Everyone tells you not to have expectations, because they are doomed to make you unhappy one way or the other. That’s some heavy duty crap that I am not going to mull over right now though, because it finally dawned on me what a class-A idiot I am being.
So, the other day I finally posted about a first date I had recently. It was not my first first date overall, after splitting with the ex, it was the third. The other two fizzled out for various reasons, and I haven’t seen those blokes again thereafter, although one of them did become a kind of friendly acquaintance.
No, it wasn’t my first date after the ex; but it was the first time I felt anything remotely beyond friendship for a guy, after the ex. We were together for four years, and this was two years after splitting up. Six years of being physically, emotionally, and mentally tethered to one person takes some undoing. It was exhilarating. It was wonderful. It was terrifying. I think I forgot how to breathe at one point.
I have always started relationships by being friends first. There is no expectation of anything more, so the two people involved settle into a comfort zone with each other, without the pressure of feelings and attraction. With my other two first dates, I met up with these guys with that sort of purpose. Let’s hang out, and see where it goes. Why didn’t I do that this time?
It is partly the way I approached Tinder the second time. There was more determination to make an effort, and not to feel guilty about “cheating” on my ex. Thankfully, I was finally over him in the true sense of the word, rather than the front I was peddling to my family and friends.
Another aspect is that facet of my nature that I keep closeted at all times: the romantic streak. The part of me that loves onscreen love and happily-ever-afters, and thrills to stories of grand gestures and small tokens of affection. I could never admit to having that streak thanks to being surrounded by acerbic friends on one side, and overly romantic family on the other. Also could never admit to it because of the million times I’ve felt disappointed about boyfriends forgetting Valentine’s Day or my birthday. I never held it against them of course, because some people are built like that, but it did mean that tiny fledgling hopes got crushed.
Take the ex for example: he never bought my “I’m not romantic” schtick. He couldn’t remember dates, so I reminded him. But he did a million things that were super romantic: left hidden notes for me on the bathroom mirror, hidden love notes around the house, had 30 roses delivered to my office on my 30th birthday [this was crazy embarrassing, but worth a post], and a thousand other tiny romantic things that made me feel loved when he wasn’t around. I don’t expect that of anyone else though, but I did learn to accept that I indeed love romance.
Which is why I made such a mess of my own head that evening. I could’ve gone to that dinner with an open mind, and been myself. We would have avoided the awkwardness, and the evening, although nice, would have been much nicer overall. But I built it up too much in my head. That’s too much pressure: both for me, and the poor guy who has no clue what is happening.
My lesson in all of this is to stop overthinking. Stop over-imagining. Stop building castles in air and fantasising. Because I will end up losing out on the amazing present in the expectation of a fictional what-if.