thing again, lol. And, no, I didn't take him up on his original offer...I know you were wondering. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Common Man
So, this is a guy who was in a relationship and had pursued me for some time, only to succeed...and then not call again. Which is where it was left one year ago. Ironically, just a couple of months ago he tracked me down on LinkedIn and sent me a message asking if I'm still in the area, and sharing that he thought he'd be back for work soon. I didn't reply, but suppose I could look on the bright side that I'm memorable a year later, lol.

The Bad Habit
Ah, everyone needs a bad habit in their lives, don't they? This one was mine. A six year casual relationship that, about a year ago, I believed had run its course. And, really, it had. We remain casual and relatively distant friends, but he pops back up on the radar now and again. He was actually quite helpful with career advice a few months back, which I really appreciated. Good to know our unconventional relationship hasn't hurt our ability to be friends that will help each other out. Never one to drop a bad habit without picking another one up, you'll see he was effectively replaced by The New Bad Habit.

The Lesson
Oh boy. My favorite quote from a year ago? "If nothing happens here, it's already going to hurt". Ah, if I'd only listen to my own advice now and again. I felt a connection with The Lesson as soon as I met him in September 2010, on the night of Hurricane Earl. Though, in true sabbaticaljo style, after the initial connection I ended up drunk on vodka sodas and made out with him outside of a motel room. Classy, as always. As of a year ago I was working on letting the whole thing go and mourning the connection a bit. It worked. But only until the fall.

In September, we reconnected. I don't recall the specifics, other than the fact I was working in town (he lives about two hours away) and we decided to meet up for a drink. The chemistry for me was right back where it started and one thing led to another. It was fun, but I'd promised myself I wasn't going to fall (you know how this ends up, right?). I won't rehash all that ensued afterwards, but to make a long story short, we became close. We spoke often and saw each other about once a month. Initially by coincidence, and later by intention. By January, I found myself tagging along for a cross-country trip he was taking (one of many for an out of state masters program). I had remained safely disconnected, separating the physical aspect of our relationship from the emotional friendship we were building. But the trip did me in. Five days of close proximity solidified the feelings I'd had building and, in short, I think I began to fall in love. A month later he came to visit me for a couple of days, and that only served to do me in. What was built to be a close friendship with casual benefits had turned into much more for me. Certain that I was the only one feeling this way, and conscious that it was impacting another relationship I had building at the time (one that was a more traditional dating relationship), I thought it best to come clean before I pursued this other relationship. And even though I anticipated the response I got (not interested in pursuing a relationship), I did not anticipate how far I had fallen. After the experience, I spent some time thinking about why I had fallen for this particular guy, especially when all signs and explicit conversations clearly said that this was not going to result in a relationship. I'm convinced that some of the attraction and heart-thumping may have been exactly because of that choosing someone who was essentially unavailable, I was protecting myself from being hurt by something that could turn into something meaningful. I might pick this up as another blog post, so won't go into more here. I don't think that was all there was to it, but I think it played a part and was a good warning/lesson/reminder.

ANYway, never one to stay down for long, I had a good cry for a few days, picked myself up and moved on. We still speak, and I hope he remains a dear friend since I truly respect and admire him. I get the sense that he regretted the things he did and said that led up to my disclosing these feelings I was having (I suspect he feels like he lead me on). But truth be told, I remain incredibly grateful for the entire experience and wouldn't change a second of it. It was a reminder of how I should feel about someone, a chance to love (even if it was doomed from the start), and it gave me the experience of telling someone open and honestly, without judgement or shame, how I felt about them. I think I needed it, and I wouldn't trade it for a second.

The Other Bad Habit *New*
It seems I always need someone in the rotation who I have strong physical and intellectual chemistry (read: engaging conversation and great sex) - but without a lot of emotional connection, drama, or baggage. This probably speaks to some of my challenges with the emotional side of myself, but this type of relationship is like crack for me. I had it for six years with The Bad Habit, and about six weeks after I'd determined it had sizzled, he'd been replaced by The Other Bad Habit. Similar situation - someone who's already in a relationship, doesn't live nearby, and travels for work to locations that I also travel to. Judge if you must, but we all have needs, and this type of relationship satisfies a strong part of me. I wasn't looking for it to become a long-term thing. We recently met up and I talked about the fact that I thought we needed to cut it off at the one year mark, but I'm not sure either of us are really inclined to enforce it. It'll be a year next month, so we'll see. For the moment, we have clear boundaries and I'm not concerned about either of us falling emotionally, so it's just two people exchanging passionate and exciting ideas, followed-up by other passionate and exciting extracurricular activities.

Good on Paper
I really thought I had something here. He fits my perfect on-paper guy. Early forties, divorced, no kids, stable job, owns a house (or could if he wanted to). I've always preferred older men, and something about being divorced tells me that at least someone wanted to marry them at one time. We dated throughout the Fall and Winter, though with my travel schedule the dates were spread pretty far apart. By January we were spending a weekend night together every week. But I was hesitating. I could feel him wanting to progress from our somewhat casual relationship, but I was holding back. I thought it was because of The Lesson, which is why I came clean with him about my feelings. In my head, I would come clean with him, confirm he wasn't interested, and re-focus my attention back on Good on Paper. And live happily ever after, of course. I'd barely wiped the last tear off my face from The Lesson, and went away for the weekend with Good on Paper. It took me no less than 24 hours to realize that, frankly, I just wasn't that into him. I wanted to be. Badly. He was so "perfect". But, in truth, I just didn't feel for him what I felt for The Lesson...and that was a lesson in and of itself. A couple days later, I broke it off. I haven't spoken to him since.

So, that's a nice long summary for you. After everything that had happened with The Lesson and Good on Paper, I took a few weeks off from the dating scene, only to recover with a vengeance. I've been going out on a few dates a week and really enjoying remembering that I am confident, and articulate, and interesting...and that men actually find me that way too :) No one that's really jumped out yet, but the feedback has been positive, so at least I'm getting my ego stroked a bit. My most fun date so far was the one described in my post entitled Thirty Seconds. Nothing new to report, but we'll see.

It's a year later and I've played, I've loved, I've cried, and I've not lost my love of meeting new people. And I'm more connected with myself and others than ever before. Really, what more can a girl ask for? Hasta, sabbaticaljo