Updating

So, I’m dating. It’s new and slow and fragile, and I don’t necessarily know where things are going, but there are a couple of people I’m seeing on an ongoing basis, and a handful more with explicit interest that just need the logistics hammered out, and some more than that where we’re still in the initial hey-you’re-hot dance. I’m not actually seeing a ton of people, but there’s enough activity that I could legitimately be said to be “dating”.

I’m sure I’ll have more on this later. However, one of the missions of this blog has been to record what I’m going through in order to have something to show to the next person who gets into an open relationship and then tries to figure out how to date from within it. So, I have a handful of things that I’ve learned and will impart here. I hesitate to call them “tips”, and they’re going to be slanted toward online dating just because that’s what I do. But with any luck, some of what I’ve learned will be useful to other people as they pick this stuff up.

I’m just going to dole them out one at a time; that both gives me more blog material and gives me a chance to go thoroughly over my thinking on each subject.

The first thing that I’ve learned, and that you can find everywhere but is still no help until you’ve experienced it, is that the only way to make yourself able to ask people out is to ask people out. You have to get used to the sensation. It’s a lot like sending out resum├ęs, especially online; you invest yourself far too much in the first handful, and it feels like dying to even try. For a while after that it’s merely bad, and you’re okay unless you think about it. Eventually, though, after enough tries, you just inure yourself to the pain of being exposed like that, and you can forge ahead. It’s not, in my experience, rejection that’s awful; it’s that limbo between putting something out there and getting a response to it. At least, if you’re rejected, you can close that attempt out and move on.

It really does get better, though. Much, much better. Now, I can whip up a self-deprecating and witty e-mail that ends with a question about something in someone’s online profile with nary a thought. It’s become easy and routine to introduce myself, and that’s profound.

The immediate objection of a lot of (especially online, especially male) daters is that they go hunting for that ONE SPECIAL PERSON and then craft a personalized woo-packet for exactly their affections’ object. That’s an easy trap to fall into, but it’s bullshit. Unless you’re in the habit of dating only close friends, you simply don’t know someone when you ask them out. Your initial introduction, be it via e-mail or hitting on someone at a bar, is nothing more than an inquiry; you’re trying to draw their attention in the event that they are also interested. It’s only after that initial contact that one has a real stake in the outcome.

The lesson here, I guess, is twofold:

  • Just start asking people out, knowing that it will get better after a time.
  • Understand that asking someone out is nothing more than an introduction, and learn not to set too much store by it.

Ultimately, though, the only way to make the approach no longer feel like a big deal is to make the approach in the first place.

A question

For those of you in non-monogamous cohabitative relationships in which you date people who are not your cohabitant. How do you manage it in a logistical sense? There’s a lot of stuff out there on the emotional blah yada, much of which is not very helpful, but at least it’s available.

I’m not really looking for tips, although if some part of your experience sounds useful I make no promises that I won’t appropriate it. I know one person mentioned offhandedly that Google Calendar helps a lot. I’m really just curious about the process.

(crossposted from my OkCupid journal)

Stalgia

I’m sitting up later than I should be awake, mourning the loss of a hard drive. It had my music collection, which I hadn’t backed up recently. All of it is likely recoverable, but it means tracking down some amazingly obscure music.

I’m at our new kitchen table, having recently moved in with my love, and I’m listening to streaming versions of songs that remind me of that sense of newness, that incredible feeling of discover that comes with finding someone new and clicking with them hard. I’m realizing that this is one of the strongest reasons that I am non-monogamous. I cannot imagine living my life without experiencing that feeling again. As is, I experience it far less often that I’d want.

There are things on that hard drive that I may not recover, and many of them are the only remaining vestige of some brief experiment in sex and affection during the only period in which I was single in my adult life. There are sensations I’ve had that belong only to that period, and that, as far as I know, I’ll never recapture. I miss them. This is not to say that the trade-off is not worth what I’ve given up, but there’s a trade there.

I’ve had more success dating in the past few weeks than in the previous thirty years. This is a fine thing, but all such experiences are truncated in a way. I do miss that uncertainty, that sense that things could wander off in some direction wholly unexpected.

I wonder if I’m too old for adventure. Or too staid, or too taken. It seems like there’s very little room in my life for things to surprise me, unless, ironically, I plan on it somehow.

This is somewhat melancholy, but it’s really a sort of bittersweetness. In a sense, I’m really just letting go of something, and moving into a new stage. This marks the first time that I’ve consciously moved in with someone, the first time that I’ve consciously chosen to tie my living space to someone else’s. It’s happened before, but it was always because I was a minor, or out of necessity. I jumped into this with my eyes open.

I don’t know where things are going. I just know that they aren’t as exciting as I once hoped and are more comforting than I’d ever imagined. I don’t want to lionize that interstice; I was lonelier than I’ve ever been, and horribly, horribly unhappy. But it had its melancholy charm, and the thought that I can’t reach that minor key beauty again is a sad thing, even if the beauty itself was also a sad thing.