A month ago, I was sitting at a place I didn’t want to be at in Murray hill, drinking wine I didn’t want to drink, waiting on a man I didn’t know if I wanted to date.
I was passing time and nursing my one glass because I didn’t want to leave the place and be forced to sit outside his building where Lucy would die of thirst. Mr. Unexpected had some sort of test that night and Lucy had a grooming appointment the next morning a few blocks from his apartment, so it made sense that I would sleep over… but as I tried my best not to obsess over when he would text that he was out, I wondered what the hell I was doing.
On paper and mostly in person, Mr. Unexpected and I really connected. The sex was great. He made me laugh. He was honest. The chemistry was there but there was also a big ole’ thing missing that I knew, he knew and probably even Lucy knew if we had a way of asking her. I couldn’t put it into words then, but a month later after a weekend of silence to “clear our heads” and “decide what we both wanted,” I found myself sitting across from yet another man who couldn’t give me what I wanted.
But there was one big difference in this mini relationship – and that was me.
In the past, I was willing to put what I wanted so far on the back burner that I started to forget what I needed, and thus, my needs were never met. In the past, I was willing to wait around for a man to get his act together enough to let go of his own self-imposed boundaries and mental blocks to fall in love with me. I was willing to be that rockstar in bed, but also that patient, kind, comforting lady in waiting – never applying too much pressure, and yet keeping the intensity there to keep his interest – and his hunger – lingering.
As I saw myself start to do that with Mr Unexpected while he figured out his job, his apartment, his past and our future, I said literally out loud in the middle of the lake this weekend on a jet ski where no one but the water bugs could hear me:
What about me?
What about the stress that I’ve had this year? Both for great and frustrating reasons – if that wasn’t keeping me from being able to let go in love, why would I be with someone who couldn’t manage it? If I didn’t want to take it so incredibly slow that we didn’t meet one another’s friends, that we didn’t even become Facebook friends, much less Facebook official – why was I drumming my fingers and holding onto a prayer that he would come around? If I was ready to move forward and ready for some romance, ready for some verbal something that would take us past drinks and dinner – why did I find myself walking on eggshells, wondering if asking about spending a Saturday together was too much?
Or maybe the biggest question that rang loud and clear as my phone remained silent the entire four days I was gone… Why was I investing so much in someone I had known a mere two months and he wasn’t willing to really, truly invest in me?
What about me?
The truth was there: I had partly fallen for Mr Unexpected based on my own expectations for what I thought he would become. Once the job thing worked out. Once he was more comfortable. Once he started to open up to me. Once he was settled. Once…it wasn’t all about him anymore.
So when it all came to an end with Mr Unexpected over red wine at a bar in midtown, us both putting off the inevitable conversation we didn’t want to have, things took an unexpected turn. I listened as he explained everything he had concluded this weekend, that he was in a bad place, that he needed to focus at work, that he had so much going on and couldn’t be the man I wanted and needed. That I was great (absolutely) and that he respected me (he should) and that he hoped I wouldn’t hate him (I don’t). The funny thing is that I had came to the same resolution too, having decided that anyone who needs space right after we met and made things official is not someone that I want to be with. I had also came to the conclusion that while someone might be willing to be exclusive with you, those words only give you a sense of commitment – they don’t promise that they will actually do what they need to make a relationship work.
And it was then that I knew I had two choices: I could ask him to work on it, to give it a chance, to not walk away. I could promise him I’d be more patient and I’d be understanding. I could tell him that we had something worth fighting for.
But then I’d be sacrificing myself. I’d be setting my expectations way too low. And I wouldn’t be listening to my heart. Because while I was disappointed that the guy I really liked – and really saw a future with – wasn’t up for the challenge of a new relationship (and obviously wasn’t falling in love with me), all I wanted to do was to run out of that bar and back into my single life.
Back to where the opportunity to meet someone who could give me what I wanted was somewhere out there, waiting for me to go on a date with him. Back to when I was asking myself what I wanted, instead of focusing on what would make someone else happy.
As we walked out, I remembered the conversation we had on our first date and I asked him, “Do you think my expectations are too high? Do you think that I want too much?” He smiled at me, grabbed my hand and said, “No, not at all. You just want love, Lindsay. That’s what everyone wants.”
He’s right. I do want love. And frankly, that’s not too much to ask for. And it’s definitely something not to settle for.