Chivalry and Transparency

So I hung out with a coworker of mine for the first time the other night. I wouldn’t say we’ve been super-close, but I’ve gotten to know him fairly well. Well enough to have a pretty solid idea of what I thought

spending time with him would be like. And fuck was I off base (in a good way).

Despite the fact that I found him both attractive and awesome when we met, I friendzoned myself with him pretty early on. That can (and most likely will) be a post all its own, but it’s a thing I know I do. If I don’t think I’ve got a shot of you actually being interested in me romantically based on any virtues of my own, the next best thing I can do is be your bro, right?

Um, wrong, apparently.

I’m cynnical and jaded and guarded and defensive. I’m loud. I’m abrasive. I have the sense of humor of a dirty old man’s frat boy son. And I am the most girly goddamn hopeless romantic on the face of the planet underneath all that. I get off on chivalry. I crave it. I get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Even if I never really act like it, I just want to feel girly and taken care of and blah blah blah. I’m all for eschewing standard gender roles, but I can’t help it if that shit makes me swoon. And I know that a lot of the things that I want are unrealistic or unfair.  I get that it’s not totally right of me to act like a dude most of the time and then still expect want the white horse/shining armor treatment.

But this guy, right?

He’s just sweeter than I thought he would be. I’ve been running some of the things he said through my head all day, and they’re still making me blush. On top of that, he wants to open my car door for me, so already we’re on the right track. But we were taking my car, which has manual locks, so what ended up happening was him standing there waiting for me to unlock it so he could open it. Adorable as all fuck, amIright??

Now, here’s the thing (and the bit that’s making me the most squirmy in the off-chance that I show him this). He wasn’t trying to impress me. He wasn’t trying to win me over or get in my pants (in the disappointment of the night, apparently the fact that we’re coworkers is a pretty big problem). He just does things like that because that’s just what he does. And I can see where this logic might seem a little twisty, but that just makes it better.

I didn’t go into hanging out with him thinking that I was going to have the reaction that I did. I wondered if something might happen, whether or not we would click, all of the things that you wonder before hanging out with someone for the first time. I guess the handy part of not having any expectations was that it freed me up to be far more honest than I normally would. I told this man everything from Catalyst to the fact that I write a blog to my suspicion that I have some nonmonogamous tendencies. And he didn’t flinch.

Honestly? It felt really fucking nice. It was freeing to be able to just lay my crazy on the table without any of the usual fears.

By now we all know my proclivity for overanalyzing everything. And for having doubts. Lately those doubts have taken the form of wondering whether or not nonmonogamy is actually for me. Like, in real life. I can explain its benefits and why it makes sense in theory, but without ever having been in a relationship like that, how the fuck do I know anything? I might think I could make a great astronaut, but if I never go into space it’s all just a thought experiment.

I wonder if I use the desire for an open relationship as an easy (not that it’s totally easy but you know what I mean) way to avoid facing my storied history of infidelity. It’s easy to write it off as me just being programmed that way, but what’s been the problem for me, really? If I am brutally honestly with myself, I think it’s that I’ve never fully committed to anyone. I think a part of me always thought every relationship I was in would just fail anyway, so what’s the point of all of that vigilance? And I don’t need my psych degree to figure out that it stems from being fucked over very early on and thinking that no one will ever love me completely the way I need to be loved. No one will ever love all of me. I’ll always have to lie and hide parts of myself.

What would happen if I met someone that I could really be “all-in” with? What would that look like? Who would that person need to be? Do they exist? Is this just me desperately clinging to the romantic notion of “the one”? Do I really secretly hope “the one” is a real thing and he just stumbles into my life being all perfect and stuff? Sort of, yeah.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true, so at some point it needs to be said.

Bringing it back around, though, what got me thinking about all of this after seeing him was realizing that I’ve never been completely honest with anyone I’ve been with. After one night he knew more about me and the way I see the world than some people I had been in entire relationships with. That’s not to say that he got all of it. We just scratched the surface. But I’ve always been so afraid of upsetting or being judged by the person I was with that I’ve never really trusted them to handle all of me. I’ve always been an edited, watered-down version of what I thought they could handle.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be like that after all.

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