Friday, 31 May 2013

True Love's Kiss

Hopeful 4    Hopeless  6

I have read more than once that the overwhelming majority of women believe that the first kiss will tell them a lot about a relationship's potential.  Many women will decide whether or not to date a man based on this one factor.  While I would agree that kissing is an important element in any romantic relationship, what is so important about the very first one?

I have been reflecting on this question for a little while and frankly the only explanation I came up with was the fairy tale one.  We've been brought up with this idea of "true love's kiss", that magical moment where the world stops turning.  The kiss that can solve all your problems (or curses) and inevitably lead to Happily Ever After.  Yet, if you asked the average person, they would tell you that they do not subscribe to such fantastical notions.  However, I don't see how else you could explain the attitude about the first kiss...

It's great if that is the way it turns out for you, a first kiss with fireworks and symphonies.  You have the fairy tale and you are lucky; a few of us get to glimpse such moments.  For the rest of us, there is what happens in real life, or shall we say, what happens for most people.  The first kiss is timid, or exploratory.  The first kiss is out of balance or out of synch with your partner.  The first kiss is just the tip of the iceberg with so much more to discover.  It is not necessarily representative of all future kisses or possibilities.

My very first kiss was in fact one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

Frédéric and I had taken a walk in the park.  We sat down for a rest on a bench and were talking about many things.  I kicked myself for realizing too late that he had asked me out on a date and I had declined.  I was not available on the day in question, but also did not add anything encouraging like "perhaps another time".  The conversation continued on to horoscopes and astrological signs and we were in agreement that these things should not be taken too seriously.  Yet, he had said, "Maybe I should pay more attention to them."  So a couple of minutes later, I asked what he had meant and he explained that on the compatibility chart, Libra (my sign) and Gemini (his) had "a big heart".  I forced myself to remain calm and neutral, "Oh really?  I didn't know that..."  That is when he looked at me seriously and asked if I liked him.  I took a very big deep breath and said, "I am very interested in you; I have to be honest."  And I held that breath, waiting for his reply.  He said, "Je suis soulagé," and it was very visible: a wave of relief washed over his entire body.  Then he proceeded to say that he had felt like kissing me a few moments earlier.  Since that feeling was mutual and he obtained my permission, he leaned over and kissed me.  Back then, I thought this was quite romantic.  When I think about it now, I get queasy.

I thought it was the perfect moment.  Except for the kiss.  The idea of the moment finishing in a kiss was blissful.  The actual kiss had me freaked out.  Frédéric was saying that he hadn't dated in a couple of years and apologizing for being rusty.  I couldn't tell.  I couldn't think about what he was saying.  I had just hit extreme fear instead of ecstasy and was confused as to how that could happen.  I seemed to be aware that you could be nervous during a first kiss, but I was way beyond that.  I was shaking and had lain my head on his shoulder, apologizing before he did, saying I had "not been ready for that".  I was very happy to have shared my feelings for him and to have heard that they were reciprocated, so I was content while talking with him and walking back.  When we parted that day, though, he pulled me in for a second kiss and all of my severe anxiety returned.  I realized I had a serious problem.  I even spiked a mysterious fever that day, after seeing Frédéric.  I felt so terrified, I felt sick.  I had no other symptoms and it disappeared by the next day.  Clearly kissing disagreed with me.  Sometimes I wonder if that wasn't my warning not to date him.  In any case, to my way of thinking, it was a pretty extreme reaction and it made me feel completely abnormal.   

Now I know better.  It took me awhile to figure this out, but feeling strange or even not so great about the first kiss is normal enough.  And it is okay.  I thought, again erroneously, that I had perhaps picked the wrong guy and that is why the kiss didn't feel good.  While it is true that I didn't make a good pick with Frédéric, that is not why kissing him was a problem.  I hoped that the next guy I kissed would change all of that.  As I have hinted, though, my first kiss with Amin also threw me.  All of those familiar feelings of acute anxiety returned.  I was doubly scared this time in a way, because I had hoped for something magical to happen.  I had hoped not only not to feel terrified, but to feel good.  I didn't have high hopes or expectations; I didn't require spectacular.  I just didn't want to feel bad.  I was not so lucky.  What Amin allowed me to learn, though, is that it is normal and it is okay to feel the way that I did. 

So the next time you are thinking about the first kiss or you are about to experience one, try not to set your expectations at spectacular.  It's great for you if you have that perfect moment.  It is also okay if you don't.  My mother told me when the subject came up in my first weeks of dating Amin that experiencing a great kiss for a girl depends on so many factors: the guy, the atmosphere, the way you are sitting or standing, your hormones, your stress level, etc.  If only I had discovered this secret years ago!  I would not have spent such a long time feeling bad and abnormal.  Go on dreaming of a True Love's Kiss.  You will get there, on the first kiss, or the third one, or... the number is not important.  You may indeed have met a charming prince, even if the first kiss didn't spell out Happily Ever After instantaneously.  The important thing really is how you feel about him and how he feels about you: that is what leads to a True Love's Kiss.   

"Anyone could see that the prince was charming: the only one for me..."


Monday, 27 May 2013

First Days

Hopeful 3     Hopeless  8

There weren't many days left to October after Amin and I started dating, so I figured that an October entry would not be necessary.  In any case, the feeling that I had in the first days continued into November.  It was an important period of adjustment for me.  I realize that in my latest entry, I gave the impression that my feelings were clearer than they actually were at the time.  It took me much longer than I indicated to feel secure in my choice.  Most of me anyways had decided that I wanted to try dating Amin, that I liked him a lot and that I was ready to take a leap, despite what my fears were telling me.  The transition was not all that smooth or that simple, however.

I remember that everything felt surreal for a while.  As far as I know, a lot of people experience that, the feeling of "I can't believe this actually happened!"  It did happen: I had a boyfriend.  That word seemed so foreign to me.  In December, a full two months later, I recall telling someone and still hesitating as I said it, or taking a really big deep breath: "Amin... my boyfriend".  I could hardly believe it at first.  I knew I was going to have to get used to it.

I felt silly: how romantic is it to think that you have to get "used" to having a boyfriend?  I wanted to share my life with someone in that way, yet it seemed that I wasn't accustomed to sharing like that.  Everything felt strange.  I remember sitting down with my Mom and my sister the next morning, on October 26th.  They asked me how the evening had gone with Amin and so I announced that we were dating, to which my mother said, "excellent" (my sister was also quite pleased about my news).  I continued talking with my Mom after that, saying that I still had a lot of fears.  I was terrified that I was making a mistake.  I doubted my feelings and that I had made the right decision.  What felt abnormal to me was also the feeling of confusion about my identity.  Who was Elise if she was not single?  Who was Elise with a boyfriend?  One of my defining and steadfast qualities for the longest time had been the fact that I was single.  I was not a commitment-phobe, nor am I one.  But I experienced vertigo at the thought of being someone's girlfriend.  I wondered if I was still me. 

I felt absurd or abnormal or immature or something for having all of these crazy thoughts and feelings.  Mom told me that it was all normal.  I was not all that convinced by her attempts to reassure me that other people did experience such feelings while dating.  I still didn't like that feeling of perturbation.  I always thought of myself as someone sure of herself and here I was having all kinds of strange doubts and countless other emotions.  It is really difficult to put into words the uncertainty and uneasiness that I felt.  Despite this, I was determined to try, to give my absolute best effort.  To do that, I needed to breathe and let these feelings subside or resolve themselves.  I had to believe that they would, given time.

Through it all, Amin was very understanding.  He was very eager to help me to feel at ease, yet very patient to let my feelings come around in their own time.  He always told me that my comfort level and my happiness were a priority.  He implored me to talk about how I was feeling and to tell him what he could do to help me feel better.  I wanted to work through the majority of these things on my own, but it was so wonderful to know that I had his full support.  I knew I could lean on him if needed, but that he would also give me the independence to sort things out on my own.  He let me know that since we were a team, we could each make efforts on our own, but that some of those efforts would also be together to move forward and achieve common goals. 

What I did in those first days was really try to be calmer, to talk myself out of some of my fears and strange feelings.  I also let Amin in on some of my feelings where I felt I could use his help.  The first thing I discussed with him was my feelings about public displays of affection.  I had been nervous about bringing the subject up, but I am really glad that his encouragement led me to talk about it earlier than I had planned to.  It turns out that I had nothing to worry about, because we were quite of the same opinion on the matter.  We decided on what we were both comfortable expressing in public, which was a hug hello and a hug goodbye (accompanied by a kiss on the cheek in less crowded places) as well as holding hands.  I had not predicted such a simple and favourable outcome to that discussion, but I was greatly relieved to obtain it. 

Those first days were filled with taking deep breaths and working at not having strange feelings over very normal things.  I was learning to grow accustomed to words like "boyfriend", but also to terms of endearment, which surfaced very quickly.  Amin had just barely been holding back feelings before we began dating.  He had begun complimenting me more than I would allow a friend to, so I had to tell him to refrain from voicing most of them.  As soon as we started dating, though, he was no longer limited.  I was more ready to hear such sentiments from him, but there was still a certain amount of adjusting to do.  I am glad most of this happened online.  We were still chatting every day, so the first time that he called me "sweetheart", for example, was on my screen.  Some of these things were comfortable and others less.  I liked being called "sweetheart", but I still struggled with some compliments.  Through the computer screen, Amin could hardly tell the difference.  It allowed me to respond well or to give the impression of a little more than I felt while I waited for my feelings to catch up.  This is another point that I talked to him about right away.  I had mentioned it on October 25th, that he had liked me for a long time, but that my feelings were newer and thus not as strong as his; consequently, I had some catching up to do to reach his level. 

That is why Amin was quite ready to say "I love you" and talk about how much he loved me right from the beginning.  I had to be careful how I reciprocated on this.  I could not let on too much more than I felt, but I could hardly let too many of those go by without reciprocating.  I realized that, though I may not have loved Amin as much as he did me at that point, there were feelings there.  I was very fond of him as a friend, which, one could argue, could justify using the word "love" on its own.  I had some romantic feelings to back that up, so I figured there was no reason not to say "I love you" in a way.  I knew that when I said it, it would not mean exactly what he meant when he said it.  I hoped that soon they would mean exactly the same thing.  I titled the conversation file in my computer for the day that I said it the first time: "I love you too".  It was October 31st, the first time I had seen Amin in person since we had started dating.  I am glad it had been nearly a week.  I had had some time to collect myself and we had settled matters such as public displays of affection.  We had talked about doing something for Halloween, but had never finished that discussion.  It so happened that I had an important assignment due the next day for my Methodology class, so I had to be in the library after class for awhile.  He joined me and brought some work of his own.  It was hardly romantic, but that is one of the things I love about Amin: he, like me, doesn't require everything to be spectacular all the time, but can appreciate simple moments like sitting working in the library next to each other.  Such is the life of the dating student: study dates.  He and I were also on the same page about not letting our relationship jeopardize our school work.  It was a low-pressure meeting for me, which really helped.  I felt distracted like I had the last two times I had seen him, but I managed to come out with a sufficient amount for my preliminary bibliography.  I know that Amin was distracted too because he freely admitted to it while chatting when I got home.  I had been wearing a medieval vest that day to feel a bit dressed up for Halloween.  The vest is something done up a lot tighter than anything I would normally wear.  He was trying his best not to look at me to avoid kissing me in the middle of the library.  I sensed that and tried to limit my eye contact and things like that to make it easier on him.  Later in that online conversation, when he made one of his favourite exclamations, "I really love you", that is when I answered, "I love you too".         

Amin's understanding, respect, patience and support was exactly as I could've wished.  Given time, it allowed me to not only become comfortable as his girlfriend, but very happy.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Catching Up

Hopeful 4   Hopeless 8

I realize that I have been neglectful of my blog of late.  I noticed the other day that I didn't write any entries for the month of April, which is a first for me; normally I have at least one post per month!  I have been sincerely wanting to update.  My workload this past school term has been considerable and has preventing me from posting on a regular basis.  My health has also not been very good lately, so I have needed to focus more on feeling better than on other things.  I hope to be able to catch up entirely in the next few weeks.  Again, my apologies to readers who have been left in suspense!