Guest Post :: The Bro Next Door Tells All!

This isn’t your ordinary Bros and Booze update. This one is a special guest post. It is long, but it’s worth the read. It’s coming straight to you from The Bro Next Door! Nice to meet you, fans! In case you’ve never heard of me, stop right here and start with the story of our first date!

I really want to update you on what’s happened since we went to Luce, but first, I want to start at the beginning. Miss BrosandBooze (MBAB) got most of the details right, but there are always two sides to every story. Here’s my take on our first four dates:

The Match: When I first saw MBAB on Bumble, she caught my eye because she was cute and active. Her photos showed her traveling and doing fun activities (as opposed to a slideshow of selfies.) However, as I looked at the rest of her profile, it left much to be desired. Her bio was a short Parks and Rec quote “I like people, places, and things.” I didn’t get the reference, despite it being my favorite show. Normally, I would be turned off by a vague bio, but her pictures made it seem like she wasn’t your typical Portland girl. In a sea of tattooed hipster baristas, she was different. She seemed to be well put together, had a professional job, traveled, independent, and had a solid group of friends.

I’ve been called both a bro and a hipster several times in my life. I have a wide range of interests, so I can be labelled differently depending on which side of me people see. Most of my Portland friends only listen to indie music like Sufjan Stevens and Rogue Wave. I love it, but I also enjoy listening to frat rap like G-Eazy and Mac Miller which is uncommon for Portland. MBAB utilized the Bumble feature that shares her top Spotify musicians and I was surprised when I saw she listed a range of artists from Hoodie Allen to The Arcade Fire. My decision was made and I swiped right.

When we matched, our conversation wasn’t very interesting. To be honest, MBAB was difficult to communicate with. In her review of our first date, she said…  

“We matched and I sent a quick message about us both being from the midwest/east coast. He replied. I took a day to reply. He took a day to reply. I forgot to reply. He messaged me again. Our boring 10 message exchange took a week. Each time I checked Bumble, I would have to take another peek at his profile to remind myself who I was talking to. Long story short: I wasn’t into The Bro Next Door. Our conversation was boring.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Our conversation was boring. When MBAB forgot to reply, things could have ended right there. Neither of us would have been upset because that’s just part of dating. When you’re both talking to other people, there isn’t time or energy to get upset if someone is ghosted. When I looked at MBAB’s profile again I remembered thinking, “There’s something different about her,” and I decided to message her again.

Part of the difficulty in our conversation came from her refusal to ask questions. After her initial question that started our conversation, she simply stopped! She never asked another for the rest of the chat. I was getting frustrated. After eight messages, I decided to throw a Hail Mary and ask her out for drinks.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role timing has played in our match. There are so many things that happened in both of our lives while we were messaging each other. I had multiple trips away from Portland. She got sick and had a vacation home for a wedding. If the timing had been even just a few days earlier or later… it may have prevented us from going on a first date. But luckily our lives collided at the perfect time. Isn’t that crazy?

Date #1: We planned to meet on Saturday at 9pm. On my way to Americano, I saw her get out of her car 30 feet ahead of me. We were still a block or two from the bar so I panicked and hid in an ally. I couldn’t imagine a worse first impression than creepily following her on a dimly lit street. Thankfully she never noticed me and I casually walked to the bar after waiting a minute or two.

When I first saw her outside the bar I was in shock. This girl is going on a date with me? Obviously you shouldn’t base your opinion on how someone looks, but I didn’t really know much about MBAB. All I had to judge her on was how she looked… and she looked good. She instantly felt out of my league. I expected that she would only want to have one drink with me before she realized her mistake and left.

A couple things surprised me about her. She was willing to order wine! Let’s be honest… beer is okay, but wine is classy. The next surprise was the ease of our conversation. It was so easy to talk about our jobs, how we ended up in Portland, and what we love and hate about this city. MBAB felt so familiar, did she grow up in my hometown? Her hometown in the midwest started to sound a lot like my hometown on the east coast.

One memorable moment from our time at Americano was when I talked about my job. She asked questions and wanted to understand what I did. I was in disbelief! I don’t want to shame anyone, but Portland isn’t a very career driven city. Typically when I meet people my age, they don’t want to talk about career goals. But she did. I was in disbelief that someone had taken an interest in my engineering career.

When it came time to pay, I didn’t offer to cover her drinks. Her review indicated that she was disappointed by this, but I’ve had so many experiences where the woman was actually upset that I offered! I prefer to avoid the hassle and just split it. She did pay with a Chase Sapphire, so I was impressed!

The MBAB Pros
Fashionable style
From the midwest, but appreciates living in Portland
Easy flow of conversation – no awkward silences!
Is very independent
Career driven
Likes to try new bars like me
Likes frat rap, unlike everyone else I’ve met here
(Her list of pros is honestly the same I have for her)

The MBAB Cons
Honestly none, she felt out of my league

After having a good conversation at Americano, I asked if she was willing to make a move to another bar down the street. We went to Angel Face, a bar I had mentioned wanting to check out earlier.  We didn’t spend much time there because it was so loud. To be honest, I don’t remember much of our conversation because I was kind of nervous. We finished our drinks so quickly, but we were having a good time and I didn’t want the night to end. I stumbled with my words while asking her if she wanted to go to my apartment, drink more wine, and listen to music. The moment I finished asking, I thought there was no way she would say yes. I wasn’t confident at all when I asked. I was into her, but I couldn’t tell how she was feeling about me. I was surprised that she said yes! What did she see in me? The feeling that she was out of my league only intensified as I learned more about her. Why was she on a date with me?

The Bar Pros
Well designed space with amazing wood finishes and a proper use of wallpaper
The circle bar is a well designed functional centerpiece of the bar
Great mood lighting
Adequate space for standing despite the small size of the bar
Friendly bartenders
Amazing custom drinks. There isn’t a drinks menu, just a liquor menu, so you describe what you like to your bartender and they come up with special drink for you
Worth the $10+ drink price

The Bar Cons
Music was too loud
Uncomfortable chairs for the tables

When we got back to my apartment we continued talking, but our conversation got deeper. We weren’t just talking about surface topics like our jobs and travel destinations. We started talking about our families and the way were were raised. It no longer felt like a first date. It felt like we had a real connection. I’m normally very uncomfortable when it comes to physical contact, I don’t mean anything by it, I’ve just been a shy guy for such a long time and I don’t want to ruin a date by making a move at the wrong time. Honestly speaking, I don’t even know how to naturally make a move to kiss someone. As funny as it sounds, I just ask. I asked MBAB, “Do you want to kiss?” and she laughed and said ,“You’re not supposed to ask!” Thankfully she said it with a big smile and we started to make out. We switched back and forth between sharing some of our favorite songs, kissing, and telling stories from our lives. I asked if she wanted to go upstairs, but when she said no I wasn’t disappointed. I just wanted to spend time with her! I’m glad she didn’t. We had a perfect evening and we didn’t need sex to complicate things. Suddenly it was 4:30 in the morning and I walked MBAB to her car holding her hand and kissed her goodbye.

Date #2: It shouldn’t have even happened. MBAB was sick and we had no idea when we could schedule another date. We texted briefly while she was ill, but nothing beyond, “How are you feeling today?” On Friday night, I went to Whole Foods and got lucky. Even though I didn’t see her, she spotted me and decided to send me a text. It had already been 6 days since our first date and I was getting ready to leave to New York City on vacation. If we didn’t run into each other, we probably would have fallen into a scheduling hole and never had a second date.

My side of the story about how we ran into each other is actually pretty funny. It was a Friday night and none of my friends wanted to go out, but I still wanted to celebrate the end of the work week. I walked to Whole Foods to get a tasty drink and some food. On my way there, I walked past Americano, the location of our first date in the Burnside 26 apartment building. I knew the type of car MBAB drove, and as I was walking, someone in the same car drove by very slowly. I kept walking and saw the car park and a woman who looked identical to MBAB got out and went inside the building. Was that her? Was she going to see some guy? Was the whole “I’m sick” thing a rouse?

She was obviously allowed to date other people, but why would she lie to me? I’ve been on bad first dates and been surprised when the girl wanted to hang out again… and I’ve been on great first dates when the girl ghosts me. I try to keep a good attitude when it comes to dating because you never know what to expect.

The moment that girl walked into the building, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. MBAB was great, but our amazing first date almost a week ago and the feelings were starting to fade. After I left Whole Foods, my phone buzzed. It was a text from MBAB that read, “Uh, did you not just see me check out at Whole Foods?” What did she mean? I just saw her at the Burnside Apartments! I walked back to Whole Foods to meet her. As soon as I saw what she was wearing, I realized she wasn’t the girl I saw earlier. We hugged and laughed about running into each other.

She agreed to come over, but had to drop her food off at home. While I was waiting for her to come over, I texted my roommate who’s a doctor and asked if it was safe to cuddle or kiss her. He advised that I take zinc and to go for it! I probably was already exposed to her sickness on the first date, anyway. We started watching TV and it felt distant. We didn’t touch or cuddle. It’s hard to get to know someone while watching TV, but I enjoyed simply being around her.

It felt like we jumped ahead in our relationship. For a moment, it felt like we were a couple who had been dating for years. She was sick and I was tired from work. We settled on staying in and made the best of the night. This night made me think of her differently. It made me think that we could have a relationship together, but did she feel the same way?

I’m thankful the universe pushed us together that night. For me, it was a turning point. After that night, our texting became more frequent and was suddenly fun and easy, just like how we talked in person.

Date #3: Our second date was on a Friday and I was flying to New York City that following Wednesday. We both didn’t want to seem too eager by suggesting a Saturday or Sunday date since we had just seen each other. Despite our great previous dates, it would be a 9 days until our next planned date when I got back. Was I worth the wait?

In one of our previous conversations she mentioned she loved nachos. Luckily, while I was looking for date ideas at work on Monday, I found out it was “NACHO WEEK” in Portland. I texted her at work and we quickly agreed to make plans to get nachos for dinner. We met up at Stella Taco and our conversation felt off. It wasn’t bad, but it felt forced and boring. Our second date had been amazing and it felt like a glimpse into the future. So why did our third date feel like a step backwards? I wasn’t sure where we were going.

After we ate nachos, we walked to Salt and Straw to get ice cream nachos. I can’t explain it, but I still felt hesitant around her.  Every date I was surprised that she still wanted to spend time with me. I couldn’t shake the memory of our second date when we took a long time to be comfortable with cuddling again. Would she be okay with holding hands in public? So far, we had only held hands in private or on a dark street with no one around… but we were now on a busy public street in Portland. I didn’t want to risk it.

At Salt & Straw, the oddest thing happened at the bar. A girl who ghosted me before our first date showed up. I tried to ignore it but MBAB noticed me staring at that girl. Awkward encounters with previous dates (or ghosts) are never fun, but it reaffirmed why I liked her. She was willing to have an impromptu date with me on a Monday night as I spilled ice cream on myself. I was enjoying my night, so I asked, “How are you doing on time?” She replied, “The world is my oyster!” I couldn’t believe she wanted to spent more time with me!

On the way to Richmond Bar, MBAB reached for my hand and I did my best to not let it go for the rest of the night. I no longer doubted if she liked me. She initiated physical contact! We spent the rest of the evening cuddling on a bench by a fire at the bar. Eventually we realized it was getting late, so I walked her to her car. She was still recovering from being sick, but I wanted to let her know I how I felt about her  before I left for NYC. She warned me that she didn’t want to be responsible for making me sick but I told her I was willing to risk it. I only intended to give her a small, cute kiss on the lips, but soon after I leaned in, she grabbed my neck and went in for a full on makeout session. It was worth it.

Date #4: Despite the distance, we texted every day when I was in NYC. I was visiting my friend, but he still had to work, so I spent that time working on my comedy and catch up with MBAB. Before I went to NYC, we added each other on snapchat. It was fun because I felt like I could share my entire trip with her.

When I got back from NYC, I was exhausted. My buddy and I were out late every night and it was a long day of traveling. The moment I got back to my apartment, I passed out. I woke up and considered cancelling my date with MBAB. We were planning on having a fancy dinner out and I didn’t know if I had the energy for it. Despite our great connection, we both knew we were seeing or talking to other people, but we never discussed what we were looking for. Did this relationship even have a future? Were we just casually dating and having fun? When I was in New York City my friend was asking my dating life and I constantly talked about MBAB. Sure, I was dating other people, but she was the only one I was serious about.

MBAB came over as planned and we pregamed, caught up on my NYC trip, and decided to have dinner at Luce. Even though we had a fun night planned, I felt distant. I felt like I was being short with MBAB the entire night. I was frustrated. It seemed like our connection had faded again and I was questioning if we would go on another date or not. I felt like I was so off during dinner. I worried she thought I was uncomfortable to be around, so I offered to pay the check. I felt like I was wasting her time that night.

When we got back to my apartment we decided to answer the 36 Questions That Lead To Love. It’s a series of questions designed to make two people fall in love. To me, this is where our relationship changed. The test asks difficult questions that require both people to be very vulnerable. We shared important moments in our life, our concerns about relationships, our most treasured memories, our most terrible memories, and what we liked about each other.

There was a pivotal moment when I realized that we had the same goal in dating – something serious and meaningful. We had answered all 36 questions and the final exercise was to stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes without speaking. This was the part of the test I was most worried about, but it ended up being the most rewarding. As I looked into her eyes, I could see a future with her. I could see us eventually falling in love.  

I didn’t set my phone alarm correctly, so we ended up staring for 8 minutes. It was a very romantic moment. All I wanted was to be close to her physically since we already felt so close emotionally. One thing led to another and suddenly we were in my room having sex. It was perfect timing. I had wanted to be patient with her and I wanted to wait for the right moment… and that was it.

This was the first night we slept together and it was the first night I started to realize that an exclusive relationship between us was something that I wanted. She revealed a lot to me that made realize how similar we are at the core.

Aziz Ansari finishes his book Modern Romance with the line, “We’re better off spending quality time getting to know actual people than spending hours with our devices seeing who else is out there.” MBAB and I met at time in our lives when that was our attitude. It would have been easy to ghost after our initial boring Bumble conversation, but we recognized there was something special about each other that might not translate over a screen. It took a leap of faith, but we decided to give each other a try…

Date #5: Drunk Whole Foods

Our fifth date was 10 days after MBAB and I went on our date to Luce. She was on vacation for a wedding and landed back in Portland late Sunday night. We discovered later that we both wanted me to pick her up from the airport, but neither of us felt comfortable enough to ask. We couldn’t see each other on Monday because she needed to recover from jetlag and I needed to prepare for comedy class. On Tuesday, I had comedy class that takes up most of my evening. Finally on Wednesday, we decided to skip the gym to see each other.

While MBAB was on vacation, we revealed via text that we both had secret writing projects. I was curious as to what her’s would be. Whatever it was, I was glad she wanted to share it with me. We agreed to share when we were in person.

The plan was to go to Whole Foods and cook a new recipe together, but she was planning a party for Saturday and I was busy working on my stand up comedy show, so neither of us had time to plan the menu. Thankfully it worked out. When she came over, we realized neither of us were hungry and we just wanted to drink together and share our writing projects!

We finished an entire bottle of wine, so we planned to walk to Whole foods to buy another. Before we left, MBAB looked at me and asked if I wanted to do shots! It continually amazes me how she can make the most mundane activities exciting. We held hands and walked to Whole Foods. Before we went in, she decided to give me a field sobriety test. She was laughing as she was administering it, so I asked, “What does this mean?!” One of the Whole Foods employees was walking by as I asked and he blurted out, “It means you’re drunk!”

We agreed on a gold bottle of champagne and some snacks and headed home, holding hands. I know it seems silly but I love that she likes to hold hands. I like to think there’s something to be said about the feeling of someone’s hand in yours. When we got back to my apartment we drank more and our conversation became more serious.

I told her, “I enjoy being single, but I like you more!” We started to make out and then made our way upstairs to my bedroom. We had sex and then I pulled out my computer so we could share our writing. She was receptive to my creative fiction. I was curious what she would share with me. She typed this URL into the address bar and introduced me to this blog.

She thought I would be upset, but I wasn’t! I support everything (especially creative endeavors!) as long as they don’t hurt other people. I loved getting her perspective on our first couple of dates. She kept asking me if I was upset and I had to reassure her I wasn’t. I was the first guy she had written about who she shared it with, so her hesitation was understandable.

We spent the night shedding tears and sharing secrets we hadn’t even told our friends. I told her about how there aren’t any positive relationships in my life, so I’m afraid to be in one. My parents, my sister, and my friends are all unhappy, so why would I be any different? She told me about her inexperience with long-term relationships and how she’s kept it a secret for so long. We had more sex, more alcohol – it was all a whirlwind. Eventually it was almost 3am and I asked MBAB if she wanted to stay over, but I didn’t need to ask.

Nashville Weekend

I quoted Modern Romance earlier in this post, but I can’t convey how true Aziz Ansari is. The Netflix adaptation of his book, Master of None, is a landmark show of our generation that captures the highs and lows of dating and the uncertainties in between. There is a specific episode titled “Nashville” that sums up my first weekend with MBAB. In this episode, Aziz Ansari’s character was fed up with the predictable pattern of taking dates to bars and restaurants, so he took a risk and invited Rachel on a weekend trip to Nashville for their first date. There were only two possible outcomes: they could have a great weekend and realize they are compatible as a couple… or it could completely bomb and make them never want to see each other again. MBAB and I took a similar risk by spending our entire weekend together. We had only been on 5 dates and suddenly I was invited to meet 50 of her friends at once? It was intimidating, but I was up for the challenge.

Friday night MBAB was getting ready for her Rosh Hashanah party and I was preparing for my comedy show. We didn’t have plans to see each other, but we both wanted to. I was worried I was coming off as too eager. I had met the best girl I’d ever been with and I was determined not to ruin it. Luckily MBAB isn’t afraid to say what she wants, so she invited me over for a “mutual productivity date,” an idea we had discussed previously where we both work on separate projects next to each other.

When I came over MBAB was very stressed. She thinks she isn’t a good cook (but she is) and nothing was turning out for her party. I offered my encouragement along with lots of hugs and kisses. I tried her food and it was delicious, of course! I ended up not working on my jokes because I was having too much fun talking to her in the kitchen.

Eventually it was late, maybe 1 or 2 in the morning, and I was in no shape to drive. She offered for me to stay over. I was surprised because we had already made plans for me to spend the night the following night after Rosh Hashanah. I wanted to stay, but I was slightly hesitant. We had only stayed at my apartment and I had no idea what her’s would be like. Does she like to blast the heat? What kind of mattress does she have? I typically don’t sleep in other people’s beds. Even with my ex-girlfriend, I stayed over at her place once in the 1.5 years we dated.

Luckily MBAB likes a cold room and owns a quality mattress. I really appreciate her willingness to invest in comfort because I do the same. Once we were in bed and getting ready to go to sleep, she told me she had something to tell me.  I’ve been in this situation before and I expected the worst. Had she been seeing someone else and decided to date him exclusively? It was a logical fear. She was the best girl I’d ever been on a date with and she lives in a city with so many amazing people. To my surprise, that wasn’t the secret she was hiding.

She revealed to me that during our fourth date, she looked at my text messages when I handed her my phone to look at the menu for Luce. I was hurt on so many levels, but I tried my best to keep my cool. To be honest, I don’t remember much of this conversation. It was a blur. What hurt the most was the fact that I was planning on asking MBAB on Sunday if she wanted to be exclusive with me, but now I was reconsidering. I had told my roommate as I was walking out the door on Friday, “I don’t think I’ll be single after this weekend!”

I was confused why she would need to snoop. We weren’t exclusive. I wasn’t betraying her by exploring my options. I was allowed to date other people. But what she didn’t know was that I was ready to stop. The fun of being single was over. She was enough… she was more than enough. MBAB was my dream girl and it felt like my dream was being taken away from me in the moment she revealed that to me.

During our 36 Questions test, I revealed to her that honesty was the most important thing in a relationship to me.  If she told me her mistake when it happened, before we had that special connection of the 36 Questions, I would have told her to go home and our relationship would have ended right there.

It’s funny how much timing has played into our relationship. Neither of us are religious people, but it felt like the universe was pushing us to be together. Because she had waited a couple weeks to tell me, I was more willing to forgive her. We kept talking and I knew that she regretted it because of how important I had become to her. She couldn’t hide anything from me anymore. I finally calmed down and made peace with her apology. Arguments can’t be avoided in relationships. She was honest with me, which I appreciated. I addressed her jealousy and told her that she was the only person I wanted. She told me she would never do it again and I believe her.

What I love about MBAB is that it is very clear we are willing to fight for our relationship. In the age of online dating and being noncommittal, we’re different and it’s special. We’re both liberal and chose to move across the country to Portland, but we grew up in the south and still possess those values. We were taught to always have great manners and act appropriately in any setting. I believe we share the desire for a more traditional relationship where chivalry isn’t dead, it’s necessary. I’ve dated so many women who were raised in the city and they have a very “me first” attitude. MBAB isn’t like that. She always treats me better than she does herself, just as I do for her. I really appreciate that because it makes our bond even stronger. Even though I’m now a liberal city boy, I’ll always be a southern gentleman at heart and continue to treat MBAB as my southern belle.

The next morning, we didn’t have to be anywhere until noon. I was going to watch football with my friends and she was going to finish prepping for the party. So we stayed in bed and had a slow morning together. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Her window was open and cool air filled her room, forcing us to stay close under the blankets. I don’t even remember what we talked about that morning because all I could think was, “This is our future if we stay together. This is what life will be like,” and I loved all of it. We just played, cuddled, made each other laugh as we continued to grow our relationship.

At noon, I left to hang out with my friends, but I returned later at 6pm to help MBAB get ready for Rosh Hashanah. We had briefly talked about making mimosas on Sunday morning and I offered to bring champagne and OJ, but I forgot. I felt bad because I know how much she appreciates the little details. I made a mental note to be better at remembering things. It’s funny reading her story because she forgot that I brought over whipped cream for the Jello shots for the party! I didn’t show up empty handed!

As we got ready for the party, I asked her to brief me on her important friends because I wanted to make a good impression. I knew she would be busy hosting the party, so I didn’t expect to talk to her much that night. I wanted to get to know her best friends! MBAB was worried I’d feel isolated, but luckily one of my superpowers in life is the ability to talk to anyone about anything. I get it from my parents. They taught me so much about respect and listening and I try to apply it every day in my life.

The rest of the night was honestly a blur, but I do remember feeling truly happy. When I was in college, I was the shy, awkward kid with anxiety. I hated going to parties because I would often feel overwhelmed and need to leave. But here I was! I was at a party full of strangers and I was making them laugh while connecting with all of my crush’s friends. This was such a special moment for me because all I could think about was how much better life had gotten and how all my work to improve myself had paid off. Through this happiness, I couldn’t help but wonder if MBAB would have still fallen for me if she had met the old TBND. I was so different now. I pushed this thought aside and felt thankful that we met each other at the perfect time.

During the night I received a text from MBAB telling me to meet in her bedroom at 11pm. She asked how I was doing and we made out for awhile before her guests started looking for her. Later, I escaped to her room to text a friend and MBAB walked in because she was wondering where I went. We had another quick makeout session and then snuck back to the party.

Our next morning was even more perfect. It was raining outside so we listened to the rain patter on her window and she lit a pumpkin spice candle. She had planned a surprise date to the pumpkin patch and she was upset the weather ruined it. I asked if we could go to brunch and tried to make the best of the day. We decided to go to Miss Delta on Mississippi because she had never been.  I drove and this was the first time we were in a car together.

I was excited for this experience, because what MBAB didn’t know was that I was heavily influenced by the movie “A Walk to Remember.” I have a sister who is seven years older, so she typically had control of what movies we watched. As a result, I was exposed to romantic comedies very early. Growing up, all of my friends had girlfriends, but I never did. I was discouraged because I wanted a loving relationship so desperately, yet no girl would even look at me. “A Walk to Remember” was important because it was the first time I saw a relationship that seemed achievable and not a hokey rom-com fantasy. In the movie, there is a scene where they hold hands in the car. I wanted that. I vowed that I would learn how to drive with one hand so I could always hold a girl’s hand.

The moment after I started the car, I reached for MBAB’s hand and we drove to brunch. We had no plans and were in no rush, so we got coffee and talked. We told secrets revealing how much we liked each other and we started making a spreadsheet of dates we wanted to go on. After I ordered a mimosa, I realized I lost my ID! I was so stressed, but she gets me and is super helpful, so she held my hand and tried to keep me calm as she asked me questions to help me figure out where it was.

I finally realized it was at the climbing gym in the Pearl and we went on an excursion to retrieve it. Our ride home was one of the first times MBAB and I didn’t really talk. We had just had this amazing weekend together and we were already starting to plan our future. No words needed to be said. We just listened to music, held hands, and dreamed about our lives together. I had been building a playlist for her and one of the songs started playing. She put her head on my shoulder and we drove along I-84.

When we got to her place, we knew the weekend had to end, but we did everything we could to postpone our goodbye. We had gotten back from brunch around 3pm. I said I could stay for a bit and cuddle. We went to her room and started messing around and talking. The next time we looked at the clock, it was 7pm.

After MBAB revealed to me that she read my phone, I was no longer planning on asking her to be exclusive with her. I wanted to give it more time. I was hurt and uncertain. But after we spent the weekend together, I was so happy and realized I could move past it. I turned to her in bed and asked if she wanted to be exclusive… and she said yes!

As we discussed our future MBAB asked about my past. I know she just wanted to protect herself, but I couldn’t help but dread the conversation. I spent all four years of college with my first girlfriend. I never had the typical college experience where I was free to date multiple people at once. As soon as I moved to Portland, I jumped into another two year long relationship. It ended a month before I met MBAB, but I had emotionally ended it long before. I was finally at a point in my life where I could be an individual and explore myself.

I enjoyed my freedom, went on a lot of dates, and made great connections with so many amazing people. I had spent my life feeling unattractive and unwanted, but I spent a lot of time bettering myself and finally I was desireable. Dating was great! I didn’t like having to reveal my last two months of dating around. How  was MBAB was supposed to ignore the fact that I had been with other people while dating her? She was surprised and a little bit hurt, but ultimately understanding and nonjudgmental. We worked through it, and I went home happy.

I returned home and announced to my roommate, “GUESS WHAT? IT’S OVER! I’M NOT SINGLE ANYMORE!” He asked me if that was what I wanted. I confidently told him, “Of course! I’m happy and I’m with the best girl I have ever dated.” My roommate told me he hadn’t expected me to be single for long. He was right.

All of my past relationship experience has taught me exactly what I want and not to settle for less. I’ve experienced the good with the bad. I know the qualities of who I want to be with and she has them all. While I was single, I imagined my dream girl – the best person I could possibly end up with. She would be independent, open to communication, and fun to be around. MBAB raises the bar on all of these.

She’s wholeheartedly supportive of everything I do in my life. I’m ambitious and continually challenge myself to develop new apps and do stand up comedy on top of building my engineering career. She isn’t intimidated by my success like my previous partners were. She supports whatever makes me happy and I do the same for her. In my last relationship, communication was an issue. My ex-girlfriend wasn’t willing to work on it. MBAB and I are so eager to talk through issues. If there’s a problem, we fix it and move on. She can address concerns head on when they come up, not let them bottle up and hold a grudge. Because of this, she’s pure fun to be around. We can have a disagreement, work it out, and get back to having a Level 10 night. Life is full of so many mundane activities, but my partner is willing to make everything we do fun. Taking shots before going to Whole Foods? Wrestling in bed on weekend mornings? Count me in. I couldn’t see myself with anyone else. Like I told her on our fifth date, “Being single is fun, but you’re better.”

A note from MBAB: And with that, devoted readers, comes the end of an era. This blog was a great creative outlet while I was single. It gave me a chance to process all of my horrible dates and channel my frustration into snarky reviews. I hope it was humorously relatable to all of my single friends who know the painful cycle of struggling to meet new people, struggling to form a connection, and then struggling even more to figure out what it all means. I hope it was informative to my married friends who may have forgotten just how difficult being single is and how lucky they are to have found the perfect partner.

We can all agree that dating is hard. You feel lonely, uncertain, and wonder if being in a relationship is even worth it. All I can say is that… it is. It totally is. I’ve only known TBND for two months and the amount of happiness he’s given me in that short time makes every bad date worth it. My final piece of advice is to just say yes. I didn’t want to go on a date with TBND, but I said yes because I was challenging myself to be more open. If I had let myself find a bogus reason to turn him down, I would probably still be single. Keep an open mind. Go on dates with people even if you think they won’t work… because sometimes they do and it’s the most beautiful coincidence. Oh, and sometimes it’s okay if he doesn’t pay.

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