Datehazard’s Blog

On dating, singleness and adjusting to being 30ish.

Filled with hope May 14, 2013

Filed under: breakups,Dating,Desire — datehazard @ 10:35 pm
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It’s 10:40 p.m., and I’m sitting in my living room, the muted sounds of a slow keyboard melody filtering through my ceiling. My neighbours are upstairs, crafting a quiet, repetitive tune.

It’s the perfect accompaniement to my pensive state. I just got off the phone after talking to Sparkling Eyes. I’d forgotten all about him until I ran across my post from 2009. And I was immediately transported to the magic of that evening; the way my breathing slowed when we spoke; the way that rare, deeply intimate space had been created that evening.

And then the discovery of his marriage and kids. And the devastation I felt, even as I’d lied in my blog entry, brushing off the blow as “just one of those things.” After that evening, I’d had words with Sparkling Eyes, accusing him of lying to me, and of being duplicitous. And he insisted he had not; that he and his wife were newly divorced, or separated–I can’t recall the specifics now–but the damage had been done, and I’d said too many unkind words.

Months later, when dating who would become my (now) ex-husband, I received a text, out of the blue, from Sparkling Eyes, saying that if I’d ever change my mind, to get in touch with him, and how sorry he was that things went sideways. It was phrased as though I’d spoken with him just the day before. And when I told him to move on with his life, he was confused; which resulted ultimately in a phone call clarification; he told me he’d sent that text six months prior, after our last phone call. Somehow it had gotten stuck in a queue and I’d only received it long after I’d given up hope, and moved on, ultimately marrying someone that I should never have married.

But one does what one does, and I moved on.

Revisiting my writing, I felt all the high and low of that evening as though it had just happened. And Sparkling Eyes’ full name came to me in a moment of quiet.

And so I contacted him at the last e-mail address I had for him, with the full expectation that my message would bounce back, stamped “unknown recipient”. And I’d breathe a sigh of relief, telling myself, “I guess it was not meant to be.”

Except that didn’t happen. And we ended up talking. And it ended up being amazing, as though those four years when we last spoke was just the day before. Towards the end of our conversation, there was a moment where we were silent; we remained quietly on the phone for a moment, smiling in wonder at each other.

And I just spoke with him again, and despite an awful family difficulty he’s having to deal with–or maybe because of it?–I feel deeply connected to this man in a way I have never felt connected to any stranger before.

I can’t explain it. And I want to linger in this wonder, and revel at its shimmer.

 

Corporate Lawyer got laid off March 12, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Exes,Not about dating — datehazard @ 11:34 am
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I don’t even know how to start this post. Corporate Lawyer texted me that he just got laid off.

There’s really nothing intelligent or helpful I can say in response to that. I asked if he wanted to meet up tomorrow, if not this evening.

 

Goodbye, Corporate Lawyer March 11, 2009

Filed under: Adjusting,breakups,Dating,Singleness — datehazard @ 11:22 pm
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One of the things I’m starting to learn is how important friendships are to me.

I spent the evening hanging out with The Artist in her studio; we had a great time chatting about nothing in particular while she did some repetitive work on an installation.

I had originally intended to go to yet another networking event, but decided against it after I realised I’d rather spend time with my friend. Just random, plain, unstructured, lovely, friendship building time. I don’t remember the last time I allowed myself that luxury.

I realise there are a lot of things I’ve omitted or let decay while I was in a relationship with my previous boyfriend — so much so I didn’t even realise what I’d let go, and how one-dimensional I’d gotten. You can’t have this kind of time with a friend, when you’re in a committed relationship, really. There’s always something couple-related to do: some schedule to follow, some compromise to fulfill, somewhere to be.

Talking to The Artist made me realise that I needed to face the Corporate Lawyer and call it what it was. So, I met him for a late dinner (he’d just come off work), and told him that I’d prefer if we stayed friends, but that I really liked him and did mean friends. Not just sorta occasionally hanging out. And definitely not fading into the woodwork, or into the distance. Or whatever metaphor you’d like to pick to suit your mood.

He was worried about his job and really thinks he’s going to lose his position in his firm this Friday; or if not this Friday, then some other week. He looked dejected when I told him that generally most layoffs do occur on Fridays, not the middle of the week. He also told me about the argument he’d had with his sister and the annoyance he’d felt at his friend, a fellow corporate lawyer. He was going to say something really mean about her, but stopped himself, just as I intervened and tried to gently direct his attention elsewhere. I could see the stress and worry on his face. But I think that he’d be fine if he lost his job. He has good skills, works for one of the best law firms, and has done interesting work. It is definitely hard, though, and I felt guilty for giving him the “let’s be friends” speech given his current stress level.

But I certainly don’t think that giving him the speech would be better if I’d waited. There is really no good time to say “I’m sorry, I’d like to see other people.”

And now I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day.

 

The Topography of a breakup (III) March 4, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Exes — datehazard @ 9:02 am
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So, my examination of the emotional processes involved in a breakup continues (part 1; and part 2 here).

This time, my case study is myself.

My ex just called this morning to wish me a happy birthday. It was premature; my birthday isn’t until later this week. But we managed to have a conversation anyway, and he told me he’d started seeing someone and things were getting a little serious. Honestly, I wasn’t that surprised. His patterns are familiar to me, and I thought he’d rush into someone’s open arms after the last conversation we had, when he once again declared his undying love and said he’d like to give us another shot. At that time, I’d replied that the only way that was going to happen was if he embarked on some major work on himself. I wanted him to demonstrate to me that he would do what it takes to really show me how he could take the initiative on a regular basis. When we were together, I’d put all of the work into the relationship, from making all of the meals to arranging all of our outings, and despite my repeated complaints, then surly silence, then depression, he never lifted a finger. Instead, he’d started to ignore me, and then started to belittle me. Even while he actually admitted to me that he agreed with my assessment of the relationship. And so eventually I decided I’d had enough. Between struggling to focus on my work and plan the next steps in my career, I had very little time, energy or patience to devote to acting like this guy’s mom.

And so we come to stage 3 and 4 in the breakup. Stage 3 is where you still miss your ex, but you start to think a little more clearly about what happened. The good times are still there in your head; the bad times don’t seem so bad. You still want to get back together with them, and decide to call.

Oh no!

You’re reminded all over again of what the bad times were, and realise, “right… this is why we broke up.” It’s a good thing, but it makes you sad. Nevertheless, the thought of them dating someone else is really horrible, even as you do want them to be happy. You hope that you find someone else before them, and maybe even go on some dating sprees, like a crazed sniper, trying to make a connection with as many people as possible. A few more bouts of sadness and/or depression ensue when your targets don’t really pan out. You blame your ex and revert a little bit to stage 1 or 2.

Stage 4 is what happens when you don’t even notice. It’s when you realise that you genuinely want the other person to be happy. When it doesn’t matter whether you’re seeing someone else, or what’s happening in your life. When your ex calls, and you’re actually encouraging them, genuinely, to pursue their own happiness. When you remind them that looking into the past is just so much of an invitation to self-pity. When you tell them that horrible cliché that life is for the living. And actually mean it.

And that’s what happened this morning.

I think Stage 5 is when you actually see them again, and realise, after some rapid and pretty superficial back-and-forth between Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, that you actually do mean stage 4. And that you might even want to enjoy their company again, from time to time.

As the friend they always were.

 

I did it. I called The Charmer. March 3, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Comedy,Dating,Desire,Drama,Singleness — datehazard @ 12:25 pm
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Before you accuse me of foolishness (“Why would you call someone who never replied to you?? Can’t you take a hint?”), let me tell you why I did it.

I was speaking to my dear friend The Philosopher yesterday, by instant messenger. She’s on a research trip in another country, but we’ve probably spoken more now when she’s been away than when we lived in the same city. It’s just one of those things.

In any case. The phone call to the Charmer.

I called because The Philosopher asked me probing questions about why I wasn’t calling him, and why I was ascribing all of these negative assumptions to The Charmer’s behaviour. She made me think about whether I was being over-deterministic and possibly mis-characterizing his behaviour. She reminded me that he did express interest in me, after all.

I hated that needling sense that there may be some truth to what she was saying. I hated that sense of anxiety that the conversation was provoking in me, the way it was making me feel that I still hadn’t quite fully moved on; that I was basically stuck somewhere between Step 1 and Step 2, where I was blaming him without reservation, using him not to examine my own position, and thus also not acting at all. Damn that friend.

So, after much thinking, worrying and wondering to myself about whether it was a good idea to call The Charmer or not, I decided to do it.

I was amazed at how anxious I was when picking up the phone. My hands were cold; my mouth was dry, my bowels were turning over. I noticed my hands shaking with anxiety, my heart racing uncontrollably. It was disturbing to me that I would be so strongly affected. I was brought all the way back to a series of events over the past summer where I had to lie submerged in the water, upside-down, still seated in my capsized kayak, patiently and breathlessly awaiting rescue from another kayakker. The experience terrified me to no end initially; I am not the strongest swimmer, and had almost drowned as a child. But I learned over the summer to control my thoughts, and to visualize my visceral terror as having its own process, but not dominating, my active mind. My one standby of controlling my breath was useless to me in this situation: I could only parcel out my depleting store of oxygen, watching bubbles float from my lungs and break the surface; all the while controlling the steady awareness that I was slowly, deliberately suffocating.

And so I had to turn inward to stores of strength I never knew I had.

This is why I take risks: one never knows one’s boundaries until one pushes at them. And maybe even breaks them. And in the latter case, those are the moments that reveal whether repair or recovery are possible: another invaluable learning experience.

So I concentrated on my breath, dialed the phone, waited for the connection, let the call ring, let it go eventually to voice mail, hear The Charmer’s recorded voice, and leave a calm message. All the while panicking, adrenaline rushing through my veins.

Once again, I don’t think he’ll call back. That’s just not his style. But I’m really glad I called.

 

Some amusement about The Charmer February 28, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Dating,Desire — datehazard @ 2:41 pm
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No, there hasn’t been anything new to report. He never did get in touch with me, either to acknowledge that we are looking for different things; to try to win me back; or to shout at me in anger and accuse me of whatever first entered his mind.

It’s been almost a week since I’d sent that e-mail. He’s not going to call.

I’d like to say it’s not a big deal, but it is. Getting over what happened is much harder when the object of your affection disappears.

But today, while at lunch, I had an insight into his type’s possible way of thinking, and the way we were so obviously poorly matched from the get-go.

I decided to treat myself and went to lunch at a Dominican restaurant. While I was enjoying my delicious stewed pork with eggplant, a couple came in.

The man had salt-and-pepper hair, a trimmed short goatee, and was talking unceasingly on his cell phone. His wife/date had straight black hair that reached down to her perky round butt. She immediately chatted with the waitress, arranging for a table, getting them seated, asking for menus, making small talk and smiling, her head tilted to one side in a classic “I’m interested in you” gesture. All the while, she darted glances at her man, checking periodically to see where he was in his conversation, and taking pains to avoid interrupting or disturbing him in any way.

They sat down, her man wrapping up his conversation. She looked at her menu, occasionally glancing up to smile in encouragement at her partner.

I was at the next table, the proverbial fly on the wall. I pretended to be engrossed in my dulce de leche and cafe con leche, while I surreptitiously watched them both out of the corner of my eye.

He says goodbye, hangs up; she juts her chin out at him, her hair flowing forward to form thin cascading sheets in front of her shoulders. She raises her eyebrows in inquiry.

“Oh that was Ted. He wants me to get him some tires,” he says.

“Some tires!” She laughs.

“Yeah, I guess he thinks I can get them for him from my friend Nick.”

(Small tinkling laughs). “That’s funny! We should introduce him to Julia. Wouldn’t that be funny?”

He smiles at her, appreciating her joke, her laugh, her relaxed demeanour, good naturedness. She’s so adoring and so amenable. So understanding.

They order their dishes, she making light conversation while he juggles multiple thoughts in his head. She asks questions about whether he’s eaten some of the more unusual choices on the menu, in her broad Queens accent. She shares light-hearted tidbits with him, entertaining him with nothing too tiring, nothing too engaging.

Their food arrives, and she flips her hair around to one shoulder, tilting her head now to the right. Black strands slide and tumble in succession; one wave after another of silken hair fall, pointing like so many luxurious arrows into her lap.

She holds the fork in her right hand. Her wrist is bent at a right angle; index, thumb and forefinger form a bird-like shape around the shaft of the fork. She pierces her lettuce with her fork held absolutely perpendicular to her plate. It meets its target at 90 degrees each time.

She leans forward each time to eat; her mobile jaw is apparent when she opens wide to place another forkful in her open mouth. As she leans forward, her elbow rests on the table, so she is forced to crane her neck forward, flip her hair back yet again, and to lift her chin. She peers down at her food through hooded eyes.

And when her partner speaks to her, she looks at him too down the bridge of her nose, assuming an air of haughty arrogance. Her fork is poised to stab, dangled once again in a bird-like gesture while she stops chewing so she can hear her man talk.

The juxtaposition of her cold, arrogant stare, with her ever present quick smile and light-heartedness makes her all the more endearing, and seemingly strong.

Both know this is an act, but both are comfortable in their respective gender roles. I would not imagine a situation occurring where this woman would choose to pay for her partner’s meal; nor would he ever allow for her to insist on it. Both would be equally mortified and insulted by the possibility. This is just not done between a man and a woman who are intimate.

Somewhere along the way while I was watching the two of them, I became aware of how strange me and The Charmer would have been as a couple. Here is this curly-haired, sleep-deprived, intelligent, unyielding woman who has often been accused of being intense, driven and inflexible, and here is the same kind of man: always on his cell phone, always hustling, making deals, who just wants something intelligible and not particularly difficult.

Amazing that we were even attracted to each other enough to think something might work in the first place. And this is why people are best suited in complementary pairs, not in a bond where both parties are just as competitive and ambitious as the other.

 

Walking away from The Charmer February 23, 2009

So, I wrote an e-mail to The Charmer this morning, saying that I was walking away.

It came out of my realisation last night that we are just looking for two different things. He wants someone who can be as morally free as him, and who can let him indulge in whatever sexual pecadilloes he chooses, and it was making me sad. I cried as I fell asleep last night, in the realisation that I couldn’t be with this man in the way I’d like. It was a mixture of exhaustion, self-pity, self-loathing and acceptance.

I told him that, strange as it may sound, he was one of the few people in my life I’ve ever met who I was immediately and strongly attracted to; the kind of person who I just cannot get enough of. It’s been many years since I’ve felt this way; in fact, other than when I was a teenager, I don’t remember the last time I felt like this.

If nothing else, that sense that my heart has awakened, and reminded me of how strongly it can feel, is an amazing thing. I’ve spent the last year in a haze, unfocussed and numb. I never thought I could feel this strongly again.

And now it’s over.

And life goes on.