(I am writing down what happened, what I was thinking, everything. It’s long and rambling and detailed, a true journal entry with no other purpose.)
Tom and I met again last night. It was the sixth date and we went to a shopping centre, looked at animals in a pet shop, had a drink and talked and then watched a film in the cinema.
I was happy to see him. Just before we met, he wrote to me, telling about his work and something his professor had said. The way he loves his subject inspires me so much, and I felt a surge of warmth and affection for him and couldn’t wait to meet him. Again, he half raised his hand when we said hello, but this time I reacted: I said ‘you always want to shake hands and I always miss it’ in a joking way, and shook his hand. There were some silences between us as we walked down into the city, but they didn’t feel very awkward to me anymore. I was trying to concentrate on just being with him and how it felt. It varied during the evening. There are some things that make him seem unattractive in my eyes, like his clothing style (though I love his dark shirts), his hesitant manner when choosing a café, and his posture. He has a bit of a nerdy or goth-y touch that would fit somebody much younger. But he’s also very intelligent and not afraid to think about stuff and do uncomfortable work, which makes him very mature, attractive and interesting. And he has beautiful, delicate hands. I wish I could tell him that, but maybe it would make him feel unmanly, so I don’t. He also often mentions his height and that he is short, so I think it bothers him. On paper, he’s taller than me, but I have good posture and we seem to be the same height, or he even seems a little shorter. Maybe he is very insecure about his looks, just as I am about mine? Common concepts of male beauty like height, nice hair, strong and lean body all don’t apply to him, as he’s rather short, thin and bald. And I’m overweight, have loose skin, short legs and a small bust and my face isn’t conventionally beautiful. So, it sounds like a perfect match…
I did two things I had planned: I mentioned food and told Tom I was glad that we knew each other and that he had written to me that day in August. He said he was glad, too. From there we talked a little about our experiences with the dating platform. I told him about my bad first date and about some of the phone calls, but nothing about Joel. Not sure why. He said he would never be on that site for longer than a year. And he told me about a woman who ‘pestered’ him, giving him her number and wanting to meet. He said he knew there was no chemistry, but agreed to meet with her just to be able to tell her that he wasn’t attracted to her. From there we came to the topic of men who have unrealistic expectations and Tom said he knew such men from work. This made me feel bad for a second, because it could mean Tom himself would like a perfect woman but is settling for something less, and maybe I’m the ‘something less’. I also mentioned women or girls who spend hours every day on hair and makeup and wouldn’t be seen by anyone with a bare face, and how sad I thought it. On the other hand, I know women who have short hair, don’t wear any make-up and only wear jeans and fleece jackets and say they want to be loved for who they are. I am somewhere in between. I use a little makeup most days to accentuate my eyes, and I care for my hair, but don’t spend too much time and effort on an unnatural look, like foundation all over my face or straightening my hair or anything. And I like to dress nicely, wear skirts and dresses sometimes and choose clothes that flatter my silhouette. (Oh, it’s so good to finally fit into some of my clothes again!)
It wasn’t clear from what Tom said whether he was meeting other women at this time, how long he has been a member of the website, or how many women he met, or had written to. I told him he was the first person to write to me and that I had talked on the phone to a few men and met a few, but didn’t let him know much, either.
We talked about music again. Some of the songs he had suggested have become favourites of mine and I feel a real connection to them. It is always a great delight for me to find new music, and I thanked him for introducing me to the genre. And we talked about books. I thought he might like the Silmarillion, which is one of my favourites, because it is epic and tragic and has many parallels with classical literature. He said when he read such books, he always found the parts the author had taken from the classics, and it sounded to me as if he would not enjoy reading it.
Then he said something I thought a little strange, and yet it made me feel warm and safe: he said, ‘Maybe you and I could write such a book some time.’ In the moment, I hardly acknowledged it and answered something about always thinking what I wrote was a reproduction of somebody else’s ideas etc. But now it really strikes me as a thing he wouldn’t think or say if he didn’t want me in his life in future. Along the same lines, he told me the play we had wanted to watch in December was sold out, but would be on in March again. March.
The second part of my resolution, namely laying my head on his shoulder in the cinema, didn’t work. We had the option of booking a ‘couple seat’ which is a kind of double seat, or normal seats, but he suggested getting the normal seats, so I had no other option but to agree. Did he do this out of respect, because nothing ever happened between us and he didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable or pressured, or because he doesn’t want any contact and wanted to make it clear? It did feel a little like a rejection to me, so I was extra reluctant to try what I had imagined. I would also have had to lean over quite far and it just seemed unnatural and awkward, so I didn’t do it. In the film there was a scene with two lovers and the contrast couldn’t have been greater: the man was shy and was told by a friend to be bold and make a move, and the woman was suggestive and made the first move. And Tom and I just sat there side by side in the dark. No idea what he thought, but I felt a pang of ‘why can’t I be more brave, more normal’. Nevertheless, when there was a reference to something Tom and I had discussed and laughed about, I looked over at him and we smiled at each other and I felt there was a moment of closeness and shared fun.
After the film ended, we left quickly. It was very cold. I asked him if we should meet again. He said yes, maybe next week, but he had to see how well he got on with his important presentation for University. It’s really weighing on his mind, I can tell. Maybe it was silly but I felt hurt and rejected. I found myself thinking, ‘Can’t he find a few hours once a week to spend with me, even if he’s busy? Am I not important to him after all?’ Suddenly, I felt foolish and as if I was being much too eager. And I felt a surge of anger,too. But I just said ok and smiled. What else could I do? His tram came first and we said goodbye with kisses on the cheek. For a second, I considered hugging him, but hesitated too long. But he looked back at me and we both smiled and waved a little. But when he was gone, I had a moment of frustration and despair. Nothing happened to make the situation clear, again! I was too much of a coward, and he either wasn’t interested or was a coward, too. And no meeting on the weekend, maybe not even next week. I felt rejected, cold, ugly and lonely and for a moment almost cried. Could this ever work or was I trying to force an unnatural thing? Did I even want what I thought I wanted?
Such a long time without seeing him seemed bleak and empty and I felt as if I had nothing within myself to give me the same excitement and happiness. Ballet, music, running or exercise do make me happy for short moments, as does reading and writing, and I have goals and ambitions and often feel my old passion, but I want MORE now. More contact with people, a real connection. I want to be able to deeply love somebody and express my love, in words and tenderness. I’m lonely.
What is love, anyway?
I think I’m just addicted to happiness. I feel the need to have something to look forward to every day. If possible, an adoring audience, somebody to see me and applaud. Somebody to stroke my ego and, if possible, my hair as well. That’s a selfish wish. Is this all love is? Does ‘I love you’ mean nothing but ‘You make me feel good about myself’? I do not want to have my happiness depend on another person! This is something about love that always seemed problematic to me. And I knew I was in danger of feeling that way, so I tried to be self-sufficient, to not need anybody. But I do. And it’s a paradox: the more people I connect with now, the more time I spend with them, the greater this need seems to become. A weekend without plans to see anybody seems scary to me now while before it seemed relaxing.
I want a partner, a man who can think and feel deeply, who is willing to open up to me and wants the same from me. I want us to truly see each other and appreciate each other. I want to be able to be direct and dramatic and tell him how I feel and not have him run away, scared by my intensity. And I’m not sure Tom could be all that. He seems so reluctant and insecure, but not all the time, not in his writing. Maybe he only needs to open up and relax, and maybe he would need years of growth, or never get comfortable with this, who knows?
It only lasted a few minutes before I mentally shook myself, told myself to calm down and not be so silly, and to come back to myself. I’m proud of that! I couldn’t have done it a few months ago. I went home, listening to music, and told myself I was gorgeous and worthy and my happiness and life did not depend on anybody. It’s only a beginning friendship, maybe a little crush. I wasn’t going to give up on Tom, but it was maybe time to back off a little and focus on other goals. I also had the urge to overeat, because I was physically hungry and because that has been my usual way of caring for myself, but I didn’t. I went home and ate a very good dinner and really enjoyed the taste, and felt satisfied.
Tom wrote to me before going to bed. He called me ‘dear Alienor’ again, and thanked me for the nice evening and told me that he always felt very much at ease with me, and that it was always a lot of fun. Just like on the third date, that warm message did much to neutralise the bitter aftertaste of the evening. I wrote back saying I felt the same and then went to sleep, calm and hopeful.
And today, I am ok with not seeing Tom for two weeks and have plans for doing things on my own that I can look forward to, maybe taking less classes and practicing ballet by myself and maybe taking a video and work on special things. I’ve become too limited and too rigid. If I don’t feel that great passion for ballet at the moment and only keep up the classes to avoid loneliness and cravings, I should focus on something else. Something cheaper. And I lost two pounds over night. Now I will definitely eat more and enjoy it, because I don’t want to lose weight too quickly and have Tom notice it, or notice how old it makes my face look. I’ll eat maintenance calories on the weekend and a moderate deficit during the week. I’ll enjoy my life and enjoy whatever becomes of my acquaintance with Tom.