It’s a Love Story, Baby

Everyone loves a good love story, so why not mine?

Given that today is one year since we matched, I thought I’d start a series (literally one blog post) that I update on every date that is the anniversary of a relationship milestone. Since I haven’t blogged about my relationship very much, or talked to many people about it, I figured this is a good way to let y’all be nosy without outing yourself as nosy (I, personally, would read anyone’s love story if they blogged about it because I am a sucker). Anyway. Here goes part 1.

A Match Made On Mutual (17 Jan 2020)

For all those who don’t know, Curtis and I met on Mutual: a dating app used primarily by Mormons.

I had downloaded/created a Mutual profile nearly two months earlier because I wanted to start doing ward date nights to normalize dating and start actually going on dates. I didn’t want these dates to GO anywhere, I just wanted to have a date for when I organized group date nights. So my only criterion for anyone I swiped up on was that I would go on a date with them. That was it. If it was someone who seemed like they’d be OK to spend an evening with, I swiped up.

He, on the other hand, was on Mutual because he “didn’t want to be single” which is “the same reason 99% of people are on dating apps,” apparently. He was looking for “someone who seemed like I could have an interesting conversation with” and I “seemed fun.” (these are direct quotes from when I asked him a minute ago)

Really though I know he just swiped up on me because of this picture ⬇️

So what was his opening line that we could have an “interesting conversation” about?

“Any podcast recommendations?”

I gave him a few. As of today, one year later, has he listened to any of the podcasts I recommended?

No.

I’m really exposing myself here, and I do feel bad saying this, but to be completely honest — when I saw on his profile that he was divorced and had a kid, my first thought was to avoid him entirely. But then I reminded myself that I was just there for dates, and since the possibility of things going anywhere was extremely slim (lol), I should just swipe up on the opportunity to spend an evening with a guy who otherwise seemed extremely cool. I mean, he quoted John Mulaney in his bio so that was a major green flag.

This was the only redeeming photo of him it’s like a really good thing idc about looks. And even then he still CUUUUUTE af.

When we matched, it had been so long since I swiped on him that I had forgotten my reasons. Since then, I had also widened my search radius to the whole US because it gets boring after a while of just using your state. So when we matched, I was in Utah for a friend’s wedding and he was in Ohio celebrating his friend’s wedding. So naturally, I thought he lived in Ohio and he thought I lived in Utah. After talking for a bit, we discovered that we lived within a half hour of each other in Colorado. Which, if I’m being totally honest, rocked my world because I was really diggin him.

The next day, I was in the airport waiting to fly home while we were messaging back and forth about our friends’ weddings when I texted my best friend about how cool this guy I just matched with was and how I felt like I could develop real feels for him. She was just like “cool hope you go on a date when you’re both back in Colorado.” Yknow, supportive bff stuff.

Not pictured: a later text saying “this is not only going to kill me, it’s going to hurt the entire time I’m dying.”

Another thing I remember is that when I was in the airport, I tweeted:

Reasons I’m in love with the man I just matched with on Mutual: liberal, feminist, lgbtq+ ally, quotes john mulaney, lives in CO

Reasons I hesitate to be in love with the man I just matched with on Mutual: just used the phrase “yuck someone else’s yum” unironically.

I later deleted the tweet after I followed him on Twitter because I didn’t want him to see it and be super weirded out by the fact I said I was in love with a man I’d only just matched with.

The rest, as we know it, will be documented in this blog post. So long as it stays appropriate for child/Mormon audiences. 😎

The Ask Out (1 Feb 2020)

As we got to chatting it up on the Mutual, I began to feel like this kid thought he was too cool for me (he wasn’t) (still isn’t) so I started to lose interest and hope in the whole matter. Then, one day, amidst our sporadic messaging, he made a comment about the pizza photo and asked if the pizza place where I got it was in Denver. And I was like omg he’s gonna ask me out. So I said yeah, the pizza place is in Denver. And then he didn’t ask me out.

I mean, he kinda did. In a weird, vague way. The conversation went a little something like this:

  • Him: Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that picture with the pizza. Is that some place in Denver?
  • Me: yeah it’s this great place called Fat Sully’s.
  • Him: Cool, I’ll have to check it out sometime.
  • Me: Yeah, I actually got it recommended to me by a guy I met on Bumble so I guess the circle continues with me recommending it to you.
  • Him: Cool. It would be nice to go with someone who knows the place.
  • Me: I can see if bumbleboy is available, I might still have his number?
  • Him: haha I actually meant you. If you’d like to go sometime.
  • Me: haha yeah that would be fun

I actually have no idea what I said last, but I was reasonably annoyed that he didn’t seem to be amused at my joke about setting him up with guy I met on Bumble. Which was HILARIOUS.

So anyway, there it was. A very tentative, hypothetical ask out. And since he already seemed to think that he was “too cool,” I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of me being the one to try and make it happen.

So then like a week later, it’s a Saturday, and he messages me in the morning like “oh hey, I’ll be in Denver later today dropping off my daughter if you want to meet up and get pizza. Here’s my number [ ], text me.” To which I was like “oh, really? you’ll be in Denver? Which is what, 20 minutes from your house? You couldn’t make a special trip during another time to Denver? You’re travelling a whole 20 minutes to the city right next to yours and it would just be convenient to have a date while you’re at it? Also, who do you think I am not having plans on a Saturday night?

Of course, what I actually said was “Hey! I actually have plans tonight to go joint teach with the sister missionaries. Can we plan for a time during the week instead?” but I sounded much more bubbly because people are cringey when talking to people they’re tryna date.

So we planned for a time during the week. And I was happy, because I don’t like making decisions and the where was already decided. I only had one day open and luckily that worked for his schedule, and then just whenever we got off work would be a logical time.

And then, for some terribly frustrating reason, he had to go mess it all up by asking to switch locations. 😡

The First Date (3 Feb 2020)

Monday morning came and it was snowing. Sleeting, rather. And I was frustrated because, after talking for two days, we still hadn’t come up with a place to go for dinner. And I was in no mood to make a decision, especially after he had recommended that “we could just go to Sonic and get giant drinks” the day before. Which I wasn’t about to argue with, because 1) I didn’t know his financial situation and 2) it was at least a plan that I didn’t have to make!

He also just kept using this excuse that he didn’t know Colorado very well because he’d only been there a little less than a year and I had HAD IT. I was so anxious from talking about where to go that I was ready to give up on it completely. But I couldn’t, because cancelling plans made me even more anxious than going through with them. So finally, he was like “what if we go some place in [city]” and I was like “yeah lets look for something in south [city]! That would be so great!” and he was like “sounds good! how about [place that is in central [city], not south]” and I was like “that sounds great!” even though it really didn’t.

So I’m on my lunch break, crabby, complaining to my coworkers about how I have to go on this date tonight in the terrible weather with a guy who can’t make decisions, and they were clearly having a very pleasant time listening to me. So eventually I’m just like “ugh, whatever, I’ll just go get free dinner and then never have to deal with him again” and my coworker was like “is THAT what women DO?!” and I was like “well yeah of course women do that, but I’m kidding. I’m fully prepared to pay for my own food if he doesn’t.”

Anyway. Work is done, I get in my car to go to the restaurant, and on the way I very nearly crash. I have to swerve up onto the curb and slide into the snow covered bushes to avoid skidding and crashing into the car in front of me. But I make it there unscathed and have to wait for him for like 15 minutes. And when he finally arrives, he takes his hood off, brushes the snow off of him, sighs annoyingly, and then literally leans back, DOES THE QUEEN WAVE AT ME, and says “hullo.” Just like that. And I’m like “who is this dork” and then I’m like “well he’s definitely not too cool for me” and our date commences.

From the time we sat down, conversation flowed really naturally. We talked about my mattress shopping (I had just moved into a new apartment and had been sleeping on my roommates bean bag for the past week), we talked about family, about his gender studies major, about feminism, about mental health, about a white privilege workshop I had recently done with SURJ and his thoughts on the matter. We talked so effortlessly that I remember looking over at him and thinking “is he weird or am I overthinking this? No, he’s definitely weird. But why do I feel so comfortable with him?

My favorite tidbit of conversation from that night had to be when I was telling him about how I had overhydrated myself a month before and how it made me so sick. It was brought up because I drink a TON of water and he noticed after the waiter refilled my glass for like the seventh time. He mentioned that he needed to be more hydrated and then said “together, we are one perfectly hydrated person” and I was like “no, two perfectly hydrated people” and he was like “right! yeah, together we are one literally drowning person.”

Anyway. I won’t get into specifics of how he was weird, but he also had shoulder length hair at the time that just increased the weirdness factor for some reason. yknow?

So we shared some apple pie (which won him some points for ordering dessert), and he paid (nice), then he said the whole “I think it would be fun to do this again sometime.” And because of REFLEX, I just said “yeah, I’d be down” EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT DOWN. But then he was talking about so-and-so friend he met on Mutual, and other friend he met on Mutual, so I relaxed a little thinking “ok, he sounds like he’s ok if Mutual meets are just friendships. Also, I just wont ask him out again so we probably wont go, and if he asks me, then I can just pay for myself so I don’t feel bad or like I’m using him.”

As we were walking out to our cars, we began to part ways and say goodbye when I realized he… hadn’t even hugged me. Or tried. And I was like “that’s weird.” So I was like “uhm. Shall we embrace?” with those exact words. And we did. And then I drove home.

Though I thought he was so weird at first, it was oddly comforting. Because from that point, and ever since, I have not felt even an ounce like I needed to impress him. His family and friends, sure, but never him. I have never felt like I wasn’t good enough for him in any way, which is generally a natural consequence of liking someone (for me, anyway). And that’s been something unique about this whole relationship.

After the date he texted and said: Home safe! Thanks again for meeting me tonight, in spite of the bad weather

Me (16 minutes later, which is not important except it is because it just goes to show how he relocated to a place closer to him 😡 and further from me) : Just got home myself 🙂 the weather wasn’t as bad as I expected so that was pleasant. Thanks so much for dinner!

Him: Welcome home! My pleasure, I had a good time. I’m not great with small talk so it was nice to get to touch on so many big ideas/topics with someone so passionate & clever 🙂

Me: Hey, back at ya 🙂

And then I asked him to text me the sources he talked about when we were discussing racism and white privilege. And then he did. And then I watched them at work the next day and continued to text him about them.

I guess you could say that from then on, we built a relationship off of caring about social issues. And I think that’s really cool.

(While we were reminiscing about our first date one year later, I said that the water drinking conversation was probably my favorite part. When I asked what his was, he said “when you said I could see you again.”)

**first date note: I had a friend tell me that this post didn’t make sense because I said I was really comfortable with him but then I said I was in mental agony when I agreed to go out again. The thing is, I did feel very comfortable with him, but I did NOT feel any ( a n y ) hint of romantic attraction. So agreeing to another date, to me, felt like leading him on when I was very much not seeing any sort of interest, present or future. At all.

***another note: I had a friend who I was texting about my pre-date anxiety and she straight up told me to cancel because if it was this hard now, it would only get harder. Lol. It’s funny because he is the most easy going person I have ever known and I can’t imagine how much different life would be if I cancelled on him.

the In Between texts (4 Feb – 8 feb 2020)

Like I said, the day after our first date, I texted him about the YouTube videos he recommended (Jane Elliot – everything but especially on Oprah) and we started talking a LOT. We texted pretty much all day every day. And I was like “oh man, if only I liked him he would be the perfect guy.” But I couldn’t stop thinking about how weird he was.

Day 1 of texting was like

Him: What type of things would be included in your “ideal day”?

Me: I have no idea, it’s highly dependent on too many factors. How would you describe yours?

Him: Good point… Ideal day of relaxing solo would probably involve food/game and not having to wear real pants for as long as possible. Ideal day with a partner would probably involve going out to a comedy show/concert/convention/etc and spending the day doing fun stuff together – followed by cuddles

OK PAUSE so we’ve had one date and now he’s texting me about not wanting to wear pants and also, cuddling. And like, no problem, pants are awful, live your truth, but… this guy lived his truth a little too loudly, yknow? Like maybe lowkey tell me you want to cuddle after the third date, not the first. Idk. Just my thoughts.

The next day we talked about politics (it was announced that Rush Limbaugh had cancer… I won’t go into the specifics of that conversation, though I’m sure if you know Curtis at all you’ll know his opinions on that. Also that was the day that Mitt Romney made a statement about doing the right thing even if it went against most of what his party thought). We also talked bout his D&D game and I felt immensely better when I asked if he was a LARPer (theater degree, rpg lover) and he said “Nah, I think that’s beyond my nerdy comfort level.”

The next day we talked about socks. And how we relax. I said I nap and he said he plays games. With himself (weird). Then we talked about haircuts, which naturally turned into a conversation about Stranger Things (If you don’t know why one topic lead to the other, we haven’t been FB friends long enough), and then he said he didn’t like rewatching things and I said that’s all I do. So fast forward a year and you can see how that could be an issue when it comes to watching things.

Friday rolled around and it was really snowy again, so much so that his work place didn’t make him come in. So I was bitter at him for that, and as recompense, he offered to bring me brownies. I didn’t even respond to that offer though, because saying yes meant I’d be leading him on and saying no would mean I would have to feel awkward rejecting him.

Friday was an interesting day, too, because my friends and I had planned a group date for that night and I refused to ask Curtis. I had been rejected by 5 different guys and still avoided asking him because he seemed too interested in me and I was super nervous to lead him on by saying “hey come meet all my friends!”. We ended up cancelling the group date, but a few of us still got together at a friend’s house and watched some movies til super late. And the whole time, I kept texting him. Because heck if he wasn’t a lot of fun to talk to.

He mentioned something about existential dread, so I sent him a relevant meme and said that “memes are my love language.” He then took the opportunity to ask about my love languages, and I said that serenades were my #1 (then I said jk, quality time is my jam). He then thought the moment was right to bring up that cuddling is his number one love language. And he specified “nonsexual cuddling,” which — ????????? I guess I didn’t know there was a difference? Also did I mention that we’d only been on one (1) date??? So I took that opportunity to bring up that 1) I scored lowest for physical touch on the love languages test and 2) I’m asexual. He was super cool about it and asked non cringe questions (BIG deal) and was capable of having a mature conversation about it 😊

Looking back through it, my favorite bit from that conversation was

Him: Like I may not wanna bang Jason Momoa, but he is an impressive looking human being

Me: Hahahahhahahahahaha yeah see I don’t even think I’ve given him more than a half second glance

Him: I guess that tracks lol

Me: I think too many muscles is scary haha. Not to body shame anyone, bodies are incredible and we should recognize them as such, but as far as sensually attractive, muscles aint it for me tbh

Him: Good news for me I suppose

After chatting about that and a few other random things over the weekend, Sunday came around. And instead of asking me out like he CLEARLY wanted to, he basically asked me to do it.  

Giving him a second chance (9 feb 2020)

So it’s Sunday, and that morning we kind of talk about what time our wards start and how church is and whatever. Then I’m at a church linger longer type function and he asks if I have any plans for the night. And I said I didn’t think so and asked if he did. And he was like “just taking Robin back to Littleton in an hour or so but nothing else.” (You know, like the first time when he was like “oh, I’ll be in the Denver area” as if he doesn’t live in the Denver area.)

So I didn’t respond because, eh, it’s Sunday and I don’t want to plan something on short notice and I don’t wanna go to him but I’m not sure if I want him at my place and I’m still kinda trying to not lead him on. You know the inner monologue. At this point, you’re probably like “dude, be nice and respond instead of ignoring him, you rude person.” And you make a great point. But I was younger and dumber back then.

So an hour later he texts again and he’s like

“Any particular day this week you’d be interested in getting together?”

Me: Just say when. Not tomorrow though because it’s supposed to snow again.

Him: I imagine tonight is way too short notice lol.

Me: did you already take Robin back?

Him: I just did, so I’m still near Denver if that’s what you’re asking

Missed Call from him

Voicemail from him

(I was nervous to listen to the message because I was afraid his voice would sound weird but he surprisingly sounded normal so I was like *shrug* ok, and called him back.)

Our first phone call was him telling me he was basically out of north Denver and me telling him he could come all the way back to south Denver to hang at my place and we could play some games and just talk if he wanted. And he wanted. So I texted him my address and he drove 20 minutes back down south to me. So maybe he was a little into me, idk.  

He showed up and, because he had gotten a haircut that week, he looked like an entirely different person. My roommate had a ton of games and the only two person game I was very familiar with was speed, so I suggested we play speed. As I was dealing, I explained that when I was in therapy as a child, my therapist and I would always play speed. And he said something along the lines of “oh, so this is the game that makes you *talk*” and I thought that was pretty funny.

But we actually did talk a lot that night. What I loved about date number 2 was that we basically laid out all of the “deal breakers” that we each had and then talked about them. There was no trying to hide anything, there was no topic off limits, there was no defensiveness about the other’s curiosity. It was just “hey, this is who I am.” And I really loved that.

He answered my invasive questions about his divorce and, even though he didn’t ask, I definitely opened up about my mental issues. Something I remember respecting him for was the fact that when he talked about his past, he never spoke negatively of the people who may have hurt him. He spoke with compassion and neutrality regarding life events that lead him to where he was, and I was actually pretty impressed by that.

We played Pictionary and Love Letter, but mostly just hung out on my living room floor, talking about whatever. None of it felt uncomfortable or unnatural. When he was leaving, I thought “wow, was he really even that weird on our first date, or did I make it all up in my head?”

Third time’s not the charm lol (12 Feb 2020)

When I showed up for our date that Wednesday, I was like “nope. Didn’t make it up in my head. He is definitely as weird as I thought he was the first time.” But we’ll get there in a second.

After Sunday, I decided that I actually was interested. Going out with him wasn’t “leading him on” anymore, because he just… was a cool guy who I connected with and was interested in dating. So I decided that I was going to flirt over text to indicate that. Reader: he didn’t flirt back. He just said things like “golly shucks” with a cheesy emoji and left it at that.

Now, you might be wondering “how did you flirt, Tyf?”

And let me stop you right there. Do I regularly embarrass him by posting verbatim text messages from our early days? Yes. Am I going to embarrass myself like that? Hah. No. This is my blog and I make the rules. (also, the boy doesn’t get embarrassed. Also I let him read everything I post before I post it to get feedback and make sure he’s cool with it. Also, if he wants to do the work to get on here and write about his memories and dig up old texts and try to embarrass me, I guess I would let him.)

Anyway, the next couple days were fun. We texted about this funny WWDTM podcast episode, he revealed that he still listens to the radio, I finally added him as a contact in my phone (I had a two date rule before adding contact names to numbers of boys from dating apps). He told me he was bad at naps, I said I hope that never happens to me, we talked about music, and work, and a charity that he impulse donated $50 to. (I actually cried when he told me that because I was overwhelmed with WOW WHAT A GOOD DUDE). We talked about his dissertation and I asked if I could read it. He said yes. It’s been over a year now and he still hasn’t sent it to me to read. (I just brought this up to him and he was like “You haven’t read it? oh yeah! I was going to add something to it before I sent it to you!” and then walked away so I bet he is amending it as I type. Nope, I just got the notification that he sent it to me. Nice.)

Then he asked if I’d seen JoJo Rabbit. I said I had not, and he said “If the opportunity arises, I would be 117% down to go see it again.” If the opportunity arises? Like at this point, boy, create the opportunity.

He invited me to go that weekend, but I said “hey, what if instead we went tomorrow?” And I offered a whole plan. And after we had arranged all the details about dinner beforehand (he invited me over to his place for French toast) he said

“I am just now, at 1:06pm on the 11th, realizing that Friday is Valentine’s Day… I promise I wasn’t trying to coordinate some kind of holiday-connected movie night”

Me: Hahahahaha I’m dead. I didn’t suspect you of any foul play of the sort lol. I also wouldn’t mind if you were, I just kinda… didn’t wanna wait that long to see you again??

Him: Consider me very flattered 😊

There, are you happy? That was me flirting. And that was him … making me question which century he was from.

The next day, he changed our date plans again. But it was OK because he already had a backup. I couldn’t come to his place for dinner because his roommate was sick, so we decided to go to Costco to get pizza instead. #winning

He also asked which types of cookies I liked and then after I wrote a big ol text about how I don’t discriminate when it comes to cookies (why am I like this), he goes “follow up: is sugar or chocolate chip? Because that’s what I can get lol” and he snagged some from the break room for me and brought them for us.

Before the date, I told my roommate “if he doesn’t hold my hand tonight, he is dead to me.” Something to keep in mind.

I arrived at Costco to find him waiting by the exit doors. He looked like a child in his knit cap. We got pizza and sat down and, well, he was weird. I don’t know if it just got worse in public or what, but he mentioned that chewing on ice is a sign of sexual tension (which he told me while he was chewing on

ice) (admittedly, he was telling an anecdote of when somebody told him that and he thought it was weird, but I’m just saying it was a weird thing to bring up) (I’ve since learned that he isn’t creepy, he just says his thoughts out loud) and then he started explaining how speech impediments are poorly named and then I think he told me a dirty joke. And I told him he should only tell me jokes that he would feel comfortable telling his daughter. And he said “that would be hard, considering her idea of a joke right now is ‘knock knock’ ‘who’s there?’ ‘toot.’” And then we talked about biggest relationship mistakes which is when I learned more about his spicy past. And then we went to the movie. And we drove separately, which like, makes sense logistically, but like… I feel like it could have been cuter if we drove together.

We got to the theater, we sat down, we settled in and our arms just rested against each other. Just our arms touching felt (for me) like this electricity. I held out my hand for the majority of the movie, pretty obviously wanting him to hold it, and he didn’t. And my hand was cold. At one point, I almost whispered in his ear “am I going to have to hold my own hand?” but I didn’t. I just built up annoyance at him the whole time instead of actually watching the movie.

After the movie was over. I wanted to sit in the theater and talk some more because I knew that once we left, we’d get into our own cars and drive away. Instead, he immediately stood up and was like “let’s go!”. And we walked out to the parking lot, he didn’t give me a end-of-date hug, and I left feeling like “…wat.”

And I went home to tell my roommate he was dead to me.

After I got home and we texted to say we got home safe after driving in the snow, I decided to be bold. Because after the year I’d had trying to interpret confusing signals from a different dude, I was in NO mood to repeat that. So I was like “hey, question. Are you interested? Or are we just hanging out? I recognize this was only our third time together and everything so I’m not looking for a “dtr” at this point, but I’m just wondering where you’re leaning because I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to try and figure it out myself” (paraphrasing there toward the end) and he said:

“I thoroughly appreciate the up-frontitude” dear heavens, what the heck? Who says that? “I’m interested but also not wanting to rush anything… Also, fwiw, as soon as I got in my car and started pulling away I was like ‘didn’t even hug her, you idiot.’ To be more specific: I think we get along very well and I’m incredibly comfortable talking to you about Big Things. You’re incredibly clever, I like that we make each other laugh, and I think we have a lot in common in terms of how we try to see the world around us (plus you have very lovely eyes which isn’t like… The most important thing about a person but still nice.)

I then went on to ask him about what “rushing things” would look like, and this fool decided to tell me that I was responsible for “tak[ing] the lead on how/when/if things progress. Not that I’m uninterested, just wanting to keep your comfort level in mind.”

And then I realized… I really had shut down all of his physical touch talk. So then I was like “look, I’m comfortable with you, you can hold my hand” and he was like “if it got to that point, I’d ask before doing anything” and I was like this is exhausting why are you like this. (consent is cool, kids, but wow dating is stress.) I did mention that I thought being asked before a kiss would be weird, and he said “anyone who makes it weird isn’t doing it right” and I was like ???? You are “weird” PERSONIFIED, there’s no way you, of all people, wouldn’t make it weird.

Anyway, we wrapped up that conversation and called it a night. The next morning, he texted to check in and I was having a rough morning at work. He said it was his night with his daughter so he could swing by afterwards if I wanted to talk, but I knew I’d be up too late if he came over, so I suggested we do a different night. Then he asked if he could hang out with me and my friends that weekend, and I was like … “ehhhhhh… I don’t want to blend my worlds yet.” I wasn’t ashamed of him, per se, I just didn’t know how I felt about him, and I wanted to figure that out before I started integrating him into my world.

So instead, I invited him over to my place on Friday, Valentine’s Day, said we should make dinner and told him to bring the movie that he was watching when he knew he was going to get a divorce. I wanted to see the movie anyway, it was a romcom, and he had brought up that he owned it on date #2 and would watch it with me sometime. The fact that it happened to be the film he associates with his divorce is unfortunate, but I am devoid of compassion and didn’t really realize that maybe V-day wasn’t the right day for that particular movie.

The first kiss (14 feb 2020)

He came over to my house and immediately asked to hug me to make up for the fact that he didn’t hug me after our last date. Then we made baked mac and cheese together and ate it while chatting about church stuff.

When it finally came time to start the movie, I sat next to him on my couch, slipped my arm under his and grabbed his hand. Very smoothly. We cuddled the whole movie and didn’t stop even after it was over. We sat on my couch taking turns asking each other questions until nearly 3am. I got up to use the bathroom and when I got back, he said “I know I asked the last question, but I thought of another one.” I told him he could go again, so he goes “can I kiss you?”

Reader: I was uncomfortable. Not because I didn’t want him to kiss me, but because there just wasn’t a good option. If I said yes, then we would just… kiss. Like that would be so weird to be like “ok, yes, now let’s kiss.” I don’t know how to convey what I’m trying to express, but it’s just so like, “ok I guess we’re kissing now” and I just like the mystery, ok? So while I’m glad he made sure I was ok with it, I was also not interested in immediately shifting gears to kissing mode. You know what I’m saying?

But I couldn’t say no, because ouch. So I was like “yes but not right now.” So then we just kept talking and cuddling like before. I asked him when his birthday was and he said July 6th.

Me: “That’s the day my brother died”

Him: “I’m sorry”

Me: “Well, it’s your fault.”

Him: “Oh so that’s why you said no…”

Me: “I didn’t say no, I said not right NOW”

Then we laughed. And a little while later, I was telling him what I liked about him when I leaned over and went for the kiss. It was a little messy in execution for a first kiss, but it was 3am. And a first kiss quickly turned to a second, and, well, we spent the next chunk of time kissing, talking, laughing, and getting all butterfly-y. I wont tell you what time it was when he finally went home, but that was the first Valentine’s Day where it truly WAS a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ME.

I still felt like he was a little weird, and having something work out so smoothly, so quickly was very unusual to me. But it was nice.

16 Feb 2020 (Date Number 5) 

I texted him the next day, just chattin about stuff, when I remembered that I forgot to send him home with leftover mac and cheese! (you can tell at this point that I was a simp, because I should have just kept it all because it was delicious) But I felt like it was a good excuse to see him again. And I was right. 

So we arranged for me to come to his place after all my obligatory Sunday gatherings and it was funny because I guess I wasn’t ~clear~ that, when I said I wanted to drop by, that I meant I also wanted to stay a while. So he’s like 

“hey wanna watch a thing or something?” 

Me: “I mean I definitely wanna stick around for a bit” 

Him: “ok just didn’t want to assume” 
Me: How many times do I have to tell you that I enjoy spending time with you until you believe me?

Him: Probably just a couple more lol 

Me: Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. But just for the record… I really enjoy spending time with you 😊

Him: Thanks 😊 self-deprecation is a longtime habit. Maybe that’ll come up in today’s episode of Unpacking Baggage Together

Me: Can’t wait 😊

I suppose I didn’t need to give you that entire conversation but I thought it was really cute that he referred to our dates as like a TV show where we just take out little pieces of trauma from our little suitcases and do a little fashion show with them. Oh! And I forgot to mention, it was cute because on our second date, he was talking about having a lot of baggage and I brought up RENT and how at this point in dating it’s really just “looking for baggage that goes with mine” and I didn’t even finish quoting it without him jumping in and saying it with me.

Anyway, it was getting time for me to head over, so I just texted him to give him a heads up that I was on my way. 

Me: Ok leaving now so GPS says 21 minutes, shorter if I speed, longer if your complex is confusing

Him: It’s pretty straightforward. It’s right off the street and you can park anywhere. I’m building G. 

Me (26 minutes later): It seems I do not know my alphabet. 

All at once, my ABCs came back to me and I found his apartment. It was then that I realized… Curtis did not live in an apartment. He lived in his room. All of his stuff? In his room. He just didn’t leave his room. So we went in his room and I suggested we play a board game. Because every surface in his room was overflowing with board games. 

We decided on Bears Versus Babies and it was weird. At this point, the weird should have been expected, but.. yknow. Whatever. We may have played another game or two, but I can’t remember. Then I broke out my phone and mentioned that I had brainstormed (Googled) a lot more questions for intellectually stimulating conversation, so we snuggled up and talked, kissed some more. I wish I could remember more from what we talked about – I know I used to have a note with all the questions I brainstormed. But I deleted the questions as we went, and I think I also deleted the note. 

19 FEB 2020 – The Accidental I Love You 

At this point, I kind of had his schedule down. He played D&D on Tuesdays and Fridays, had his daughter on Thursdays, and so that left Wednesdays and every other Saturday as date nights. Mondays, too, I guess, but who does Monday date nights?? (us. Sometimes.) 

So Tuesday rolls around and he asks if I have plans Wednesday night (which, no, I don’t, because I know Wednesdays are his free nights and I want to see him.) So by this time, I have downloaded the Eventbrite app to know about all the things happening so that I have stellar ideas for dates (highly recommend, by the way.) and on Wednesday night, there are a few free comedy nights at local bars. One of those bars was – wait for it – RIGHT NEXT TO FAT SULLY’S (the pizza place we were supposed to go on our first date). So we planned for it. 

The next night, we met at Fat Sully’s (in the snow, because, at this point, why would we break the streak and plan a date for a night that it’s not snowing?)  and we get some pizza. It was fun, he makes jokes with the waiter, and we eventually head over to the comedy night.

While waiting for the comedy night to start, Curtis looked at me and said “hey” and I said “hey” back, and then he kissed me. Our first public kiss. It was kinda cute, I may have been a little bit blushy, the world may never know. But anyway, the comedy night was absolutely hilarious and I was super impressed at the quality given that it was a free show. 

Afterward, we sat in his car and talked a bit. I was kinda nervous because I felt like I should bring up setting/recalibrating boundaries, but I didn’t want him to get defensive or lose interest (there were no signs that he would get that way, but I just, yknow.) The night was going really well and so I brought it up and we talked and it went swimmingly. He was incredibly respectful and I was really impressed with how sincerely he wanted to  make sure that I was comfortable. 

A while later, we were kissing, laughing, talking, (you know, the whole thing) when he asked if something was ok with me (I forget what?) and I responded “yeah I think so,” and he immediately stopped and replied “ok, well until you know so.” I kinda made a comment like “omg you’re so good” or something and he just said “well, it’s your body, you get to decide what happens to it.” 

What was happening was like a *kiss* I say something *kiss* he says something, and so on and so forth. So he had just said the “you get to decide what happens to it” thing and we kissed and then I just went “this is why I love you.” And before I could process what I just SAID, we went in to kiss again. And he LAUGHED during it. And I pulled back like “oh no, that was premature, I take it back.” And luckily he understood. 

As I type this, I just want to say, YES I realize the bar is on the floor. YES I realize it’s a basic standard to want someone to respect your boundaries. But it is sadly not the norm and so I was impressed nonetheless! And I will not apologize for that. 

We wrapped up our chat and I got in my car to go home. 

He texts me maybe ten minutes later that he’s home safe. 

Me (17 minutes later, not that it matters): “You made it home real fast and that’s pretty unfair.” 

Him: I didn’t realize it was so close to where I live. 

Related: Remember how that was supposed to be the place we went to on our first date??? And he wanted to move it “closer”?? Anyway. 

22 Feb 2020 – Friends Who Kiss (meeting Robin) 

So back on Valentine’s Day, we were talking about boundaries in our lives, remember? And I told him I didn’t want to invite him to hang out with me and my friends because I wasn’t ready to blend my worlds. And he told me that he understood and that for him, his daughter was a similar boundary. So imagine my surprise when one week after that conversation, he invited me to have dinner with him and his 3 year old. 

I wish I could share details of that night and meeting her for the first time, because looking back it’s kinda funny, but it feels wrong to publish publicly.

 What I can say is that we made French toast together, ate on the floor of his bedroom (men, what can you do), and then watched Scooby Doo. I will also say that seeing him be a dad was a really sweet experience. To see how he handled problems and conversation with her was actually really wholesome and while it may have been easy to put on a show for that night, he has been that way every time I’ve seen him with her since.

After bedtime, Curtis and I sat on his couch and just talked. I told him about growing up with divorced parents and the things about it that were hard, and how seeing Robin just kind of reminded me about those things. It was kinda neat opening up about that, because it’s not really something that comes up very often. 

Then I asked the question. You know the one. He had just invited me to meet his kid so I had to know if he was planning on me sticking around. And he wasn’t very good at that conversation. I asked if he was talking to other girls, and he was. I asked what he thought we were and he said “we’re just friends who kiss.” My immediate reaction to that was thinking “if you ever refer to us that way again, we will not be friends and we will not kiss.” He was really wishwashy, and I was really confused, because a boundary he established was also one he decided to break and THEN he referred to me as his friend. 

Generally, though, I was okay with it, because I wasn’t quite sure that I was ready to commit to a relationship either. 

26 Feb 2020 -Quell Anxiety 

After a few days of texting, we decided to hang out. But instead of making a plan, it was like “hey let’s do a thing tomorrow!” So when the day came to “do a thing,” we had plans to make. And you know how I get when there’s no plans. *stress intensifies*

So I throw out a few ideas. There’s a concert from our emo days going on downtown, there’s Denver restaurant week (basically just a week where a bunch of restaurants offer special menus at set prices for three course meals), and there’s just a lowkey hang option. And then after I narrowed it down to three options, he had the AUDACITY to say “I’m far too indecisive with so many fantastic options.” 

Bruh. 

So he chose restaurant week and we did some research about where we could go and still be able to have a reservation for that night. 

He then suggested a place in a city 30 minutes north of my work (50 minutes north of my home). And I *did* say that location didn’t really matter to me, but that’s because I thought it was DENVER restaurant week. In DENVER. So I had to veto the option. 

Then he suggested one that was pretty pricey that didn’t sound good to me. And since I have major frugality problems and said we’d go Dutch, I have a major fear of spending money on food that doesn’t taste good. 

So I felt bad because I made him make a decision and then I kept saying no to all his suggestions. And then I got really anxious and panicky and wanted to just cancel and disappear forever because making plans is hard. So I explained all that and said I felt terrible and tried to work with him to find a place, but instead he decided to be a champ. 

“how about this: let’s chill with pizza tonight and then we can plan for the fancier dinner this weekend.” 

Me: ARE YOU SURE?!

Him: 4012%

And then he asked how long it would take me to get to his house and left work early so he could get pizza and meet me there by the time I arrived <3. 

We briefly talked about me getting anxious about making plans (and he was incredibly understanding) and then we ate pizza and watched Firefly, one of his favorite shows. Then, we went through all the options for restaurant week and picked one together and made a reservation for Friday night. 

27 Feb 2020 – The Day I Realized That He Is Useless Mechanically 

Not much happened today, but we were texting. And I admitted to him that my name is legally spelt the standard way but because of teenage angst I changed it and liked it so much I kept it. Then he quoted Harry Potter Puppet Pals. 

And then he said he had a flat tire and he was waiting for a tow truck to come take him to an auto shop. And I was like ??? Dude you don’t need a tow, don’t you have a spare? And he said “I do have a spare but I’d still need to get it replaced & I’d rather save it for if I need it more desperately than in the parking lot for work.” 

At this point, I wasn’t sure if he had ever used a spare? Because you can… use it more than once? So I asked if he had ever changed a tire and he said yes but it had been a while and he tried to change the subject for the 10th time, but I wouldn’t let it go. And I was worried that one day I might take home a man who didn’t know how to put on a spare tire and introduce him to my dad. 

Since then, he’s had a problem with a flat tire again. I think I need to teach him how to change a tire. 

28 Feb 2020 – Carmine’s on Penn 

Our reservation was at 5 and he worked longer hours all week so that he could dip early again and meet me. The restaurant we chose was an Italian one and I felt fancy. I also got all dolled up and he did not even tell me I was pretty. Ugh men.

When we got the to go box, I set it aside and told him not to let me forget about it. He took a crayon and wrote “don’t you forget about me” on the top.

After dinner, we went to a place called Board Game Republic (that the pandemic has since put out of business, rip) with my roommate and her date. I don’t remember what we played, but we had a swell time hanging out together. 

Curtis and I then met back at my place. On the way, my friend called and was talking to me and I was still on the phone with her when we got back to my place, and instead of just waiting til I was off the phone, Curtis joined in the chat and was just generally hilarious and conversational and engaging. This was probably the first time that I had introduced him to my friends in a social setting and he was so good at making a good impression and interacting with them and it made me a lot more comfortable integrating him into my world. I had told all these people that I thought he was a super weirdie and apparently they didn’t see it. And that made me feel heaps better. 

I let him do his laundry (because his complex’s facilities weren’t great and he hadn’t found a laundromat) and while he was doing that, we sat on my roommate’s giant bean bag and watched Miss Americana. Yes, I made him watch the Taylor Swift documentary. And he liked it. 

29 Feb 2020 – First Time Beautiful 

Curtis had not been stingy with compliments, but we had been dating nearly four weeks and he hadn’t yet told me that he thought I was pretty. He had said that my hair looked good on me, he had complimented my mind and my heart, but he hadn’t complimented the way I looked. And while I think the other things are much, much more valuable and important, I still wanted to know that the guy I was into like the way I looked. I didn’t say anything about that to him, but it was just something on my mind. 

So the morning of leap day, 2020, right after I woke up, was when he decided to tell me that I was beautiful. And I just think that’s cute. It wasn’t when I put on makeup for a night out, it wasn’t when I was wearing my cute outfit or jewelry, it was simply when I rolled out of bed.

I only saw him briefly that day but I texted him later to recap what a wonderful time I had on Friday night and about all the things he did that I was thankful for. The text was over two screenshots worth of words. I then texted him a picture of the top of the take out box and asked “how cheesy would it be if I scrapbooked this?” (I still have it, by the way.)

He texted back an hour later and said “Robin is so cute and I’m so proud of her.” 

I would like someone to go back in time and slap me for continuing to like a man who didn’t even say “HEY I HAD A GREAT TIME TOO” back, even if it was halfhearted. 

But also he has learned and grown and I’m happy I was delusional back then. 

1 March 2020 – left depressed bc he didn’t want to commit to me 

On Sunday night, I typically had dinner with my family, but for some reason we didn’t do it today. So I texted him that and asked if he had a better offer and he invited me over, so I went. After I took a fat Sunday nap. 

I honestly don’t remember a lot from what happened on this date and I’m gathering all I can remember through texts with my two closest friends at the time. 

But basically I felt like we were doing all the relationship-y things. We were going on double dates and staying out late together and planning all these future things we needed to do together, talking to my friends, meeting his child, texting every day, having deep and personal conversations. Yet his profile was still active on Mutual. And I guess you could say that so was mine because how would I know that his was if mine wasn’t, but he was actively updating his with new pictures and edited bios. 

When I went over, I guess I asked what the hold up was and why he was acting exclusive with me but without the title. Because I was nervous that I was getting attached and he was just having a good time. He was confusing yet insistent that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and I didn’t know what to do about that. 

What I told my friend was “He’s saying he feels like we need to know each other better in like different situations and also he’s like unsure if he’s properly processed all his past relationship stuff. So I’m just confused because I’m like “look, I’m at the point right now that I can either walk away a little bummed but ultimately fine, or I can start being invested, so like I don’t wanna choose to be invested if you’re not on that same page.” And he said he’s like interested in continuing the trajectory we’re on and he likes me and blab la bla but he’s just not ready to “jump in with both feet” which I guess means “be exclusive.” I don’t get it but I’m trying to understand like maybe he’s just apprehensive. He made some comment about not feeling good enough for me but idk what that’s about.”

Anyway. We had a whole conversation where I was trying to say that literally nothing would change if we put a label on it and it would probably make me feel like we were at least both heading in the same direction. But he just kept saying things like “I’m not ready to be vulnerable” even though he… already was? 

So after that fruitless conversation, I felt sad and a little rejected. Then I went home, ate an entire sleeve of Oreos, and went to bed. 

4 March 2020 Little Women & Taco Bell

I guess I came out of my crankiness a little over the next few days and on Wednesday, we were ready to hang out again. I was going to Utah that weekend and he was gonna have a “packed” week (probably doing nerd stuff) so Wednesday was the only day we could swing it. 

He asked if I had anything in mind (and of course I did, because not having something planned makes me anxious) So I remembered how he hadn’t seen Little Women yet. And I was a big fan of Little Women. So I asked him if he wanted to go see it (it was in the discount theater) and we could sneak in snacks and Taco Bell.

He came to my house to pick me up like it was a real date! Mostly because the theater was a mile away and it worked out for the first time. I told him I knew how to get there and he still put it in the GPS. And I got really annoyed at that, actually, and was salty with him for the entire 5 minute drive.

 We did not end up sneaking in Taco Bell, but I did get us some snacks. And then I cried the whole movie. Because that’s what I do. And he held me while I cried. It was sweet.

Afterwards, we went to Taco Bell and then came back to my place to eat it. And he talked about his mission for like 20 minutes and didn’t ask me a single question for those whole 20 minutes. And I was especially annoyed at that. 

Then he left and I remember talking to my friend about how I was annoyed at the GPS thing and the him talking forever thing and she told me I was finding any excuse to be annoyed with him. And she was right. But I was still annoyed with him. 

March 8 – Thin Mints 

We hadn’t seen each other since Wednesday (a whole four days) so naturally I had to invite him over after he dropped off kiddo. We talked and ate ice cream and he brought thin mints and we cuddled and I had him tell me all about his D&D character and group. He also said that he’d been “waiting for the other shoe to drop” in our little fling but he didn’t think it was going to. We stayed up way too late in regular curtyf fashion.

And I ended that night being “super into him again” according to my text to my friend. 

I sent him home with some chocolate kisses and breakfast for the next morning, and he texted me after he got home he texted me to say “You are, hands down (pause for Dashboard Confessional reference), one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met.”

Note: Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional would end up becoming our song 😊 

11 March – Deleting Mutual  

It was Wednesday, which is one of his only free nights, and instead of planning a date with me, he decided to feed the missionaries. So instead of feeling sad and rejected, I planned to hang out with my roommate. And after I made plans, he decided to invite me over for dinner. And I’m proud to report that I did not bail on my plans with my roommate to accommodate a MAN’s poor timing. 

But we were texting and I decided I missed him and his cute face (see below for a pic he sent me of his face and his shirt that he’s so proud of) so I planned on going over to his house after I got home from going out to dinner with my roommate (even though it was getting pretty late. The amount of sleep I gave up for this boy is astounding. Modern me could never).

So I got to his place, and again I decided to bring up the nature of our relationship. Up to this point, I had expressed that I didn’t want to say things like “well I don’t want to kiss you unless we’re exclusive” because I didn’t want to feel like I was manipulating him into a relationship, but I was genuinely starting to feel really untethered and uncomfy. And looking back, I understand that he wasn’t trying to be dodgy or noncommittal, he was just not expecting to find something so soon, and was still dealing with residual relationship issues that I could have been more patient with. But also, we were acting like a couple already. So maybe we both had merit in the ways we were feeling, and I guess I can see it from both sides. 

But that night, I told him about how I had noticed that he kept on updating his Mutual (dating app) profile/photos and said that it seemed like he was still actively trying to date because otherwise he probably wouldn’t be so active. I then asked him how he would feel if I went on dates with other people and if it would matter to him. 

While I was sitting on his bedroom floor telling him about how I didn’t feel like either of us were going to walk away any time soon, I asked him how much more time he would need before he knew if he was ready to be exclusive. He got out his phone, went to the Mutual app, and uninstalled it. Just like that. He said he just needed that conversation and to know that I wasn’t planning on walking away, and that none of his baggage was baggage that couldn’t be unpacked together. 

It was ultimately the perfect reason for losing sleep.

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