A Dating Experiment

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An Experiment In The Dating World

Anyone who knows me knows that my dating stories have been largely untraditional. And I’ve recently found myself in a position where I could be setting myself up for dating disaster. Enter: A Dating Experiment

I met a guy in the new year and we began spending time together. In fact, an odd amount of time together. We have deep, intimate conversations; he spends the night. For all intended purposes, we should be dating.

Except, we’re not.

We date other people, yet we talk every day whether through text, Facebook or email and are serving all the functions of dating — company, companionship, and physical contact (sans sex, but I’ll get into that later).

girl-you-crazy-as-hell (1)

I see him at least twice a week.

We have nicknames for each other. (To not sound like a nut case, our nicknames are total jokes.)

I know, I know, this is reading sloppy and disastrous.

Allow me to explain.

The Experiment, as I call him, just got out of a long-term relationship and also moved back to the country after a six year hiatus. He’s in no position to want to cozy up to something serious, as I’ve been forewarned. As for me, I’m emotionally tied up with someone else, a tragedy in love or infatuation, I can’t determine, and also someone equally unavailable due to similar circumstances (seeing a trend here???). We both aren’t in places to give to each other, and it would be stupid for us to try. But we enjoy each other’s company both mentally and physically (or at least in a PG-15 kind of way), and we communicate very well.

It’s a breath of fresh air.

First, we are not deluding ourselves. This is actually one of the most mature scenarios I’ve been a part of for a while.

Second, and why it works, not too long into meeting him and spending quality time together, it was obvious that we had sexual compatibility, but also obvious that this was going to be an untraditional scenario. Sex complicates everything so it seemed logical to exclude it to avoid consequence. Believe it or not, the no sex was totally a consciously mutual decision . . . and he surprisingly agreed to it after I brought it up as the most logical thing to do.

So it works because we have mutually agreed to what the relationship is and what it isn’t. We have zero expectations. We keep the communication channels open. We respect each others boundaries.

I know. I hear danger sirens already. Men and women can’t be friends.

And I can hear every man out there saying, “Dude, he’s just playing along to get into your pants.”

Thing is, we have and continue to have many opportunities for that to happen. And technically, I made the first move. We just choose to keep it simple.

On one hand, this could be incredibly foolish. On another it could be incredibly genius. So far, though, this has worked beautifully for the past couple of weeks and no, there is still no sex involved nor the pressure of sex. (We have agreed that if we introduce this element that we’ll need to make a shift i.e. date.)  We check in when things may be crossing lines and make adjustments as necessary. We’ve cut back on talking about our dating lives in depth, which was an earlier adjustment, and only hint when we have dates and spend time with other people. The usual question, “Does that bother you?” comes up often. The only real issue I see is when one of us falls for someone else besides each other. Then does the experiment end?

It is a modern day When Harry Met Sally, except like all Hollywood films, Harry and Sally fall in love and we all know real life isn’t Hollywood. I wouldn’t be shocked if this did indeed bite me in the ass but, for the moment he’s providing exactly what I need from a friend and a male companion and I think I’m doing the same for him, so we are running with it.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t run us over.

He Said

confusion_11Right. So I’m “The Experiment.” As I sit down to write this, the first thing that occurs to me is that an experiment is a test. If I’m her experiment, it must mean she’s got some hypothesis she’s trying to verify, some assumption, some hope of love or knowledge that she can glean from her time with me. Am I okay being her “Experiment”? 100% Yes.

She’s given you my basic intro, but I want you to hear my side from my own words. Up until recently, I was living an entirely different life. I lived in abroad for six years and was in a serious relationship for the last four of them. It was the, “Do I marry this woman or not?” sort of relationship. I loved her; we had a great time together, but that time was an intersection of two lives going to very different places. I was emotionally stagnant and was unhappy with life so far away from home. So I left and moved back to Chicago to rebuild.

Fast forward six months, and I’m just starting to date again. Everything is going breezily along until January 1, and I serendipitously meet a woman who decides it’s a good idea to take me home.

Now, nearly a month later, we talk almost daily. We spend some nights together. Her roommate knows my name. Hell, we all enjoyed a happy evening playing Apples to Apples. So we’re a thing right? Like, we’re dating or in love or at least on the way there, right? We must be because that’s what dating people do.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Full disclosure: I’m not really sure what “dating” actually is. There’s “seeing someone,” then there’s “dating,” and then “dating exclusively.” All of this before saying I have a girlfriend. I don’t get it; I don’t care to get it. My heart doesn’t operate by labels.

Instead, I operate on a mix of confidence and doubt. The things I’m confident about are obvious. Is there chemistry? Yes. Is she a babe? Totally. Can she make me laugh? All the time. She cooks. She writes. She’s a dancer. In a lot of ways, this here is a woman who satisfies a lot of my requirements (and we haven’t even had sex). So what’s the deal with doubt?

Well, my head’s still spinning from the move home. I’m not settled, and I haven’t been single in years. I mean: Shit! What am I supposed to do here?

What do you do when a good thing comes around at a bad time?

I see three options:

(1) End it, because it’s complicated.

(2) Delay and give myself time to think.

(3) Quit thinking, and jump in.

Number one feels like a cop out. It doesn’t make any sense to ditch a woman I so thoroughly enjoy, particularly because of my past. I’m in the present, and looking forward. The past should be of no consequence.

Number three feels stupid. I need to be sure whatever comes from my time with this woman is the organic result of the time I spent with her, not some transitive emotional need that I’m carrying.

Number two. Number two is a caged beast. It’s a pressure cooker. In fact, it doesn’t really exist. Number two is really just trying to hold number three back. It’s hesitation on the battlefield.

All of this is why I agreed to no sex. Like I said, I’m choosing to delay, to pause, because I want to slow the reaction down. The physical act of sex would be a catalyst. Yes, sex would be nice, but I’ve been around enough to know that its a one way street.  And the one thing I do know about this woman is that she’s not a casual flip of the hat.

You know the title she’s given the situation: I’m her Experiment. But, who is she to me?

She’s the second scenario. She’s Variable XY, the caged beast, and I’m holding her at bay until I can figure myself out.

She Said

It’s not like I had any agenda when I took him home. (She totally had an agenda). For all I was concerned with, this could have started and ended as a one-night stand, something I could be completely and utterly detached from while I figured my own situation out. My heart’s on lockdown and did I mention he’s a friend’s brother?

RUNAWAY-BRIDEsHe wonders about me having a hypothesis, and he’s correct. I’m assuming I’m going to have his babies this will go terribly awry and the person on the receiving end of that stick is going to be me. That’s how shit usually goes down in my romantic history, and I’ve learned to play it safe with matters of the heart. But I also get a sense based on how we have progressed as friends that it could possibly go very well for once, so I’m playing along. This is not my standard. I’m a runner.  If I sense drama that could shift my nicely packaged world, I delete.  We are different in this regard and he knows that. It doesn’t hurt, however, that we have stimulating conversations, share a love of writing and words, like similar music and that he’s a foodie in training.

I’m still not past the, leave while shit is still normal and chock it up to a month of fun because you are getting yourself in deep emotional waters, sister; there’s only one conclusion to this story and it usually ends up with you and an empty bottle of wine on the side of a street calling your ex. But another part of me is hooked on the experiment part of it, and we are doing a good job of communicating expectations or rather, lack of, and like I mentioned earlier, he’s a breath of fresh air from recent drama and heartbreak.  Like an amoeba, it continues to change, to define itself. Why stop a good thing when it’s the healthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time?

I honestly have no idea where I want it to go with it. I have no hopes, and unlike most men I date, I haven’t envisioned what we will be in a week, a month, a year from now. I’m not even sure yet if its a romantic attraction or a friendship/respect attraction with “sort of benefits”. I just go with the flow. Maybe that’s been the problem this whole time with other men?

What am I to him? A warm body, a new beginning, an equal distraction?  Maybe, or maybe just a friend. All I know is that it’s fucking easier than anything I’ve done in a really long time, and that we are both practicing the art of communication and respect. It could go terribly bad, but so far,  it’s only gone good and I’ll report back in another month.

Besides, who else am I going to dissect my love life with while spooning?

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