Playing the Game… Or Not

It was a roller coaster of a week last week with Mark, with mostly highs, then yesterday almost ending in disaster, saved at the last minute by simple honesty and communication. All thanks to me talking to my sponsor. I’d spent all week trying to figure Mark out, at one point mistaking him for some master of the dark underworld and seedy subculture of some sex cult, because that’s how my crazy imagination works. I was like, Who IS this weird and scary guy? What planet is this guy from? …Take me to your people. Because that’s scary as hell and you’re freaking me out but… sign me up!

Let me explain.

But I sensed Mark was uncomfortable on our second date, or perhaps trying to impress me somehow. He was slightly different than before, when he’d seemed like just a nice, regular guy who happens to be really cute. Something was just off. He talked about his dates from Match, which were some funny stories, but also strange. How was it that so many women were so forward, unprovoked, one of them going so far as to suggest that their first date be the two of them go to Victoria’s Secret together first then go back to her place for sex. He was telling me about how weird it was and that was not his thing, but a part of me found it unbelievable. Who does that? And why? What kind of boundaries had been established between the two of them prior to that? Had he said or done something suggestive? And why was he telling me this now? When I added it all up, I noticed that most of the dates had sex in common, in that the women had advanced themselves to him too early into dating and it had been a turn-off for him. Was he bragging? Trying to gauge my reaction to see if that’s something I would be into? Was he laying down the law to let me know he’s the boss and if I want that I have to let him lead? Or was he just trying to impress me somehow to let me know plenty of women had been attracted to him?

That is where crazy alcoholic thinking goes when you’ve been focused on lust all week, on my goal of doing what I do best which is capture the guy’s attention in a subtle way through sex. That is the sad, deep, raw, painful truth. The message I wanted to send in a subconscious way was basically the same message I’ve sent to every man whose attention I wanted to get, which is this: Sex with me is so mind-blowing you’ll fall in love with me and never leave.

So there you have it, my dear readers, my deep-rooted fear of abandonment rearing its ugly head by me capitalizing on my perceived assets instead of relying on just being me: a funny, smart, and fun woman (who will probably be amazing in bed with the right guy… just sayin).

Mark also did not make a lot of eye contact with me on the second date. He looked around the restaurant, which I found disconcerting, but I decided to look right at him with adoration anyway because I found him endearing. At the time I suspected he was telling me all of this because he was trying to impress me, and though it did not impress me, the fact that he was doing it just to impress me impressed me. But by the end of the date I’d put several pieces together of what he’d said in which he’d tripped himself up by saying he’d been on Match off and on for years, had been on many dates, and had even said he’d dated women of many different races, and then he was like, Oh I shouldn’t say that, that’s not what I meant. He just did not seem that experienced for all the bullshit that I perceived him to be feeding me. He’s 43 and never been married so he must be a commitment-phobe, right? But I decided that I did not care.

Out of politeness I’d offered to pay half the bill, he’d said no, and I was like are you sure, and then he was like, okay, then he was like, would that be tacky? I was like, I don’t know, and he was like, Yeah that would be tacky. At the time I thought he wasn’t that experienced, maybe I’d made him nervous somehow, maybe he didn’t make a lot of money—he had mentioned that he didn’t make a lot. But guys will do that, which I always take to mean they’re letting me now they won’t be my sugar daddy to which I say fine Mister I ain’t looking for no sugar daddy because I’m a badass so don’t be trying to tell me how broke you are. Which is a lie because I would love for some guy to spend all his money on me, though I absolutely am independent and have always been, almost to a fault.

At the end of the date he walked me halfway to my car, asking first if I was okay with that, because some women didn’t want guys to know their license plates or their cars for safety reasons, but I was okay with it, he seemed trustworthy to me, and maybe that was unwise of me, but that’s what happened. And then he didn’t even hug me or shake my hand, which seemed strange for someone who just spent three hours talking to me, but I thought, Oh this is all part of his game.

On the date I’d asked him what it was he was looking for, and said that I’m looking for a long-term relationship. He didn’t answer right away but at the end of the date he said he realized he hadn’t answered that question, and that his answer was that he too is looking for something long term, honesty, and communication. Something in me just didn’t completely buy it, because I think that’s what I’d just said, and he’s just trying to get into my pants by saying cliché answers that he thinks I want to hear. Because those aren’t things you just end a date with and be on your way, but rather, to me, something you start a date with, then elaborate on what you mean by honesty and communication and what “long term” looks like for you. Note to self: This is what I’ll bring up tonight—ask him what these things mean for him.

Soon after our second date things progressed quickly via text conversation about the chemistry between us, and he is eager to seal the deal, as am I, and for a few days we were both willing to throw everything to the wind and just jump into bed together. From what I gather, he doesn’t have faith that a relationship can develop from such mad chemistry but he’s a red-blooded male and will take what he can when he can because it’s not often that he finds this kind of chemistry. My interpretation was that he’s a player playing the game and he does this all the time to dozens of women he meets online and he has no intention of being in a relationship whatsoever. What doesn’t make sense is why he wouldn’t just go on a free site, a hookup site like OKCupid or Tinder rather than Match, which is where I thought all the serious people who wants actual relationships go? Maybe he was just a predator who wanted to deceive women who’d be with him long term so that he could have safe, monogamous with someone without the worry of finding someone else for some time.

So I asked him point blank what would he do if I were to suggest an FWB situation? And he was like, It’s on, I am totally down for that. And I asked why he’d agreed with me about taking things slowly if all he wanted was an FWB in the first place? So then I decided if that’s all he wanted I wouldn’t waste my time trying to get to know him better and instead I’d focus on what our ground rules would be and how I would best protect my heart. Because that [FWB situation] clearly had worked out so well with Jay last time only two months ago when I cried for four days afterwards, as my sponsor reminded me later.

Pretty soon after this agreement Mark proved himself to be too smooth in my mind, too practiced at the art of seduction, because four days later he was sexting me (with words, not dick pics, to be clear—that would not be cool), using all the right words about all the right things he would do to me, and I was like, Who IS this guy? He no longer seemed like an inexperienced dater but someone who planned on using me all along, who wasn’t snide enough to be smooth at the dating part of the manipulation game but had the sex part down pat. So I spent the next five days after that trying to figure out his game. I’d decided he must be an expert Dom prominent in the BDSM community and he was reeling me in to be his newbie Slave, and as soon as my newness wore off, he’d be on to the next unsuspecting victim. You may be asking yourself how the hell did I arrive at that bizarre assumption, and I’ll tell you. He’s into role playing (not S&M or pain, to be clear) and started giving me some 50 Shades vibes and I was like, Oh no he ain’t. I’ve read all three books, though only skipping to the dirty parts in book 2 and then only reading the first part of book 3, because the writer tries to make out like this is love and that’s bullshit. It’s an updated erotic version of Pretty Woman which is an updated erotic version of Cinderella and it’s all lies, ladies. So don’t be trying to tell me this is love and you want me forever, because he was starting to talk about how he wanted to do this often and for a long time with me, and that confused me. Was he asking me to be his girlfriend or his FWB?

(Oh and the other reason I thought this was because I know someone who this actually happened to, and she became heavily involved in the BDSM subculture, started drinking again, moved into a shared house with other Submissives, and told me all about this bizarre subculture that frankly freaked me the eff out. So I was like, Maybe that’s who Mark is, and I was like, Are you a Dom? And he was like, Huh? I was like, Um nevermind just kidding.)

Here’s what finally came of our conversation: he wants a relationship but if he can’t have one then he’ll take great sex, and he can see that the chemistry with me is strong, which doesn’t happen often, and in his experience never led to a real relationship. In other words, like many of us, we gave up after the initial honeymoon period. (And I know that his parents divorced when he was three years old, just like mine. When you grow up your whole life without any good role models for commitment, it’s hard to have faith that it can happen, and maybe harder to make a goal that you work towards.) My experience has been that as soon as I get what I want, I want to leave the relationship. I’m a good codependent and adult child in that way. I’m not proud of it, and I want to change it, but that’s my experience.

I talked to my sponsor about it finally, telling her I was in an FWB situation but it was fine because I’m a liberated woman and I do what I want. She asked me to be honest with myself, and that if that’s what I want, then fine, go with it and be honest with him about that. She also reminded me how it worked out when I tried that with Jay.

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And then at some point she pointed out my bravado. This is the interesting part to me. She suggested that there’s this part of me that feels like I’m not good enough for someone to want me for more than sex, but there’s also this bravado part of me that boasts about what a badass I am and hey dude you cannot hurt me I can play that game too and hey everybody I’m dating a guy who is SIX FOOT SIX which is totally objectifying someone who’s a person who I have to admit I just like. Am I in love? No, I can’t say that. I don’t know him well enough yet.

He got upset with me yesterday after I admitted I do like him, and he was like, I thought that we agreed to be FWBs? I texted back that I needed to understand what our definition of FWB was, because it seemed we were both saying the same thing all along yet using different words. And I worried about it for hours while in class, feeling PTSD-like symptoms of obsessive fear and anxiety, residual feelings from how Steven used to get upset with me for misunderstanding or miscommunicating something and then holding it against me for the rest of our relationship, using everything he could to hurt me. I’m not saying Mark did that, but just that those are the feelings I had. And I wanted to run. Fast. I was ready to say goodbye to this and dating if we could not come to an agreement. I was disappointed but this was already too intense and overwhelming.

I was prepared for him to be a total asshole on the phone but he was completely understanding and we realized we are on the same page. We’ve removed the FWB label from this situation and have agreed to delay the sex and just become friends for now, to see where this goes. If we have sex now it will just confuse the issue and blur the lines. What will feel like love will be lust. I really do want a friend who can also be my lover. I can’t say that we won’t end up having sex anyway and breaking up anyway because I’m under no illusion that an LTR will guarantee forever. Nothing, not even marriage, guarantees forever. He has flaws that are cute to me now but may become annoying later, but he’s likeable and real and I trust him and have fun with him.

Oh and let’s be real. If it turns out we can’t have a relationship, it will be hard for me not to do the FWB thing anyway because I’m a 41-year-old woman and my hormones are like that of a teenage boy, and even though I know I can get hurt regardless, I feel like I can’t say no. We shall see.

So that’s where I am with that today. I feel so much safer and more comfortable now that today I’m relying on God to help me navigate this rather than read articles on the art of seduction and trying to manipulate the situation into working out in my favor. What you do is you get real with yourself and then make that known to others, and if it works out then great. If not then it wasn’t meant to be. For the record, I don’t think it’s shameful to be FWBs, though I’d rather not do it because no matter how well I lie to myself I’m probably going to get hurt. At the same time, sometimes instincts take over.

PS: The reason Mark didn’t make eye contact with me on our second date is because the few times we locked eyes he felt mad chemistry and it made him feel uncomfortable because it’s so rare especially to happen so soon. And I believe this explanation because he brought this up on the phone yesterday.

Here’s something from my new hero, Lady Gaga, whose documentary I just watched on Netflix. The messages from these songs fall more into line with my feelings two days ago but I can relate to her songs, because she has a lot of passion and vulnerability at the same time. I could go on but that’s for another day.

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