Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Girlfriend Gig

I mentioned about a month ago that I was seeing a guy but that we weren't ready to make it into anything official or exclusive.

That changed, recently. So now I'm doing the girlfriend gig again, after nearly fifteen years.

We're not in love. But that's probably a good thing. We've both been burned (me more recently; him more painfully) and neither of us is quite emotionally stable enough to sustain real love at the moment. That said, we both felt like we'd come about as far as "casual dating" could take us. Continuing to date others (or even only remaining open to dating others) was beginning to feel like a cheat, an excuse to keep each other at a distance. So this exclusive dating is, essentially, an experiment to see if something deeper and more meaningful between us is a possibility.

So, O Internet, meet B., star of Penny's latest musing. (Yes, he shall remain nameless, at least for now. When I started this blog, 14 years ago, the internet was smaller, and while privacy concerns did exist, they weren't as hot a button as they are now. And my opinions about that issue have shifted somewhat over the years. I don't have too many qualms about using my real name for myself -- it's the name I'm published under, after all -- but if I were starting this blog fresh, now, I might well go with pseudonyms or initials anyway, for the sake of family and friends.)

So yeah. Exclusive relationship. It feels... weird. I have kind of forgotten how to be a girlfriend, quite honestly, and am still trying to figure out how to safely walk the vast swathes of middle ground between the casual involvement of a friend and the deeply invested and committed role of the spouse. But other than that, not much has changed -- I hadn't had a date with anyone else for about a month, anyway, so really, I've just stopped logging into OKCupid and hoping it would finally show me someone I would actually want to message (aside from my friend Greg, whom OKC assures me at least twice a week is a very good match, but really isn't, even aside from the fact that Greg has a girlfriend already.)

I hope you're not shocked and saddened, O Internet, that you're not the first one I've told. That honor went to KT, as my best and most supportive friend, and who was, not incidentally, instrumental in getting B. and me to go out in the first place. But I haven't really told that many other people, because I'm still processing it, myself. (And also because of an Incident that happened around the same time that I'm still trying to figure out how to blog about without a) infringing on someone's privacy and b) being excessively angry and bitter. It is only tangentially related to my relationship status, but it pretty effectively punched my good mood about it in the throat.)

Let's see, then; let's address some of the FAQs (if not aloud, then almost certainly in some thoughts):

- I am, kind of weirdly, not sure whether I even want it to work out, over the long run. There is a nontrivial list of pros and cons at play, and so far, the variables in the equation are shifting too wildly and rapidly for me to solve it. (But I'm actually looking at this as a plus, in light of my desire to not judge every relationship by its long-term potential. This is good now, so I'm letting it be good for now, and not dwelling on what might or might not happen later. Well... not much. Old habits are hard to break entirely.)

- Some of the "pros" in B.'s favor: He's even more of a geek than I am (though the Venn diagram of our geekery does not form a circle, which can be both pro and con). He does not put me on any kind of pedestal, but he does treat me with a level of respect and thoughtfulness that still surprises me. (Really, it's actually shocking sometimes. If this does not work out, then he will have at least succeeded in setting the bar pretty damned high for whoever comes next.) Also, he's insanely ticklish, which more or less guarantees me the upper hand in any non-serious discussion. (That's a joke. ...Sort of.)

- Some of the "cons" involve things like schedule and distance. We live almost an hour and a half apart, we have conflicting work schedules, and we both have pretty entrenched social lives. That makes it hard to fathom how much work and compromise would be required if this becomes long-term. (Hell, they're a fair amount of frustration now.)

- No, I haven't said anything about it to the kids, largely because nothing is changing for them. The entire situation is well over Alex's head (just this weekend, he decided it was time to let me know that he was not going to marry me, after all, but his friend Claudia) and I'm not sure Penny had actually understood that I was (at least in theory) dating more than one person before, so trying to clarify it for her now would probably just confuse her. Or else lead her to believe that it's more serious than it is.

What else do you need to know? Ask, and I shall answer!

(...Within the limits of taste, obviously. FAQ though it may be, O Internet, I am not telling you anything about my sex life. Feel free to imagine whatever makes you feel happiest.)


Tedi Trindle said...

I've found that distance can be overcome, if it needs to be. John and I lived 600 miles apart when we first started dating.

Liz Brooks said...

Wow, 600 miles makes for very difficult dating, I would imagine.

I'd like to think that (in this or any other relationship) if we make it to the "in love" stage, that will help make the difficulties seem less daunting.