Saturday, January 17, 2009

The History of Dating

Do you ever have days where your mind just refuses to be quiet? That's me, pretty much all of the time. It's exhausting. I don't ever remember not having a busy mind. It doesn't bother me for the most part, unless it's interrupting my sleep (which it has been lately). The only other time it bothers me is when my thoughts about everything get really jumbled and I find myself doing a lot of second-guessing and wondering about the "what ifs" in my life and from my past.

The one thought I've had lately that's been sticking around is whether I missed out on anything by not dating more when I was younger. It's not necessarily that I would change my current my life, but I just wonder if I would be different if I'd gotten out a little more and had a bit more fun than I did in my teens and early twenties. I was thinking about it, reminiscing and laughing to myself as I thought about my dating history.

Like most school girls, I had those silly elementary school crushes, which rarely amount to anything. I had my fair share of them and they were fine. None of them left me with any serious longing for "what might have been." Well, maybe Jason, who was my first boyfriend in kindergarten. He was a cutie.

I dated a boy in high school for--gosh, I don't even remember how long--maybe a year and a half or so. By high school standards, I guess that's kind of a long time. I'd like to say he was my first love, but I don't think he was. There was some excitement, sort of the, "Ooooh. I have a boyfriend and he plays football," kind of excitement. In the end, though, he was kind of a butthead. His "experimenting" with alcohol and cigarettes became a problem for me. It wasn't something I wanted to be around, and then he got a little weird and possessive for a while. In between that, there were the rumors of him getting buzzed and then, um, getting involved with another girl. When I asked him about it, his response was that he couldn't remember anything like that happening. Ri-i-i-i-ght. I remember patiently and methodically packing up every gift he'd given me and returning it all to him. I ran into him years later and he said it took him by surprise, that he didn't think I had that kind of mean streak in me. Whatever.

I went out for a short while, maybe a couple of months, with another boy toward the end of my junior year, but it wasn't anything major. We went to our junior prom and had a nice time, but that was about it. I stayed happily single through my senior year. I was busy every minute, studying and working, and there was little time for anything else.

By the time I got to college, I was interested in dating again, but it all seemed so complicated. There was the super-hot guy in my history class, but I was always too dumb-struck to say anything to him. (And yes, he was THAT hot, at least to me.) There was the cute but "nerdy" boy who I liked a lot, but he practically went into spasms and turned purple every time I tried to talk to him. (I think he wasn't used to being approached by girls.) There was a friend who maybe could have been more than a friend, but neither of us thought about it at the time. There was a single date with a guy named Raj--he was a foreign exchange student and he just wanted to tell his parents that he actually went on a date with an American girl. That was his pick-up line after class. "I'd like to go on one date with an American girl. Can you help me with that? My parents will be quite pleased with me if I do." He was friends with my friend's boyfriend and he seemed harmless enough, so we went out on a double date. There was a single date with Dave, a former male model turned police officer, who turned out to be almost ten years older than me (I didn't know it when I agreed to the date). I thought he was an undergraduate student--turns out he was a grad student. At 19, it freaked me out a little bit. There was a single date with a former military man named Jason from my economics class, but he turned out to be a little bit creepy. Or a lot bit creepy. There were no kisses or hand-holding or anything on any of these dates. Thank goodness!

I dated one guy named Randy for a while, but he was a hopeless player, destined to be a bachelor for the rest of his life. There was a short relationship with a guy named Dave (not the male model/police officer, but a different Dave), but I realized there was no hope for that when he came to pick me up for a formal date at my parents' house, and he went to the neighbor's house instead. Funny times, I tell you.

The guy I went to the junior prom with resurfaced and we dated again for a short while, but there was no hope there. He kept pressuring me, talking about marriage, hinting (and later insisting) that I shouldn't go to graduate school. He talked a lot about settling down, but he had no plans for himself and no desire to work full-time, so that ended pretty quickly.

Then I met my husband. Nice guy, pleasant, decent sense of humor (okay, pretty dumb sense of humor), treated me pretty well overall and we got along. It wasn't a head-over-heels falling in love. Of course, I didn't know what that felt like, so maybe it was and I just didn't know it. It was more just being comfortable and genuinely liking this person who I'd hung around with a few times and got to know through mutual friends before we ever went on a date. The rest, as they say, is history.

Did I miss out on anything by making a choice not to have casual sex? I don't think I missed anything there. I don't think there's anything wrong with people who do, but it wasn't for me. I saw too many relationship casualties, both in guy friends and girl friends who had to deal with the devastation of breakups, and sex just seemed to complicate everything.

Did I miss out on anything by not "playing the field" per se and getting more relationship experience before settling down? Maybe. I think about it and I suppose that there are things I would have liked to experience--being whisked away on a spontaneous, romantic vacation. Making out in the back of a movie theater. (Wait. Do people still do that?) Fire, passion, romance, all that good stuff that I read about and hear about. I think what I missed out on is the opportunity to feel what it's like to just sort of sit back and be the girl in the relationship. Does that make sense? I'm not afraid to have an argument, cut the grass, shovel snow, change a tire, hang pictures (and then spackle when I swing the hammer too hard...), sand wood, paint walls, cook, clean, work, raise a child, bring home the bacon, fry it up, then clean it all up and put everything back where it belongs, only to fall down exhausted and get up and do it again the next day. I am a little worried about missing out on the things that I long for--things that maybe I would have experienced if I had done more dating. But who knows?

I suppose at the end of the day, it doesn't matter too much. And that's probably the most important thing--being content and knowing that I can write this and that *someone* might read this, but won't be fazed by it. He probably will ask if I want to go make out in the back of a movie theater. (To which I will promptly reply, "No!", because in our whole relationship, we've only been to three movies and I'm too old to make out in a theater anyway!)


Cheryl said...

Did you have the opportunity to date more? I didn't. I tended to stay in long term relationships with guys I didn't plan to marry. I had a lot of sexual partners, with no regrets. I really thought my ex was someone I could be with for the long term. He walked away. I'm really fine with being alone. Maybe when my daughter leaves I'll date? Who knows. The longer I'm alone, the harder it will be to share.

Martha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha said...

Cheryl, I couldn't help but smile a little when I read your comment. I admire how comfortable and self-assured you are, and I hope as the years go by, I'll have fewer regrets about my choices in life. I laughed too when you mentioned being comfortable alone--I was always comfortable with being by myself, which is why it's sometimes funny to me that I've managed to stay married as long as I have. There are times when I do wonder what it would have been like to have more relationships--short term and long term, the "right" guys and "wrong" guys, as well as sexual--just to a.) see what it would have been like, and b.) to learn more about myself. I think relationships are complicated no matter what, and it doesn't seem to get easier as we get older!

CRUSTYBEEF said... does and it doesn't matter.. but there's nothing wrong with going to make out in a theater..the last time I went to see a movie with my husband the thought ran through my head, I grabbed his hand and said let's go sit in the back, he replies..but then the screen's pixel's aren't the best for viewing. DOH! yeah..we're too old. :)

so tired of the cold. :*(