After the flurry of dates in late August and early September, things settled down into a stable routine. I would text with Adaku and see Rose once or twice a week. We went to the batting cages, to a restaurant with live jazz, a sound healing session and other unconventional dates. I loved experiencing new things with Rose and then talking about them with her. With each date, I liked Rose more and more, and I started to feel like I was talking to Adaku to pass the time between when I saw Rose.
I knew what that meant- I should probably stop talking to Adaku. I still liked her too, but it was clear that it wasn’t going to work out because of the distance. We weren’t going to see each other again until October. In the abstract, I’d thought that a long distance relationship might not only be doable, but desirable. Maybe taking things slower than I had in the past might be more successful. As it turns out though, swinging from one extreme to the other ain’t a great idea either. Moving so quickly in the past may have been a mistake, but it spoke to a need that I have. I like a lot of attention in relationships, both emotional and physical. I like cuddling each night. I like having someone to talk to at any time of day. I like having someone next to me to watch television with. I like having lots of sex all the time. Physical presence is important to me. Dating a woman who I could only see once a month helped me to fully learn that truth about myself.
And isn’t that what dating is, a bunch of learning experiences? It’s also much more than that of course. People are putting their feelings and their bodies on the line, hoping that this new stranger will be the one to make them feel good more often than they make them feel bad. There’s a lot at stake when you swipe right. Yet there really is no place to practice dating other than dating. I spent the year after my breakup doing a lot of self-reflecting and theory-crafting about what I would do when I jumped back into the dating pool. Some of it helped, but a lot of it was unable to prepare me for dating scenarios I couldn’t have predicted- meeting two smart, attractive women at the same time, for example.
I also had to confront how much of a coward I am when it comes to the messiness of ending romantic involvements. Again, I’ve had limited experience with this, but in almost every dating scenario or relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been dumped or ghosted. I managed to twist being dumped into being the aggrieved party, and allowed myself to feel a misplaced sense of self-righteousness about the completely normal end of fraught relationships. That worked emotionally for a while, until I realized that both of my exes had the courage to do what I couldn’t: end a bad relationship.
I had to learn from them to end things with Adaku. Things weren’t bad, but they also weren’t going anywhere. Still, I found ways to kick that can down the road. Adaku was going on vacation for a week; what kind of jerk would I be to dump her right before that? I could wait until she got back. There was no rush, because I hadn’t had sex with Rose or anything. We were still just going on dates and making out.
Well, that changed quickly. As Adaku was preparing to leave for vacation, Rose and I made plans for another date. “And I can spend the night once we get back to your place,” Rose texted me. I thought I knew what that meant, but I didn’t want to assume anything- after all, I had just spent the night at Adaku’s place and sex hadn’t happened. To be sure, I texted back, “Okay, cool. Is it cool if I eat you out when you spend the night?”
“Lol, sure,” she responded. Just ask! What a fucking concept!
I don’t remember what the date was, and I don’t think you care anyway, dear reader. I was really only expecting to go down on Rose that night since that’s all I asked to do. When the moment came, Rose waved me home from third base. Remember what I said about how Rose and I “fit together” when we kissed for the first time? That was true for us when it came to sex as well. It was definitely worth the wait. Sex is one of the core pillars of a relationship for me. You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, duh,” but I’ve been surprised by the people I’ve talked to who either don’t really care about sex, or have had bad sex for most of their lives. My dating profile literally says, “I value great communication and great sex. Everything else is negotiable.” That’s how I feel about relationships. If we can’t communicate, there’s no point in trying anything else. If I’m not enjoying fucking you, then why bother with the rest? As for the rest, if we can talk about it or fuck about it, then we’ll work it out. I already really liked talking to Rose, and now I really liked fucking her. Time to wife her up!
But before that, I had to call Adaku.
She was still on vacation, which gave me about a week to think about exactly how I would tell her we should stop talking, and to imagine the 14 million possibilities of her response. I decided that I would tell her the truth, that she lived too far away for anything to work.
But was that the truth? Wouldn’t the truth also include, “Hey, I’ve been seeing another woman too, and that relationship has progressed faster than this one, so I’m ending things with you”? When I started dating again, I said that I wouldn’t lie to anyone. I wasn’t going to be volunteering information, but that I would answer any question that I was asked truthfully. At one point, I’d made a joke to Adaku about her seeing other guys, and she responded with, “Nope, you’re the only guy I’m talking to. I can’t make you, but I hope I’m the only woman you’re talking to.” That wasn’t the case, but I also didn’t want to tell her that I was seeing someone else. So I didn’t say anything, and she changed the subject. Was that not being truthful? Was it even a question? Is it semantics to slice the issue that thinly, a self-serving justification to allow myself to have my cake and eat it too? Maybe, but both Adaku and Rose were free to eat as much cake as they wanted as well.
In any case, I didn’t see the necessity to end it with someone by telling them that I’d started fucking someone else. She got home on a Monday, and I asked her to call me the next day. I told her straight up: I really like you, but we can’t see each other as much as I would like, so this isn’t going to work. She took it about as well as anyone can when you’re being surprise dumped.
I really want to stress that Adaku was a great woman, and if not for the logistical challenges of spending time together, things could have been different.
With that chapter closed, it was time to focus on Rose. We had a date planned for that Thursday, swing-dancing at the Polish National Home in Hartford. I normally have three left feet, but the instructors made the lessons fast and fun, so much so that even I knew the basic six-step of swing dancing when we were done. Rose and I were having a great time, so I went for it. I asked her to be my girlfriend. That might seem fast, since we’d been talking for about six weeks at that point. In my defense though, by that point in the past I was already living with a woman, so, you know, baby steps. Rose did think it was fast, but she said that she really liked me, that she wanted things to keep moving forward, and that she was open to being my girlfriend at some point in the future.
That sounded reasonable to me. We’d decided to be exclusive at least, now that we were sleeping together. The upcoming weekend was Columbus Day weekend. My son was staying with his mom, so I took Friday off. I’d planned a four day weekend of sex and weed with Rose, culminating with an early birthday celebration date of us taking a foliage cruise down the Connecticut River on Sunday morning. Neither of my roommates were home either; as Rose aptly put it, we were going to be “up and down the house all weekend.” What could possibly go wrong?