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What I Learned From The First Girl I Dated

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The night I met her, I spent the evening getting ready while dancing around my room screaming Carly Rae Jepsen’s Tonight I’m Getting Over You. I was so finished letting a girl who didn’t want me ruin my fun, and I had decided tonight was my night to meet somebody else. Strangely enough, my determination actually worked, and I spent the next month and a half dating a very nice woman.

We met at a bar. She came up to me and asked if I could help scope someone out for her friend, who had just broken up with someone and was on the prowl for a rebound. I looked at this pretty girl standing in front of me and flirtatiously said, “and what about you?” It was so out of character for me, a confidence and eagerness I had never before displayed when it came to flirting. Was this how I could be now that I was actually in the right world?

Well, that actually turned out to be a bit of a whiskey-fueled fluke, and as we began to date I quickly returned to my regular old insecure self. I did have so much fun with her, and I really was so comfortable with her so quickly. I was so excited to finally really and truly be dating a person I liked who was the right gender, but I couldn’t shake my nerves about the fact that I had no idea how to actually date somebody.

Although we had a lot of fun together, there were several large chasms between the two of us. She was thirty-one, and I was twenty-three. She had been out since she was sixteen, and I had been out for less than four months. She had been married before. I had never even been in a relationship. For a little while, none of that really mattered. When we first met I was so nervous that she’d care that I was so new and so young, but she didn’t at all. She said I made her laugh, so what difference did anything else make?

In the beginning I liked dating someone who had far more life experience than me. She was like a guide, the calming agent to the eons of anxiety I had about dating and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. It felt kinda nice to be taken care of. As time went on, though, the gaps began to matter. It wasn’t the age gap, I don’t think, but rather the experience gap that brought us to our end.

The problem was she was already so comfortable with things that I just wasn’t used to yet. I’d coil into myself when she’d go to kiss me goodbye on a public street, look around for judgmental eyes if she tried to hold my hand at a restaurant. I surprised myself with my discomfort. I did not peg myself as someone who would be afraid or care about people staring. It bothered me how bothered I was.

I kept thinking back to that girl, the one who didn’t want me, the one I liked so much that I had no choice but to come out. If we had actually begun to date, I wondered, would I have been this way with her? Would I have cared if she held my hand in public or would I have been too consumed with looking into her eyes to notice people staring? It took me a little too long to realize that the largest chasm between me and this girl I was dating existed in the form of a little blonde that I still couldn’t get out of my head.

It really sucks to have a kind, fun, generous person standing right in front of you and not be able to stop pining for a person who has treated you like crap. But the problem was less that I wasn’t over said crap-treater and more that I kept comparing the feelings I had had for her to my current feelings for my current girl. They weren’t as strong, and I couldn’t really picture them growing any stronger.

I spent a lot of time listening to Taylor Swift’s That’s the Way I Loved You while trying to figure out what to do. Since I had never dated anyone, I had also never broken up with anyone, and that seemed like a very scary thing.

So I stayed a little longer than I probably should have, but she could sense my disinterest and it became a pretty mutual split. I apologized to her, told her I tried so hard to want her, and she forgave me and said, “you shouldn’t have to try.”

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to spend some time with this person. She was great, and I learned many things from dating her, one being that it is okay not to push yourself to move faster than you are ready to move, and another being that things actually work better in a relationship when you both are in the same stage of life. It’s nice to be going through the same things together, and I think that two confused kids or two put together adults make a lot more sense than one of each.

In the end, though, all that really matters is whether the feelings are there. When they are strong enough, all the other stuff kind of fades away, but when they’re not, all you can see are the chasms.

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