Many, many years ago I dated this guy who told me after only a few lovely dates that he was really close to him mom. Nice! Right? He’s close to his mama.
Then he elaborated.
He was really, really close. Unusually close. Like sometimes-people-think-it’s-weird kind of close.
I took this piece of information to my wise friend, Rebecca. She told me,
Believe people when they tell you who they are.
I was in the early, dreamy stages of a new relationship, which can be a confusing time. Your body, heart, and mind are working as separate entities, assessing compatibility of this person standing in front of you. And their assessments don’t always line up.
As it turned out, Rebecca was right. So right.
In that exciting time when we’re dating someone new and it’s going really well, something funny happens. We may be on our best behavior and we may be censoring our past but we also become very open. We start testing the waters by dropping bits of our truth on the dinner table. Then we wait to see what happens.
“If he can take that, maybe he can take this…” we think to ourselves. We may not even know we are doing it. However, it’s more important to recognize when Mr. or Ms. Dreamy is doing it. That’s when you have to listen.
Rebecca’s words became a dating mantra for me. So much so that I liked beating guys to the punch, asking them straight up, “What’s the one thing you think I should know about you?”
I asked my husband this questions back when we were first courting. “I always put work first,” he replied. I had to really think on that answer. I couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad. Or both.
Then he asked me the same question. I told him I was really selfish with my time. And there it was, the best of our worst qualities out in the open.
I think getting these two little things out there early on has helped us tremendously over the years. Since I already knew how he feels about his work commitments, I’m not put off by how devoted he is to a project – even when it means that he is less devoted to me.
People joke about the sad life of a theatre spouse. They joke because it’s kind of true. Your partner all but disappears for a few weeks. And tech week? Forget about it. But I knew this going in. Whining or complaining will get me nowhere. So I choose to be ok with it, pack him dinners, bake the cast and crew cookies, and suck it up until opening night.
The great thing is he does the same for me. When social obligations become too much for me to handle, he lets me gracefully duck out. When I get pissy because I haven’t had any alone time, writing time, or yoga time, he thoughtfully schedules meetings in the evenings so I can have some peace and quiet. (Actually, he probably doesn’t do that for me. It’s most likely a happy coincidence. But whatever.) The point is, he knows I can only handle so much and then I shut down, so he gives me space and leaves me alone for a bit.
The best part is we both know we can pull the I-need-you card when it’s really important.
A friend recently ended a brief courtship because Mr. Dreamy told her that sometimes he becomes “addicted to chaos.” Yikes! That’s like saying, “I might have a little drinking problem.” He told her who he was and she believed him. She chose not to live in chaos. Good for her.
The things people say about themselves at the beginning of a relationship are clues letting you know what’s in store. You may not actually see the evidence right away. But trust me, it will come up eventually. We can get very analytical about what love interests say when we are dating. “What does that mean?” we ask our friends. There is no reading between the lines on this one. Just believe them.
*Photo By Death to the Stock Photo
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