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.