I've been spending a lot of time with R the last few weeks. In fact, I've not meant to be exclusive with him, but that's how it's worked out as of late. The Flipflopper continues to drunk dial me four or five times a week, but is otherwise MIA. I think Mr. Suave has given up on me, especially because he sees me with R at the dances. Monkey has even been too busy to see me lately.
Since R is such a big fan of dancing, we've done a lot of it together. For St. Patty's Day we lindy-bombed an Irish music concert in Scottsdale, and the weekend before that we lindy-bombed In 'n Out after dancing at The Kat's Korner. In fact, this past weekend I did about 24 hours of dancing, between balboa and shag lessons to social dances and swing-centered house parties.
Needless to say, I really like dancing with R. He doesn't always do the kinds of moves or styles that I enjoy, and I am pretty vocal about my distaste for certain moves. But overall, he is much more talented than me in this area, and he challenges me and helps me improve. It also just feels good having his arm around me; I don't know exactly how to explain it but I feel taken care of and safe when I'm dancing with him.
R is good to me in so many other ways. Having danced so much this weekend, my feet have been hurting at the end of each day; and at the end of each day, R has rubbed my feet, and he does a great job! My feet felt so much better and were ready for the next day of activity. More importantly, the way he took care of my feet seemed to mean a lot more than just a kind gesture; it showed how much he seems to care about me.
Having said all that, I have a lot of hesitations about him. And I mean A LOT! In my boyfriend criteria, intelligence and ambition are the most important, and humor is the next important. I still am on the fence about how smart he really is, and he clearly is not as ambitious as I'd like. And there's always a good chance I could live with those two factors if he was funny and outgoing. And R is definitely outgoing and social, but he is not as funny as he thinks he is. He appreciates my jokes, which I like, but I can't reciprocate. When he's trying to be funny, it's like he has a conversation with himself, and interjects laughing in between, and he just keeps going and going and going with it. Meanwhile, I'm not laughing along at all, and he just keeps going. It annoys the heck out of me.
A much more subtle annoyance I've discovered is that he doesn't pronounce "other" correctly. He says "utter". The first time I noticed it, I wasn't sure if I had heard correctly, but sure enough, he says it every time. And it's not just the sole word other, its any word with that "ther" sound, like another (anutter) and together (togedder).
The ambition thing is a problem for me because he doesn't seem to make enough money to be able to do just about anything. This is always a sensitive topic because I don't want to come off as being a gold digger or materialistic, I just want to have an equal partner that I can count on to be able to do fun things with. There were a few times early on that R insinuated that I would buy him dinner, one time insisting I take him out for a steak dinner, and I put a stop to that. He doesn't have a car, so he uses me for rides when we're together. Then on top of that, he makes decisions that I perceive to be bad financial decisions. For example, he had me take him to Crispy Creme to buy four boxes of donuts for his co-workers, most of whom he barely knows, but couldn't buy dinner or drinks the night before. And, by the way, he didn't even offer to buy me a donut, which I was a little peeved about because I would have wanted to try one of the specialty donuts. When we got to the car, he did offer to let me have one of the plain ones he had gotten. Bleh. He normally works Monday through Friday and half days most Saturdays, and has the option to work on Sunday to get ahead on his 40 hours; this week is going to be a short week because of the holiday, and he hasn't worked yet and its Tuesday. He could have worked Sunday but went to a birthday party, yesterday he was too tired to go to work and today he took a relaxing day in order to go grocery shopping. Now mind you, I was the one taking the dancing workshops all weekend, they were his idea and I registered for them and then he told me he wasn't going. So I was exhausted, but I went to work yesterday and worked from home today. He hasn't worked ONCE yet this week. This could really kill our relationship.
We had a talk last night specifically about my concern that he won't be able to keep up with me. His lack of working is part of that; I can work a full day and go out to a fundraiser or mixer and then go out and party and then after party and then be at work again the next day. That's just how I roll. He spends a couple late nights with me and can't work for two days. Not good. He seemed positive he could handle me, and I didn't bring up the specifics, but I might have to if he brings up how poor he is again. I already told him I don't like talking about money and him telling me he's strapped for cash is a big turnoff, and he has brought it up less, but I'm sure it will come up again.
Last night I was saying something about taking calculus in college and how hard it was to me, and he said he loved calc. This is why I'm confused about his intelligence; because he talks about being smart, but he doesn't come off as being smart at all. His humor is atrocious, and I guess I take that as a queue that he's not very smart. Also, there are lots of things I've talked about that I thought were kind of common knowledge, at least among smart people, that he knew nothing about. He says he geeks out over things like how my car plugs in, but he doesn't seem to know anything about electricity. He had a really hard time grasping the concept that I was trying to choose four paint colors and that it didn't matter what order they went in, they were all going together. It seems like he's not smart, but then he tells me how smart he is and tells me I "earn points" when I say something smart; as if I have to prove my worth to him!!
He has a lot of disturbing history in his past which I won't go into detail here. I mention it for two reasons, first because I think there is something to be said about how far he's come from those challenges. He's still in a very different place in life than I am, I see him really as being "behind" by quite a bit, seeing as he owns next to nothing and is working an hourly job with no career or education ambition at all. But then we started in very different places; education was emphasized in my family, whereas responsibility was emphasized in his, although apparently not all that well. The other reason I bring up his past is that the means he used to get from there to here is very hokey to me; almost cultish. It's as if he had a need to belong to something, to feel like he was going somewhere, and couldn't do it himself, so he found addict recovery groups and self-improvement seminars that he treats like a religion.
What's more, R seems to be a somewhat devout Christian, too, which creates an interesting dynamic with me. I used to be a "Jesus Freak" in my junior high and high school days, going to a non-denominational church and all the summer camps and conferences I could. I strayed early in college for various personal reasons, although I never fully abandoned my beliefs. I can talk circles around most people claiming to be devout Christians, and I can effectively argue either side. Pride was always an issue for me when I was acting on my religion, and you can see it come out when I talk about religion; I still assert that even without having gone to church regularly for 10 years, I could probably convert non-Christian to believers more easily and with greater success rates than most Christians. Anyways, R goes to the same kind of non-denominational church as I did, which is also the same kind of church that my Mom and oldest sister go to. So if I wanted to return to a more spiritual and religious me, we would be compatible I guess. He hasn't said anything to the effect of me not being an active Christian as a deal-breaker; in fact, he's already asked me to be his girlfriend directly, and references it indirectly regularly. Still, it's a little strange to be in any kind of relationship with a Christian, because I've dated atheists or guys of other religions for so long. He'll say things about God's Word or praying about something or being Christ-like, and I understand it all, I just don't know if I want to hear about it. And then on the other hand, R is breaking a lot of Christian rules with me, so I don't know if I should call him a hypocrite or a weak Christian or what. I worry that his draw to Christianity has more to do with whatever need draws him to recovery groups and self-improvement seminars than a need to have a relationship with Christ.
Socially, R is comfortable in large group settings and one-on-one and small groups. He is comfortable to be around, too, and can talk with just about anyone and about anything. This appeals to me because sometimes my pride gets in the way of me carrying on conversations, because I really don't care; so it's nice to think of having a boyfriend that can carry a conversation and pleasantries when I'm too proud to do so. He is well connected in the swing dance community, and knows all the major players it seems. This again may be another escape like the recovery groups, he does a lot with dance and aspires to do even more, like going to the different conventions in other states. Still, I think he fulfills the requirements of being comfortable in social situations. What worries me is that he has some social awkwardness that he doesn't even perceive, and I think it has gotten him a bad reputation among the swing dance community. For example, we arrived at the after hours house party Saturday, and the hosts had barely gotten there and were finishing cleaning - he immediately went to the kitchen and demanded food. Likewise, we stopped at my house last night just so I could change out of my work clothes before going out to dinner, and he immediately walked over to my fridge and got a drink, and then told me I was out of soda. My reaction was that we're going out to dinner in a minute, did he really have to get a drink right now? He agreed he did not, and put it back, saying it was just a habit; a day or two earlier he had taken a soda on our way out, opened it, and then left it in my car completely full. His sense of humor also probably plays into some of his awkwardness that he doesn't perceive.
What I've described to you here is a man I cannot possibly conceive of dating whatsoever. What gives me hope, though, is that he has been very receptive to the little criticism and behavioral change requests I've given him (i.e. don't flirt with me so publicly on facebook, don't smother me with kisses in public, don't talk about how poor you are, pay your own way when we go out, it's a bad idea to drink Red Bull at midnight before going to bed). I haven't yet given him the full weight of my brutal criticism, but I have hope that if he understands my position and sees value in the change, that he can do it. I don't know if a sense of humor can be taught. I don't know if he can be re-trained on how to pronounce his "thers". I don't know if he's really a freak I should run from, or how the Christianity thing will manifest itself. But I'm willing to continue seeing him if he shows progress on the things I test him with. I guess I almost see him as something that can be molded into my perfect boyfriend. Not that I want him to change for me, but that I can help him be a better version of him. At his very core, I think he is a good person and cares a lot about me. I could see that future R moving in with me and making me very happy. I could fall in love with the potential R.