Had I played my cards differently…

So, my date seemed to go really well last week.  I really really like her- she’s smart, interesting, driven, and seems really nice.  At the end of the date, she asked me for a second one, and we kissed goodnight!  It was amazing.  The whole next day at work, I was all smiles and school-girly, annoying excitement.  But it’s been a week since the date, and though we’ve been texting a bunch, we haven’t been able to make our schedules sync up.  We’re planning to go to dinner later this week, so I’m optimistic.

Here’s the thing though- I know it’s dumb, but as time passes, I get more and more unsure of what I thought I felt on the date.  Does she really like me, or was I misreading the signs?  I’ve been obsessing over stupid little things, which I know most people do when they like someone. Should I wait another hour to text?  Why didn’t she respond with a question? It seemed like she was into the kiss, but was she really? I’ve gone over the details over and over again, but no matter how I play it, I realize I don’t have many of the facts. No amount of literary analysis of the word choice in her texts will tell me exactly what’s going on in her head. I guess I’ve been out of the game for a while, and this whole meeting someone new and being totally unsure of how they feel about you is making me more anxious than it used to.  I just wish this could be a little easier.

I keep wondering, looking at my recent dates – both successful or not, if the end result would have changed if I’d “played my cards differently.”  Through some much regretted FB stalking, I found out that F (my recent 1 date to one night stand) now has a gf.  She’s obviously not right for me for a multitude of reasons, but until I found that out, I assumed that she hadn’t texted me back after our one night stand because she was rebounding, not because she didn’t like me.  And again, I know that she’s not someone I really want to see/sleep with/go on a date with again, but I can’t help wondering why she didn’t like me. I mean, I thought our date went well, and I’m a pretty cool person and all… If I’d have been more direct or less direct or if I hadn’t slept with her on the  first date or if I’d looked prettier or if I presented myself differently, would things have been different?  Was there a magical text I could have sent that would have made her like me, and did I send the wrong one instead?  While the stakes were low with me and F, (it’s still nice if someone likes you, but clearly we were wrong for each other), the stakes feel much higher with M.  I really like M in a way I haven’t liked someone in a while.  I know that if she doesn’t like me, it will be no big deal and I’ll get over it and move on, but I feel like there’s a potential for something and I don’t want to screw it up.

Years ago, I first met my (now) good friend E. at a halloween party, and I tried to flirt with her. Things seemed to be going well, but then this other girl came along.  The other girl was way more aggressive than I was, and though I’d thought E was into me originally, I wasn’t sure.  So I backed off and let the girl cut in and land E.  I’d always assumed that E had been way more into the other girl than me, that we were just better as friends, that I wasn’t her type and blah blah blah.  E and that girl dated for 5 months.  A few weeks ago, E and I had a night out and had a few drinks.  For the first time in the 2 years we’ve known each other, the night of our first meeting came up and I learned E’s true perspective on the situation.  Turns out, she had been interested in me.  More interested in me, in fact, than in that other girl that she’d ended up dating.  She’d tried to signal to me to cut in, but I’d totally missed it.  Had I been willing to fight for her and compete with the other girl, maybe E and I would have dated instead.  That isn’t my style, and I know now that we’re better as friends, but I wonder how my life would have been different had I dated E.  Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten back together with my ex- a decision I came to regret.  Or maybe E and I wouldn’t be friends now.  I’ll never know because that’s how life works- you can’t go back and change things.  Sometimes you only have one chance.

You can (and will) go crazy in an instant if you try to second guess every small decision you made or every opportunity you may have missed.  I don’t know if I believe in fate, and I’ve been having trouble trusting that everything will work out like it should. Even though I’m only 26, I sometimes feel like one day I’ll have missed my opportunities and be single forever.  I know that’s stupid and if a friend told me that I would look at her incredulously and shake my head at her ridiculousness. I’ve only been single again for a few months, and I don’t really think I’m ready for a relationship, but there’s something about the uncertainty of my life right now that is making me anxious.  I like to know where I’ll be or at least know I’ll end up happy someday.  I feel like there should be something I can do to work toward the romantic future I want, but I know there isn’t.  Sometimes, you just have to leave it up to the universe and have some faith that you’ll figure life out when you get there or when you’re ready to approach it.

At the end of the day, there are a million ways we can pursue romantic interests and a million choices we could have made differently.  Maybe they would lead to different results, but for the sake of sanity, sometimes you just have to accept the path your own.  I would hope that no matter how I do the little things at the start of a relationship- what I wear, how we meet, who asks whom on the first date, how long I wait to send a response text, etc, that if we’re really right for each other, it shouldn’t matter.  If two people are truly compatible and are both honest and true to themselves, the little choices you make won’t matter.  M seems to like me and I hope she does, but at the end of the day, I don’t know her that well and I have no idea what she’s thinking.  That’s what’s so hard about starting relationships- it’s scary to put yourself out there when you have no idea what is going on in the other person’s head.  I just have to accept that there could be a million things going on in M’s life right now and that how she’s feeling about me is completely outside of my control.  I guess I just have to be myself and hope she see’s me for the awesome, strong, intelligent, funny person I know I am.  If she doesn’t like me, I have to try not to take it personally, too.  Most of the time when someone’s been into me and I’ve not reciprocated, it’s at least partially because of where I am in my life.  Maybe she reminds me of something I hated about a recent ex, maybe I’m still in love with my ex, maybe I’m distracted by the stress of work, maybe I’m feeling insecure about myself and decide to push her away instead of risking rejection. Relationships that might have been don’t happen for a million different reasons and it’s important not to over-think them, no matter how bad the urge.  If two people are really right for each other, the other bullshit really shouldn’t matter.

So I guess what I need to do now is take my own advice – find inner confidence, be honest to who I am, chill out with the anxiety, and let the universe do it’s thing.  Blindly trusting that things beyond your control will end up ok can be one of the hardest things to do, but it is absolutely essential.  At this point in my life, I need to trust that things will work out, because worrying about it isn’t helping me or anyone else. Every day, I look at my reflection in the mirror and say “I am beautiful.  I deserve love.  I am capable of a healthy relationship.”  And a little more, every day, I begin to own, embrace, and believe in those words more and more.