It's a thin line between pleasure and pain
Will the sun rise on a new romance? ... A scene from Before Sunrise.
"I hate this feeling!" I said to a friend via email.
"What are you talking about, I LOVE this feeling!" she said. "This is the best part!"
I'd just met someone, and had been seeing him for about three weeks. A very brief time indeed, but long enough for me to become a teensy bit excited at the possibilities. It's hard to meet people you feel you connect with, right? When it happens you can't help but get a bit giddy.
Our first weekend together had been straight out of a John Hughes movie. Love at first sight? No. Lust at first sight? Absolutely. Upon meeting and clicking instantly we spent the next 72 hours laughing at each other's jokes; drinking wine and watching sunsets from rooftops; discovering that we were into the same music, which provided the soundtrack to our magical introduction; and talking for hours on end, sleeping only when we physically couldn't keep our eyes open any longer.
If that all sounds terribly corny and clichéd, it was, but in the best kind of way. I'd never had a Before Sunrise kind of first meeting before and it was nice to feel like I'd suddenly landed on the set of a Hollywood film, or even a good made-in-Melbourne romance.
I fought to keep a lid on my excitement, but it was hard to suppress the spring in my step, and it felt so good I didn't want to.
Ok, like my friend, a part of me loves the feeling – if not of being in love then of being flush with the possibility of it, or something like it – hell, being in reciprocal lust will do – but, in the early phases, it's also torture.
Last week I touched on the agony of wondering who should text who and when and what they should say and how long one should wait to respond and checking your phone a million times a day in case he had texted and all the awful rest of it. It's one of the best and worst parts about seeing someone new. The anticipation of waiting for a text (or waiting for a response to one) from a new love interest turns most girls I know into raving loonies.
I don't actually check my phone a million times a day because 999,999 of those times, you won't have heard from him, or the thrilling beep-beep will reveal itself to be your mother or someone equally disappointing. When you're waiting for a message from him, all other messages are disappointments.
I like to put my phone on silent and put it facedown on my desk and withhold from checking it for as long as humanly possible – for me, it's usually hourly intervals. If I'm doing it more frequently than that I'll sometimes throw my phone in my bag in disgust, like a packet of Doritos I can't stop eating. Before checking my phone I tell myself to expect nothing, fortifying myself against disappointment. When a message does arrive from your amour it's a feeling akin to spotting the golden arches of McDonalds on a road trip as a kid. Pure, dumb glee.
When it doesn't, when there's no question that it's his turn to contact you, and no contact is forthcoming, the spring in your step and stupid grin quickly gives way to slumped shoulders and a furrowed brow. You explain the situation to your ten closest friends, hoping that each one will be able to shed fresh light on what it all means, and 'what exactly do you think he meant by that last message', and 'do you think that perhaps he is thinking this way because of that thing I said?', yada yada yada. You drive them crazy with your craziness. You scold yourself for letting some guy you hardly even know let you get all wound up, but you can't help it.
And this is the part you hate. You know, from experience, that too much of this particular feeling in the early stages - unless it's interrupted by an unexpected (and unlikely) text or call from him explaining his lapse in communication – signals the beginning of the end.
And so it went for my three-week love affair, sorry, fling.
A wise friend of mine who'd had plenty of flings of her own before settling down said of her husband: "I knew it was different with him because there was never any doubting, never any second guessing, never any wondering if he was going to call. I knew he was going to call and he always did, and I knew if I called him that he'd be happy to hear from me."
Which sounds great in theory, but I can't help thinking that a part of me might miss this feeling that I claim to hate so much.
What have your experiences been, has cat and mouse at the beginning eventually developed into something more serious? Or do games spell death for a relationship?