So you’re in an almost-relationship. I call it “talking”, though you may call it “seeing” one another but not yet “dating”; my grandma would have called it “going steady without him knowing.” There are so many terms for it. Each term, whether you mean for it to or not, comes with its own definition and baggage of expectations. I recently experienced this “almost-relationship,” and in one simple day, almost ruined it.
You see, we had been texting for weeks, seeing each other for dinner and hanging out whenever we could. He told me multiple times how amazing it was that we loved the same things. His favorite author was my favorite author (as an English major, this is HUGE). He listened to Gary Clark Jr; I listened to Gary Clark Jr. He saw the world in the same way I did. The list could go on and on. We’d even kissed a few times and each time was amazing, filling me with butterflies and the strong-as-steel flame of hope that it was turning into something. Obviously, with finals approaching, we both were getting busier and busier; that’s when I realized a vital, slightly hypocritical phenomenon about myself: I was projecting my ideals onto this “almost-relationship” and my “almost-guy.”
It was okay for me to be busy and postpone plans when, at the last minute, I realized I needed to study or that I had forgotten an assignment, but God forbid he do the same! I wanted to see him when I could and if he didn’t want to see me, it must be because I did something to upset him or turn him off. In my mind, it wasn’t as simple as him needing to study, and I couldn’t bring myself to understand that I wasn’t to blame.
I realized, while sitting in a small, 5th floor cubicle, attempting to study Precalculus Trigonometry, that I had a self-blaming complex.
It was so easy to allow this complex to continue festering because it didn’t seem overtly destructive or self-harming. I was simply “analyzing” the situation, obsessing (I realize now) over my actions with him, thinking back to any awkward situation and not extending the forgiveness or understanding I would have given someone else to myself. That day, I learned to stand on my own two feet, allow myself the benefit of the doubt and release the worry I had pent up. He was allowed to be busy and it was okay for me to have NOTHING to do with his “business.” I took the blame I put on myself and shoved it into that ridiculous, useless Precalc-Trig book, hoping to, like that class, never see it again!
So here’s my advice—Believe your partner! Assume that what he or she tells you is true (if you don’t trust them, RUN! Don’t be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust; that’s a whole different problem for another article). We’re all in college, so sh*t happens and we get busy; your partner is allowed to be busy and needs time to get that sh*t done. We all hate getting labeled as the, dare I say it, “crazy b*tch.” I think I may have pinpointed reason #1 why some people may use that terminology: obsessing over an issue that really isn’t an issue, coming up with assumptions that hold NO GROUND, is a side effect of those “expectations” that come with calling your “almost-relationship” something. It’s so easy to fall into this destructive trap, making yourself feel horrible and guilty for something you never even did, and making your “almost-partner” uncomfortable and possibly freaked out! Skip that step, honey. You are perfectly fine.
If you think back and realize something you said or did something that could have upset them, call them to talk to them about it. You’ll realize quickly that, if this is someone you really would like to date, he or she should feel comfortable talking to you about it and communicating his or her feelings (when he or she isn’t driving themselves up the wall with studying, that is). Remind yourself that you aren’t in a relationship yet and this is the time to showcase the relationship qualities you have to offer—let them know that those qualities include patience, understanding and confidence! It’s kind of embarrassing, but I got so stuck in my head that I had to write down in a notebook all the things I was confident about and knew about this “almost-relationship.” It sounded a bit like this:
“I am smart, I am funny, I am chilled out. He likes me for my intelligence and is busy with studying. I did nothing to upset him and I know that for sure… etc.”
It’s okay to be unsure and nervous for the relationship! I know I will never stop getting butterflies and trying all I can to make sure the relationship gets going on the right foot. Remind yourself, like I did, that obsessing over something that you didn’t do isn’t healthy. Don’t blame yourself (easier said than done)!
For anyone who is intrigued and wanting the whole story, the “almost-relationship” didn’t turn into anything. I stress to myself whenever I think about it that is wasn’t my or his fault at all! Finals really do mess you over sometimes and the stress and business of them doesn’t create a nice, exciting environment to start a relationship in. Do I still have feelings for him? DUH. He was one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. Am I so overeager for a relationship that I’m willing to start it off with unnecessary issues and fights? Absolutely not. I’m more concerned with what’s healthy and especially what’s healthy for myself. I come first and I will always look out for me. Do the same! Go out and “almost-relationship” the sh*t out of whatever you are doing. Good luck with finals and good luck with your partner!