I guess you can say that I was a late bloomer when it comes to relationships. In high school I spent years crushing on white boys who never saw me as more than a friend and in college I was told by a black guy that I was intimidating. I never really seemed to click with guys unless I met them while I was traveling. Somehow being in a new context made me seem more attractive, but it was always so short-lived. So, when I finally fulfilled my dreams and moved abroad I thought things would finally be different. But here I am “seeing” someone 15 years older than me long-distance.
I honestly didn’t mean for this to happen. When we first started talking I was in the midst of leaving Bahrain and heading home for a quick trip before making my big move. I wasn’t very responsive because for once I wasn’t looking for anything. When he told me that he would have a long layover in Dubai and wanted to meet up for drinks I figured It would just be a fun opportunity to meet someone new. I wasn’t expecting such great chemistry or for him to make an effort to come see me again. But here we are four months later scheduling trips to see each other.
The most irksome thing about our “relationship” is its lack of status. Bae is very much cognizant of our age difference and although it’s something we sometimes discuss it’s not a topic we obsess over. We have had very different life experiences and he believes that at my age I shouldn’t restrict myself. We care about each other, but for now we are keeping things open. I really want to be okay with this, but I’m a little bothered. I know as a progressive free-thinking young woman I should embrace this freedom and mutual trust, but it is just not me. Right now, I don’t care about being open to finding something “better” because I am happy with what I have. I am okay with the fact that he’s probably not “the one”.
For some reason, I’m not sure that I am comfortable calling this a “learning experience” either, even if that’s really what it is. I’ve learned that I crave validation and immediate gratification just as much as anyone else my age. I thought I was above those feelings, but I’m not. I get frustrated when I don’t get that good morning text and or when I send a message and don’t get an immediate response. This has been the source of quite a few fights since messaging has been key to staying in touch while we both deal with busy and often inconvenient work schedules. For a short time, I found myself resenting Bae instead of trying to understand him. I wasn’t being understanding of how he may be coping with work or recognizing the fact that he has a very different relationship to technology. I confused his lack of response to messages as a lack of interest in me and what we have, which wasn’t fair. I’m not making excuses for some of the issues we’ve had, but I can acknowledge that what is normal to me is not always normal to him. We all choose to engage with technology differently and I have to accept this.
Should I even be sharing this story online? Maybe not. Should I tell Bae about this? Yes, but to be honest, I probably won’t.
Instead I’ll go ahead and send bae one last message before going to bed and hope that I get some type of response by the morning.
Nana wrote this piece for Flux, a forum for those of us encountering adulthood. She is a 24 year-old young professional trying to live out her expat dreams and kind of failing.