Since the breakup and starting this experiment I haven’t really given myself any time to consider or even think about any future relationships and what I may or may not want or be looking for. Thinking back on what I had will depress me and just bring up old hurt. And trying to think about what I want makes me anxious and unsure of how I will hold up for a whole year. But talking about time management and how integral control or lack thereof becomes in our lives reminds me that it is also an essential part of relationships and making sure they work.
As I mentioned, my untimeliness does not limit itself to just work engagements. I’ve been late and will be late to hangouts with friends. Even though we almost exclusively hang out at my place, I’m still responsible to pick some of them up since they don’t drive and yet still for things I am hosting I can end up being late. This of course then means it was a point of contention for my relationships as well. I am an old-fashioned bleeding heart romantic. I love love and being in love and the entire ritual and persona of one who is in love. So you can bet I never approach a beautiful woman’s door without a beautiful red rose. No bouquets, no dozen blooms, I believe in the simplistic elegance of one bright full red long-stemmed rose. Maybe a little bow around the middle of the stem. Hidden behind my back. Procured with much enthusiasm only at the very last second. Let’s just say the florist and I have a very familiar relationship. She’s probably wondering where I’ve been the past month. Hahah.
Aside from one very very bad relationship, all of the women I’ve been fortunate enough to be with have been considerably understanding and forgiving of my lateness. Initially there were some issues as is the case when two people start to get to know each other better. We go into relationships our raw selves because we only know what works for us as individuals. It is through time and care and attention do we learn how to adapt to other people we care about. So most of the girls lived in a world where people were on time and punctual and everything worked according to plan. I lived in a world where all the clocks in the house are ten minutes fast so we at least have a ten minute buff. It doesn’t really work as planned because well…we all know the clocks are ten minutes fast. And we have phones and watches. So instead we always think we have more time than thought of and we end up…being late.
The first date always goes well, because first impressions are key. I am timely and punctual and everything goes off without a hitch. Things go well, we plan a second date. I will usually end up being 5-7 minutes late. No big deal. Not a major detractor, I smile make a small apology, and we move on with our lives. The girl and I will find we really enjoy each other’s company, so we go out again. The third date I am excited, I’ve planned something great, but I am getting comfortable with her now so I begin to relax and not worry as much. This is by the way a compliment and speaks well of the person. But I’m bordering 15-20 minutes. I am courteous and respectful. I send her a text or give her a call. She is a bit frustrated but hides it well and is gracious about the situation. We’re beginning to feel each other out here, and expectations are being set. If things go well, this goes on for longer and we begin to see something more substantial form. As in all relationships, we start off in the world that only we inhabit, with our rules, our expectations, our ways. When two people meet and try to be together, two worlds collide.
You remember those first initial stages. The fun and excitement and thrill of it all. But think of how unnatural you were, how many half-truths and assumed characteristics you put on. We want to make good first impressions I get it, but we aren’t really able to be our true selves the first few times we are with someone. So you start in the smallest, least common denominator version of yourself. The crowd pleaser. And everyone loves a crowd pleaser. Then it gets to become more. And we go off the deep end. We push our limits. Test our boundaries. We want to know who we are with. Our behaviors and habits become more natural. We want to see how much we can get away with, how much of ourselves this other person is willing to entertain, to care for. I am self-centeredly late. They are concerned only with their schedules and their procedures. It’s in this phase where things become serious and we really see the strength of the attraction and the relationship. Some people can’t budge for others in certain areas. I know this firsthand. Maybe not with time, but with other things. Hobbies. Interests. Values. Priorities. We are all responsible for being fully formed people with our own aspects and we bring a lot to the table when we think about relationships and think about how we can still be ourselves and yet still fit into something with another person’s world.
When it comes specifically to time, the better relationships I’ve been in have been able to reach this point of pushing ourselves to the very outer borders of our selves and then learn to reel back in, or move borders, change the shape of our boundaries, to allow the give and take for two very different people. She becomes understanding, flexible, and understands I am a unstable mix of noble intentions and poor execution. If she can find it cute, I’m golden. I am respectful and appreciative of her forgiving nature. I limit myself to the single digit schedule deviations. 9 minutes tops. I am courteous and aware and immediately notify her of any sort of unforeseen circumstances beyond my allowance. I’ve never been opposed to the idea of working on myself to be better with someone else.
It feels like I’ve lived for myself for a very long time. And after a year, I will definitely have lived only under my own rules. I don’t know yet, and I hope to spend some time this year to investigate, what it is I’m looking for in a woman and in a relationship. One of the biggest goals of this experiment is to move myself past simply craving a relationship and to define what it is I seek and learn to find it, cherish it, and make it last. But I know she will have to understand who I am, and what I am and am not capable of. I know she will be kind and caring, and that within respectful means, she will, more than anything, just be happy to see me. Running. Across the parking lot. I’m already beating myself up enough about being late. She will have a beautiful smile and a warm embrace. She’ll freeze time. I’ll have been en route for 26, going on 27 years, but when I find her, I will be on time.
I do miss that sensation. I do miss the thrill of learning another person.