It was late at night and I was sound asleep in Alex's bed. After a decadent dinner of leftover ribs and gas station pizza, Alex and I had drifted to a cozy sleep. What a breakthrough. I usually hated sleeping in a bed with a man, but Alex was different. I didn't feel trapped. I didn't get the knot of guilt in my stomach that normally accompanied my sexy sleepovers. It just felt nice to be close to him. Around 4:00 in the morning I awoke to that sick feeling again. I tossed and turned, my mind racing, and I began to sweat. Was this another panic attack? Alex could feel how distraught I was. He wrapped his strong arm around my stomach and held me close. Although it was a nice gesture, it did not help. I threw his arm from my stomach. although he’s a sweet man, I couldn’t shake the nasty sick feeling I had woken up with. Suddenly, without warning I found myself running down the hall of his apartment. Right into the bathroom, where I threw up the contents of my stomach.
It turned out I was not experiencing a panic attack, I was simply food poisoned. And it wasn't long until Alex joined me in my misery. Here we were practically strangers, taking turns vomiting into the toilet…and nether one of us knew what to do. We googled food poisoning and I even called my mother from his bed for advice. Of course I did not tell her Alex was there.
"Well do you have diarrhea?" She asked over the speaker phone,
"yes" I admitted, embarrassed as Hell.
My mother recommended that I drink Sprite and lots of water. But Alex didn’t have any Sprite. I would have to walk down to the corner gas station. I began to get out of bed when Alex stopped me.
"I'll get it", he moaned.
The next 24 hours was spent puking, and trying to distract ourselves from puking. We learned a lot about each other from this experience. When I think about the important moments in our relationship it would be fair to say this one is at the top of the list. Alex and I have been dating for almost 5 months now. At this point I would even call him my boyfriend.
When I visit the ghost of relationships passed I am reminded of the exciting and dramatic turning points in our relationships. In Mormon land the process of finding your eternal lover happens very quickly. Romantic milestones are constantly being reached. It is like falling in love in a movie. You ignore the communication problems, and just focusing on the fun of the journey. Before you know it, the movie is over and you havent even finished your pop corn! In
Mormon land Alex and I would be engaged by now! It was hard for me to decelerate into a more healthy relationship pattern. I was used to seeing my boyfriend every single day. When you only have 6 month to decide if he is "the one" you take every second you can get. One day after hanging around at his place all day Alex said something very strange to me.
"You know…sometimes I just need some time to myself." I could tell he was trying very hard not to hurt my feelings.
I, of course, was hurt. I took the hint and hopped in my car. I spent the next few days processing what he said. Clearly he didn't like me anymore. I figured it was time to cut ties and start over. There were plenty of guys out there who would actually want to spend every waking second with me. But before I put the EX on our relationship I thought I might want to do some Non-Mormon dating research.
I sought advice from my modern female friends. Mindy had been dating my co-worker and she explained it best. "Oh yeah, I really like Devin but I don't need to see him every day. That would drive me nuts. So I usually just let him play video games while I get my stuff done."
Hum...I thought back to how many times I had gotten in my car and drove down to Alex’s place even when I sort of didn't want to. Don't get me wrong I always enjoy spending time with Alex but sometimes I felt obligated by an outside force to forget my own needs and focus on "US."
The church is so focused on paring off. Singles are discriminated against and made to feel guilty. Unmarried men and woman are not “whole.” It’s strange to come to the realization that I'm a whole person all on my own. I have a job, a savings account, and I can decide how I spend my free time. I rent movies I know he won’t like and watch them by myself. I go swing dancing, and do comedy. Basically I have my own life besides just him, and that is okay.
I no longer feel obligated to spend every waking minute with Alex. It is actually quite empowering. In the church single men and woman put all of their love and devotion and free time into the relationship. They cling to each other from the moment they meet. And that's great if you are a parasite fish that feeds on a great white shark and you hope it never eats you. But in the real world normal relationship are composed of mixed emotions, complicated agendas and the occasional romantic night out.