#104

For your appetizer, please enjoy a few minor updates that I forgot to mention:

Back in March, on my first date with Not My Husband, the bartender turned out to be none other than Alabama Boy. Despite him being masked the whole time, his incredibly unique first name sparked my memory and led me to creep on IG, where I confirmed he is not only the bartender, but owner of the bar I’ll obviously never revisit. 

In August, near my old neighborhood, I was sitting outside a coffee shop with my friend, when I saw Neighbor Boy in line for a coffee of his own. Reluctant to be recognized myself, it was challenging to confirm his identity—but I am 97% sure it was him. He has a dog now, which I sincerely hope is boosting his mental health. 

In July (I’m aware this is out of chronological order), one of the Zoom dates I had in April resurfaced, apologetic for never following up and asking if I’d like to meet in person. Our Zoom interaction, while less than memorable, had been perfectly enjoyable, so I agreed to an in-person version. Despite a small red flag pertaining to how he basically chugged 4-5 beers while I nursed 2 (granted, I’d come from client drinks and had told him to catch up), the IRL conversation was equally enjoyable. Nonetheless, I told him I felt called to spend my energy elsewhere.

However, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, “I couldn’t help but wonder…” Was the lack of sparks a sign of a healthy, comfortable connection, or am I simply a charming conversationalist who can have a pleasant time with anyone? What’s the difference between feeling comfortable and at ease with a guy, and feeling not romantically interested? Where’s the line between being OTL and “settling” for any decent human?

Now, for your main course:

I was recently set up with my cousin’s wife’s friend’s fiance’s friend (CWFFF) for a blind date. He was given my phone number and we texted to make plans. I informed him that I’m taking a break from alcohol and don’t mind if he drinks, but he was surprisingly into the idea of a sober date and we planned to get dinner at Via Carota. Though he came highly recommended, the idea of meeting a complete stranger for a booze-free, cloth-napkin dinner made me nervous. I was going to have to be my metaphorically-naked self—which is historically scarier than being my literally-naked self. Knowing I wouldn’t be chaperoned by alcohol, it felt like I was going on my very first date again. Thankfully, he turned out to be kind, funny, and smart and we talked for 5 hours. We hugged goodbye, confirmed we both had an enjoyable evening, and made plans to hang out again in two weeks. We texted occasionally, casually, and I experienced zero anxiety (likely because I’ve been too distracted by work anxiety).

Last night, for our second sober date, we got pho (I paid this time!) and then made the spontaneous decision to snag the last two spots in a nearby escape room (and smoke a tiny bit of weed). Afterwards (we all escaped), he walked me to the subway station and told me he had a great time and would like to see me again. I told him I had a good time too, but was only feeling a friendship vibe so far. In an unprecedented display of honesty, I shared what I assume is my unkind habit of continuing to date someone while I wait to see if my feelings might change or grow. I told him I didn’t want to waste his time, but he was very understanding and said he still wanted to invest more time in getting to know each other. Mildly stoned and trying very hard to find the right words, I’m not sure how I came off. When he asked if I wanted him to stop contacting me, I said no. But when he asked if I wanted to hang out again soon, I said I didn’t know. We obviously didn’t kiss, but hugged goodbye before I got on the train. 

I rode home feeling confused and sad. I thought about the chemistry and excitement I had with Sauce Man in the beginning. I’ve only ever followed that feeling before—and look where it’s gotten me. When confronted with a communicative, emotionally available man who seems to really like me, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. Are those qualities more important than flirtation and fun? Are passion and peace of mind mutually exclusive? Am I reflexively rejecting the very thing I’ve been trying to manifest? Or is he just the first good example of what a quality partner can look like, a green flag that I’m on the right path? 

In trying so hard to break my old patterns, I feel like I can no longer trust how I feel. Is placid contentment how we’re supposed to feel in a “healthy” relationship? Or does passion still count for something, and I just need to learn to balance it out with substance and communication? How am I supposed to know if someone is a great match, or just a great person? I am truly confused, so I invite any of you in strong partnerships to reach out with your thoughts.

In the meantime, I suggested that he and I cut to the chase and discuss (over the phone or in person) what we’re looking for in love and life. While I don’t have a very good handle on how I should be feeling in love, I’ve at least gained recent clarity on where I’m headed in life—back to the west coast, in a year. If we can see whether or not our visions align, maybe that will help confirm what I am, or am not, feeling.

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