The Little Details That Can Change the Entire Story

In the second (?) of the Bridget Jones books, Bridget’s friend Jude breaks up with a guy, and Jude only admits to her friends after the fact that the guy had a habit of doing or saying some particularly dumb / weird / vaguely creepy thing. (When Jude was still interested in the guy she had purposely omitted that detail from her descriptions of him.)

I bring this up because I have totally done the same thing as Jude. Both here on the blog and, more notably, when talking to my sister about my online dating adventures.

Here is the thing about The Backpacker I didn’t mention earlier (because – embarrassment, and also being unsure how to emotionally respond):

Apart from the nice convos about backpacking, bushwhacking, packrafting, etc., Backpacker did veer into the realm of sexy stuff a little. I believe his words were, ‘Based on what I know of your personality and appearance, I would greatly enjoy being inside you.’ I didn’t respond directly to that and conversation went on, but when it came to telling my sister about the weird vibe I was starting to feel, I was too embarrassed to include that in my commentary. I did tell her some of the other details… His use of the word sweetheart, smattering of “beautifuls,” and one time he referred to me as “eye candy” (oh yeah, I was also too embarrassed to share that one). Writing this all out, I can totally hear my sis responding, “Ewww… Absolutely not!” And part of me would agree. I totally understand being single and missing sex, but I wonder a little at flirting in that way with somebody you have never met before. 

I was sort of irritated about the whole thing yesterday. The combo of his overfamiliar word choice + (oh yeah, there was this) asking me if I wanted his number and then not even giving me his name when I gave him my name and #. I had told him I couldn’t talk until evening for the next few days– after my kid was down. And then it was silent on his end. But he did text me yesterday evening. And after the toddler was asleep we talked.

Going into the call I was tired and I was so not in the mood for a potentially questionable / creepy evening phone conversation with a stranger who was weirdly secretive about himself. But it wasn’t bad. I know his name now. We talked about dogs and photography and work. He does conservation monitoring in a specialized field that most people would think is pretty badass. And it is interesting. I found it familiar in a nice way that he is a field work guy, since I used to be a field work gal for years and years, and there is an outlook on life that often goes with it that I appreciate. When I left that kind of work due to having a kid and feeling like a permanent job was never going to happen, I was mostly relieved but also a little sad. Part of my teaching dream is tied into the idea that I will have time and freedom to explore the outdoors with my kid and have some epic adventures beyond weekend trips.

I digress. Backpacker was still a little overfamiliar in the phone call, saying that he likes long legs (I am over 6 feet). Nothing worse than that, but it made me wonder: How many people like this kind of talk from somebody they have never met? I know I have a habit (not always a good one) of deflecting compliments, but until you meet somebody in person, who knows what your dynamic will be or whether there will be a spark.

Incidentally I still don’t know if or when we will meet in person. Back when we first started messaging I asked Backpacker if he wanted to come on an evening group hike I was hosting with a local hiking club, and he couldn’t make it. After he asked if I wanted his number I said sure and asked if he wanted to grab a beer or coffee sometime. He said he was interested but when I asked him about his availability he said, “Let’s talk first.” And we talked last night and he texted me today and I still have no idea where that is going. I personally don’t feel like I know somebody until I have met them in person, but I am willing to sit back and let this play out for a while. I am just not putting a lot of emotional energy into it. If he needs to ease into the acquaintance slowly, that is understandable. Hopefully he turns out to be a cool person to know. If not, meh. Not the end of the world. I am pretty cognizant of the gap between the digital world and the real one, and am unlikely to get too wrapped up in somebody who only communicates at a distance.

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