The Sunday Post: The Dance

How do you go all-in in a new relationship without feeling like you’re rushing into anything, moving too fast, or maybe more accurately, without coming on too strong? In Friday’s music post I mentioned that I’m trying to find the right balance.

Last year when I decided I was ready to start dating my friends and family advised me to have fun but to take it slow. When I started seeing S exclusively this past spring, again they reminded me to not rush into anything. Not rushing into anything has been my mindset for a year. When I downloaded the dating apps and created my profiles it wasn’t with the intent of finding a new partner for the rest of my life, but it also wasn’t in order to date a different man every week or to sleep around. Then when I deleted the apps it was because I wanted to see where things went with S. I didn’t want to keep looking around and meeting new people when I’d already found a wonderful man that I liked so much and wanted to spend more time with.

Many times over the past several months we have referred to our polite and cautious relationship progress as “a dance.” We’re do-si-doing around each other, trying not to take a wrong step, or step on anyone’s toes. It’s been a slow dance.

Last week S mentioned that he felt a little bit of distance over the last couple of weeks, that maybe I’d retreated inside my head a little more than usual. We agreed that part of that was because I’d been thinking about my dad a lot as the anniversary of his death approached, but it was also because other memories of last fall’s events crept up in my head and clouded my heart a little bit.

As we talked about this I realized that although those October memories influenced my thoughts and mood, there was another force at play: I was being very, very careful. I wasn’t just trying not to step on his toes, I was trying not to anticipate, not to expect, not to assume, and not to scare him away. I didn’t want to think too far ahead. I’d been protecting my heart.

I don’t want to assume that he wants to spend all his free time with me, or that he wants to spend his weekends with me every week. I don’t want to depend on him for all my social interactions and I want him to know that his plans don’t have to revolve around me. I know I still need to make some more friends. So am I overcompensating by holding back a bit?

I care about this man. I love him. He knows this. He loves me, and I can feel his love. We want to spend more time together. But I don’t know what that means or how to go about that (spending more time together). There’s a large part of me that would move in with him today if he asked me to, and another part of me, maybe larger, that would resist because I’ve worked so hard to find myself and my independence.

We’ve talked about this internal conflict of mine. To be clear: we are not discussing whether we should move in together. But when he asked me what I wanted for myself, regardless of whether or not he was in the picture, I said that I do not want to live alone indefinitely, but that I don’t feel like I need to get married again. I’ve learned that I can be happy on my own, but also that I am happier when I’m with someone I love. He feels the same way.

I also realize that part of my reluctance to even think that far ahead, ahead to a time where we might want to cohabitate, is all that this would entail (eg., his place, mine, somewhere new?). It gets a little overwhelming. So I would rather not think that far ahead. I just got settled in my nest. So I guess at this point we’re talking about allocating drawer space, right? Maybe I spend a little more time at his place, he spends a little more time at mine.

The morning after we had this last heart-to-heart I woke up several times during the night with these words running through my head:

If you were here with me right now

I would wish you a good morning the best way I know how

If you were here with me in the early morning light

My day would start out so very bright

Cheesy, right? Anyway, that’s where we are. This week we’re traveling to Boston together, spending a few days away with the goal of having dinner with his daughter while we’re there, wandering through the streets of Cambridge, taking some pictures, and eating some good food. Then it’s almost time to kick off the holiday season, and we will continue doing the dance.

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