I’ve recently started re-dating a great woman who has a schedule even busier than mine, which I previously hadn’t thought possible for any mortal! The last time we dated it was great for about 6 months, but it ended mutually when she had to move halfway across the world for her job and neither of us were interested in doing a LDR indefinitely. She’s now based in our hometown again, and she’s quit the job that required traveling, but she’s very busy with her last year of college and she’s working nearly full time too. I’m also very busy (I run a catering company and I’m also in school, plus I have a pack of high maintenance dogs) so it’s really tough for us to make time to spend together, although we are totally on the same page about priorities – our relationship is really important to us and we both see a viable long term future, but we both have a lot of other really important things in our lives right now. So basically we have our one date night every week (which we’re trying to make something other than “watching TV together and then banging” – any other suggestions, by the way?), and we text a few times a day the rest of the time. Once in a blue moon we’ll have a sleepover on a weeknight, which is great of course, but it throws her schedule off and I hate to interfere with that. My hours are pretty flexible, but hers are not at all.
In about a year she’ll have a full time job in her field with normal hours (she’s already gotten an offer from a great company!), and I’m in the process of selling my catering company, so we’ll both have a lot more time for each other then, but in the meantime… I don’t know what to do! I want to text her 2000 times a day and Skype her every morning while we’re getting ready for school, and I want to stay up late talking to her on the phone every evening, and I want to fall asleep next to her every night. But I know that’s not practical right now. Can you give me some advice on how to handle this? I’m so used to doing the stereotypical lesbian second date U-haul thing that I don’t know how to deal with a stable, slow-building relationship with more space than I’m used to.
-Crazy In Luuuuvvvvv
Dear In Luv:
There’s pretty much only one way you can screw this up, LW, and that’s by smothering this lady and treating her like your Preciousssssssssssssssssss when both of you are so overextended that you cannot even form a picture of what normal might feel like. Skype while getting ready in the morning might be sweet and romantic for some people, especially people in long-distance relationships, but for someone you see once/week and talk to regularly that is probably well into the Eep! zone.
Feelings of happiness, connection, joy, lust, hope for the future, and the desire to be closer and spend more time together are totally called for and understandable! I am happy that you are so happy!
When you haven’t seen happiness in a while, it’s hard to recognize it when it shows up again. What you have now sounds pretty happy from where I’m sitting. Key phrases in your letter that have me counting green flags:
- “Recently started dating…” = It takes time to work a new person, even an awesome new person, into a busy schedule. Give it some time!
- “Totally on the same page about priorities…” = You can feel comfortable and secure that this is a going concern. That’s huge! So often people who have just started dating end up taking the temperature of the relationship all the time because they don’t know or can’t tell whether they are both equally invested.
- “One date night every week…” = Even with your busy schedules, you’ve found one night/week to be together, and you communicate regularly by text. That’s not nothing!
Here’s what I suggest:
You are going to enjoy the hell out of your weekly date night with this woman, even if it is TV-Then-Bang (a classic for a reason!). Surely you can translate some of your romantic energy into planning the occasional deviation! The endless variations of “Make-Dinner-Together-Then-Bang” could keep you going for months.
When she manages an occasional unscheduled sleepover, you’re going to say to yourself “Self, Girlfriend is a grown woman and can decide to trade sleep for extra quality time if she chooses. I am going to enjoy it and not second-guess or guilt myself to death or make it weird.” You are also not going to pressure her for such events.
You are going to resume whatever friendships/activities/pursuits/hobbies/being awesome at your career you did with your free time before she came on the scene so that you are not spending nights when she’s busy with work or school waiting for her to text you or pining for sweet, sweet nuggets of attention.
And you are going to pour all of your FEELINGS into a journal somewhere so that you don’t shower them all on her all at once before she’s ready. Seeds don’t sprout if you keep digging them up to check on them. Insert your own metaphor for constantly opening the oven door to see if your cake has baked yet or lifting the lid of the rice pot before it’s done steaming here.
Time is going to take care of the rest. You’re going to settle into a routine that works for both of you. Careers and outside commitments are going to become more stable so that you get more time together. Trust that the relationship is going to evolve into what you want it to be, and trust that with time you’ll find something that works for both of you.
Right now, you are happy. You don’t have to fix anything, optimize anything, change anything. You just have to be happy and try not to fuck it up.
Several months ago when I realized I was In Love, I took a photo to remind myself “This is what happiness looks like.” When I’m blue I look at it and remember my face making that shape and what it felt like to feel that good. Time to take your own badly-lit self-portrait, maybe?