Recently, my boyfriend expressed some fear that we had moved too fast. While it’s only been four months, it feels like way more. Not quite a lifetime, but certainly a few years. We had clicked almost instantly, and while I was less than a year out of a nearly five-year relationship and he was, um, not quite divorced (a whole other topic), it seemed too good to pass up. I felt ready to be totally vulnerable and open to someone new, no matter where that might lead me. It has been (mostly) awesome.The thing that prompted my BF to finally voice his concern was that we spent an evening last weekend cooking dinner together — the smell of scallops is still permeating my apartment, by the way — a decidedly “domestic” activity. As someone who loves to cook, to stay in and watch movies (especially during the winter), and go out for lazy brunches, sharing parts of the newspaper, it’s very easy for me to suddenly find myself in a new relationship which resembles, at least on the surface, one that’s just celebrated a golden anniversary. I’m a nester and a homebody. But while that’s in my nature, I don’t think I should let it take hold of my romantic relationships, at least not early on. It took this discussion with my BF to realize that I’ve kind of got to go against my nature if I want to give any new relationship a chance in hell.
My last relationship fell into a routine quickly after we moved in together. We were living in Brooklyn above a mean ol’ lady who screamed obscenities in Polish if we we made any noise, and I mean any. My boyfriend didn’t care about pissing her off, but for some reason I did. Knowing a 90-year-old woman could hear me having sex was extremely disconcerting to me and I was absolutely petrified of having her scream at me for any reason. As a result, I became quiet as a mouse — especially in the bedroom. Over the course of the year we lived there, my boyfriend and I got into a pattern of staying in a lot, cooking dinner and watching movies. We were in love, so it seemed cozy at the time, but looking back, I wish we had put more effort into livening up our relationship by at least getting out — and getting rowdy — more. Instead, he had our routine at home to look forward to, after living a decidedly, um, not routine life on his own.
On one hand, I love routine. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s secure. In many ways, these adjectives also describe my last relationship, up until the very end. I still want those qualities in a relationship, but I also want more — excitement, surprise, passion … Now is the time to have those things in a relationship, before other responsibilities and circumstances — children and old age, to name just two — make that harder to handle. I don’t want the mistakes I made — and the habits I developed — in my past relationship to permeate my current one. Comfort and coziness and security are wonderful characteristics, ones I won’t ever sacrifice in a long-term relationship, but the fun and excitement of dating can and should be savored, even if that means forcing myself — and thus us — to slow down.
I think my boyfriend is still trying to wrap his head around the panic he was feeling and that’s up to him to figure out. But his fear forced me to recognize that I should be cautious too — of taking him, us, but most of all, this time in my life, for granted.