Thursday July 26, 2012

Long before I had this column, I worked in a ladies gym. It was, by far, one of my favorite jobs.

Imagine rolling out of bed, slipping into sweats -- without makeup -- and going to hang out with a bunch of women you actually enjoyed -- every day.

I could work out for free, get to hear all of the latest gossip, and could tell those who wanted to hear, all about the twists and turns of my budding romances.

There were women who would come in three times a week, and as soon as they hit the circuit they'd ask: "Any word from so-and-so?" or "What happened with what's-his-name?"

It was like acting out my own soap opera, only the situations and characters I was talking about were real. It inspired me to write those stories down, which eventually led to blogging, which led to the column you are reading today.

From my time at the gym, as well as other jobs at which I got to swap stories and compare and evaluate dating behavior, people I meet still tend to ask "How's the dating thing going?"

For the longest time, I gave some variation of an eye roll, a deep sigh or shrug and something along the lines of: "Well, I was seeing someone, but then I found out he had several other girlfriends, all over the country."

Or, "Well, I was seeing someone, but he broke up with me on my birthday to take out some woman he met on eHarmony."

Or, "Well, I was seeing someone, but he wandered off at a party we attended together and I didn't hear from him for the next two days. I guess he ran into his ex at the party and they're back together."

Or, "Well, I was seeing someone, but he got drunk and made out with another girl in front of me ... at my work."

Or even, "Well, I was seeing someone, but he is so emotionally stunted that even though I said I loved him, he couldn't be bothered to pick me up from work when my car was out of commission."

You get the picture, readers, and it's not a pretty one.

When I look back on these situations now, I have two thoughts: First, I really dated a bunch of heartless losers and, second, I never want to do it again.

You see, there's a thing that happens when you realize you're with someone who has more emotional depth than a mud puddle. You realize that things you once hesitated about with the wrong men are nothing to fret over with the right one.

Here's a silly little story from my current relationship.

A few weeks ago, while out shopping, I came across the particular deodorant that my boyfriend uses. It smells so good on him that occasionally, when he has showered and we are lying down, I will full-out sniff-attack him.

Since the deodorant was on sale, and in a two-for-one pack, I reached to grab it. But then I hesitated. Is it weird to buy your partner's personal products? At what point in a relationship does this sort of thing become OK? Is he going to get freaked out because I'm shopping for him?

Since it was cheap, I tossed the pack in the cart and decided I would just tell him it was a good bargain.

Later, I sent him a message.

"So, I bought you some deodorant today. It was on sale and a really good price. Hope that's not weird."

I got back, "Babe, the only thing that's weird is the amount of things you think are weird. Thank you."

And there it was. I had finally realized that when really, really being with someone, the weirdest thing is over-thinking the everyday small stuff that normal people do for each other all the time.

It's so simple, but eluded me all this time.

Just the other day, when I was at work, one of my ex-clients from the gym came in, excited to catch up and hear some exciting, heart-wrenching and star-crossed story from my dating life.

"So, how's the dating thing going? I hear you have a boyfriend!"

I nodded. "I do, and it's good."

She waited, anticipating something more. But there was no more. Nothing more that I wanted to share, anyway. Just that things were good seemed to be enough for me at the time.

She smiled. "Good. I'm happy for you."

I nodded and smiled back. "You know, I'm happy for me too."