• Relationships

Dater X: Am I Wasting My Time?

Here’s something I wouldn’t have guessed about The Juggler in the disastrous first 15 minutes of meeting: he’s kind of kinky. Our first date turned into a second which turned into a third. On our fourth date last night, we decided to see a movie. Midway through, I felt his fingers move up my thigh, higher and higher, under my skirt, until they were pushing my underwear to the side and rubbing my clitoris. Ten minutes later we were out of the theater and back at his house, neither of us caring in the slightest how the movie ended.

Back in high school, and even in college, relationships felt so simple. If I liked someone and they liked me, we were good to go. I established the boyfriend/girlfriend label with guys at the drop of a hat.

For the past week and a half, we’ve gotten together almost every other night. On the days in between, we spend a lot of time text volleying. We’ve continued to have that ease of an established couple that I felt our first morning together. It’s been, in a word, wonderful. And yet some of the giddiness that normally comes from a whirlwind romance with a new person is missing here.

It all comes back to this fact: he likes me and enjoys my company, especially when clothing isn’t involved. But having recently gone through a nasty breakup, he’s nowhere near ready for a new relationship.

Which leaves me with a question constantly nagging in my ear: Even though I’m enjoying myself, am I wasting my time here?

Back in high school, and even in college, relationships felt so simple. If I liked someone and they liked me, we were good to go. I established the boyfriend/girlfriend label with guys at the drop of a hat.

If we were hanging out on a regular basis and liked to make out, that was all it took.

But in my late twenties and now early thirties, that simplicity has long since dribbled down the drain. Liking someone and having fun with them is only the beginning. You also have to be on the same life page. You have to want the same things. You have to both be reasonably clear of baggage—a hard enough challenge in itself. You have to have a deeper compatibility. You have to have something that signals that you, together, could have lasting power. The bar for becoming boyfriend/girlfriend seems impossibly high.

I hear this from my female friends all the time. “He’s cool, but not the one.” I even hear it from guy friends, too. The other night, on an evening off from The Juggler, I went out with a male friend who’s been dating the same women for more than two months. “She’s a sweet girl, but I know I’m not going to end up with her,” he said. “I think I need to end it soon.” Never mind that he really likes her and wants to spend time with her.

It’s like at this point in life, at least for those of us who want long-term committed relationships, it’s impossible to date without the end game in mind.

Which brings me back to The Juggler. I adore him. We share a lot of laughs and a lot of conversations about things I don’t admit to a lot of people. We feel a pull towards each other. We have great sex, a few degrees wilder than I’ve had in a long time. And yet I know it’s not what I’m looking for. Because I want someone who wants—really wants—a real, true, amazing relationship with me.

I’m torn here. Should I keep dating The Juggler, or should I walk away? Am I enjoying myself in a fling, or am I passing up opportunities to find my amazing relationship?

The real question seems to be: If I want love, do I need to wave goodbye to the people with whom I only feel intense like?

I hope one of you has the answer.

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