The first few weeks of ‘seeing eachother’ go fast. For the first time in my dating life I am empathizing with cliches I have blamed men for. It turns out wanting a guy when your 21, isn’t the same as seeking a stable partner when you’re 27. I’m finding I’ve grown out of caring about trivial things, but the big things matter so much more. Deal breakers really are deal breakers, people don’t get excused for being hot anymore. He texts me too much. He wants to cuddle when I don’t want to. He seems to think I owe him my weekend and evening time.
We are trying to navigate sex in a way I think is meant to show respect for the other, but also be a little cheeky, because it’s new after all, and it should be exciting! We send the occasional ‘I’m coming over to go down on you’-esq texts, but the precursor doesn’t match our in person energy. Each time we see each other bed is an anticipated end result, but when we get there I find it feels forced. I like holding his hand, I like when he kisses my neck, I like when he spoons me and runs his hands on every part of me, I like when he whispers he’s going to take me on a ‘hot dog date.’ He’s cute, and he’s funny, but he has a nervous energy. His anxiousness and my anxiousness creates an acutely awkward sexual experience. I learn he waivers from difficulty maintaining an erection to premature ejaculation, and sex isn’t easy in the way I’ve known it to be. I want to comfort him and ease his apparent embarrassment, but I find my own ego taking a blow. I know that this is not a reflection of me or my body, but when I feel him deflate in my hand I can’t help but think I’m doing something wrong. He doesn’t want to talk about it, but quickly mentions he stopped antidepressants two weeks ago and thinks this is to blame. A week before he told me he stopped six months ago. In the rare moments of syncing together I like the way he takes charge. He says he wants to see my face and be able to kiss me during sex, which I like. He is always kind to my body, even if it we aren’t the puzzle pieces I want to be. One night he tries to stay over after late night sex, and for the first time with him I’m not opposed to it. We toss and turn for a few hours. We’re too hot, too cold, too close, too far, and too quiet. I can feel him awake beside me. At 3:30 he says, ‘I can’t sleep I’m going home,’ and I say, ‘no problem, I understand.’ With other men I think I would have felt abandoned, but I’m sincerely happy to have my own space when he goes.
The next afternoon he comes over, and I make us muffins and we have tea. We have sex, and go for a walk. He holds my hand and kisses me intermittently, and we talk about future dates. He reminds me that he’s going to get more busy with training and I reassure him that it’s fine, and that I actually find it very attractive that he loves his body in that way. I want him to think I’m supportive and not hindering his goals. He kisses me goodbye, and says he might come crawl into bed with me later, after he goes to the bar. I never see him again.
On Sunday I work a 16 hour shift. We are short staffed, and there is an outbreak, meaning my workload is heavy. He told me he would call me today, but he never does. I feel like I’m drowning, and a kind word from him would’ve made tremendous difference. The next day I’m at work when he texts me: ‘Hey, you working?’ And I say yes, and that I’m pretty busy. I put my phone down on my med cart and put on a gown, and mask to enter an isolated patient’s room. Just as I’m gloving my phone flashes with a text from him. He says he wants to talk about ‘us.’ He’s getting ‘too busy,’ and it’s ‘not going to be fair to me.’ I don’t have time to process what I’m reading because I’m busy, but as time starts to go by in my shift I feel nauseous. I say I will call him on my break and he says he ‘can’t talk tonight.’ I’m irritated that he has started a conversation like this without having the time to finish it. I’m also irritated that he knew I was at work. I tell him I need to focus on my patients when I’m working, and I would have preferred to talk in person or at least over the phone. He says he agrees, and we agree to talk in person the next day. The next day comes and any time I suggest ‘doesn’t work,’ even though I am the one working and going to a team meeting in the evening. I am trying to slot in time for a conversation I feel is too soon for us to be having, and he’s making it impossible. I remind him this is his issue, not mine, but I would like to resolve it sooner than later because I have a busy week and I have other things I want to put my focus on. He asks me to phone him after my meeting. When we talk he leaves his house so his friends can’t hear him, and I wonder why it matters. He says he’s going to be gone a lot, and really busy when he is home. He says he likes me, and he’s really sorry, but he needs to train harder and focus on climbing. I am not angry, but I am little hurt. The pattern of meeting a guy, having then chase me, sleeping with them a few times, starting to like them finally, and then them becoming uninterested is so predictable I feel stupid that I didn’t expect this to happen. I remind him we can’t break up because we aren’t dating, and that I am surprised this is happening. In my perception we were still learning who the other was, and deciding if we wanted the other as a partner. He says he agrees, and still wants to see me, but I would have to, ‘let him be in charge,’ and I would have to be okay with seeing him ‘rarely.’ He seems offended when I laugh, and say ‘no. I want to be a partner, not a cheerleader.’ I remind him that I’m busy too, and that I’m training too. He kindly reminds me that he’s only dated ‘professional’ athletes before. I laugh again. He agrees to come over the next day so we can talk in person. By the time the conversation ends I feel unsure, but somehow at ease. I think we have worked through a hiccup.
It’s Wednesday and he was supposed to come over at 7pm after training. I refuse a much needed overtime shift and clean my house, and change my sheets in anticipation of him coming over. At 5pm I’m just getting out of the shower after shaving my legs when he texts me that he’s not coming. He says he’s ‘coaching’ and he ‘forgot.’ His tone has completely changed with me and I know that he will be busy ‘coaching’ indefinitely. I’m so frustrated at how my time is being treated, that I insist on knowing what’s actually happening. After again telling me he’s coaching he says, ‘tbh, I just am not into this enough to make any sacrifices.’ And I say, ‘please leave me alone now,’ while I feel my face get red. I feel so defeated. I was cautious, I was kind, he pursued me, and he expressed no problems until now which gave me no opportunity to fix things. I feel confused enough to cry for a minute, and then I remember I wasn’t crazy about him either. I know I’m feeling the sting of rejection more than the pain of erasing where I pencilled him into my future. I get very high and eat cheesecake in the bathtub for the second time in 4 days.
After a few busy days I feel back to normal again, and I don’t miss seeing his name on my phone. But on Sunday when I can’t sleep, against the rational part of me begging myself not to, I text him. I text him to say I was surprised things ended before they started, and that I think it’s worth actually trying before quitting. Im not sure if I believe it when I send it, but in this moment I feel profoundly lonely. There are still condoms we used in my bathroom garbage. He answers, ‘I just don’t like you that much. Sorry.’ I feel like puking. I delete every trace of him from my phone. For the first time in a long time I feel genuinely unmotivated to keep trying to date. At 3 am on Sunday I lay in child’s pose in my bed and think about how I’m going to buy higher quality groceries, and up the intensity of my training. I think I need to like myself a lot more to make up for the man with erectile dysfunction and a receding hairline who didn’t.