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Dating Illness: A Memoir

Coming Off a Break-up with Jasper

I haven’t contemplated dating issues for some time. It’s not that there haven’t been any, but rather I’ve been avoiding admitting to repeated failure. After so many disastrous experiences I was hoping to have learned something and moved past entertaining tales of hopeless romantic tragedies. Except for the fact that very few of my experiences have much to do with actual romance…

Since the time I finally followed through on telling Jasper that I would never return another of his attempts to contact me- I ended up going to the movies with him and Rob his roommate. Ill thought through on my part, I’ll admit as much. However, it was good for me to see the actual Jasper again. I had been conjuring up in my mind some version of Jasper that I had never known. He was taller, and had more breadth to him. He smelled of bark and spiced cologne. He had a stern set jaw and smoldering eyes set on me and me alone. He felt deeply about people and had more on his mind than physical gratification… I have no idea how I imagined such a being to fill the space where the real Jasper should have been, but reality quickly left it deflated.

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After sitting through two hours of Jasper trying to grab my leg and nuzzle my neck (I was squirming from one side of my dollar seating finding myself uncomfortably near Rob and back to the other where Jasper waited to send me back again), I bolted home disillusioned.

That weekend, while I was staying up town for a two day University conference, Rob called to tell me that Jasper had had a girl over the night and that she had crawled out Jasper’s bedroom window in the morning so Rob wouldn’t notice, but he did notice. Rob wasn’t calling to fill my mind with negative images of Jasper, but he did. Suddenly I remembered that I had a date with Mitch that night.

My mind was racing. Thinking about Jasper and how stupid I was to have ever thought well of him didn’t help me focus on the camp responsibilities. Thinking of going on a date with Mitch became a source of mental vengeance against the pit I felt about having ever had feelings for a man who had no moral standing, a man I had built up to be a hero in my history of romantic tragedy…

I felt sick. Not even free dark chocolate could entice me to eat.

Six thirty couldn’t come soon enough, but it didn’t resolve my stomach. I still had to see Mitch. I felt sick. I wanted to get back at Jasper. I wanted Mitch to be normal, which my gut told me wasn’t the case, so that I could get back at Jasper by having a good and well sized man at my side. I didn’t need anyone to rescue me from years of being a luckless dating wonder. I drove to the house where Mitch was renting a room. “31 and he was still renting… 31 and he hadn’t graduated from college… 31 and he didn’t even have the equivalent of an Associates degree… Man, I’m an intellectual snob…” I rang the bell.

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He looked alright. Bald, red T-shirt, khaki shorts, and flip flops. He seemed to be hunching as usual and breathing in spurts, in-in-out… I took a deep breath and thought of a more confident man with hair to run my fingers through as I took Mitch’s arm and he escorted me inside. I knew his birthday was coming up, though he wouldn’t tell me which day, and I had bought him a silly little gift (a Scooby-doo lunch box with hugs and kisses inside). He wouldn’t open it so I left it on the counter as he headed back toward the front door. I swallowed mentally. I felt sick.

We went to eat at some imitation Café Rio. I had flinched when he had put his hand on my knee in the car, but I quelled my reflexes as he reached for my hand while we walked into the restaurant. I kept thinking to myself, “Well he doesn’t look developmentally delayed, maybe no one will think he is, unlike me.” While we were in line Mitch noticed a girl he knew from the few college classes he’s taken. I anticipated her trying to avoid conversation with him. She was with an attractive down to earth looking fellow who was making witty inoffensive comments under his breath. I longed for someone who seemed normal. Someone who had odd quirks, but didn’t creep me out on the inside. Something about the fact that he was talking to someone who gave off a normal vibe eased my anxiety a bit. We finished ordering and sat down to eat. Conversation wasn’t difficult to come by, but it wasn’t engaging either.

We went back to his house to drop off the left over food before heading to the drive-in. I knew what the drive-in meant, I was even given a different option. We could have gone goofy-golfing. But, my mind returned to Jasper and I was determined to look past whatever it was about Mitch that made my stomach drop. Besides it was all probably just a matter of my inability to date anyone. I can’t manage to feel at ease in any consistent dating situation. I haven’t had a whole lot of successful or pride-inducing dating situations though…

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In the jeep he tried to grab my leg again. I was beginning to think I must have nice legs because guys kept trying to get their hands on them. I batted his hand away on reflex. We pulled into a six screen mega drive-in and my choice to watch The Sentinel, and some Antonio Banderas dancing movie won out. I’m pretty stubborn- besides not enjoying freaky scary movies, which is what Mitch wanted to watch. We found a good spot, he backed in, folded down the back seat, and laid out some blankets. I crawled beside him and cuddled up in his arms. I liked the feeling of strong arms around me, even if I didn’t really like the guy. I knew he would kiss me at some point that night. There didn’t seem to be a romantic bone in his being though. I wasn’t going to help him set the mood- that was his job. If he couldn’t manage it then he wasn’t going to kiss me. Boy was I wrong. He didn’t bother to try and figure out how to set the mood, he just attacked. All of a sudden there was breathing “in-in-out” and his face plastered against mine, and no lead-in! He didn’t try to start out with a soft and subtle kiss and build up to something passionate- he just burned my face off!

I tried not to think about anything. I tried to clear my mind and put myself into a romantic mood. Nothing! This was as bad as my first kiss! Thank goodness there was no way I was going to marry this man! Thank goodness he lived an hour from where I lived! The attacked stopped. Only to be started again after he took a long swig of gatorade. How cliché; he was studying health and exercise and drank gatorade at all times.

I didn’t feel violated or anything, just hopeless and pathetic. After what seemed like forever I began to forget my qualms and enjoy being kissed. I don’t know if I relaxed or if I lost all self-respect. I just wanted to be held, safe and tight and secure. I wanted to feel small and feminine. I wanted to be wanted, but not just lustily, truly deeply wanted for the person that I was and the stupid little things I did. The movie ended and we were still kissing. I was conscious of people walking by in droves. What would they think? I imagined we looked like skanky freaks! Closing my eyes in shame for not being a more resilient person I tried to fold the blankets before climbing into the front seat. I liked kissing, but I wanted to kiss someone I liked.

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Mitch took me back to his place and offered me to stay on his couch. The hour was extremely late and I had an early conference call in the morning with no arranged board so far. I really didn’t want to stay over so I thought about a finding a hotel and paying for the two or three hours sleep I was going to get. I’m too cheap to do that so I considered sleeping in my car and was resolved on the matter, but Mitch pressed me to stay insisting I have a safe and warm place to sleep. As long as he stayed in his room it was better than sleeping in the cold car. We didn’t have long conversations filled with wonder and awe before hitting the hay. Mitch ate some chocolate ice cream with milk mixed in and then attacked me again, with chocolate all over his face. I felt like I was kissing an overgrown preadolescent. Finally he went up to bed and I sat wide eyed pondering.

What was I thinking? Was I honestly going to date this guy? The way we’d been behaving he must have thought we were dating. Can I see myself dating him? Can I look past the strange loud breathing, the slounchiness, the lack of confidence, the lack of conversation, the fact I was embarrassed to be with him?… These were important questions. Sleep eventually came, but my phone alarm followed quickly after. I wanted to break the blasted thing but got up instead. Mitch came down from his room dressed in PJs and wearing glasses. He looked to see that I was up and went back to bed. I squinted in a feeling of bewilderment. Somehow he was giving off the “not too interested in you” vibe and he’s been the aggressor the whole time. I raised my eyebrows in misinterpreted confusion. I wasn’t sure if I was being misinterpreted or doing the misinterpreting.

Either way I felt that I was the loser. I stopped by a grocery store as I drove up to the University where the conference was being held to pick up some no-doze and energy drinks. I was going to need a lot of artificial stamina because I was physically and emotionally drained.

Coming Off a Break-up with Jasper I haven’t contemplated dating issues for some time. It’s not that there haven’t been any, but rather I’ve been avoiding admitting to repeated failure. After so many disastrous experiences I was hoping to have learned something and moved past entertaining tales of hopeless romantic tragedies. Except for the fact that very few of my experiences have much to do with actual romance… Since the time I finally followed through on telling Jasper that I would never return another of his attempts to contact me- I ended up going to the movies with him and…

Review

Dating Illness: A Memoir - 88%

88%

I haven’t contemplated dating issues for some time. It’s not that there haven’t been any, but rather I’ve been avoiding admitting to repeated failure. After so many disastrous experiences I was hoping to have learned something and moved past entertaining tales of hopeless romantic tragedies. Except for the fact that very few of my experiences have much to do with actual romance…

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