I’ve been living in Charlottesville, VA for two weeks. My time here has been made more interesting now that I’ve been spending time with a writer I met on OK Cupid. He wrote me a few days before I got here. I wrote him back because he wears glasses and doesn’t like sports.
Yesterday, we went on a long, scenic drive through Shenandoah National Park. He took this photo of me in front of the mountains.
Dating when you don’t technically ”live” anywhere has been tricky. People want to know how long you plan to be around. They want to know if it’s worth it for them to invest time in someone who’s essentially a flight risk. I have to admit that if you’d asked me a year ago, would I date someone who was just passing through DC for business or pleasure, the answer would have been a firm NO. How can you possibly build a romantic relationship with someone who might be gone next month?
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I have a different view of dating as a nomad. Just because I’m not rooted anywhere for now, I still want companionship. I still want the company of an interesting man. I still want to stay open to possibility in my love life.
These are a few reminders I’m keeping close.
Live in the moment, have fun and enjoy the experience.
I’ve been fortunate to have met so many interesting men over the course of my life. Some I ended up in monagamous relationships with, some I just enjoyed a few laughs with over dinner or drinks. I’ve discovered that everyone has an interesting story to tell about their lives, many that you can even learn from in your own journey. I’ve also realized that you can have fun pretty much anywhere if you allow yourself to let go of all your preconceived notions about people and let them be who they are.
One of my best dating experiences was going on vacation to Hawaii for a week and hanging out with this guy who took me to a few dinners and a luau while I was there. At the end of my trip, he gave me a ride to the airport and handed me a small framed picture as a parting gift. The painting was of a black woman about to step off a cliff into the water with the caption, “Walk by faith, not by sight.” He said he wanted me to have it as a reminder to stay on track with the goals I had for my life, many of which I had told him about over dinner. We’d only gone out a few times and had no intentions of pursuing a long distance relationship, but his encouragement stayed with me for years. Up until my recent downsizing, the painting was still hanging in my bathroom for the days when I needed something to lift me up.
Don’t get attached to the outcome.
When you have a desire to be in a committed relationship, it can be easy for you (or the other person) to focus solely on the path to becoming half of a couple. It can feel much harder to simply enjoy the moments you get to spend with that person and be present with them without worrying about “where you stand” or if you’ll ever be ”exclusive.” But the problem is that you can miss out on all the fun parts of dating with those questions looming in front of you, clouding your vision.
It can be helpful to remember that every romantic encounter you have with someone is NOT going to lead to a monogamous relationship and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean that the relationship won’t still have value or contribute to your well-being and personal growth. The “outcome” might just be that you had a good time and you learned something about yourself and how you interact with others.
Don’t look too far ahead in the future, too soon.
Making up scenarios about someone you just met is a futile exercise. There’s no way you can tell what might be possible in a relationship until you take the time to really get to know someone, and not just on a superficial, checklist level. When you allow true connection to happen, you will naturally be able to see whether you want this person to be a part of your life on a long-term basis anyway.
I didn’t write much about the guy from Maryland that I dated for a couple months when I came back from Hawaii. A few weeks before I left for Charlottesville, he asks me what he prefaces as a “hypothetical” question. The gist of it was: ”How would a relationship work between us if you’re leaving the area?” I told him I didn’t know. However we want it to work, I guess. But we never did figure it out. The truth was that I didn’t think a monogamous relationship would work with him even if I was staying in the area.
The drive through Shenandoah was my third date with the writer. On our second date (the night before) we’d gone out to a rooftop bar, then a hole-in-the-wall place that had a great band playing Miles Davis covers. (Charlottesville does have some nightlife after all! Just not much of it.)
At one point, I mention that I might be leaving in a few weeks. His face turns serious.
“I hope you stay here,” he says.
I smile and take another sip of bourbon.
Maybe I will.
How do you stay open to possibility in your love life? Does it seem easier to find ways to say no than to say yes?