Looking back, she saw the pattern. Every relationship she had had was based on the other person breaking up with their current partner to then be with her. She justified it time and time again. She was always their friends. It always started that way. I listening ear, a comforting word, open advice. It was her pattern. It was her way. It worked for her. Until it didn’t.
After the last time, she confided in a friend the patterns she saw in herself. “It’s the competition!” was his reply. She instantly disagreed. She didn’t have a competitive bone in her body. She believed in participation awards. Both teams should get rings at the Super Bowl. It was too sad to watch the losing team cry and accept their defeat. This pattern could not be derived from a competitive nature. Her friend explained it as not being deceitful but subconsciously wanting to be desirable enough to risk the current relationship. She wished it didn’t make sense to her but it did. She didn’t buy it all but there was truth to it and she saw that.
When she started seeing Ted he was different from anyone she had been with. They started talking on a dating site. His pictures were intriguing. She was attracted to the type but never acted on it. He was tall and skinny but also muscular. He wore a full beard. He had both ears pierced. In the pictures, he wore a hat and sunglasses. When they met, she saw the tattoos. Rights down to the spider tattoo on his hand. It was different.
Their first meeting was at his work. She felt that was safer. Driving to the job site she realized it was a vacant house at the end of the street. She almost turned around and left. This had a Criminal Minds vibe. She knew better. Instead, she pulled in and texted him. Letting him know she was hesitating to get out of her car. He responded he would be out to meet her. He wasn’t the first to greet her. Instead, two beautiful dogs came trotting around the corner. Well, he couldn’t be all bad if he takes his dogs to work. Then he came around the corner. No shirt, work shorts and work boots. She was even more intrigued. He wasn’t drop dead gorgeous. He was dirty from working, but that wasn’t it. There was something there. She wasn’t sure what it was. She was definitely intrigued.
It was awkward. No doubt, most first meetings are awkward, but this felt different. For all his appearances said he was a tough guy, he was shy. Almost painfully so. She spent more time playing with his dogs and avoiding eye contact. She asked questions about the dogs and there was a light conversation about them and the work he was doing on this mansion by the sea. Suddenly in the middle of her playing fetch with one of his dogs, he spoke. “Would you like to go out sometime?” Thank God! She was wondering when he would ask. “Yes, I’d like that very much, I think.”
Weeks would go by before they actually ended up on their first date. Maybe even months. They texted regularly. Not daily but enough to show that they were both still interested. Texting went well. They texted about anything and everything. It was friendly and easy. He asked a couple of times to meet for drinks but it was always last minute and she usually had plans. She tried to set a date and he responded that he was normally a spur of the moment kind of guy. (Yes, that should have been her sign or red flag, but some people roll like that so she accepted it).
A few more weeks went by and she was feeling brave and finally just laid it out. “Look, we have been talking for a while and I really like you. After we started talking, I stopped looking for people on the site. Are you interested in moving forward?” He responded yes. They set up a date a week away. She was happy and admittedly, more excited than she wanted to be.
Through the next week, they continued to talk, flirt a little even, and that was new. She found herself smiling when he texted. She tried to calm herself. Take it slow. Don’t get too invested too fast. That wasn’t working on the inside but she hid it well on the outside. Her friends told her to move slow, that she deserved to take the time she needed to be sure about things and not invest too quickly. So she tried. But her need to be desirable was stronger than her common sense.
One night while texting she asked how long he had been single. It took a while to get a response. In a conversation, this would be known as a “pregnant pause.” The response came.
“I kind of have a girlfriend. We aren’t getting along and its basically over, but I want to be honest.” And there it was. When do people ever “kind of” have a girlfriend? Now the delayed response was hers. She had already talked to him about her situation and she also told him she wasn’t set on monogamy at the beginning of a relationship. Damn it to hell, this wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Her response was weak and stupid, even to her.
“Well, thank you for being honest. Does she know you are talking to me? I am not comfortable with being the other woman. I’ve played the role before and it never ends well for me. So, I need to know exactly what is going on.”
He went on to explain that she was actually the one that set up his profile. They were struggling and decided to have an open relationship to see if that helped the relationship. She liked both men and women and they thought maybe at some point they would add a third. While he wasn’t bragging that he was talking to me he wasn’t hiding me either. She had access to his phone and he wasn’t deleting our text messages. While it all sounded good, it also sounded like bullshit. She had heard all these things before and she didn’t believe him.
She had heard this before, been told it was open, and that a third was an option, and at no time did this ever come out well. At least not for her. She was disappointed. She wanted to be angry but it wasn’t that. She had hoped this would work out for her. Now, she felt like she knew what she wanted to do, but wasn’t sure she had it in her to do it.
To be continued…