Mr. Saturday Night sent a text about his adorable dog, 24 hours after my text thanking him for our lovely night out. Which, not sure what I’m supposed to do with that, but experiencing my own impatience mindfully has been interesting.
If this is indeed my Gap Year, then why am I freaking out because I’m smitten with London? I still have all of Europe to explore! I haven’t even been to South America! There’s a whole world of experiences out there. Why the pressure to hang out in one city for so long?
Here’s the thing: Dating strangers is hard. I mean aside from having to take precautions as a woman to protect yourself from creeps. It takes a lot of energy to talk to strangers and get their stories, and then assess what their stories mean about them and how their stories might intertwine with your own stories. Where will the pain points be? What will trigger you?
You end up reading between the lines. Like when Date #4 (I haven’t told you about him yet) talked about his marriage ending, he kept stumbling and glossing over some key painful memory — that I assume means he eventually cheated on his wife and he doesn’t want to talk about it, because that would mean justifying his behaviour. And then I have to assess, do I see him as “Once a cheater, always a cheater?” Or do I accept that this human fucked up because he was hurting and has since found the language and the means of expression (he paints) to work through it?
What about him will piss me off? What about me will piss him off?
Dating strangers takes time, and coordination. It’s a volume game—you gotta kiss a lot of seemingly sweet frogs (and a few toads) before you find the prince, or something like that. I don’t believe in fairy tales anymore (pretty sure that The Princess Bride ruined me for life), but the frog/prince analogy does stand up when it comes to setting your dating expectations.
Then someone captures your imagination and suddenly all you can think about in boring meetings is how much you want to fast forward to the date where he takes your clothes off. Except you don’t really want that to happen so fast, because what if he’s bad in bed and then this part of the fantasy is no longer delicious and now you have different things to occupy your brain? Ugh. It’s a lot for a neurotic over-thinker to deal with.
And is the end result worth it? Lasting love is so rare and so much work. So really what we are banking on is the smiley, giddy, floaty feelings of early love. We are, as a society, addicted to the feelings of early love. Many of us do not see the payoff from the effort required for love to evolve into a thing of beauty; a sharp, jagged piece of glass that’s been slammed against the shore so many times that it becomes perfectly polished beach glass that you want to put in a jar and admire.
I also have to remember that not every “city” I travel to in my Gap Year will cause me pain. I have to resist the desire to be pain-averse. I have to resist the urge to never let another man make me cry again. Because love is worth it.
I think. I have been taught to believe. And in the meantime, learning how to be friends with men, determining which kinds of men will feed me and fuel me forward into my journey, well that’s the lesson of the Gap Year.
And because dating is so tough and leaves one so vulnerable, the urge to stop and put roots in the first “city” I find adorable is an impossible pull to resist. You want to explore. You’ve only seen the shop windows, you don’t have a favourite bar yet. You’re just getting your bearings. But hey girl, don’t stress, you’re gonna breeze back through here the moment someone sends you a ticket.
Head to the next city. See what it’s about. How do you feel there? What will you learn? Don’t get attached. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t start fantasizing about bringing all your friends to be charmed by this city (I am so doing this with Mr. SN already – mentally planning outings with him and the friends of mine who will adore him).
That’s the other thing. Is part of the pull of Mr. SN the fact that he’s so fucking charming? We are all looking for mirrors, aren’t we? Am I smitten because he adds value to my identity or because he adds spirit to my soul? I dunno, but I like this town. My brain is growing in this town, this town makes my stomach flip flop, so I’m definitely coming back to London. I’m not done exploring yet.
But in the meantime, I’ve got a trip to Paris booked on Thursday.