I’ve dated a few boys recently. One of them had an unsettling effect on me, and I was caught off guard, both by the speed and intensity of my reactions and because, on paper, he wouldn’t fit the description of someone I would have expected to start falling for, should such a description exist.

It began with easy, natural banter over the okcupid chat, and whatsapp, followed by one of those electrical jolts that I’ve had maybe twice before when you meet for the first time and there is instant mutual attraction. The icing on the cake was some world class physical chemistry. And a real enjoyment of each other’s minds and company. He whatsapps me all the time and I love how he writes, how he communicates. I can be myself with him, unfiltered. This is new territory for me.

A half dozen dates in, we are still behaving like teenagers, kissing in bars, as excited to see each other the sixth time as the second. We spent a week apart while I was visiting family, and it was a special kind of hell. But we were in constant contact, and the craziness when we were reunited made it almost worth that interminable wait.

Now this part may sound weird to you, because it does to me: he is encouraging me to see other people. Just for one shot dates, mind you. He wants to remain my number one guy. For him, this is supposed to be about trying to be less possessive, or playing around with the idea of that.

Seeing other people feels off to me. It really does. A tiny, perverse part of me is tempted, because I’ve been playing the field lately, and there is no shortage of interested parties. Free time is not in short supply: my kids are away a lot over the summer and he is often busy, while I am antsy, and at a loose end. But the idea that someone who is supposedly so besotted with me wants to share me? I struggle to see that as a positive, however hard I’m trying.

If I go through with it, I think it will be more of an insurance policy than anything else. It will be about me trying to dampen down my feelings, for the avoidance of future hurt.

A vicious little voice in my head is telling me that maybe it’s really about keeping me at arm’s length; giving me an opportunity to find an “out”.

The slap came today, at an unexpected moment, on a related but tangential subject. He was quizzing me about a guy I’d been chatting to on okcupid, who is aged 28 to my 46.

We were sitting on the terrasse of a favourite café, in the sun, a cool beer in our hands. He wore sunglasses, so I couldn’t see the expression in his eyes. I had removed mine.

“You could just go for a drink with him when I’m out with my friends, nothing has to happen,” he said. I raised a sceptical eyebrow, then looked away, because I never can hold someone’s gaze when I’m broaching a difficult subject.

“With an age gap like that, he’s not meeting with me for conversation,” I countered. “I enjoyed flirting with him. The thrill of the chase is fun for me. But he will have certain expectations about how the evening is going to develop. I don’t know if I even want to meet him. Since we met, I haven’t wanted to date anyone else. I’m not even sure I can.”

I can’t recall his exact reply, but the words – or what I heard in the spaces between them – gave my brain whiplash. It was something to the tune of 28 not being much different to his own 35. The tone was lighthearted. But he might has well have slapped me across the face. It smarted. It left a print. The implication, the way I processed it in the moment, was that nothing could or would ever come of us, because I’m almost twelve years older than he is. It echoed something my mother had said, that I hadn’t wanted to hear.

My vision clouded, and all the sweet words I’d been feasting on the previous week – an ever present chatter in my head – faded in that instant. I laid my head on his shoulder, too close for him to see my pained expression, shut my eyes, took some deep breaths and concentrated on resisting the pull of the down elevator.

The idea that, as my daughter would say, “catching these feels” was ultimately futile, a one-way ticket to nowhere? In the moment, that felt like a far more bitter pill to swallow than any of my meds.

And yet.

And yet the positives outweigh this to such an extent that I can’t conceive of walking away. I won’t. We are amazing together. He scrambles all my frequencies. And so I am determined to live in the moment, to have this, regardless of how fleeting it might be.

I’ve written here about being desperate to feel things, and I’ve got what I wished for, and then some. I’m willing to take a few risks.

If you let yourself catch feels, you have to accept that they might well slip through your fingers one day.

13 thoughts on “slap

  1. run, as fast as you can, away from this guy. Follow your gut, if something doesn’t seem right to you, don’t do it. He’s hurting you.


    • I’ve edited this post a little since you left your comment. Talking about this kind of stuff is always interesting because you get advice and opinions and … well, I don’t have to agree with them. 😀

      But I’d like to clarify that I was describing one painful moment. And while there is an issue I’m clearly conflicted about (although let me be clear, no-one is forcing me to see other guys, I used the word “encouraged”), my gut is absolutely not telling me that this is a bad situation. And I do trust my instincts.

      I just need to get it through my thick skull that it may well be intense but short-lived.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been there and done this. It’s high octane and thrilling. And so so messy. I was involved for a year. All the parties got hurt – the other guys I saw particularly. Then the guy who wanted the open relationship (so he could basically play the field and have me on tap too), he left me for someone who’d blown him away… and their ‘open relationship’ imploded two years later…


    • Ah, but he wants to share me but I’m not sure I have to share him. Nuance. Although it would certainly give him licence, should he wish to do so.


  3. Well you can go with your gut feeling and run or if you are enjoying his company etc …. go with it and live in the moment … but make sure you are in control of the relationship and don’t let him use you …. good luck


  4. Do you have an end game? that you’d be prepared to share? Not necessarily with this guy, but would you go through it all again, for the right chap? One of the reasons I like your blog (originally and now) is because you have a perspective which is about as different as possible to mine, you see things through very different eyes.


    • I truly don’t know what my own end game is. That’s one of the things I’m finding hard right now. I know I don’t want a blended family. I know I don’t want a guy moving in with me and my kids. I think my ideal setup, one day, might be a situation where I’m seeing someone, exclusively, but living in separate apartments. I think that would be my sweet spot. And then when my kids have moved out, who knows… Life is made of many phases.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve found that knowing what I *don’t* want is not to be underrated. When I met my wife, a lot of it was not because of some blinding lightning bolt, but because the red flags didn’t flutter. Space is important too, still. Despite sharing a house with a sewing machine which reminds me of the Starship Enterprise.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like a guy who doesn’t have kids yet, so he still has this as his priority. I feel he ought to have been clear about that from the beginning. I do understand the need for the good memories though. Look after yourself 😉


  6. Let me share my experience and how it can work out….I met someone (in Paris no less, on holiday; I live in the States) in 2008 when I was 36 (divorced, one child) and he was 26 (“kinda” single, no children, drop dead gorgeous). It was instant chemistry. Two days later I’m back home, back to reality and real mom life. We kept in touch, made visits (me more than him) and fast forward through a very long-distance, on/off/on/off/on relationship to 2013 when we got married in the U.S. (I know a lot about the immigration process now). We are about to celebrate our six year anniversary in a few months and although I’ll remind him sometimes in passing, “You were the last thing I was looking for that night in a bar…”, life has a funny way of playing out.

    Lots of (roller coaster) details in between that I won’t dive into, but as I constantly reminded myself there is no way we could be together long term, we both realized over time we were each others person.

    He did not want kids of his own, though he is an amazing bonus dad to my daughter.

    And he is STILL drop dead gorgeous. 😉

    Definitely live in the moment; go with your gut. That combination really won’t fail you.


  7. if you arent really looking for an all or nothing marriage relationship, have fun while you can. but dont stop dating other people. guys are on their best behavior at the beginning. what’s that saying, something like “when people tell you who they are, believe them”?


    • “when people tell you who they are, believe them”?
      I like that phrase. I think I’ve been guilty recently, in two separate instances, of tuning out what people were trying to tell me, because the information didn’t fit my own narrative. Or because certain words I didn’t care to hear seemed to be at a disconnect from their actions, or other words they had seduced me with.

      Liked by 1 person

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