• Relationships

Dater X: He Won Me Over In The Morning

They say that, within five minutes of meeting a guy, a woman decides whether she wants to have sex with him. But it only took me 30 seconds to know that there was no way I was screwing The Juggler.

After chatting for a few days online, I agreed to meet him at a bar in Manhattan. When I arrived, I instantly spotted him sitting on a bar stool. There was no denying that he was cute. But as is often the case with online dating, he was a little shorter and a touch older-looking than advertised.

But that wasn’t the issue.

There’s a strange thing that happens when in the light of sobriety you’re confronted with a person whom you’ve gotten to know much more intensely physically than you have mentally. I can’t count the number of times a guy has woken up and bolted, throwing out some lame excuse as he put on his pants.

Why do I call him The Juggler? Because for the first 20 minutes of our date, he wouldn’t stop talking about his hobby of choice, which—yes—involves tennis balls and bowling pins being flung in the air. He asked zilch about me and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise as he narrated the totally boring story of working his way up to four balls. I was completely turned off and plotting how to get the heck out of there the minute we reached the bottom of our drinks.

I was three sips away from finishing my beer and making my escape. That’s when, finally, The Juggler asked me about the book I hope to one day write. And with a simple question, the entire tenor of our date changed. He wasn’t actually a self-absorbed jerk—he’d just been nervous. From there, the conversation began to flow into a back-and-forth information share about our pasts, our families, and our relationship philosophies.

Which is when he shared a vital piece of information. “I just ended a three-year relationship at the beginning of the summer,” he said. “I want to meet new people, I want romance—but I’m nowhere near ready for a relationship.”

Fair enough. I have a lot of respect for someone who knows this and is upfront with the people he dates about only wanting something casual.

A few minutes later, there was a pause in the conversation. With Radiohead blaring over the bar speakers, he leaned in and kissed me.

It was a weird kiss. Not exactly good, but not bad either. It was tight, closed lip, and fast—generally things that would totally turn me off. But I liked the way his hands held my cheek. My initial instincts about The Juggler—that he just wasn’t for me—were at war with a little part of me that kind of liked him.

Still, as our cab pulled up in front on my building, I heard myself saying, “Want to come up?”

I’m not sure if it was the fact that there was something appealing about The Juggler. Or the fact that I hadn’t had sex since March. (Though we fooled around a ton, I never had actual intercourse with Tall Guy.) Or the fact that the casual flag had already been waved. But an hour later, we were naked on my bed and a condom wrapper was being torn open.

The sex was … fine. A little rushed, but it felt good. We curled up spoon-style and went to sleep. I felt very confident that this was a one-time thing.

But the next morning everything changed.

I woke up to the sun streaming through the window. Not 10 seconds after I opened my eyes and registered that The Juggler was still there, he opened his eyes, too. He smiled big and pulled me on top of him, holding my cheek against his and stroking my hair. And my back. And my butt. Soon we were having sex again—this time slower, sweeter, sexier. We both came—again—and fell back asleep until my alarm clock went off.

Mornings after one-night stands are usually unbearably awkward.

There’s a strange thing that happens when in the light of sobriety you’re confronted with a person whom you’ve gotten to know much more intensely physically than you have mentally. I can’t count the number of times a guy has woken up and bolted, throwing out some lame excuse as he put on his pants.

Or the number of times I’ve ushered a dude out the front door without so much as offering a cup of coffee. But this didn’t happen with The Juggler. We both had to be at work in an hour, but it was clear that, if we could, we’d linger all day.

As I hopped in the shower, The Juggler stood in the bathroom doorway, putting on his clothes and bantering with me over the sound of the water. We brushed our teeth side by side, and as toothpaste dribbled down the front on my shirt, we both started cracking up to the point of tears. I poured us both bowls of cereal, and our great conversation from the night before continued. We walked out the door hand in hand.

We got on the subway, and wrapped our arms around each other’s backs, continuing to talk in the crowded rush hour train, ignoring the “shut up please” glances from the people around us. When we reached his stop, he gave me the sweetest goodbye kiss. I’d known The Juggler for less than 24 hours, but we had the ease of a couple who’ve been together for years.

What that means? I have no idea. But I’m interested to find out. And I can’t believe how wrong my 30-second first impression was.

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