Managing Your Expectations

“Manage your expectations,” my subconscious ominously says to me.

“What?” I reply

“Manage your expectations,” it says again.

“What does that even mean?”

“I dunno,” it shrugs nonchalantly as if it could care either way. “I just deliver the messages.”

“Thanks….” I reply, annoyed. My subconscious, third eye, intuition, whatever you want to call it, can be a real vague bitch sometimes. “I don’t even know what to do with that information,” I say in frustration.

//Warning// This Blog Post Contains Strong Sexual Language and Talks of Sensitive Subjects Such as Suicide Others Might Find Triggering.

Listen to the whisper before it becomes a scream, is a quote from Oprah Winfrey that I’ve always loved but always struggle on how to actually implement. I hear the whisper weeks, sometimes even months in advance about all sorts of things in my life. But just because I hear the whisper, and sometimes I hear the whisper a lot as it grows louder and louder till it no longer a whisper but a full blown scream, it doesn’t mean I actually know what to do with the information. Listening and being able to know how to implement what it’s telling me, are two very different things. And actively dating for the last few months has become a minefield of pitfalls of learning how to manage my expectations.

The man sitting across from me on the Friday afternoon before Halloween, was tall, brown eyed and lanky. He had slightly disheveled hair and a voice that slightly cracked as if he was still a boy transitioning through puberty. It was oddly quirky and I found myself comfortably drawn to him within minutes. My hand laid down on his knee and I was aware of how naturally it felt. I am someone who gets very squeamish around the touch of a strangers, as much as I crave human contact I am very much Kuzco of “No touchey!” with others. That being said, I kept nervously shifting my arm in different positions from trying to lean on the back of my chair in a trying to be cool James Dean sort of way to on his thigh to holding my cup of coffee.

I took a sip of my drink. Our conversation moved naturally without much prompting as we asked the general ‘get to know one another first date questions’ but there was this nagging feeling in the back of my head. When he was laughing I wanted to laugh too but couldn’t. Something always just kept holding me back from joining in on the fun like I wanted to. I wanted to laugh and smile with my whole heart like the man sitting in front of me but I couldn’t. So instead I politely smiled, held my latte in my hands and tried to let the twinkle in my eye tell him that I enjoyed his company. It’s just nerves, I kept telling myself. It’s definitely just you.

The afternoon moved on as we outstayed our welcome in the intimate coffee shop. We said thank you to the staff and said our goodbyes as we headed out the door. I was going to chime in with suggestions on what to do next. I hadn’t planned much but I had downloaded a free audio walking tour, well $1.99 on I-Tunes but come on, basically free, to explore downtown Charleston. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that I’ve lived in this city for five years and never gotten to act like a tourist and really get to know it. The free walking tours has been something I wistfully long for doing on my internet bookmarks for years and always procrastinate doing and with COVID being in play with an audio tour I thought would make for a romantic and fun date activity. I also wanted to explore the market on Market Street more with him. I had already browsed through their wares by myself a little bit having gotten to my date ten or so minutes earlier but I had wanted to look at it with him. Unfortunately, time was against me. Day light was fading fast, it was already five o’clock so when he asked if he could check the meter on his car, I said sure.

My body leaned into his as we walked and he slid his arm around me, comfortably and naturally and I felt myself craving wanting more. More touch. More of him. I felt my body pull towards him like the Ed Sheeran song Shape Of You. When the suggestion of splitting the cost of a room came up, I didn’t say no. It was something we had talked about prior to meeting as a possibility if it was something we both wanted and felt comfortable about. And as much as I did want to hang out and act like a tourist with him downtown, knowing we were on very limited time, I wanted to get to know him intimately more. I told my brain to shut up as the nagging feeling still wasn’t going away and melted into his arms as he pulled me close into as the elevator doors closed. I wanted this. I wanted him.

Perhaps a small part of me was looking to be let down sexually in the bedroom, to be able to write off what I couldn’t explain feeling at the coffee shop to be due to bad sexual chemistry. But it wasn’t. It was very, very good. There were a couple of awkward hiccups that happens every time you sleep with someone new as you work to sync within each other’s rhythms but I had very few complaints. Even things I had been reserved might not be as good as I thought might fall short, spankings for example, were very, very good. For context, some of our conversations in text prior to meeting had talked about sex and things we were looking for sexually. But his spankings were very hard and firm and by the end a of few hours, we lay next to each other panting each very mutually satisfied.

We lay next to each other, naked, covered in sweat feeling like Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5. Back at the coffee shop we had lightly talked about ex’s and past relationships but as we lay completely vulnerable side by side, we did what nearly every dating advice “expert” would tell you not to do on a first date. We talked deeply and honestly what felt like about everything. I had told him how my relationship of 10 years had really been over for the last 5 and how I had felt trapped the last few years in verbal abuse and threats of suicide from him if I left. I talked about how it’s taken me a long time to come to terms that whatever he does once I’m gone is not my fault, to set boundaries between us and know I am worth more than the verbal abuse my ex says to me. And he did the same with his ex’s. We talked about more of course, even joked multiple times between us how this goes against all the “rules”.

I asked him if he was hungry like I was so we got redressed and settled on a local Chinese food buffet near the hotel. I was feeling more relaxed but chalked it up to the orgasms rather than finally letting another emotional barrier I could feel in me crumbling down. The wall was still up but there were cracks in the foundations. I was interested to see him put plate after plate of food away as he had humbly bragged a couple times before, I wanted to see this skinny man eat. But of course, not like in a feeder way, more in the amused way I would get as a kid watching Shaggy from Scooby Doo eating a giant sandwich. He was sweet, kind, funny and did everything right without a single red flag, so what the hell was my problem?

When we got back, I curled under the covers to go to bed. We joked how we had done nothing but chilling and not any of the Netflix. I was nervous about falling asleep with a stranger, I don’t always do so well. I toss and I turn on a normal night let alone my snoring so I was very self conscious about what could happen. I flipped over so I was staring at the wall but more importantly, he couldn’t see my face. I tried to bury my face slightly in the pillow so if I snored too loudly it wouldn’t wake him up and lastly I tried to will body to please stay still and not toss and turn. He wrapped his arms around me and I was surprised to find my eyes closing of their own accord.

Unfortunately, my dreams were not. I may have some how struck a deal into letting my body stay still (and if there was snoring I have no idea) but my mind had no such plans of letting me off the hook. I can’t explain how or why but two things my subconscious had brought to my attention. One, he looked like Ross…. the man who broke my heart in September. There wasn’t a close physical resemblance but there was enough. It was like he was an upgraded 2.0 Ross especially when it came to his personality but still. The second thing was about the other woman he was also dating. He had mentioned it a couple times in casual conversation, that he was seeing both myself and this other woman and at the time I didn’t think much of it. I had had a date with another guy the same week he and I were talking and we were pretty clear on not having anything exclusive with the other. But it was like, in my brain it started to think of Abi.

I woke up and I pulled out my phone to see that it was midnight. Fuck. Only two hours and a half of sleep, three tops. I looked at the ceiling for a few minutes before noticing the covers were kicked off of him and he was on his back. I turned to curl into him and put my head on his shoulders. He let out a deep murmur from the back of his throat, pulled me closer to him then kissed me on the forehead but did not wake. I told myself it was just my insecurities that I can’t know what his relationship with the other woman was like nor was it my right to know. We had only had one date together. I might have wanted to know about her and where I stood in comparison but I felt like I could trust him to tell me later down the line to not pull a Ross and ghost me. I felt like we had developed this really strong connection as it was, not to mention totally rocked together in bed. So I let another barrier fall down, I could feel it physically crumbling. After all, it might be me he chooses right? Maybe. As far as I knew I had just as much of a chance. Again, we had only had one date but maybe now I could fall in like with him. Not love but like.

I looked down and noticed his cock was awake as I was. I don’t remember touching it but I let my thoughts drift as I gently squeezed and stroked it. I don’t even know why I did it, I just wanted to. The deep murmur from his throat came back in a breathy moan and half awake he reached across to touch me back. The waves of pleasure rolled through my chest and let a few sighs out of my own. I wanted to pull in close to me and kiss him hard. That’s a funny phrase to say because I don’t even know how to explain how one kisses someone hard. It’s not like a violent kiss but it also has an act of force where both are so consumed with the other that if you could literally steal the breath from the other person mutually at the same time, you would. It’s romantic and passionate and yet every time I read those words written, it feels both very underwhelming to describe what it means and perfect at the same time. I leaned over to kiss him but felt him pull back, so in turn I pulled back and continued to touch each other. I wanted and tried to unsuccessfully, pull him on top of me to make slow sweet love. I wanted him to hold me as he was inside of me and connect on a deeper level of sex. But he didn’t.

Instead we had sex the regular way, and as much as I tried to enjoy it, I didn’t. So I faked it. Twice. I don’t know how you stop someone in the middle of sex simply when something isn’t working for you and the other person is clearly enjoying it. I didn’t want to take that away from him and I wasn’t interested in other positions. For me to climax I knew I needed it only one way described above. Honestly it wasn’t exactly hard to fake and most guys can’t tell. It’s like that scene from The Ugly Truth with Katherine Heigl and Gerald Butler talk about faking orgasms and her famous last line in the movie “You’ll never know,” she says with a provocative wink or Meg Ryan’s famous diner scene in When Harry Met Sally. I’ll have what she’s having. Would it be nice for a guy to know the difference? Of course. Would it be nice to not have to fake it for? That’s the ideal standard all women hope for, it’s just not realistic. I felt bad for lying and I could feel the wall I just knocked down trying to rebuild itself.

I felt empty as he cleaned himself off and I curled back under the covers. This next part is probably the hardest thing to write about, and that’s saying something because all of this has been difficult to write and relive through.

I don’t even remember the next things we said other than we got onto the topic of our plans for Halloween were and how he had his third date with the other girl he was seeing. He talked about how the costume pictures he had sent me were because he was figuring out what to wear to her party, literally as he was texting us at the same time. Fuck, I thought again. He’s more serious about this girl than I realized. Also, three dates? So I asked. I asked how serious he was about her. He asked me in return if I was serious about knowing. I said I was. I wanted to know where I stood in relation so I could go back to my life. I didn’t want another week, hell even two weeks, possibly falling in life with a guy who was never mine.

“I do like her more than you,” he said honestly and candidly.

“Ok,” I said back. “Thank you for letting me know. I don’t want to be anyone’s second choice.”

Honestly though I was trying not to cry. Fuck. Not again. Why do I always fall short of being someone’s second choice? I refused to cry in front of this man, I told myself. The Truth Hurts by Lizzo. I knew I was going to let myself deal with my feelings later but in the moment, I wanted more details. He proceeded to show me a very long text he had sent her on his way to our date, to the point of calling her his unicorn. He had only been on two dates with the woman thus far (not counting tonight’s Halloween date for date #3) and he was calling her his unicorn?! You might not have officially dropped the Love bomb word but you might as well have. How can you tell someone is your perfect person within a week and still go on a date with someone else? I just don’t get it. I was reminded once again of Ross. Or myself. That intensity I had first felt with Ross where I thought I had been in love so quickly and so fast within one week. You can definitely like someone, a lot, and they hadn’t even slept together yet, but to know someone is so special in your life to compare them as if they were your unicorn? Alarm bells were screaming in my head. Run girl. Run away now.

  • texting me photos of things he was planning for another woman
  • literally texting this woman on the way to our own date
  • calling another woman his unicorn after two dates
  • possibly a love addict

I told him that I hope things work out for him and I want him to be happy, and I meant it. But honestly, he has no idea what love is even for being in an 8 year relationship. I don’t say that as if I am some expert either but for the two self help books he gave me and thought I might enjoy to learn about myself I stop and raise him or anyone else wanting to know what real love is, three books.

  1. Idiot by Laura Clery: An autobiography about addiction and how you have to love yourself more than your partner even when they struggle with addition themselves. In the author’s case it’s drugs but in the guy I slept with I think it has to do more with love. Laura talks about how when your partner is showing signs of relapsing and going back to old ways, that for your own sobriety and as bad as you want to help them, you need to walk away. Only they can fix themselves. I know that the two comparisons between love and drugs are not on the same level playing field but isn’t there some correlation? Can’t you relapse on being a love addict? I think so, at least it’s my own opinion that you can be and maybe I’ll write on it. As one love addict to another, I recognize his patterns of love behavior. He and I are both moderately new to the dating scene from long term relationships and as an outsider’s perspective he’s moved really quickly with this other girl. Maybe he can’t see it because he’s too close to be objective about it but yeah, all signs point to a love addict rushing in too quickly into another relationship. But that isn’t my place and his own journey to fix it.
  2. Peony In Love by Lisa See: A fictional book about a real Chinese play dating back to the 14th century that was considered so dangerous for women to read because they would get so obsessed with the idea of love that they would literally starve themselves to death. The story is about a girl named Peony, the only child of a big wealthy family. Her father spoils her by teaching her how to read and even read the dangerous copy of the play. He arranges a big gathering to not only announce the engagement of his daughter’s new husband to be but to put on a performance for the play itself. He does this for the love of his daughter and even picked out a wonderful man for her to marry because he loves her so much he wanted her to be in a happy marriage. But of course, Peony doesn’t know this. As a teenager she sneaks away and unknowingly falls in love with her betrothal. She becomes so consumed of the thought of not living her life with this man, she starves herself, catching herself in a Catch 22. Basically, she dies and she spends the rest of the book as a ghost, refusing to move on and haunts her love. What’s interesting about the book is that she goes through many different stages of love. She learns her childish crush love in the beginning and develops what real love is. It’s one of my favorite books to read what real love is.
  3. The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstien &
    The Missing Piece Meets the Big O:
    They might be children’s books but they teach about how you don’t need a second person to be considered “complete” and even when you do think you find your “missing piece” what happens is that you will eventually out grow each other until you yourself are complete on your own.

I do still plan on looking at the books he gave me. One of them, called Love 101: To Love Oneself is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance by Peter McWilliams honestly looks more amusing than advice I need. Because here’s something Ross 2.0 failed to realize or maybe he underestimated, I already love myself. I already know I don’t need someone to complete me. I flipped through a few pages of it and while I definitely would like in another blog post or even vlog to talk about it in more detail, it doesn’t feel like it would be very useful to me. Sure there are a couple of things I noticed in here about self love that I could implement more and maybe use that as a tool to sharpen. Like reminding myself when I take care of myself, from mental to physical, that is an act of self love and when I do destructive things such as lay in bed all day or overeat a bunch of times are acts of self hate. So sure, I am interested in flipping through both books to see if there are a few handful of nuggets to reremind myself. But overall, it definitely reminded me how Ross 2.0 underestimated me, a girl he only spent one date on.

Because everyone thinks they know me/who I am and that is partially my fault. I mirror and reflect my persona to be a Blank Space by Taylor Swift. But all of that is a topic for another blog post.

“Boys only want love if it’s torture. Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya.”

But yeah. So he drove me to work that morning and we hung out in the parking lot for about fifteen minutes till my shift started. He said he was going to take a nap in the parking lot and I left with a hug and thinking about possibly if we could just be friends. There was this small tiny hope that after he talked to her about us sleeping together, that she would throw in a fit of rage and dump him. It was a terrible thought to hope for and I felt bad for it but I did partially want it to come true. I still wanted him, I thought. Even if it was just going to be as lovers and I didn’t want to share with someone he could be serious about. I shook it off. Stop it Sarah, I told myself. That’s not healthy. You need to move on. I knew my mind was right and I sighed as I acknowledged it.

Work kept me busy for the first couple of hours into my shift and I didn’t even look at my phone which is a strange thing to do for me. I was sad over the loss of yet someone I wanted to like but I didn’t want to show it publicly so I was quieter than usual. Then I saw his texts. Three in a row, thanking me for being so understanding, so honest and for having a wonderful time with him. They were sent when he should have been still taking a nap in the parking lot like he said he was going to but I guess he changed his mind. I didn’t know how to respond so I waited till I could think of something.

“Of course,” I replied. “I hope you are able to find happiness and have a good talk tonight with her/able to work things out. If it’s okay, I’d like to know how it goes.” Because of course I’m a sadomasochist and wanted to twist the knife in my stomach a little bit deeper.

“We’re actually talking right now,” he said back. “And yeah, I know just add it to the spankings I deserve for texting and driving.” My eyes rolled. Texting two people at once, even with the streets probably being mostly empty at 5 am still makes me nervous with how unsafe it is. But instead of scolding him for behavior he already knows is wrong I said,

“I don’t think we should sleep together again till you work things out with her, to make sure she’s 100% completely on board and comfortable. I don’t want to be the other woman to her. I don’t want to inflict that kind of pain onto someone else.”

He agreed. I said I was glad we were on the same page. He agreed to that too.

He sent me a weird text that I think was meant for her, something about why he loves bears so much and if I did that intentionally or not was ironic. I asked him what he was talking about and how I thought the text was for her. He didn’t reply right away but instead of waiting I went into something else.

Honestly I was hurting, like a lot. The pain just kept getting worse and I was struggling to keep myself together and not to cry. Because as happy as I wanted to be for him, and what looked like her too as they figured things out together, I couldn’t be. And intentionally or not he was literally gloating over how well the conversation with her was going. Of course that’s going to be painful for me.

It wasn’t painful because I was in love with him or something. It was painful because it had to do with me, being yet tossed aside as someone’s second choice. All I ever wanted was for someone to look at me and chose me. I wanted to feel like A Fine Frenzy You Picked Me. From my mother choosing my god mother over a relationship with her daughter, to former friends in the past who would Plan B me when better plans came along, to now lovers choosing me over someone else. It wasn’t just Ross like I had thought about feeling like a Ruby Tuesday, it was most of my life. I’ve had to learn to love myself because I am the only know truly understands me and knows who I am. No one knows me better than myself. I’ve spent my entire life being my own best friend. It’s only recently that I’ve learned how to set boundaries so I don’t get walked over so much in life. But in this moment, I was feeling like yet again, used. My heart was the doormat and he was wiping his feet vigorously as he danced on his way out of my life. The man entered my house and was tap dancing his way out of it as he strode across the street to enter another woman’s home.

I pulled up my welcome mat, closed the door and locked it. Before he could reply to apologize or explain the text he sent, I asked him to have some space. I told him that I was happy for him but that I was hurting. That I valued his honesty, that he didn’t do anything wrong, I had asked for the truth and he was strong enough not to lie to me about it. That this had to do with me and my own issues. And to once again, please give me some space to deal with this because I couldn’t keep working at my job without crying and listen to him go on about how happy he was. He apologized, not realizing how much I was hurting.

“No numb nutz,” I thought. “You wouldn’t. You don’t understand the first thing about me because all we did is go on one date. You couldn’t even tell when I was faking an orgasm, how on earth could you ever tell when my heart is hurting?” Just how I think again how there is no possible way he could know how he truly feels about this other woman. He’s addicted to the love, to the feeling. And I can partially understand that because it is a wonderful feeling. To want someone and have them want them too. The feeling of what you think is falling in love with someone because you just think of how well you get along in the moment. But that isn’t love.

Anyway, I believe this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written and it’s time to wrap things up. I know he wants to still be friends but I just can’t do that.

I don’t hate him and I do wish he has a happy life. If things work out between him and this other woman, great. I do mean that. I also hope he finds what he’s looking for career wise and who he wants to be. I don’t even think I could date him even if he came back begging on his knees for a second chance simply for the reason it would only confirm to me that he’s a love addict only wanting to be with someone than be single. I enjoy being single and as hard as it is, learning to let go of people and move on is more important. There couldn’t ever be a possibility between us because he already made his choice with the other woman and I’m learning to respect myself too much to settle for being a runner up prize. That’s all I would ever be if he tried to come back. As for being just friends, I just don’t have it in me to be that when I would have always wanted more. It’s a Catch 22.

So his number in my phone is deleted and I unmatched from him on Hinge. I do partially expect to hear from him again, I don’t think his ego could let it go. He did try texting me earlier today but I didn’t reply to it. I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready but I think when he does message me again to just link him to this blog post. So I’m sorry, so sorry. I do hope you understand if/when your reading this. I don’t need a reply back and would prefer if you didn’t message me after reading this blog. You don’t need to apologize, I don’t need or want an apology, just silence.

Still, it wasn’t like I didn’t get something out of all of this, I really did learn a handful of things.

I learned:

  1. To let a man get to know my interests, weird quirks and to chase me. – It was definitely apart of the appeal to Ross 2.0 because it was the first time a man had wanted to know so much about me/was genuinely interested and actively listened to what I said.
  2. To enjoy the little touches of intimacy in public.– I really did enjoy the way he confidently and casually would wrap his arm around my side and hold me as I walked, publicly claiming me as his.
  3. To find a man who knows when I’m faking a smile or in pain or faking anything, even an orgasm.
  4. To find a man who doesn’t care about gender stereotypes about gender stereotypes about stuff like “men” designed products.– For example, deodorant. We had run into Walgreens to pick up some condoms and he had forgotten to pick up some deodorant and I noticed he didn’t go for the gender designed “man” smell and instead picked up a coconut vanilla scented deodorant. I found it liberating and sexy.

Those are only the handful of things I can count that I’ve learned so far but I’m sure as I self analyze more, more things will be added to the list. I also thought a blog post of things I’ve learned from all my former lovers would be an interesting blog to write as well. But we’ll see.

At the moment I am only actively have one other active love interest at the moment, someone I have gone out on a date with last week but is developing a lot slower/not sure if I know where I want to go. Either way, I’ve made a decision that after this last guy, that my dating life will be put on hold until for the forseeable future. I’ve talked with myself that I need to focus more on being my own independant person. I’ve always wanted this but I’ve been too scared to implement any of it. If I want to date, I need to be more of my own person, more free. More independant. I need my own place. I need my own car. My own life. Stablility. Taking care of myself is self love and while I’m not sure if dating was self destruction, it was definitely a distraction from my goals and doing what was good for me. How can I ever truly get to know someone if I can’t even take them home with me or have a place to go back to? It needs to be both. I also realized how much money I was spending on Ubers around town. That was a big yikes.

So yeah. I am going to focus on me. Really now. This time is for real. There was even a small conversation I had with Ross 2.0 that made me re-remember something I already knew but forgot about. Picking one thing, just one, and making sure to do it for even a minimum of five minutes everyday. I can do it for longer than that but just to start at that. And it’ll go from there because who knows how five minutes can achieve when doing it consistently. I want to keep going with my body, working on fitness so I think I am just going to do crunches/work out for a handful of minutes or number of reps everyday. I bought a notebook to track my fitness progress and even finances to budget better. I bought a second notebook to take notes on my drivers test. I am going to do this. I can do this. I am going to remind myself that this is self love and achieve what I always know I can achieve.

Love until later, Sincerely,

Sarah Smiles

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