Sunday, June 19, 2005

Going in order

"Going in order" might be one of the sillier ideas I have about dating. I also think it's true.

By "going in order" I mean a gradual progression towards intimacy, both emotional and physical. I suppose that the progression could go differently for different people, but mostly you shouldn't feel rushed or anxious. Perhaps it also means: take your time. In case it isn't totally obvious by now, I'm terrible at taking my time. I'm impatient and I want things to happen yesterday.

When I feel rushed it's usually because something is off, something is wrong. I get anxious and I try and speed things up, I call, I ask for dates, I send chatty emails. When things are fine, when there is no cause for worry, I don't think about whose turn it is to call or edit my emails a dozen times (just half a dozen) before sending them out. Maybe I'm scared that the whole thing will slip away so I get clingy. This causes the other person to pull back and confirms my worst fears.

The whole thing should flow smoothly from the start. If you meet at a bar, numbers are exchanged with no awkwardness. Calling is a non-issue. The first date is fun. There may be nerves, but the conversation is good and easy. You laugh. You want to kiss him, but you wait. The next date is with friends. The third date is a quick drink. The fourth date you cook him dinner (or he cooks for you). Making out commences. He's a good kisser. And on and on and before you know it, you are dating the best-boyfriend-ever.

When things go out of order: he doesn't call, you leave messages, he doesn't return the calls for a week. He claims to have never gotten the messages--but the real problem was that he was never intending to call, as happy as he was to hear from you and as willing as he is to go out with you. It means you are lopsided from the start and things will eventually become strained.

I have tried to slow things down and force them into order, but it doesn't work. Either it goes easy or it doesn't. When it doesn't go easy, I get anxious and I try even harder. But what I think is, when I get that anxious it's because something is off kilter. I'm too close, I can't see it, but if I were an outside observer it might be clear--it usually is clear in retrospect. When things are going out of order, it means that there is something wrong and it's probably not something you can fix.

Grateful for: taking my time, whether I like it or not.

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