Social networking sites (i.e. Facebook) are an interesting phenomenon. They provide users with the power to share every thought, every photo, every bit of news available to mankind. Facebook has a running newsfeed and there I can find out which of my friends are attending concerts or parties, which Target or Golden Corral they are at, and who is having a really awesome day or a really bad day or a birthday.
Occasionally, a pink heart pops up and informs me of who is in a relationship, broken up, engaged, married, divorced, separated, in an open relationship, a domestic partnership and the ever popular "it's complicated." I don't have my status listed (I originally wrote that my dating life isn't anyone's business, but then I remembered I write a blog about it every week) but lately I've been thinking about announcing to the world that I, Andrea The Poet, have met someone by changing my status to "in a relationship."
I haven't done it yet.
I like A. I enjoy spending time with him, we've met each others' families and friends and I miss him when I haven't seen him for a while. We have great chemistry, I care a lot for him, and we are dating exclusively. We sit and watch movies together or go out dancing and have an equally good time doing either. I include him in my plans and he does the same. I think of us as "together" and we operate as a couple in the early stages of a relationship.
A few weeks ago my mom informed my dad that my "boyfriend" was going to join us for dinner. I panicked when she said that. Another time, my friend C. asked me if A. is my boyfriend yet and I promptly replied "no, not yet." Just last week we were at a social function, and while I was off talking to some other people, he introduced himself to a friend of mine and referred to himself as my boyfriend. In addition to my friend's shock (I've been single a long time), I found myself in shock when I found out he said that. It's one thing for other people to call him my boyfriend, it's another for A. to do so.
I wrote a while back that I am used to a lot of drama when I date. In the past, all I wanted was for a man to want to be my boyfriend and of course, it never worked out that way. The progression of my relationship with A. has been easy and drama-free, so of course he would just naturally say he's my boyfriend - because that's what he is.
Why, then, do I have a hard time calling him my boyfriend?
I'm not ashamed of A., nor am I keeping my options open. I refer to him as lots of things - my man, my compañero (companion), my partner. I talk about him all the time and it's pretty obvious that I like him - a lot. Calling him my boyfriend makes him - and us - real. It makes me his girlfriend and I haven't been someone's girlfriend in a very long time.
It goes deeper than that, however. I have a deep seated fear that grips me around the throat and sometimes stops me dead in my tracks. It's a fear that whispers in my ear and reminds me how stupid I am for believing something good could come into my life. Fear tries to convince me that the next conversation with A. is going to be the one where he tells me that he's changed his mind and I am not who he wants. Fear tells me I am not good enough and there is no way anyone would want me. I am afraid that if I call A. my boyfriend then somehow I am going to jinx things and I'll have been a fool for letting my guard down.
I've written a lot about my fear, and I always come to the same conclusion: I have no choice but to heal. As I've gone through the process of being on strike, I thought I was healed and in a lot of ways, I am. Getting into a relationship has opened up some issues and triggered fears that I didn't realize existed - I had forgotten that there is a part of me that doesn't like who she sees in the mirror. The only way to get over these issues is to deal with them head on and realize they have nothing to do with A. and everything to do with me. I'm not a bad person for being afraid; I'm human and I'm lucky enough to give myself the space and chance to grow and learn.
I don't know when I'll change my Facebook status, or the title of this blog, or when I'll be able to say the word Boyfriend, but I do know that I like this guy, and to quote him, I like us - myself included.
Next time: Lookin' For Love In All The Wrong Places