Dater X: Pumping The Brakes

It’s no secret I’ve been hurt in the past. Patrick Bateman broke my heart and left me with some serious trust issues and therapy bills to show for it, which is why it’s imperative I end up with someone who’s open and honest about his intentions and feelings. Last week, Baby Face proved to me that he can be that person, even though what he was telling me wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.

Since we reconnected just over a month ago and vowed to “take things slow,” Baby Face and I have pretty much been doing anything but. We slept together the second time we hung out, and, because of the over three-hour distance between our homes and the ease of him crashing at my place after work, we’ve been having regular sleepovers a few times a week. I’ve also spent the last couple of weekends with him, as well, which means lots of sleeping in, quality time and that crazy delicious sex we’ve been having. Knowing things have been going well between us, two of my closest friends asked (individually) if Baby Face and I wanted to get dinner with them and their respective significant others. I brought up the idea to Baby Face, he agreed, and I looked forward to introducing them all soon. Later in the week, I brought up our plans again and could sense some hesitation on his part. When I asked if everything was okay, Baby Face responded with “I think there are some things we should talk about.” Well, shit. Okay…

“We agreed to take things slowly, and I feel like we’re not doing that,” he said. “All of your friends want to meet me, but I think it’s kind of premature to be going to other couples’ houses for dinner. We’ve only been seeing each other a month, and it makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s just … soon.”

While I wholeheartedly agreed with him that things have been moving quickly, but given the circumstances, they kind of have to, don’t they? I don’t want to suddenly stop sleeping with him, and having him stay over is the most logical solution to our distance dilemma. Besides, he’d met other friends of mine and never said a peep about feeling pressured.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable, and I agree that things have been moving quickly,” I responded. “I’m just kind of confused about why you’re hesitant to meet my friends if we’ve spent more time together in a month than most people do in their first several months of dating. I’m not introducing you as my boyfriend, and don’t need a label — I just thought it would be nice for you all to meet. If you think things are moving too fast, how do you think we should slow it down?”

“I just told you,” he said matter-of-factly. “I have no problem with meeting your friends— it’s the circumstances surrounding those introductions that make me kind of uncomfortable. These are couples who are inviting us to their homes for dinner, and I just feel like that presents us in a way that I’m not quite ready for. It seems quick. You and I haven’t even talked about what we are yet or where this is going, so what if we’re faced with questions we don’t have the answers to ourselves? I don’t know … I think it would be better to meet them in a more casual setting.”

The conversation was taking a bad turn. I valued his honesty and openness, and was grateful that he was talking about his concerns, but it was sounding more and more like Baby Face wasn’t as invested as I thought.

“OK,” I said. “You don’t have to meet them now. I’m glad you’re telling me how you’re feeling and I don’t want to pressure you at all, but I do think it’s important that we eventually want the same things. Are you not wanting us to be considered a couple because you don’t want us to be a couple?”

“I want that eventually, yes, but I just got a new, demanding job in a new city, and commute nearly three hours each way. I have tons of student loans, and just want things to settle down a bit before I can fully commit to a relationship. Right now, I’m just worried about being able to pay my bills each month. I like you and you make me happy. I’m not seeing anyone else and don’t want to, but I do want to slow down. I want to be able to not feel guilty or stressed about going to a movie or dinner with you, and I certainly can’t have you footing the bill each time.”

He was being honest and vulnerable. Not only has he remained communicative about his wants and needs, but I can tell by the way he looks at me that this wasn’t his way of saying, “I’m just not that into you.” He makes us breakfast, cleans the dishes, fixes my coffee the way I like it in the mornings, and on top of that, is willing to spend his last dime on a twenty dollar train ticket to get to see me for four hours. He was opening up to me, and I see that as a good sign.

Our conversation went from love to money, and back again. Even after my multiple attempts trying to justify why I’ll gladly pay for him while he gets his finances in order, it became very clear to me that Baby Face wants to do it by the books. He wants to feel guilt-free after spending a night with me, even if that simply means paying for a train ticket with money that was intended for his week’s gas. Our slowdown isn’t just because of cash flow or that we’re moving quickly— it’s because he wants to feel comfortable with all of the circumstances surrounding this new “thing” we’re in, and I want that, too. We agreed to pump the brakes a bit, still moving forward but at a slower pace. We’ll see each other as often as financially possible, and when the dust settles, talk about where things stand. In the meantime, I’m going to take things day by day and do my best to enjoy the ride, no matter where we may end up.