In the car, we went all tense and sideways for about 5 minutes, which in retrospect, sucks and was signficantly bitchy of me, but I was already mostly over it, but cranky because he’s making me deal with it, when I just wanted to be all “grrrrr” and then over it. We headed off aimlessly downtown, sort of looking for a dessert place, but not really.

Rather than get dessert somewhere, which had been my suggestion, he took me on a drive to see the house on which he is in escrow. It’s cute, in a great neighborhood and he loves it. There is a problem with it — sale price is significantly higher than appraised value, so he’s not sure they will close. He showed me some of the other houses he’d looked at, which BP and I had also looked at before our deal cratered last fall. Rather than buy an equivalent house to what he’d had before, since his ex and kid are in that one, it is 1/3 of the size and 1/2 the price, which will still make it 2-3x more expensive than where BFD or my friends currently live. Yes, another one with money. I know. (On the patio earlier Interestingly, he said, “look I am not one of those guys you’ve dated who retired in their 30s. I don’t have that kind of money.” True, he has wildly successful lawyer money, which still enables him to live as he chooses. He just has to work.)

He kept his hand in my lap, playing with my dress, etc., as we drove. Occasionally, we stopped the car and kissed passionately in the darkness (these are old twisty neighborhoods). In between, he began telling me about myself — look, when you get nervous, you do this . . . — and about himself — I am afraid I am too damaged for you. We agreed that we play the same exact games with people and we are trying desperately in this relationship to break our unhealthy patterns. Each of us has been with domineering, manipulative people, which are characteristics we also share, but it’s a codependence with that personality that has not been healthy for either of us, and yet it’s how we were raised and where we live. So we are driving, and kissing, and flirting, and having an incredibly intense date.

Every moment is brimming with intensity. He is much smarter than I am. (Now, I know how my friends feel . . .) Plus, he is very emotionally mature. He uses both of these things to be very manipulative. When I was speaking with him, everything was working on multiple levels . . . what he was saying, what he wanted me to hear, how he wanted me to feel about what he was saying, and how he was reading me to choose his message . . . coupled with his struggle to just drop the game and be real . . . coupled with the fact that the game is real. And so on.

By the end, after making out for like an hour at stoplights all over town, he pulled up outside my building and we started talking.

This is where he scared me. First, he admitted he is much smarter than I am and that might be a problem — which is and is not true, as with much of our date. He thinks I am absolutely beautiful, which I am in a way that appeals to him. He wants to fix me, protect me, and exploit me. He thinks he could have a passionate affair with me and break my heart and never look back. He scares himself and he scares me. The intensity, to him, is like a drug. It is real and it is not real. What we have chosen to do is to go slowly, meaning no sex. We are talking constantly, getting to know each other, and sharing ourselves and calling each other out when we’re going down a less healthy path.

He is in therapy and is incredibly aware of what he is doing and what his patterns are. We are trying to break out of what is comfortable for us — to be very honest and real. That’s scary to open with such vulnerability, but it’s the only way it could work.

I have decided to be very honest with him about how I feel, which leads to things like this exchange in his car toward the end of our date:

Me: “I think I could fall in love with you.”
Him: “That is not about me, that’s about you.”

Which is completely true and the opposite of what I thought I meant, but he is right. It means, I think I am open to falling for you. Not, you are the type of man with whom I could fall.

We left it, kissing passionately in his car, with my head reeling. I would need years of therapy to deal with everything that he said and how he said it and what it all means. I left aroused physically and mentally and afraid that this could be it. When I feel vulnerable, I withdraw, which he knows, and I am skittish, which he knows. Both of those things could end it immediately.

I sat in bed, half dressed, thinking, what in the hell just happened. It was amazing and horrible and beautiful and erotic and terrible. Mostly, it was intense. It would be easy to fall for him. It would be easy for him to fall for me. We are so attracted to each other intellectually and physically. But that’s not what either of us is looking for. We’re looking for life partners, not for fun for now. Sex for us is easy. We’re both good in bed, which really just takes an openness and an enthusiasm. The intimacy that arrives as the result of sex

As he drove home, I got a text from him: “I really had such a nice time.”

We started exchanging texts, then he sent a couple of photos at my request, and then he called when he got upstairs. It was, as with everything else, intense. He told me he had thought about me, and fantasized about me, since we’d met. He also told me he thought he shouldn’t have told me that, but that is part of our extreme, intense honesty.

Hearing his vulnerability just added to the overall intensity and strangeness of the date.