In my previous post, I talked about what it felt like to date in my teens after having moved from Johannesburg to Vienna and finally to Hamburg for my two last years of High School. I left for Boston for university feeling exhilarated, but also really nervous. The education part of it, I felt completely at ease about. I had always been a nerd at heart and loved learning. So that wasn’t what I was nervous about. Moving to a new city like Boston didn’t scare me either as we’d moved so often growing up. What did make me nervous was realising that people might be at a different dating stage as me at uni.
I had questions buzzing through my head. Would everyone at uni already have boyfriends? Would they have all already had sex? Would I finally meet someone who I really liked and who I could date? When I arrived in Boston, I met some great friends who were (unsurprisingly) international. It was great having them as people I could count on, hang out with, go to parties with and so on. But it didn’t mean I’d solved the problem of dating. Would I finally get rid of my nerves and just start dating? I was getting interest here and there. At parties. In class. Through friends. But I was still so nervous and embarrassed that I hadn’t properly dated anyone before in High School. What if I didn’t know what to do? What if they asked me to do something I was uncomfortable with? Would they straight away be able to tell my lack of experience at 18?
I started going on a couple of dates with a guy at the end of my first year. I liked him. He was confident, friendly, social, sporty. He was a catch. After a couple of dates,we still hadn’t kissed, not through his lack of trying I might add. I started feeling the pressure. Shouldn’t I be moving this forward? What was he possibly thinking? After one great dinner date, he walked me home. And, it was the perfect moment. I could feel it. It was a dark starry night, and everything was calm. We were alone on the street besides a couple people walking along the other sidewalk. He leaned in… And… I completely backed out of it. What can I say? I was nervous. And I didn’t mean to do it. But in the moment, it’s what I did. After that, he thought I didn’t really like him so he kind of stopped calling. Who could blame him? After 4 or 5 dates with no real kiss, he thought I just wanted to be friends. But really, I was nervous. Nervous that I hadn’t had that ‘normal’ dating experience in my teens as a result of moving around so much.
I remember meeting someone else who was from another country. It’s not as if I was purposefully choosing people from different nationalities, but it just sort of happened. He was a good friend of my girlfriend’s boyfriend. Anyway, I thought he was cute. He was part of the rowing team. He was athletic, outdoorsy, and had a very cheeky side to him – something that had always made me weak in the knees.
He asked me out, and we went on a lovely date. I remember walking back to the university campus with the river on one side. He was talking about rowing and trying to combine the early mornings and draining practices with coursework. But all I could think about was: oh my gosh, we’re nearing the end of the date. What if he leans in? What will I do? I need to stay calm. This will be ok. I have to just do it. Stop worrying about it, I told myself. And, what happened next? Well, he did just that. He leaned in. And what did I do? That’s right; I backed away. And yet again, he thought I was just not that into him. That slowly fizzled out too.
After two years in Boston, I decided to go study abroad in Auckland. I was looking forward to a fresh start, and I was getting slightly bored of Boston. I needed a change (proper TCK-style). That decision ended up changing everything for me. TO BE CONTINUED…