It began as a fun flitting in my chest, smile and daydream-inducing, goofily saccharine the way most beginnings of good things are. A combination of polite questions, witty banter, and explicit flirtation (enhanced with images) kept us both delightfully entertained and engaged.After a couple weeks of messaging, we mutually expressed interest to meet in person. I had never met anyone online before, or even been on so much as a blind date.So I prepared myself with some liquid courage and dropped in for a drink at the bar where he worked (per his invitation, of course). I only felt mildly awkward – that giddy kind of awkward I think you’re supposed to feel when you care about connecting with someone new.
“I miss you’s” were reserved in my mind for friends and lovers who had seen me through at least a round of emotional highs and lows.
I ignored the remark and instead responded with a filler question, trying gently to redirect the conversation.
This became a pattern over the next week during our physical separation. Considering our short history together, my uneasiness was amplified with each “I miss you,” but I continued to bypass his declarations in attempt to continue at the pace that I felt comfortable with.
I was excited to get to know him more and see just how well our chemistry could hold up and evolve, but at a reasonable pace, not in a way that felt forced.
I was happily committed to the idea of returning to New York after the holidays to pick up where we left off, and in the meantime, continuing to talk to one another about daily happenings, if we felt like it.
I wanted to revel in the newness, carefree and lighthearted. But the dozens of “I miss you” text messages soon culminated in him asking me if I was seeing anyone else.I told him the truth – I wasn’t exclusive with anyone at that point, and that yes, I had been seeing other people.And that evening when I got home, we exchanged messages of excitement and desire to see each other again as soon as possible. When I left his house that night, at my own insistence, he told me how he couldn’t wait to see me again, to take me out for dinner to his favorite restaurant, and to go on more dates with me after that. Here was a man who I shared a strong chemistry with, found to be incredibly attractive, impressed me with his professional work and personal aspirations, kept me laughing and interested, exhibited a real openness and sincere interest in me, and was thus far kind, attentive, and intelligent.The next evening we went to a bar in our shared neighborhood where we asked each other about work and family and hometowns and hobbies, and he kissed me with full soft lips on my mouth and neck. The next day I left New York to return home for the holidays.A few hours into my day, I received a text from him. I was undeniably pleased yet something was unsettled in me at the same time.I began to wonder how this man who really didn’t know me well at all could already be missing me.