I've read with great interest all the comments about the speed of my relationship with Mr. Coffee, and all of them have made me think.
Ultimately, what I find myself most curious about is this idea that we can control our emotions, that we can prevent ourselves from falling for someone by actively deciding not to. Maybe some people can do that, but I know I can't. If I like someone, I like someone. Especially at the ripe old (ha!) age of 36, I don't have much interest in playing games or pussyfooting around. I've learned by now that you pay your money and you take your chances. By falling for someone, you risk getting hurt. And that's a risk that I find worth taking.
That said, I'm also curious about this idea that Mr. Coffee and I are on some kind of fast track. Yes, yes, it's true, we slept together right away. But the physical side of a relationship is only one component. While I don't think it's possible to entirely separate the physical from the emotional, I do think that they are two pieces of a larger whole. Clearly, Mr. Coffee and I are on the Physical Fast Track. Emotionally? Well, we see each other on average less than once a week, exchange a few e-mails a week, and talk on the phone a few times a week. We're getting to know each other, but it's taking some time. The more time I spend with him, the more I like him. But I certainly don't feel like I know him well enough to feel like I've totally fallen for him.
We're not exclusive by any means. Both of us still have profiles up, and I'm planning to meet a couple of other people casually while he's away.* A friend of mine who met her husband online told me that while she met the guy she married on one of her earlier dates, going out with a few other people made it clear to her that she'd found the right one. That makes sense to me. Of course, it could also happen that going on other dates makes it clear to me that I've found the wrong one! The point is to figure it out.
So I guess, for me, things don't feel like they are moving all that fast (with the caveat of the sex part, of course). Mr. Coffee and I haven't had The Talk about seeing or not seeing other people, and I think it will be a while before that happens. We're both busy. It's going to take a while before we have spent enough time together to know what we want. For now, I like spending time with him. I like the rush of seeing his name in my inbox. I like how he thinks about how he can make my life easier, by picking up dinner or coming to my house so I don't have to get a sitter. I like that he's ridiculously smart. He has a crazy sexy accent and a goofy laugh. He's been very sweet to me, and he hasn't given me any reason not to believe what he says. It's tricky to balance protecting yourself with the ultimate need to take a risk and trust someone.
I appreciate the comments about being careful and protecting myself. I err towards the optimistic and trusting. The only thing that makes me bristle is this idea that by dating and enjoying it, I'm doing something disrespectful to John or his family. There's nothing I would like more than to have John back. But that's not going to happen, no matter how long I wait around. Going on dates and sleeping with someone else do not mean that I now love or miss John any less. It just means that I need to find ways to live without him. The process of moving on has been mostly filled with pain, anger, and sadness. The time has come for me to set aside some of my fear and try on a bit of joy, just to see how it feels.
*Speaking of which, the lack of phone/Internet thing while he's traveling is not as sketchy as it sounds; he's often overseas and in developing countries, and on this trip he'll be mostly in Africa. It's easier than it used to be to get Internet access and place international cell calls in some/most parts of Africa, but it's still no picnic where he'll be.