Finding intimacy in semi-plationic relationships is nice when you’re healing from a broken heart. It can also be hella confusing.

Preliminary useful info: I’ve written previously about my dance partner and our foibles together. Back in October were paired up by our coaches. I am both older (35 to his 26) and the more experienced dancer. We got along great. I developed a burning crush on him, the first after my devastating break up with my ex almost exactly a year ago. It pushed me out of my funk and I started showering/grooming/taking care of myself like a normal person again (I wasn’t gross, but I had stopped caring big time about my appearance in any way) However, in November it became clear that he was starting a relationship with someone else. My ego bruised a bit but we settled into a comfortable friendship.

This relationship has been both important to me and extremely confusing.

First the important part:

Through my crush, I was able to face my feelings that I didn’t want HIM necessarily, I just didn’t want to be alone during the holidays. I was still so ashamed that my last relationship didn’t work. I felt old, I felt unwanted, I just wanted someone to like me back. It was clear that he admired my dancing and was a little intimidated and wanted to impress me. I ran with that attention and just wanted someone to love me so I didn’t have to face all the lovey - dovey saccharine Christmas garbage on my own. Looking back, I’m grateful he started dating someone else and I was able to use my feelings for him to explore what was really going on with me. I cried a lot during the holidays, but it was fully in relation to facing my abandonment issues (which my break up triggered in spectacular fashion). I acknowledged for the first time my deep seated need to be taken care of by someone, because no one, not my mother or my father ever really took care of me; my mother was and still is emotionally neglectful. My ex definitely took on this role for me in a superficial way (cooking and errand running mostly) and losing that was incredibly painful (even though it would have never worked out because he was not capable of emotionally supporting me). As an aside: an example of how this “needing to be taken care of” need manifests itself: I’m a slob, and it’s because all I want is for someone to magically appear and just do the fucking dishes for me (which obviously never happens). Just by acknowledging this, for the first time in my adult life, my house is “30 minutes from company ready” at all times. I’ve kept it up for the last 6 months. I’m really proud of myself.

But there was a chemistry and camaraderie between the two of us that was undeniable from the beginning. So I decided that even though this wasn’t a romantic relationship, over the holidays I decided this could still be a useful partnership in emotional healing. I have a hard time with men. I am constantly afraid they will abandon me (like my father did when I was a baby). I’m terrified of and terrible at expressing my needs and setting boundaries. I decided that this was going to be different. He already respected me and I would use this fact to develop a mutually trusting and beneficial dance partnership. He and I did (and do not) have one of those dance partnerings that “just works” - we have to work at it. We hear the music differently, we have different temperaments (I’m cheerful, silly, loud and make jokes constantly, my dancing is boisterous and loud and messy, he is introverted and shy, but is an exacting lead who can get it “just right” if he works hard enough and is a lovable misanthrope). But I knew that there was enough there to make it work and make it work really well. I decided that I would tell him what I needed from him in our dance partnering. I would express if he did or said something that hurt me. I would be open and acknowledging of my shortcomings and ask how I could fix them. We were going to communicate damnit! I would not have a repeat implosion like the kind I had with my ex, even though it was a different type of relationship.

So we did that. We had hiccups (see my last post when he called me Mom). We worked our asses off to make it amazing. At our year end performance this past weekend, WE.FUCKING.KILLED.IT. I have never been prouder of a performance in my 5 years of dancing, we went out there and showed them exactly who were as individuals, as a partnership and as a team (we are 10 people).

But now the confusing (to me) part:

Back in March, the first performance of the same routine mentioned above went spectacularly bad, mostly because he was unprepared. He felt awful. I was genuinely unconcerned (we would just practice and figure it out) and made a joke that I would buy him ice cream on the way home to make him feel better. We had our first real one-on-one conversation that day in the 2 hour car ride home together. We comfortably chatted about everything. One of the things we talked about was that the woman he is dating was moving away in a about a month and that they had decided they would break up when she moved

After that conversation, the hugging started...

All of a sudden, it was all big hugs, playful poking to instigate playfighting, doing stupid shit to make me laugh, etc whenever we saw each other. I’ll admit, I was starved for physical affection of any kind and decided to just go with it. But it pushed me to start dating again, because I realized that I was missing affection and wanted it back in my life.

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But the hugging/playfighting reached fever pitch this weekend. It didn’t help that there was a lot of alcohol. But we were attached at the hip basically all weekend. At one point, in front of all our teammates during our after performance room party, as we were discussing our favourite scotches and I mentioned mine, I got tackled hugged onto the bed while he yelled “OMG I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE NOW” (cause it’s his favourite too I guess?). At one point, a teammate quipped “how long have you two been married?” in reaction to our behaviour. I chalked it up to him feeling kinda lonely since his girlfriend had left, only to find out that she hasn’t left yet, she leaves in a month. We talk about *everything* but he never mentions her ever, so I had assumed that she had left from what he had told me in March.

I felt kind of embarrassed about my behaviour after that - I would not have been so stupidly affectionate had I known. I’m not necessarily interested in dating him (maybe?) because I was simply enjoying the attention and just seeing where it led. This simply enjoying the here and now is also really new for me - simply allowing hugs and affection and attention without freaking out about “WHERE IS THIS GOING?!!? DO YOU LIKE ME!!?! DO YOU WANT ME!?!?! ARE YOU THE ONE” - which are thoughts that have run on repeat whenever I’ve had a spark with someone. Not in this case. For the first time in my life, I decided I would just enjoy whatever “it” was and see what developed. Maybe we stay friends, maybe we become kick ass dance partners, who knows? But when I found out that his girlfriend still hadn’t moved away...I got confused and wondered what the hell was up with his behaviour.

I guess I could just ask him. I don’t know if I want to. I’m confused about what I want out of this now...I guess we’ll see.