I think I may have met someone.
Ok, hold onto your hat—we've only been on 3 dates. But they were pretty great dates! Nothing too exciting happened, we didn't go rock climbing, or cast each other's bodies in silicone, or swim with dolphins or anything else a dating show on MTV might have a new couple do. We just sat in some dark bars curled up in corners with bottles of red wine and chatted. After our first date I invited him up to my house for a night cap, stating simply that I also didn't have any alcohol. Then I did not sleep with him. (Congratulatory pat on the back). If you're wondering what we did do — I showed him my etchings and then packed him into a cab before the reasonable hour of 12:30.
The second and third date were more of the same: easy, comfortable, and full of those tiny moments where I suddenly find it hard to make eye contact with the person I've been chatting to for the past 2 hours, even having to look elsewhere because otherwise I feel like I might combust.
I love and hate this feeling. I love it because I'm kind of a sucker for anything dangerous, and there's nothing more dangerous than putting yourself on the line for rejection. I hate it because it starts off the crazy in me. Before I know it, I'm a blubbering, neurotic mess who hasn't eaten in 3 days and has made a list of things I hated about my date—all because I fear rejection.
I've written before about the “great date panic,” and how the worst thing that can happen on date is that it goes well. After a great date, I tend to spiral from happiness to worry, and before I know it my anxiety has caused me to try to control the situation in a way it was not meant to be controlled.
After writing that article, I realized this kind of behavior wasn't going to get me anywhere, and I also remembered that I wasn't always like this. I used to like dating. In fact, I use to think it was really fun. Dating was a type of learning experience about people and how they operated, whether you liked them or not—or whether they liked you or not. My m.o. was “You don't like everyone so why should everyone like you?”
Then I lost the plot. I don't know why or how, but the stakes seemed higher in the last couple of years, and instead of just seeing people for who they were (great and fun, but maybe not “the one”) I tended to oscillate between recluse and cyber stalker. I didn't want to be this way anymore.
So before I went on this latest date I had a pretty serious chat with myself, an honest to God let's-not-hold-anything-back-denial-ain’t-a-river-in-Egypt chat with the face in the mirror. Then I sat down and I wrote myself a dating contract that I forced myself to sign.
I know a lot of folks are going to be all “What kind of crazy person needs a dating contract with herself?!?”
And they answer is: me. I needed something written down on paper that reminded me that after even 3 dates I still don't really know who this guy is and I have to stop pretending like I do. It's not fair to either of us.
Then I thought, if I need this, maybe other people do too. So I wanted to share what my dating contract looks like.