After much back and forth, a lot of anxiety on my part, and several surprisingly good talks - Turtle is not ready for a relationship, or even serious dating.
He asked if we could continue hanging out, so we could "see what happens." In my experience (Anyone here remember my Big?), that's guy-code for "I want you around for now, but don't get attached because I'll drop you the minute something better comes along."
Something for which I wasn't looking to sign up.
But, when I thought about it - really thought - what he wanted wasn't unreasonable - or even objectionable. He has solid reasons for asking, that go well beyond "I'm just not sure." The truth is, I like the guy, and I love spending time with him. I liked it when I thought we were just friends.
So what was it that bothered me so much? And while I'm pondering stuff....how did I, she of the no-boyfriend rule, find myself in a place where someone thinks that's what I want?!
I felt it might be time to regroup.
I came to the conclusion that I didn't need him to say a particular thing, or agree to a specific set of rules. It wasn't the pace that bothered me; I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere. What bothered me was I had no idea where I stood, or if he was standing with me.
I realized I'd been trying to force a specific action in an effort to ease my own insecurity. "If I get him to agree to dating, I'll feel better."
That, for the record, is a stupid freakin' plan.
I'm not saying I don't like the guy. I do. A whole lot. Otherwise, I think we can all agree I would have been long-gone by now. But just because I like him doesn't mean I couldn't use a little work on myself, too.
Since meeting Turtle, I've come to realize that I have spent the last two and a half years avoiding feelings. Since Trooper broke up with me, I have not wanted to let anyone in. I have not trusted myself to feel anything. I couldn't rely on myself to decide if anyone was trustworthy, because I got it so wrong with Trooper.
During that time, I made some OK choices about men and dating. I met some nice guys, learned a few lessons, and had some laughs. I also made some bad choices. I let men devalue and disrespect me. Worst of all, I let myself get to a point where I questioned if maybe that was all I deserved. I stopped letting people see the real me because I was afraid they wouldn't like her.
Part of me thought I needed to draw a line with Turtle and demand to be treated a certain way.
A bigger part of me realized what I needed was to finally let someone in and see who I really am, insecurities and all. I needed to walk away feeling valued, and like he wants me in his life. I need to let myself trust, and be OK with myself if I get it wrong.
If he could give me that, then maybe he's worth a little compromise on my part, too.