Sunday, 23 November 2014
A Sort of 'First Date'
So I met Berlin
I've been waiting a long time to do that. When I first met him online on the Ashley Madison dating site, and during the couple of weeks that followed I was sure we would meet up the moment he returned to South Africa. We had such an intense and connected engagement online while he was in Berlin and I was here in South Africa. When I couldn't get a Visa to go out and meet him in Berlin, we settled in to wait it out until he returned. But when he returned, he just cut me off. Completely. And I was in such a raw emotional and physical state at the time that I just felt completely bewildered, sideswiped and hurt by the cutoff.
We had fantasized together, online, about how our first meeting would be. With all the sexual and connection energy we (or maybe just I?) were feeling, I imagined us not even talking. I could just see him sweeping me into his arms and kissing me with all the pent up emotion and yearning that had been building for the few weeks online. But as I got sicker and sicker leading up to homecoming day, and I could feel him pulling away from me gently, I started reframing how the meetup would be. I really didn't want our first meeting to be with me in a hospital bed, particularly when I suddenly swelled up like the Michelin Man. I wanted to look and feel my best. He thought he would spend a few days settling down with his family before he connected with me, so I was quite pleased that I would have some days to 'get myself back' before he saw me. Of course, the rest is history - he never did connect, and I got much worse before I began this very long road to recovery.
So we met at a restaurant near to his home. Lovely place, but too loud for us to actually have an easy conversation. We were both a bit distracted - I was trying to stay in touch with my dad who had had surgery that morning, and he had a sick friend that he was also keeping tabs on. I did find his attention wandering a few time during the conversation, and he did 'leave' the conversation a couple of times to send messages on his phone, ostensibly about his very ill friend. Could have been that. Or something else. Both of us were exhausted after a hard week, and I was wilting a bit under the effects of the chemo I took in the morning, and the terrible emotional toll that Friday morning's legal proceedings had taken on me. So we both tried hard to make our first connection successful, but I do think it was that - hard work for both of us.
And of course there was no romantic sweeping off of feet. We are both quite wary of each other I think. I’m still feeling quite bruised by his sudden abandonment of me, and I think he still thinks that I may, in some way, have been involved with some scam that someone was trying to pull on him through the Ashley Madison site. It’s as if we’re both still checking each other out – bruised and suspicious – and trying to see if the other can be trusted or not.
But what of Berlin himself? Was my online infatuation all in my head? Or is there something in this man that I would be attracted to in real life? That was the real question I wanted to answer for myself. And I'm so relieved to say that, yes, he is most definitely a man that I would enjoy. I didn't imagine the connection from my side at all. I like his energy. He has a good brain. And I feel like he would be a very sensuous man if ever I would experience him in that way. So he got a big fat tick from me in that department! So in this particular case, my online attraction was not misplaced or projected. If I had made it to Berlin when we first played with the idea, I have no doubt we would have had a beautiful sensual and connected romantic fling.
Is he a Narcissist? Not obviously so, although I do think I'd need more time to figure that out. Of course we know already that I seem to be attracted to only Narcs, so just the fact that I do like him could already be a step in the Narc direction, and I should watch out for that.
I didn't manage to unpack what actually happened when he disappeared on me. The restaurant really was too loud and I didn't want to get too deeply into what could be quite a painful conversation, for me anyway. He said that two girls had found him on AM, professing to be from Mexico and some other small country in Europe. But they didn't speak the language of the countries they came from. One was insisting on meeting up with him and he was becoming afraid that they were planning some attack on him, or some sort of scam. I still don't know what that has to do with me though. He once mentioned thinking I was setting some sort of trap for him. Did he think I was the author of those profiles on AM?
And I want to know if the connection we had was as real for him as it was for me? Or did I project too much into that space? I really believed that we were both quite committed to meeting up in South Africa and seeing if our relationship had any potential in real life. We discussed having STD screens so that we could have condom-free sex safely if that's where our relationship took us. Was he just messing with me then? Or did he really want to take this thing further than the online forum? Did he feel what I felt? Or was that just all part of the playful chatting thing people do in online relationships. Was I naive to believe that he meant what he was saying? Should I be 'manning up' more if I want to get back into the online dating space at some stage? Or should I be expecting the men I meet to be clear and truthful with me about where they're at?
OK - I'm even smiling a bit at myself with that specific naive question - I guess I am answering my own question there - enjoy the play but check the guy out very very thoroughly before you take things further with them - there are a lot of nasty people out there, and to play in the world you have to have defenses set up.
We ended the evening quite early - we were both just too tired to go on late into the evening. I drove home trying to suss how I was feeling. I could feel a muted butterfly or two in my tummy - good sign. But also still a lot of caution and mistrust in me - if ever something was to transpire with this boy, I would need a lot more explanation and understanding to open myself up to him in any way. I could feel the questions welling up inside me: "Did you really feel it too?", "Were you just playing me?", "did I just get lost in the myriad of women you were playing with online?", "If you felt it too, how could it have been that easy for you to walk away without a backward glance?".
We said we'd meet up again. We may do a little bit of work together, so again, I'll have to manage my boundaries about that quite carefully. Maybe he'll meet me at Tasha's next Sunday morning, or we'll find another time. I'm not really sussing him out as future relationship potential at the moment - he mentioned something a while ago about reconciling with his wife and I really really don't want to mess with that, (although he also mentioned still chatting online with women and the fact that he's currently behaving like a 16-year-old, so maybe wife reconciliation was a passing phase?) I think I'm looking for insight and closure mostly. This thing landed on me in a very very vulnerable and raw time of my life and it has lodged itself in my heart quite stubbornly - I feel like I can't let it go until I actually understand it all.
So this part of the 'Online dating' story isn't quite complete yet, at least not for me. Who knows - maybe I'll never see him or hear from him again - I didn't really get a sense of whether he enjoyed me or not. So let's see. I'm not sorry I did this. I feel better, no matter what happens next.