Being a serial monogamist means I haven't actively dated seriously (present situation excluded) in a long time. I don't see being in a long-term relationship as "dating." Once you pass the 6-month mark, you move from "dating" to something else. I'm not sure what to call that something else, but it is definitely different from actively dating. I'm REALLY good at being in long-term relationships. Dating, I'm discovering, is less natural for me.
Since things between The Beau and I have been going smoothly, I'd forgotten how much I hate the whole dating process. Lulled into passivity, I guess. But last night it all came back to me. I hate the vulnerability and tip-toeing around feelings and all the other "newness" that happens in a new relationship. While the "honeymoon" period is nice, I much prefer the "comfortable and natural" stage of relationships. Because the rules and nature of dating is so damn bizarre and I'm much more of a long-term relationship person, I think that I too easily invest myself into relationships and people. When I'm in a relationship, I invest myself 100% into it (not losing myself, of course, but making the other person a priority). If I don't like the person enough to do so, I won't bother wasting my time in a relationship. I think my age, experience, and personality all contribute to this condition.
After the trip to Florida, I'd been feeling a little "off" towards The Beau. I couldn't really figure it out, so I did what I normally do when processes through thoughts and emotions. I made a list. I realized that, as per my normal, I was fully invested in the relationship and wasn't feeling the same level of investment in return. (My mom gave me some great advice when I was younger, and it's something that I've always held central in my relationship. When I got married, she pulled me aside and told me, "If both people in a relationship makes the other person's happiness their greatest priority, then you both will be happy and have all of your needs met." At first, my young mind thought that was ridiculous, but it has been my reigning philosophy for relationships since I processed it and understood it. It took me time to realize that being selfless was more important than being selfish.) Since I'm not willing to put more into a relationship than I am getting back, I decided that The Beau and I needed to have a talk. I made the mistake of telling him a few days before that I wanted to talk. Looking back, I realize that was a juvenile move, and I regret making him anxious about it unnecessarily.
Anyway, we had dinner last night and talked afterwards. I dread those kinds of conversations because they make me feel vulnerable and exposed, and, if you know anything about me, I HATE those feelings. I like to be seen as strong and rational and impervious to all things, and sharing what I truly feel completely shatters that illusion. But I powered through (with the help of my list!) and shared my feelings. I told him what I was feeling, and we had a good conversation. He was open and honest with me about his feelings as well, sharing that he indeed wasn't as invested as I was. I was less upset by this revelation that I expected to be. He also shared that this has been something that has come up in previous relationships as well. He has a much more narrow dating experience and is younger (but only by three years! Don't judge me!), so this may all contribute to the current state of things. I'm not sure how I feel about it all, and I'm still processing through it.
For now, nothing has changed between us, and we are moving along as we were previously. Knowing that he and I aren't on the same page causes me to pull back a bit and put less of myself out there. I certainly don't want to be the needy girl who suffocates her partner. I'm not trying to be standoffish and distant, but I'm definitely working to preserve my feelings and decrease my vulnerability. We'll see what the future brings, but the uncertainty and flux drives me crazy and makes me uncomfortable.
It's the control freak in me.
Maybe that's why I hate dating so much ...