I don’t doubt that what I see as my own charm, whimsy, and honesty constitute red flags for potential dates. So to any man who emerges from the obstacle course of my single-mom status and “refreshing honesty” about my shortcomings with his eyes still fixed on pursuit, I say, “Bravo, sir – bring it on.” Case in point: back in December, I kicked things off with The Leo by sending him the link to this blog, a risky move that ended up paying off. I granted him an unprecedented backstage tour of my inner workings, which both fascinated and (hopefully) prepared him for navigating a relationship with me.
That said, a few days ago I asked him to stop reading the blog. About a week earlier, we’d had a mildly awkward discussion about the pressure he felt from my having referred to him as a unicorn. At that time, he offered to stop reading so that I could feel free to write what I wanted without the pressure of knowing he was part of my audience. I told him that it didn’t feel right to ask him to do that, but flash forward a week, and I’ve done a 180. What changed?
My only hesitation with The Leo has ever been his niceness. Let me explain: when shit went down with The Voyeur, and I needed time to regroup, The Leo and I had only seen each other three times. Things were promising, yes, but definitely still fresh and untested. When I published his post, he called me right after he read it, told me that he was still very interested, that I deserved happiness, that I should take whatever time I needed, but that if I were still open to it, he still wanted to see me. Half of me went, “Awwwww!” and the other half was all, “Seriously? Like, you’re not going to get mad about this or fight at all?” Clearly, I’m not entirely sure what I want.
In sharp contrast with The Voyeur, who regularly challenges me both intentionally and unintentionally, The Leo was doing his best to make things easy and comfortable for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eager to sign up for a future of guaranteed difficulty and incompatibility, but I also appreciate some degree of challenge – the kind that pushes me toward self-examination and supports my ongoing efforts at self-improvement. It’s a wonder that I’m single, I know.
Basically, I’m worried that I’ll be insufficiently challenged by The Leo, and in order to work that out, I needed this space…without him in it. Sure, he could have lied. He could be reading right now, but I have to operate as though he’s not. I have to trust in his honor and self-discipline, both of which I firmly believe he has in spades.
It’s a strange place to be: considering the continued pursuit of a man who checks all my boxes only to find I had boxes I didn’t even think to include on the list, boxes that don’t fit within a simple yes/no continuum. The following run-down of questions shuffles endlessly through my brain: how much does my desire to be challenged really matter? Is it something that should manifest early in a relationship? Am I prioritizing the wrong things? Am I just in a weird space? Should I just give this time? How much time is enough? Too much? Toss in an ever-present dose of self-doubt (You’re assuming he’s even interested in a long-term relationship, which he probably isn’t because you’re still as undateable as ever), and my mental landscape falls somewhere between a high school debate competition and tipsy cocktail party banter.
I’m thankful for the clarity that writing brings, but I guess that my biggest point here is that I nearly took even that away from myself by sharing it. Lesson learned? Probably not, but it’s at least been noted as a cautionary tale.