For the first time in a long, long time (or so it seems to me), I've begun (and I use that term liberally) dating someone who really excites me.
Thus far, I find her (very) attractive (check), respectful (check) and flexible (check). Beyond the basics, I have begun seeing indications of the character traits I search for -being growth focused, strongly nurturing, and dedicated to Halachah. It was unexpected, because I didn't sit around analyzing her (which is something I try to avoid) it just struck my like lightning after a few dates and talking to her (for hours).
At first, I resisted. I didn't want to open the floodgates, to admit that I really, really like her. That I miss her when we don't get to speak for even a few days. Perhaps I was afraid, maybe I didn't want it to show too much earlier on. I can be intense. But I decided to let go of my reticence and embrace my feelings.
Now I'm quickly becoming increasingly blind, and I know it. I don't see clearly, rationally or logically, my mind and my thoughts are clouded with strong emotions. Those emotions communicate a great deal to me: that I am impressed by her, that I enjoy her company, speaking with and listening to her, that I like what I have seen and we have great chemistry.
On the other hand, I know I am in no state of mind to get a clear perspective on her character. The way I feel about her acts as a colored lens, filtering every interaction, conversation and experience through my emotions. Because everything she says and does is tinted by emotion, my judgment is likewise colored by my growing infatuation.
So I am riding the waves of emotions and the way my heart skips a beat when she answers the phone, responds to a text or initiates contact. I embrace the good times, my growing obsession, thinking about her at random times throughout the day, occasional daydreaming, and the side-effects of blindness, difficulty focusing and preoccupation. I tolerate -and maybe even take a guitly pleasure in secretly relishing -the thought that often pops into my head, the voice wondering if she may be my future wife.
Most of all, I'm trying to keep a "level-head" and not get swept away. To be aware, to allow myself to take a plunge into the emotional depths of joy and still know that this isn't everything, that there is more to see, to experience and learn about her (which I am really looking forward to), and that these feelings are transient.
Every so often I get the creeping sense of fear, the question: "what if she rejects me?" that brings with it uncertainty, and a shadow of doubt regarding my own self-worth. It is always a sobering, scary moment, ripe with the potential to unleash a tsunami of anxiety and fear.
What a roller coaster of feelings! The thoughts could lift me up in a whirlwind and carry me off, but I remind myself that I choose my own character, my own sense of worth and that I am choosing her. I am confident in my choices, in my experience, in my feelings and thoughts, because I have worked hard to build myself. That is my own work, my hands, my worth. Of course none of that is possible without Hashem, the opportunity He provides, and the guidance of His Torah. Remembering that He, too, looks out for me as I work so hard on myself and my relationships -having seen that play out in my life -brings me an added sense of security and calm.
And so, I am going forward, blind and feeling my way through this for now, knowing that Hashem is not just putting a stumbling block in front of me. Which means, ultimately, that now is a time for growth. While I may want to take dating at its own pace, when it comes to my personal growth, I say: "Full speed ahead!"