My Year of Blogging Boldly, Part Two: The Date
The Dude and I communicated a lot while I was away, getting to know each other quite well. Personal histories: both divorced, both like movies, both interested in world religions, both committed to social justice, both considering leaving casual relationships behind in the hope for something more. We were excited about the prospect of finally meeting. As soon as I arrived back, we were planning for our first date.
A problem emerged for me: earnest first dates often involve going out to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I love food, love eating out and love eating with friends. But when I am with other people, it is hard for me to eat according to my hunger cues. And being just back from the event in California, I was very present to my hunger and did not want to do anything that might put that into jeopardy. Eating in such a laden situation, though, I am driven by any or all of the following: feeling nervous and using food to calm me, feeling a sense of panic that there won’t be enough for me and eating more than I need to make sure I get my share, feeling hopeful and being afraid of feeling hopeful so using food to quash it in myself before something moves in to disappointment me, feeling bad—flawed even—that it requires such concentrated time and space for myself to eat this way. Then I carry this added double-barrelled burden that other people’s wellbeing is both more important than my own, and is my responsibility. Ugh!
I reflected on the fact that I typically don’t allow myself to have any needs when I am with other people. Life just feels easier and safer if everyone else is looked after first. I have a general “No worries. Whatever you like. I am happy to work around you” attitude. I tend to other people’s needs before my own: it is the first step of how I leave myself. Of course I tend to others! I am a deeply empathetic person, the eldest child (and a daughter) who grew up in the environment of her parents’ crazy and crazymaking divorce, with an inborn, human need to feel worthwhile. Most certainly this tendency was a tape still running in my head from my early childhood where keeping my parents calm and happy paid actual short term dividends for my emotional wellbeing. But now, not so much.
Being just back from the mindful eating event though I felt my reality as bigger than all of these. And I didn’t want let anything that was within my purview diminish the confidence and ease I’d left California with. That meant a fierceness to do everything I could to protect my continued ability to eat according to my hunger.
So I went out on a limb. I asked of this man that we do something other than eat on our date. That may seem like a no-brainer. But it was hard, excruciating even, for me to do. It was not only making a desire of mine known (from someone who has always found her security by having no desires at all), it was also admitting weakness and, in doing so, allowing myself to be deeply, dangerously seen. That goes against how I typically like to present myself as unflappable. Trade on my toughness.
But again, feeling so affected by the emotional work done on the weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was give that up by putting myself in an environment that would likely pull me to eat when I wasn’t hungry. Plus, I realized that if he and I were going to have anything substantial together—which seemed like the hope based on our conversations—I wanted it to be along the lines of what was going to be good for me as well as good for him. In the end, we came up with the idea of going to a café to play board games. The plan inspired both of us.
He was already at the café when I arrived. Delightfully, he was more attractive than in his pictures. Over the course of the evening, I also found him to be smart, interesting, funny and cutely awkward. All of these made me happy and endeared him to me. To say that I have been hesitant, slow to warm up to people since my divorce, is an understatement. It is rare that I meet someone who I am both attracted to and comfortable around. This was a big deal for me.
It was clear that we both enjoying the date. The games were fun. They had been a good choice. But it was getting late. Once we’d finished the last game, I could tell we were feeling close to one another. He suggested we go back to one of each other’s places. A wonderfully inviting and exciting possibility. But fraught for me at the same time. I could only see it leading to sex. And that felt too fast for me, sleeping together so early on would be personally engulfing. Amazing in the short term, but disastrous in the long run.
For Part Three, follow the link