Sunday, 25 November 2012

Stu is a Force to Be Reckoned With

Day 108
257 Days Remaining

Walked into church this morning, and wouldn't you know it, Stu was there.  I hadn't seen him in a couple of months, so it was a pleasant surprise to see his smiling face.  We gave each other a big hug and he joined me and my young son in our customary row.

It's very interesting to me how things have gone between Stu and myself - I know he wasn't ready for a relationship, and I know that my heart was already moving back toward HB while Stu and I were winding up our courtship, but even if it's been weeks since I've seen the guy, something strange happens as soon as I am back in his presence.  He sat down beside me on my right, and I swear, it's as though my spirit is drawn to him: I actually felt something inside me pulling toward him.  The guy is like one huge magnet.  It takes everything I can do to stop myself from leaning my head on his shoulder or putting a hand on his.

This always happens with him!  I remember so well when we were courting and we would attend church together; it felt so natural for me to want to put a hand on his knee or rub his back when he leaned forward, and I would try so hard to resist because I didn't want him to be uncomfortable or for people in our church to see the way I touched him as a sign that we were more physically involved than we were.  There were times when I would hold his hand in church and that would be the most natural thing for me, but I knew that any physical aspect of our relationship was still so new and uncomfortable for him.  And if it wasn't comfortable for him then, when we were actually seeing each other, I can't imagine how he would react if I would lean into him or touch his arm or leg while we listen to the sermon together now.

It got me to thinking, as I struggled against following the lead of this spirit inside me that was pulling as close to Stu as it could possibly get, about why I have such a hard time waiting for the man that is right for me.  I forget about this huge draw that Stu has for me when I am not around him, but it's like everything inside me is reaching for him when he is there.  Is it because there is something inside me that recognizes him as the right man (at least, the right kind of man), or is it because I still find him so attractive that when I see him, I want him again?  I don't believe that it's the fact of Stu's attractiveness to me, because although I do definitely see him as being very attractive (and his eyes are blue...I had forgotten!), the feeling that I have toward him - this tremendous draw toward him - is not lustful or even physical.  It really does feel as though my soul is pulling toward his, and while it`s fascinating (funny how I sat in church and pondered the physiological side of what was happening, while at the same time the pastor was giving a sermon on being equally yoked!), it`s also confusing.  Because if I can feel such a pull toward this man, how is possible that I can forget about him when I am not seeing him or talking with him?
The thing is, I don't know who "YOU" are yet.
When Stu and I were seeing each other, the idea of getting together with another man - even HB - never crossed my mind, because I had such a strong sense that this was the right thing for me and I knew I was waiting for something that would be wonderful and right.  Stu's hesitation frustrated me a little, but I had such patience with waiting for any physical expression in the relationship and had eyes for no other guy, because I felt that this was how it was supposed to be.  So why, when Stu and I are no longer seeing each other, is it harder for me to be patient for the right man to come along?

It kind of reiterated to me that this next nine months (or 257 days, to be precise) are the perfect time to get myself ready for whoever will eventually be in my life.  Just because there isn`t already a man in my life who I am waiting to be physical with, as I was doing while Stu and I were seeing each other, that doesn`t mean that I should conduct myself any differently than I did then.  There is someone I am waiting to be physical with - to be more than physical with: to be physically and emotionally and spiritually entwined...I just don't yet know who he is yet.  Just because I can`t see him and I am not aware that he is the one I will be with doesn't mean that I shouldn't be just as content to wait for him.  And who knows: who's to say it won`t be Stu, after all?  Maybe he will be at the right place by then.


Saturday, 24 November 2012


Day 106
259 Days Remaining

Let's talk about Dealbreakers again.

It's been a while since I've visited my list of Dealbreakers, which I really have only just begun compiling.  After this recent little slip-up with Fig, I'm finding myself realizing yet again how very important it is not only to have a list of Dealbreakers, but to honor those Dealbreakers.  If I have a list of things that I absolutely won't accept in a man, but I ignore it when a sweet or nice or otherwise attractive guy comes along, then what's the point?  I want to figure out a way to strengthen my devotion to following that list, because I have proven to myself that it`s all too easy for me to write things down, but the follow-through needs some work.
Okay.  What have I got on my list so far?  Only two things that will mean he is not the right man for me:

1. He is not a Christian, and
2. He smokes or does drugs at all, or drinks (to excess)

Today I want to add a few things to my list, all of which I`ve decided on after reflecting on my relationships - specifically with HB, and, more recently, this time spent getting to know Fig.  These three new Dealbreakers are (drum roll please...):

3. He does not make me a priority in his life
4. He betrays me, lies to me, or hides something important from me, and
5. He is not proud to be with me.

Dealbreaker Number 3: He does not make me a priority in his life is apparently something that I have difficulty recognizing, probably due to the fact that I'm so busy making whoever I am in relationship with the number one priority in my life.  Perhaps a little balance is in order!  I do think it's important that I make sure that the person I am with knows that he is special and important and that I want to make him feel good and to be the best person he can be, but I should definitely not devote my entire life to taking care of his every need or fulfilling his every whim.  And I do want to be with someone who will be happy to spend time with me - not all his time, and certainly not at the expense of other important things or people in his life, but who shows me that he values me and cherishes our moments together.  I may not be more important than someone's mother, but I should be more important than his job or than his computer games!  I have become used to being disappointed by people; if I ask someone to help with something or to go somewhere with me, I almost expect now that I will be let down, because there have been too many instances when I have not been shown that my time, or things that matter to me, are important enough for anyone else to bother with.

Dealbreaker Number 4: He betrays me, lies to me, or hides something important from me.  This is also something where I have to learn to be a bit stronger.  I do not like being lied to or discovering that someone has withheld information from me - who does?  The problem is that I forgive way too easily.  I can feel horrified at a betrayal one moment, but if the offender talks to me and gives me an apology and an explanation, I roll over and forgive almost immediately, and then continue on in the relationship without keeping my guard up.  I suppose it's a good thing that I forgive easily, but I also need to recognize that forgiving someone doesn't always mean that things can continue on the way they were before the betrayal.  I need to stand up for myself a little more!  I can't be a doormat.  A betrayal or a "lie by omission" must be grounds for a dealbreaker.  I want my relationship to be founded in truth, no matter if it may be painful from time to time.

As for Dealbreaker Number 5: He is not proud to be with me, I want to be with someone who will hold my hand in public and be proud to walk with me.  I want someone who is so pleased to be with me that if I want to change our Facebook relationship status to "In a Relationship" he will be happy to add his name to mine online.  I want someone who loves to be silly and cheeky and even romantic in photographs with me, someone who will attend family events with me and made an effort to get along with my family, and who will go to events or concerts that are important to me, even if he doesn't like the artist or if he doesn't feel like it.  Not all of these are things that HB didn't do (he in fact loved to walk holding hands with me and bought us tickets for several concerts just because he knew I would love it), but when he balked at things that were important to me, it made me feel as though he wasn`t happy that we were together.

So, there we go: my list of Dealbreakers has been expanded from two to five.  Now time to start working on how I am going to stand by this list and make sure that when someone wonderful and nice comes into my life, I'll be able to recognize when there are things that I know that I absolutely don't want in a man and be able to say goodbye to matter what.  I have my work cut out for me!


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tales From the Dating Archives: The Story of Stu (Part III)

October 2011 - January 2012

It was amazing how comfortable things were after HB moved into the house.  He seemed very much at ease with the fact that Stu and I were "courting" (probably much more so after he realized that we did not have a physical relationship - I know now that HB was jealous and trying very hard to be supportive of me and my choices, but it was a huge relief to him that we were not kissing or sleeping together.  To him, it likely made the relationship Stu and I had much less "real", whereas for me it felt as though it was the first time in my life that I was approaching dating the proper way).  HB and Stu got along well, they respected each other, and HB spent a lot of time either at work or in his room on his computer, so he fit in well with the house's dynamic.  My kids knew HB and were tolerant of his being there, although they definitely thought it was odd that he had moved in.  I was worried to tell my friends and family, and many of them thought it was a bad idea, but I also had support from quite a few people, who knew that I was comfortable with what Stu and I were developing and also that HB and I had a great friendship beyond our emotional connection to one another.

At that point, I truly did feel as though the emotional ties that had bound me to HB for so long had been severed.  I knew that what I had with Stu was what I wanted, and I was grateful for the many hours we talked and what we shared with each other.  I truly didn't feel as though a love triangle existed, because we all had utmost respect for one another.  It was probably one of the more mature things that HB ever did, silently grieving what we had while seeing my relationship with Stu, without talking to me about how he was feeling.  I am grateful that he was able to keep what he was feeling out of the equation; I'm fairly sure I wouldn't be able to do it.  In fact, I know that when the situation was later reversed, I was way less respectful of HB's choices and attempts to move on than he was while I was with Stu.  However, that is another story.

After we had been courting (I can't call it "dating", because we really were still in the stage of getting to know each other well enough to decide if we were going to move on to "dating") for a couple of months, Stu began to express his hesitation to enter into a committed relationship when he was so used to being on his own and doing his own thing, without consideration for another person - let alone four other persons, when you consider that my children are included in the deal.  I listened and tried to allay his fears, because I wanted to be supportive of him, and I also wanted him to know that being together wouldn't mean that we always had to be within sight of each other at all times, or that he would be responsible for me and the kids.  He did take it that way, though; he believed that if we were to be together, then he would have to change his entire life.  I'm sure it scared him.  Though I understood and did my best to soothe him, I once again reminded myself that I did not want to be in that position where I had to convince a man to be with me or stay with me.  I wanted him to make that choice himself.
"You must choose, but choose wisely, for as the real grail brings eternal life, the false grail brings death."
Perhaps in a bid to regain his independence - or to test whether being with me was something he really wanted - Stu accepted a job outside of town, a one-time thing that would have him away for a couple of weeks.  I wished him well and hugged him goodbye, and he headed off.  I missed him while he was gone, but Stu had always been so independent since I had started seeing him that I was used to not hearing from him for days at a time.  We Skyped occasionally and texted when his phone was working, and I thought if our relationship could survive his taking on out-of-town employment, it could definitely go the distance (bad pun; sorry - unavoidable).  HB and I enjoyed time together in the house, sometimes cooking a meal together or watching a movie or the weekly tradition of Wednesday night Survivor, but my heart was with Stu and we both knew where things stood.  Neither of us pushed to make anything more of what we had with each other.

And Stu`s two weeks away turned into three.  And then into a month.  Disaster after disaster piled upon him as he dealt with the company he worked for...he would call with his horror stories and frustration with the people he was dealing with - it was a tough time for Stu.  His unconventional looks often made people suspicious of him, and although he found people`s preconceived notions amusing, it must also have rankled him when he was doing his best at his job.  He finally came home after nearly five weeks away, and I was overjoyed to see him.  Now that his out-of-town job was over with, we could get back into our courtship and see where we were headed.

However, unable to say no to the company that had hired him, he turned around and left for another job a few days later.  And then another.

Stu was gone for much of the time between October and January, leaving a very small window for us to celebrate Christmas and New Year's together, and leaving me alone in the house with my ex-boyfriend.  My feelings for Stu were still there, but the hope of spending our future together grew more and more diminished as time went on and he made less of an effort to contact me while he was away, and sometimes didn't even come to see me during the few small blips of time when he was back in town.  Our "courtship" was a sinking ship.

HB and I kept our distance out of respect for Stu and the attempt he and I were making at dating, but there was no doubt that sharing a living space was bringing the two of us closer together.  I am happy to be able to say in all honesty that HB living in my house did not in any way contribute to the end of my relationship with Stu, and that he never once tried to interfere with what Stu and I were working toward.  Although I did feel incredibly comfortable having HB there, I wanted to pursue something with Stu, and I prayed every night that God would make it known to me if Stu was to be The One.

In January, Stu finally wrapped up his distance career, and we finally had the chance to spend a bit of time together.  Although I was already becoming aware of where he stood in our relationship, Stu finally made it clear when he told me that he just wasn't ready for a commitment.  The time apart had been good for both of us, in that we were both able to clarify in our hearts what we wanted and were able to handle, and although I was slightly disappointed that he wasn't going to be the man I was to marry, I was pleased with how the whole courtship had gone.  We got to know each other, we built a great friendship, and physical intimacy didn't get in the way and create those false feelings of intimacy I discussed earlier.  We parted ways with some regret, but because of the slow, steady and cautious way we went about getting to know each other, Stu and I have been able to maintain a good friendship.  We still see each other at church - the church he started bringing me to - on Sundays, and I am grateful to him for having introduced me to the church family I now see as so very precious and supportive to me.

I don't know if, after all this time on his own, Stu will ever be able to relinquish his solitude and independence and get married.  I don't know if eventually he will be in a place where he and I could pick up where we left off and try again; I know that there is definitely a foundation there.  What I do know is that I would love to have another opportunity to develop a relationship in that way: slow; steady; supportive; and rooted in shared faith.


Tales From the Dating Archives: The Story of Stu (Part II)

June 2011

Stu and I had no difficulty with conversation as we walked around the lake.  It was a lovely day and we were enjoying each other's company in that way that only rarely happens when you click with someone; it felt as though we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in years but who could easily fall back in to where we had been before.  It was so refreshing to be able to share my faith with someone who could understand; we talked about the difficulties of being in relationship with someone who has a different viewpoint on God and His existence, and how even when you know that you are in the wrong place, it can be difficult to let go of someone you`ve become attached to.  Stu was very vocal and outspoken about his faith, and while I had been concerned that he would be another dictator who would want to run his partner`s life and tell her what she could and couldn`t or should and shouldn`t do, I found him to be a sympathetic listener who shook his head in disgust when I related some of my experiences with Christians who issued ultimatums for other people rather than live their faith and try to lead by example.  I was hugely relieved by his attitude, especially when he reiterated his viewpoint by saying that no one can force someone to believe in God, and no one can be a true Christian if they push their ways on other people.  It is, he said, more likely to push someone away from God, and reflecting on my own experience even as a believer, I had to admit that he was right.  I loved God and believed in Him, but my fear of being beaten over the head with a Bible had kept me from men who were believers.  Instead, I kept dating men who were not interested in my faith, and who in fact felt scorn for my beliefs at times.

I think at this time it is important to point out that although the Bible specifically says Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NASB), it also says "And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him." 1 Corinthians 7:13  I see these verses as not being contradictory to each other, for I do believe that a believer in Christ and a non-believer could potentially have a very good marriage, and that it is not expressly forbidden by the Bible for two people of conflicting faiths to marry (Stu would definitely disagree with me here).  The main point for me is, it is much easier to be joyful in your beliefs when you can share that joy with the person who loves you and with whom you should be more intimate than anyone else in the world.  I can love someone who doesn't believe what I believe (and I have demonstrated that, clearly!) and we can have the best relationship of anyone we know, but if I can't share that crucial part of my life with him, then I am hiding some of the most important things about me from the one I love.  It is my choice - not a dictation - after making all these mistakes in the past, to seek out a Christian man as my partner.  I don't believe God will condemn me if I love someone not of my faith, but I do believe that He wants me to have the best experience possibly in my love life and future marriage, and to share faith would make it much easier.

This is why I was so thrilled to discover that I found Stu attractive as well as enjoyed conversing with him.  Apart from the obvious, sharing a faith in God, we also had a similar sense of humor and conversation style.  So many little things we had in common made us laugh - he lived within two blocks of the school my children attended, and he had driven the bus for the high school girls' volleyball team on several occasions, so he knew several of my daughter's friends.  And imagine our shock when we discovered that not only were we the same age, but we had attended the same high school, and had been in the same graduating class.
"I thought I recognized you from the ten-year reunion," he stated.  I couldn't believe it.  Nineteen years ago we attended school together, graduated together, both attended the reunion nine years earlier, and both were involved with my kids' school, and it had taken nineteen years - and an online dating website - for us to meet?  

And so, after a slow start (six months of emailing before meeting a guy sure teaches a girl a lesson in patience), Stu and I eased into a courtship of sorts.  It was nothing like anything I had experienced before: there was nothing physical, apart from the rare occasion where we held hands in public, and some snuggling on the couch while we watched TV or shared our favorite music with each other.  Stu was different from any other guy I had ever met, and he intrigued and fascinated me.  He had become used to being solitary, and it was an adjustment for him to have a woman in his life.  However, he eased himself into it, and in taking our time, we both got used to the idea of each other.  I loved the fact that instead of rushing into a physical relationship - even a kiss, Stu said, was evidence of a commitment that he didn't want to make until he was absolutely certain - we were building an incredible friendship.  I was beginning to understand the importance of crafting a solid and true foundation to lead up to what could eventually be a great and stable marriage.

Stu took me up to a cabin on the beach, owned by his family, and we spent a wonderful evening listening to music and chatting by the woodstove, and when he bid me goodnight he retired to a different building and let me settle in the main cabin, where I fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves through the window.  In the morning we got up and made pancakes together and ate them on the porch overlooking the ocean.  We went fishing together (which was a disaster, but I was glad to experience it with him!), and when he volunteered to drive the speedboat for the kids at a camp slightly up-Island, we drove up together and he took me for a ride or two (the best way to get whiplash or fall off a boat is to be a passenger when Stu is driving).  I felt very comfortable with him, and as time wore on I began to entertain the idea that maybe this was the man that God had in mind for me.  I could picture Stu and I in a marriage, and I got very excited about the idea.  

HB was at the back of my mind, and I still mourned our relationship, but as time went on and Stu and I became more solid, I was beginning to put the idea of HB behind me.  Having the kind of courtship - slow and steady - that I was experiencing with Stu, and sharing a faith with him, I recognized how shallow the relationship with HB had been in so many ways.  I knew that what I was building with Stu was what I wanted: the honesty, the comfort, and the maturity.  Eventually, I felt secure enough in my courtship with Stu and how much I had moved past the relationship with HB that I felt I could resurrect my friendship with HB and keep him at arm's length, and in a way, this was successful.  I see now that allowing myself to have HB in my life in any way would not help my chances of having a strong and solid relationship with Stu, but since I had talked with Stu about everything that HB and I had been through - he, of course, was understanding and supportive as usual - I felt that we were strong enough that HB would not stand in our way.

In fact, when my roommate moved out and I was desperate to fill a room in the house, and HB - whom I was now (mostly) able to look at as merely a friend (albeit a friend with whom I shared many intense memories) - offered to move in and pay rent, my main concern was not if I could handle having HB in my house; it was whether or not Stu would be comfortable with it.  Despite having my misgivings about the wisdom of allowing an ex-boyfriend - especially one who I had been deeply in love with - living with me, I discussed it with Stu, who mainly seemed concerned that HB would find it difficult to be in such close proximity to me.  Indeed, HB still claimed some sort of ownership of me, at least in his head: he and Stu had met and were civil and relaxed with one another, but sometimes he would call me "Baby" out of habit, even in front of Stu.  I cautioned him against it, but it still happened.  I was worried.  I didn't want to mess things up, but I really needed to fill that room, and I knew HB would be pleasant and easy to live with.  We worked out a deal: we would try it for one month, and if any one of the three of us were uncomfortable with it, HB would move out immediately, and I could keep the rent money.  I agreed.  HB moved in.

And very shortly after HB moved in to my house, Stu got a job out of town, and began going away for long periods of time.  Sounds like quite the recipe for disaster, doesn't it? be continued...soon, I promise!

The Growing Pains of Wisdom

Day 103
262 Days Remaining
“I'm afraid that we all make mistakes. One of the things that defines our character is how we handle mistakes. If we lie about having made a mistake, then it can't be corrected and it festers. On the other hand, if we give up just because we made a mistake, even a big mistake, none of us would get far in life.” Terry Goodkind, Confessor
I suppose I was being a little hard on myself the other day, when I confessed to you all that I had allowed myself to act on my crush on Fig.  My biggest worry was that all the people who have been encouraging me throughout this dating hiatus would be disappointed in me, and although I've heard back from some people who have been more forgiving of me than I have of myself, it is the ones I haven't heard from that I suspect are sitting there shaking their heads at me.  Nonetheless, this attempt to go for a year without dating (or kissing, or anything else of the sort) is not yet over for me.  Despite the bump in the road, I will continue on my dating hiatus and if anything, I am more resolute to guard myself better from now on. William Jordan called mistakes "the growing pains of wisdom", and although I already feel I have heaps of mistakes to learn from, apparently I made the conscious choice to stick another one in my arsenal.  It's all right, though; just as it hasn't been the first mistake I've ever made - and certainly isn't the first time I've let myself down - I am sure it won't be the last.  And I am working to make sure that I learn how to protect myself from making those mistakes again; to recognize them before they happen and to rein myself in.

I was a bit nervous about talking to Fig about what happened between us.  He, as you may have realized, is my roommate, so aside from the issue of me being on a sabbatical from dating, there's the completely relevant fact that we live in the same house and hope to continue doing so - without weirdness and discomfort - for the foreseeable future.  He is an awesome roommate, and I'm not just saying that because I am attracted to him.  The same qualities that make him a great roommate and fantastic guy to have around are the qualities that attracted me to him in the first place: he's a sensitive guy (not like girly-sensitive, but easy to communicate with); he fathers his son extremely well; he is clean and neat and keeps the house amazingly tidy; he has a great sense of humor; and he can cook.  (Well, spaghetti, at least; I haven't tried anything else of his...but his spaghetti is delicious.)  We connected right from the start and have been easily able to communicate, and that led to an immediate sense of ease and comfort with each other.  It's easy to mistake that for intimacy, and although we've definitely developed an affection for each other in the time we've been sharing a house, we're nowhere near where I would want to be before heading down the road of physical affection with someone.

So, it's been a few days, and each day my resolve to talk with him has grown.  We had a busy weekend - all the kids were here, so we were each involved in our own parenting - and then I got very ill with bronchitis and a sinus infection, so between coughing my head off, my drippy nose, and being doped up with codeine (it's the best cough suppressant for me), it was not really conducive to having a serious chat.  Fig was so helpful during the last few days while I've been sick: making me tea and running to the store to get me cough medicine, and ordering me away from emptying the dishwasher, taking over and cleaning the kitchen when I was too weak to do it.  I worried that maybe he was taking things fairly seriously - in fact, there were a few times when it actually felt as though we were in a marriage - and that he was doing it because he mistakenly believed that we were in a relationship now, but upon reflection I recognized that for Fig, doing these things is just his way.  He is a caregiver, and it's been so nice to have someone taking care of me without expecting anything in return.

Tonight, with all the kids back at their respective other parents' houses and me feeling slightly better, Fig and I found ourselves facing the evening, and each other, without much else to do.  I made us each a cup of tea and Fig suggested we watch a movie or play on the Wii.  We made ourselves comfy on the couch, and I launched into it immediately, worried that I would lose my nerve if I didn't.

"So, do you think we should talk  I mean, what happened and what's going to happen and where we're going from here?"

Fig nodded.  "I think we should."

He urged me to go first, since I had brought it up.  "I think...we jumped the gun," I said, and he nodded.  The relief I felt as I began to explain my position was immense when I saw by his expression that he felt the same way.  I mentioned my dating hiatus, and told him that although I could have let it wreck the entire thing, I wasn't going to...I was going to see it as a small detour, but that I was planning to continue with it.  I knew that he wasn't sure whether he wanted a relationship or not, and when I said that neither of us is in the right place for it, he agreed.  And of course, there's that old saying that you don't sh*t where you eat...starting a romantic relationship when you already live together is just asking for trouble.

Fig agreed with it all, including sharing my worry that this "mistake" would ruin our roommate relationship, which neither of us wants.  We got it all out on the table, told each other everything that we were feeling, and concluded that we were both mature enough not to let this affect our growing friendship or our living together...and that neither of us knows what is in store for us down the road.  Who knows what the next nine months might hold?  We hugged, both relieved and thrilled that we were both on the same page, and then got down to the serious business of Wii bowling.  Where he proceeded to wipe up the lanes with me.

If I could just figure out how to stop doing that curve...

I feel blessed.  This whole thing could have gone so wrong: I could have allowed myself to completely give up on my dating sabbattical and throw myself into yet another relationship that I am not ready for and that I haven't given the proper chance to develop a strong, steady foundation.  I am grateful for the gift of having had a few days to really think things through before I approached Fig with my concerns, and for the lessons that I've learned in the past about how to look at my situation objectively and decide what's right about it and what's wrong about it.  I really don't feel this will affect our friendship; in fact, I believe it will strengthen in, because we've already learned how to be completely honest with each other.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Fig and I can build, with no expectations for anything beyond a sturdy, real friendship.

Now, on to the next 262 days.  I'm armed and ready for them.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Just a quick one...

Day 100
265 Days Remaining

Just a quick blog post to note today's date: It has been one hundred days since I started my dating hiatus.
I should be feeling more celebratory; I'm not.  I feel as though I've let myself down - couldn't even get to 100 days before my resolve failed and I gave in to temptation.

Yep, sort of had a little bit of snuggling the other day.  Yep, sort of more than just snuggling.  Kissed my crush and felt perfectly fine with it at the moment and even for a while afterward, but not now.  Now I am feeling conflicted and slightly upset. I have friends who say "The dating hiatus is under your control: you decide when to start it and when to end it, and you can break it if you want," but I didn't want to break it.  At the very least I wanted to get to know someone really well before allowing anything to happen.

I had to remind myself when I looked at my blog today and saw that I described it as "My attempt to spend one solid year without dating in any way, shape or form."  Attempt.  I can't come down too hard on myself, and I also won`t start over from Day 1 again or say that I`ve ruined it for the year.  I may have made a mistake and I can move on from it.  Isn`t that what this whole thing is about?  It's not the worst mistake I could make but it sure is a reminder.

As to who this mystery guy is, I'm going to call him Fig.  As in instead of a swear word.  As in, Aw, fig; I really like this guy, or Aw fig, this might make the next 265 days difficult.  Or Aw, FIG!  NOW WHAT?!

Today also would have been my third anniversary with HB.  Weird how I always remember those dates.

Here's to the second 100 days.  If I get there.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Tales From the Dating Archives: Enter Stu (Part I)

December 2010 - June 2011 

The Story of HB and The Story of Stu overlap in some ways, so it's been difficult to figure out how to write the stories chronologically without sounding like I was stringing two men along at the same time!  Of course, there is the technical fact that HB and I had not been together together since the spring of 2010, so me meeting Stu on Plenty of Fish – during one of my lonely “I-wish-I-could-just-meet-someone-and-get-HB-out-of-my-system” moments – in  December 2010 and the subsequent flurry of emails exchanged with him can not be considered cheating.  Although my heart was with HB, I was already attempting to pull away from him, as I knew he was from me, and I went back to the only way I knew to move on from a boyfriend: try to find another boyfriend.  Hey, it worked with Black Luke when I had finished with Crumbs; it worked with Stringer when I was trying to get over Black Luke; why not try it again?  (See a pattern here?  This is why a year off from dating is a good thing for me.)

Stu's PoF profile was actually one I had looked at the previous year, before I met HB on that very same site.  His picture showed a very attractive man – who bore a surprising resemblance to a famous actor renowned for being quite handsome – with a solemn, unsmiling face half hidden in shadow.  His write-up very clearly announced him as a Christian, which immediately drew me...and made me wary at the same time.  At the time, I was dealing with several people who called themselves Christians and used that designation as permission to tell other people what to do and how they should behave.  I knew a few women who had been “cowed into submission” and, although I definitely do want to be a help and a support to my husband, I also want to be allowed free thought and the right to make my own mistakes and decisions (and learn from them).  My first thought upon seeing that he was a fellow believer was excitement, but the thought immediately following was that I would end up in a relationship with a man who would dictate to me, tell me what I could and could not read or watch or listen to, and refuse to allow me to spend time with my friends.  At that time, I didn't feel I could handle someone who trumpeted his faith so blatantly in such a public forum – if he was so brazen with his beliefs on a dating website, I was certain that he would be even more so in person.  I didn't send him a message, and instead ended up in the long drawn-out saga we now all know as The Story of HB.

By December 2010, however – and despite the fact that I had designed and commissioned a ring for HB, and he had a matching one made for me in return – I knew that HB wouldn't be able to hang in there much longer before panicking and running away from me again, and I was determined that I wouldn't sit around waiting for him to make up his mind about where we were going to go.  At this point, it had been eight months since he had last kissed me, and although he told me he loved me on a regular basis, I began to wonder if that meant to him what I wanted it to.  We were “friends who loved each other”, a strange limbo-land that I still hoped would evolve into a real relationship, but always in the back of my mind was the thought that it would never happen.  Once again I created a profile at, and began halfheartedly scoping out the possibilities.

And there was Stu's instantly familiar profile again, staring out at me.  Once again intrigued, I read it over a couple of times, chuckling at his sense of humor and wondering if he could possibly be someone who would meet me halfway.  After some hesitation, I decided there was no harm in contacting him.  I wrote up a quick introductory message and hit Send.

It didn't take long before Stu and I were exchanging regular emails.  It was an excellent way to start: he tested my knowledge of pop culture and we told each other a few anecdotes about our walk with the Lord and how we had grown – and were continuing to grow – in our respective faith.  I began to look forward to hearing from him, and while in real life my up-and-down back-and-forth emotional struggle with HB continued, Stu and I got to know each other. 

It soon became very obvious to me that Stu was not anything like most of the men I had met through PoF who were only interested in one thing (you know which one thing I am talking about), and that he was a very slow worker.  Sometimes I wouldn't hear from him for days or a week, although when I received an email it was always fun to read and engaging.  I wasn't falling for him simply by reading his letters, but I liked the person I was getting to know through the once- or twice-weekly missives.  Part of me was anxious to meet him, but another part of me wanted to hold off as much as he apparently did.  I wondered at the time why I waited so long to ask him if we could meet in person, and recognized that if I met the real-life Stu, I might very well start to like him even more, and that would mean that I finally would have to let go of HB completely.  I wasn't ready yet.  Nor, apparently, was Stu, though not for the same reasons.'s often easier said than done.
It was a full six months before we finally arranged to see each other in the flesh.  We had exchanged few photographs, preferring instead our free-flowing conversation, and Stu had advised me that he no longer looked as much like that famous actor as his profile picture showed.  He had changed quite a bit, he said, and wanted to make sure I knew that before we met.  That didn't bother me, since I liked the way we had communicated and didn't want to meet him solely for his attractiveness.  In a way, I think I hoped that his physical traits - if they truly were changed - would make him less attractive to me.  His messages had shown that he had many of the things I knew I wanted in a man, and although it didn't make me care for HB any less, it made me wonder if there was someone out there who would be a better match for me, and who I would  be able to be with in a comfortable way without all the drama and stress and insecurity about the future. 

June 2011

Stu and I planned to walk around Beaver Lake together, and he said he would meet me at the sign marking the entrance, and that he would be hard to miss with all his facial hair.  I pulled up at the sign and saw a tall man standing there, his long hair curling as the wind teased it around his head.  Nerves caused my heart to beat faster, but I steeled myself as I got out of the car, telling myself that if it was meant to be, it would, and if not, there was no harm in a walk around the lake.

He grinned as I got closer to him, and I noticed that the handsome face I had seen in his profile picture was still there, under the wild hair swirling around his head and face.  His eyes were beautiful and soulful and his teeth, straight and even as he smiled, sparked an answering smile in me.  Between the gorgeous eyes, high cheekbones and infectious smile, I was at once reminded of Black Luke.  I was attracted to him, and as he welcomed me to our “first date” with a hug, my thoughts were a mix of excitement, hope, possibility...and dread at the realization that no matter what happened during this walk with Stu, it was finally - really - time for me to tell HB that we were done. be continued...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Do You Have a Minute?

Day 95
270 Days Remaining 

“It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone... but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.”― Kahlil Gibran  

Well, it finally seems to be happening.

When I first started this blog, I worried that I would meet some amazing guy who would make me want to break my dating fast and run straight into his arms.  I thought there was a distinct possibility that I wouldn't be strong enough to make it through the full year, or, at the very least, that I would have something interesting to blog about as I struggled with my feelings.  As time went on, I was surprised that I hadn't met anyone who seemed interested in me - I mean, come on, is it that apparent that I am not available that no one even asks me out?  Way to make a girl feel desirable.  After I put aside my own insecurity about it, I thought, oh well; at least I won't have a difficult time making it to the end if there is no temptation for the entire year.

Temptation might not, for me, be what other people may assume it would be.  I don`t watch trailers for Magic Mike and get all hungry for a man to strip for me.  I don`t see a good-looking gentleman walking down the street and drool over him, ogle him, or imagine grabbing him and throwing him to the ground. I haven`t even had issues with seeing attractive fellow students at college and wondering if I could get them to like me.  Simply put, I haven`t had the time nor the inclination to really deal too much with real people. For me, the temptation is just to think about being held by someone, or being smiled at by someone, or getting a text message that curls my toes.  I push aside those thoughts because I know that they could lead to me thinking those thoughts about someone in particular.

But now, so much for that: I think I am developing a crush on someone.

Along with the lovely rush of imaginings that come with this type of interest in a man come many others: suddenly, nine more months sounds a lot longer than it did a few weeks ago: the days that have passed are all at once not as important as all the days yet to come.  As much as I want to keep my resolve and continue my dating hiatus, I also am facing the inevitable thoughts that I knew I would face: What does he think of me taking a year off dating?  Does he like me, too?  Would he wait for me?  Would he expect me to stop the sabbatical?

I am also finding myself immediately thinking all the things that I usually think at the beginning of a relationship, brushing aside possible red flags, looking for a connection.  This is not how I want to be.  I want to make sure that I am myself, and that people I meet will be impressed with what shines out from me rather than what I put on.  I want to be strong and sure of myself and have that solid foundation before I embark on something with another man.  But oh, it is getting difficult, because I start remembering how much I love that feeling of belonging to someone.  I think about what it would be like to know that someone loves me, and to be able to give those feelings back and do things to show my love.

And oh my word, I think about kissing.

Kissing.  It`s so amazing, isn't it?  I mean, good kissing.  I've always been a person who loves to just kiss and kiss and kiss...making out can last hours as far as I am concerned.  Now that I`ve gone for so long without a kiss I swear I have moments when I`m looking at every male`s lips and wondering what they would feel like.  As I`m getting to know this man I am feeling more comfortable around him and my thoughts have strayed in that direction, although I work hard to stop them.  I haven`t yet gotten to the point where I am imagining being kissed by him - those "fullness- and softness-of-lip" analyses have yet to happen - but if things continue in the vein that they are currently going, I am sure I will be going to sleep dreaming of the moment my lips are touched by a man`s lips again for the first time in what feels like forever...and all the other reactions associated with kissing that happen in the body...Okay, okay...I have to stop thinking about the kissing.

For the most part I imagine being touched with love - just those little moments like a hand on the shoulder or an arm around me; a sweet hug; even - perish the thought - a little pat on the backside.  There is such a huge part of me that longs for that physical expression.  Like I said, I'm not having a difficult time restricting my temptations at the moment, and I am not head over heels, but I feel that I am getting closer and closer to a crush on this particular individual.

My choice is to allow things to grow as they may, and to continue working on my foundation.  I am not able to stop having daily interactions with this man - we are in relatively close proximity every day, so it might be a challenge.  Although I know I still have almost nine months to go, part of me loves feeling it and doesn`t want to let it go, but I know I have to be so careful not to let it explode into another mistake.  I know that I do not want to break the dating hiatus, and I do not want to choose the wrong partner yet again.  I hope I can stay strong.

End blurt!


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ten Great Things about Being Single

Day 94
271 Days Remaining 

Well, here I am three months into my yearlong dating sabbatical, and I have to admit I am starting to get a bit antsy.  I`m working through writing these memories about HB, and there are some that get me going a you have any idea how amazing sharing a kiss after over a year without can be? I remember longing for him for sooo long and then finally being able to kiss him on the lips - oh wow; it was insanely amazing. Sometimes it gets me thinking about when my next kiss will be and who it will be with.  Tingle tingle.  But it's at least another nine months until I get that feeling again...sigh.

But, along with the head-to-toe tingle that comes with that first kiss also comes a whole mess of other things, some of which I am definitely happy I don't have to deal with these days.  In that vein, I decided I needed to remind myself of some of the great things about being single.  I actually really love being single in a lot of ways, so I'll write them down here, so I can remind myself the next time I start wishing I had a man in my life.

1. I have the remote all to myself. No more helplessly watching him flip back and forth between channels every time a commercial comes on or the show I'm watching gets boring to him (even if it's right at that very last moment where Tyra smizingly says “Two beautiful girls stand before me...but I only have one phow-tow-graph in my hands...”). Although, if I get bored with the show, I'm perfectly able to switch channels myself, and the two shows I'm switching between will not have anything to do with monster trucks, foul-mouthed cartoon children, or the latest Apple gadget. 

Yes, I enjoy this show...but most men don't feel like watching it with me.
2. I am not accountable to anyone but myself. Hurrah! I'm the only one who matters! I don't have to make excuses or give reasons if I'm late; I don't have to check the mail if I don't feel like it; I can talk on the phone for an hour with my sister in Alberta without someone asking me if I`ve thought about how much it will cost; I don`t have to pick anyone up from the dentist on the spur of the moment when he`s forgotten that he will be on heavy-duty drugs and unable to drive (although I have to admit, I do like being asked to do those types of things).  Point is, whatever I decide to do, I can do it with myself - and, depending on what it is, of course, my kids - in mind.

3. I can hang out with male friends – even ex-boyfriends – and no one will get mad at me for it. I can go for coffee every weekday and dinner every weekend if I want to – who's going to complain?  I can drink coffee until I'm basically living in the bathroom, and I can do it with every ex-boyfriend I've ever had if I want to.  I'm the only one who will complain about them being there and I'm the only one who will freak out if one of them ever tries to kiss me (or I try to kiss one of them).  Of course, it's safer to do this with coffee rather than any alcoholic beverage.


4. When my cell phone signals a text message I don't find it urgent to immediately read it.  Although my first instinct is still to jump to it, I don`t automatically assume that it`s my boyfriend texting me to either a) say he loves me; b) ask me to do something for him (such as pick him up from the dentist because he`s forgotten he will be on heavy-duty drugs and unable to drive), or c) get upset at me for doing something that shouldn`t be a big deal but for some reason is hugely important to him.  Since I don`t have a boyfriend to do any of these things, I can ignore it until I`m ready, and perhaps it will also condition me so that when I do again have a boyfriend, I will realize that no text message is important enough to need to read the instant that I receive it.

5. I can watch chick flicks in my pajamas without someone saying “This is stupid."  At least, I can when my kids aren't there.  I can pull on the flannels and click through Netflix until I find something that no man in his right mind would want to watch with me - and I`m even at the point now that I can see movies that we used to watch together and not get all mopey and self-indulgently (and/or self-destructively) watch them on my own and weep through them because I remember watching them together.  And I can eat chips and dip and drink rum & Coke and not sit there waiting for someone to say "Don`t you think you should be eating something healthier?"

6. Grocery shopping is a lot cheaper.  It's not just that many of the meals I make now are made just for myself, but it's also that I always used to walk down the aisles and see little things that I knew the man in my life would like, or worse, search out obscure things that might please him (Ohhh, soy milk; I should have some of that on hand, and those spinach pizzas are on sale today... or Ohhh, I remember one time he mentioned that there were these little red candies from the Galapagos Islands that he used to like; maybe I should visit ten different stores to see if on the off chance I can find them...) and sometimes I would spend more money than I should have on those things.  Not only that, but for just myself I can get away with dumping a package of tortellini in a pot of water and then stirring in some tomato sauce, which is a lot easier - and cheaper - than the meals I used to like to make for HB (his favorites were my mushroom & goat cheese risotto balls with spicy marinara sauce, and seared sesame ahi your mouth watering yet?).  Delicious, but definitely more time-consuming and expensive.
7.  My hair, my business.  I can wear my hair straight because I feel like it and not because someone else prefers it that way...or...I can wear my hair curly because I like it that way. In fact, I can put my hair into a Mohawk, chop it all off, shave the word "banana" into the side of my head or braid it into a million tiny braids if I were so's my hair and I can do whatever I want with it!

...although maybe not this...
8. I don't have to worry that any pretty girl I pass on the street is someone he's slept with...or wants to sleep with...or - worst of all - is currently sleeping with.  Granted, this is not something that was a legitimate concern for me with any of the men I've loved, but there is something about finding someone who you really love being with and want to keep around that can incite a gigantic feeling of insecurity.  Add to that general lack of self-esteem I had for too many years the fact that for a very large part of our relationship, HB and I had no physical contact whatsoever, and the worries become a little too real.  How did I know whether he was "getting it" somewhere else?  I didn't.  Most of the time I didn't worry about it, but when those jealous and worried feelings came up, they were not fun.

9. I can hog all the Cheese Pleesers...and eat them as slowly as I want, without racing to get my fair share because he will eat them way faster than I ever would.  I don't know what it is, but apparently I tend to savor, while it appears men in general just like to shovel food in their mouths as fast as they can.  I would pour a giant bowl of snack food and maybe get ten bites before the bowl was empty.  One learns to pour two bowls and keep one's own bowl slightly off to the side so that he doesn't see that you are actually not eating from the big bowl he's busily emptying.  Now, they're all mine...and, apparently, I can eat them while wearing only a black lace bra and sunglasses, which is great.  No one will be there to get distracted by the fact that I am practically nude while eating those delicious puffs of cheesy corn.)

10. I don't have to pretend I'm interested in American politics, RPG games, or terrifying movies...or try to learn about and drum up an appreciation for American politics, RPG games, or terrifying movies, simply so I'll be able to offer something to the conversation rather than nodding and smiling. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much genuine interest I have found in some of the things that people I care about have been interested in, but I don't want it to always be about what he loves!  It's just me now, so I don't have to feign interest in whatever I like, because I know I'll like it. 

A few more things to consider when I start moping about not sharing my life with someone:

- My time is my own.
- I can sit and have a bubble bath as long as I want (the possible downside being that if you fall asleep in there, no one's going to come looking for you before you drown).
- I can decorate the house how I want.
- I can dress the way I want.
- I can go to bed when I want.
- I don't have to fight for who gets to cuddle with the dog (unless my son is one but him gets the dog when he's around!).
- Not every song Adele sings makes me think she's describing my life - I can`t be the only one who does this, can I? 

Going over these points made me realize something: for many of these things, they would not be issues if I were in a relationship that was a good one.  Trust wouldn't be an issue; worrying about impressing or pleasing him wouldn't be an issue; always doing things the way he wanted them wouldn't be an issue, because he would love me for who I am and not what I did for him.  Here's hoping that when I finally find the man I settle down with, I can still keep doing a lot of these things.  I don't think I should settle for anything less.

Have a great day and enjoy being single - or otherwise.  I'm going to go eat Cheese Pleesers in the bath and turn my cell phone off.  Then I'm going to style my hair into a Mohawk, speed-click through forty weepy girlie movies on the television, cook myself some Chef Boyardee and eat it with an ex-boyfriend.  Hey, why not?


Thursday, 8 November 2012

You Say That You Love Rain: The Story of HB (Part IV)

Part IV

July 2010 

When HB left me standing at the door for a second time within a few short months, I was once again devastated.  I was, however, determined that I was not going to do what I had done the last time: if he really didn't think that we should be together, I wasn't about to demean myself by running after him and trying to convince him that what we had was real, and right, and could possibly last forever if both of us would just take the chance on it.  Instead of texting or calling, I reminded myself that it wasn't just him who didn't believe that we would be able to make it last forever, or saw that the relationship was not the best thing for either of us.  I knew that I should not be in a relationship with someone who didn't share my faith, and the reality of the disparity between what HB believed and what I believed had come to the forefront several times in the eight months we had known each other.  No, I told myself through my tears (and they were many!); we shouldn't be together anyway.  He's not a Christian; he isn't always there for me the way I need him to be; he doesn't love me enough to work through whatever issues or problems he imagines us having in the future.  I don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to take a chance on me.

I told myself all these things, but it hurt.  I had been certain that spending time together without the physical aspect of our relationship would show HB how very much we meant to each other even without that, and it certainly had done that, but rather than draw closer to me when he recognized it, HB felt the need to pull away from it.  After hours and hours analyzing and pondering and talking with friends and my sister, I recognized that the issues and worries that HB had brought up that night when we "had to talk" were probably not the real reason that he ran from our relationship: the reality was that he was scared to death of a real commitment to anyone.  When we began our relationship, HB hadn't been looking for anything long-term, but it had turned into so much more than he had anticipated, and more than he was ready for.  The fact that I loved him, and the idea that if he loved me back he would have to make a commitment, terrified him to the extent that it was easier to run than to take a deep breath and jump in.

I wondered if he was avoiding telling me his true fears, but in retrospect I believe he didn't see that he was so afraid of what we had between us.  The issues he had brought up back in May were legitimate, and he grasped at them as a way to avoid the real, deeper issues.

I don't want to play amateur psychologist when it comes to HB, and I am well aware that I sound like I am making justifications for him or perhaps am a little full of myself when I say "Oh, he couldn't handle how much he looooved me!"  It sounds almost stupid.  Maybe my conclusions are completely out to lunch; I don't know.  But it's been nearly three years of this and I almost think I can consider myself an expert in the field of "HB and His Confusing Emotional Reactions".

It should be a degree program, really.
So, resolving to let this one go and move on without him - and not to get trapped in a pseudo-relationship as I had been for the previous few months - I tried to stay away from him.  Let him come to me, I thought, reasoning that the old saying about loving someone and setting them free would apply well in this case.  Devastation still ruled, but I told myself that if I had been able to get over Black Luke - which, by this time, I finally had, though it had taken a very long time and a lot of tears - I could get through this.  I attempted to set him free, and even ignored when the phone began chirpily announcing incoming text messages from HB a few days later, but it didn't last long.  After a couple of weeks where I dragged myself through the days, longing for him and trying to be strong by not replying to his messages, I forgot all my resolutions and broke.  And of course it started all over again.

July - December 5, 2010 

We went for coffee and then moved quickly back into our crazy relationship, graduating from at-arm's-length chummy "hanging out" time to holding hands as we walked in the evenings, to calling each other "Baby" again, to snuggling on the couch when we watched our shows.  Occasionally we would talk of our sadness that we didn't have a real relationship, that we couldn't kiss, and I always held my breath as I waited for him to burst out with "It doesn't matter anymore - I love you and I want to be with you!"  Of course, it never happened.  And in December, just after I had placed my order for a ring I had designed for him as a Christmas present, he flaked out again.

Once again, it happened as we were just relaxing together.  "What are we doing?" he asked suddenly.

With an inward sigh I said, "I don't know what you're doing...I'm just loving you."  I knew he was heading out the door again.  This time I yelled at him.  I wasn't about to pretend I was okay with this.

He yelled back, "We've talked about this so many times!  You know how I feel about this!"

I screamed at him, "I understand where you're coming from, I understand that your worries are real for you, but I don't have to like it and if I want to be upset then I DAMN WELL WILL BE!  I have every right to hate that you are doing this to me again!"

He calmed down, agreed I had a right to my anger, apologized, admitted he was selfish and confused, and trotted off in a way that had become very familiar to me.

Christmas 2010

It didn't take long for the inevitable to happen.  Within a few weeks he was back in my life and, in some ways, acting as though nothing had happened or changed. We went Christmas shopping together, and I gave him the ring I had designed and had made for him.  He absolutely loved it, and immediately went to the jeweler to have the same ring made for me in a smaller size.

Even though I knew what would likely eventually happen, I relished every moment we had together.  I cherished every "I love you", even though they were often tinged with regret.  I wore his ring with pride and was so happy every time I saw him wearing his.  "I'll never take it off," he said once; "I want to be buried with this ring on."  The thought crossed my mind that his eventual wife - whoever she would be, as he had made clear that it would never be me - might not like that too much, but I clung to the slim hope that perhaps he would grow up and recognize that I truly was the one for him.

This is credited to Shakespeare, which I find doubtful...but I love the sentiment no matter who wrote it.
January - June 2011

This time, it lasted a lot longer.  HB became much more relaxed and I began to think that it might actually become what I wanted it to be: a real courtship that would culminate in a real marriage, and I would finally really be "his".  But this time, after having outwardly come to an acceptance of what our relationship was and deciding to just enjoy the time that we had together, I was the one who wasn't happy with the situation.  HB was my semi-pseudo-quasi boyfriend, but we weren't together.  He told me he loved me and held my hand when we were together, but he wasn't going to marry me.  He even avoided kissing me for fear that we would become too emotionally involved.  We both talked about the fact that we weren't together as though it was the norm, but for the most part, we acted as though we were husband and wife.

I was determined that I would get HB out of my system, and, as I had done too many times in the past, I looked for a substitute for him.  I began dating, to try to find a man who could replace HB in my affections, so that perhaps I could stop feeling so strongly for him.  I didn't talk about the dates I went on - which were all disastrous, by the way - until one day in June 2011 when HB mentioned that he was trying to date, but that it felt like he was cheating on me.  I nodded and agreed.  This was the strangest conversation to be having with the man I was in love with - here we had not kissed in nearly a year, but were intimate in a way that many people who were physically intimate could never be - and we were discussing our dating lives.  HB was surprised to find that I had been dating, and it upset him.  In a way, I was glad that it had come up, because maybe he would realize how important I was to him and then he would finally smarten up (ha ha...well, I can dream!).

I knew that if we kept going the way we were going, then one of three things would happen: either a) HB would finally take the chance and make our relationship a real one; b) he would panic again and run off (which, judging from the previous timelines, was bound to happen sometime soon), or c) I would finally get fed up with the ambiguity of what we had and say (both to myself and to him), "I'm not doing this anymore." I could feel myself getting closer and closer to the third option: I wanted it all, or I wanted nothing, and I didn't want to be the one left crying as he walked down my driveway again.  If it was going to end, I was going to end it on my terms, and that meant completely, without speaking to him or seeing him.

When I had a very entertaining and comfortable first date - a walk around Beaver Lake - with Stu, a wonderful Christian man who set off the first sparks of attraction for me since that Starbucks date with HB, I knew that it was time to break things off.  It wasn't that I wanted to jump into a relationship with Stu, but seeing that I could feel an attraction to anyone besides HB, and that there were good, kind and attractive Christian men out there available to meet, I felt I needed to do it.

With tears in my eyes I wrote a very long, heartfelt email to HB, outlining the reasons why I couldn't do this on-again, off-again thing anymore, and explaining that loving him so much meant that I had to break it off completely.  I told him that although I wanted very badly to continue to spend time with him, it wasn't healthy for either of us.  I know email wasn't necessarily the best way to do it, but I express myself so much better in writing than in speech (I can organize my thoughts better, most of the time!), and more importantly, I knew that if I saw him in person and tried to end things, I would break down and be unable to do it.  With the support from my wonderful friend Red and my mother, both of whom walked me through it as I bawled unceasingly, I finally hit Send.  And then I cried...first in despair, and soon after that, in relief.

But, as crazy as it sounds, we still weren't finished.  And if you think you're getting sick of this long story, imagine how my friends and family felt when we started up all over again.