No Sex. No Titles: Why I'm Dating In the 'Middle Ground'

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This time around, she wants to get it right.

In the past my relationship life kind of went like this: Meet, have a date or two, end up in bed, then end up together. I can't even really tell you when exactly the together part happened, it just was. No anniversaries to remember, no funny stories of how I played hard to get, we were just together until we weren’t. So it was for many years: wash, rinse, repeat, without me even truly recognizing that I was in this never ending cycle. Then, after a long hiatus from all things testosterone, I decided to dip my foot back into the dating pool. I met this man a few months ago that, so far, has been the best thing since ice cream, pure magic (cue Tweet), and I couldn’t be happier. There’s just been one thing missing. Sex.

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See I was all ready to repeat my insanity cycle when he informed me that because of similar patterns in his past relationships, he wanted to try to do things differently this time around.  He wanted to take things slow, get to know me, actually date me and see where, if anywhere, we ended up. Excuse me?! You’re just going to stand there all delicious, looking at me in all my fineness and tell me that we can’t rip each other’s clothes off right now? Sir, that’s not how this works. Now while my hormones were screaming bloody murder, my mind had to agree. I’d done this dance before, several times, always with the same result. I wanted a different ending to my story this go around and since no man before him even took the time to approach me in this manner, I figured it was worth a shot. So here we are in the middle. Not quite friends, but not in a relationship. No mindless rush to be together. No sex. Just us actually taking the time to learn one another and truly date. 

I must admit this space is very new and very awkward. Being in the middle has shown me just how wrong I was dating in the past; actually it’s shown me that I wasn’t dating at all. That I didn’t know these other men because we skipped over all that happens in the middle. It’s also shown me intimacy, and not just the kind that comes from sex. This middle space has allowed us to intentionally build emotional, intellectual, and even physical intimacy with one another through the simplest things. We have actual conversations, not conversations laced with flirtation and sexual innuendo, but actual conversations that allow us to see one another without filters. Conversations that show how multifaceted we both are and slowly let down guards. Instead of sharing nude pics, we share goals, dreams and struggles.

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In this intimate middle space we have begun to choose each other. Despite a busy schedule, he will trek all the way from Brooklyn to Harlem (NYC peeps know this is basically equivalent to a long distance relationship) just to cuddle on the couch thumb wrestling, laughing and watching movies with me for a few hours. I’ve begun actually listening to him and taking note of all the things he says, does and that interest him in order to plan dates and create moments that speak directly to him as a person instead of as an arbitrary concept.  We may not speak every day, but we choose to stay connected and find ways to show we are on each other’s minds. From quick messages on Facebook between meetings, to random silly GIFs in the middle of the night, no matter where we are in the world we take even the smallest moment to essentially say “Hey, I haven’t forgotten to choose you.” Even without the physical intimacy of sex, we still find ways to physically connect. Long hugs and sweet kisses, hand holding and couch cuddles, and of course the thumb wrestling. Don’t ask how this became a thing with us, it just is, and I love it. 

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Now I’d be lying if I said that all this wasn’t taking its toll on my hormones. I mean this man is being a man ya’ll and his focus on me and lack of focus on sex just makes him even more attractive and isn’t helping my self control. I’ve asked Jesus to fix it on more than one occasion after the hugs and kisses got a little too real. It’s tough.  However because I choose him, I also choose to take the path more difficult than the ones I’ve chosen before.  It requires patience, stripped bare honesty and trust, with generous heaps of vulnerability. All things I’ve never fully given or even partially received in previous relationships. This path also comes with never ending smiles, laughs and the pleasure of getting to know someone that has truly been an unexpected, but welcome addition to my world. I feel like no matter where this middle space leads us, we’re building the foundation for something great that in the end will not only make us better partners, but better people as well. So here’s to dating in the middle, and whatever lies on the other side being oh so worth the wait.    

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