It makes sense that we fear taking a romantic chance on a friend, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. The mutual attraction grows, the night is beautiful, the moment is right. This is how I once operated 100% of the time. Not to brag, but getting my friends to make out with me in my twenties was almost too easy.
Then there came a long period when I was so insecure in my body, in my life, that if I had the remotest interest in someone, I very deliberately made myself their bud. A real pal, someone you’d never think of in that way. That’s how you keep someone close to you without risking rejection!
This is a long intro to explain that I’ve considered what it means to express interest in someone you know in real life from many perspectives.
When you meet a stranger, you’re saying, “I’d like to see if we should kiss.” When you meet someone you know IRL for a date, you’re saying, “I’ve considered kissing you, and it doesn’t sound bad.”
It’s a big difference, and it did make me shy in a way I didn’t expect, even though I’ve known this date for a few years, and trusted him to not be shitty or mean to me, unlike some people I’ve met on this journey. Though I recently claimed that I may never be nervous on a date again, I was.
Meeting a friend for a date after all these freaking strangers was a challenge I set myself, and I asked out several people I know before someone finally said yes (things are still awkward with the “nos,” but we’ll survive). So I didn’t want to blow it, but the date didn’t start auspiciously. The place he’d chosen to meet was closed, so we came face to face next to a decrepit boarding dock across from a construction site. We laughed about it, then got coffee from a grocery store.
Since my date knows me and knows my blog and knew I would be blogging about our date, it was hard to tell if he was enjoying himself or if he had agreed to this meeting out of pity/curiosity. Sometimes I wonder if everyone views this project with pity/curiosity, since most folks manage to just go on dates and not blab about it online like the insane narcissist I am. But, I wouldn’t have been able to do this date two months ago, so whatever.
After our coffee, we went to a show where a tray of cookies was being passed around, but it never made it to me. After mentioning it to him, my date jumped up to grab me one. It was a very small thing, but watching him walk back with a cookie in each hand made me feel a warm flush of affection, the kind you can’t really feel about someone you’ve just met.
Many years ago, I fell in love with a friend, a good friend. He soon started a life with someone else who he met by chance. There were a lot of reasons why I never got to be with my friend, but fear of what I would lose by trying was the biggest. My feelings for that person became stunted, because there was nowhere for them to grow. Other interactions with people who had some potential started to follow a similar pattern, and it was easier to look back at the person I couldn’t have than it was to look forward towards something that was possible.
After the show, we talked for awhile in a bar. There he admitted that he isn’t really keeping up with the blog, which is probably good. During our conversation, it also honestly seemed like he wasn’t in a place to go on a second date with me, in a way I understood. Learning to accept people where they are at, to meet them without expectations: these are the best lessons I’ve gotten out of all these dates. Let the connection be what it is. Mutual attraction, a beautiful night, one right moment.
We walked down by the river into a shadowed grove of trees. My date kept stopping as we walked to ask, “Hmm?” as though I was making noise. What he actually meant was, “I’m thinking about kissing you, and it doesn’t sound bad.”