A Chink in the Armor

Today marks the start of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.  This means—amongst other things—that I will probably find myself in the throes of an existential crisis in approximately 24 hours.  I’ll likely decide to quit my day job (again), make plans to run off to Europe (again), and attempt—albeit subconsciously—to end my relationship with The Wedding Date.



I already did that.

Fortunately it didn’t work, but I suppose I should explain, shouldn’t I?

We’ve been together for nearly ten months now.  He has become—without a doubt— my best friend.  He’s the first person I think of when I wake up, the last person I think of when I go to sleep and we call each other every day—sometimes several times a day, in fact—and for me, this is a first.  He’s also the first person I want to call when something good has happened (or, unfortunately for him, when something bad has happened) and everything is more fun when he’s around, whether its rescuing a turtle from the side of the road or accidentally driving to the wrong theater when I’m meant to be reviewing a show at the Suzanne Roberts and not the Performance Garage.

But lately, it seems like some of the shine of our relationship is starting to wear off.  Maybe it’s just because we’re both stressed out, or maybe it’s because we’ve been together for almost ten months now and that no one’s “honeymoon” period is meant to last that long.  But whatever it is, we’ve both finally admitted to ourselves (and to each other… ) that our relationship isn’t quite as good as it used to be.

It all came to a head last weekend when we went to the airport together to pick up one of his kids.  We went from the airport to his parents’ house, then back to his place, then to Wildwood for his other kid’s band parade, then to Dave and Busters, then back to my folks’ place where we engaged in an epic two-hour game of Settlers of Catan and finally to the vegan coffee shop in South Philly where the eldest made it abundantly clear to me that tofu cream cheese was totally not cool.

This all transpired over a 48-hour period.  A 48-hour period during which I tried my damndest to be the world’s greatest girlfriend/future daughter-in-law/quasi-stepmom even though I realize now (after the fact, unfortunately) that I shouldn’t have tried to be anything other than myself.

For the first time in the eleven months since we met at my former babysitter’s wedding last July, we found ourselves having one of those God-awful, hour-long conversations where you discuss—for better or worse—the true state of your feelings for one another.  And even though you know you’re overtired, and even though you know you’re going to end up saying something you’ll regret, you can’t help it.  Because the feelings are there.  And they have to get out somehow.

I told him that I’m no longer as confident as I once was in my ability to date a man who has children.  It’s not that I don’t like his kids—they’re pretty easygoing, actually, aside from their distrust of Vegan cream cheese—but dating a man with children means you can’t just move in together or run off for the summer or buy a cute little condo in Northern Liberties.  And even though The Wedding Date does an excellent job of juggling his priorities and never makes me feel like his kids are more important to him than I am (even though they are and rightfully so), it’s a lot to swallow.  Especially once you realize what having kids actually entails.

I’m afraid that I’m not cut out for this.  Or rather that I am, but that I’ll inevitably lose myself in the process of trying to be a good girlfriend because in this case, being a good girlfriend also includes band parades and barbeques and evening spent at Dave and Busters when frankly, I’d rather be next door at one of the nightclubs.  Or better yet: in a coffee shop with my laptop.

I know that I do this.  In fact, I always do this.  I get to a point in my relationships where everything is going along just fine and then something inside of my brain goes, “Oh sh*t!  It’s been six/seven/eight/TEN MONTHS.  Abort mission!  Abort!!!”

My mother calls it THE SABOTAGE, and even though I like to think I’ve had perfectly legitimate reasons for ending my relationships in the past (and that I’m better off without all of the ex-boyfriends I’ve cast aside over the years) I’m no longer so sure.  And I certainly don’t want to make that same mistake again.

21 Responses to “A Chink in the Armor”

  1. Fiercely Yours

    I can’t believe it’s been a year since the writing conference already! Listen to your inner dialogue and the small things happening around you. You’re good at paying attention to your path and it’s one thing I respect most about you. Watch out for those Werechipmunks though, they bite.

    • Kat Richter

      I know! Why aren’t you here/there by the way??? I asked at registration and they said you weren’t coming ;( Now who I am gonna sit in the front row with and make snarky comments?

      • Fiercely Yours

        I think it’s awesome that you looked for me–makes me feel cool! I didn’t have the funds this year, but just know you are missed and I look forward too seeing the outcome of what inspires you (sorry to miss the snarky though).

  2. susan

    If you are trying too hard and then not enjoying it, then don’t try, just be yu. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t then yu know and can move on. Letting him have some time with his kids without yu isn’t all bad either.

  3. Lisa

    Kat, I haven’t read your blog for ages, but something caught my eye when I saw the title in my inbox.
    I don’t know you, but I feel like I kind of do in some way from reading your blog for so long.
    Honestly, I just want to grab you and shake you!
    Relationships are not fairy stories and there is no Prince Charming out there.
    Being in a relationship means compromise, meeting someone at this age almost certainly means there is going to be some sort of baggage for both parties, maybe it’s children, maybe a broken heart, or an ex or whatever.
    At the end of the day – the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever – but if he’s the first and last thing you think about, is your best friend and the person you want to share all your good and bad things with – it leaves me with one question. What more do you want!?
    Unless there are other issues you haven’t enlightened us to, or that I have missed in not reading for a while (my apologies) – then I think your mum is right. Sabotage is the only answer.
    I’m sorry if this sounds harsh or unfair – but the most important voice you can listen to is that little voice inside your head that is telling you what to do. Listen to it and listen hard because I would hate you to throw away a special relationship just because the reality of relationships got in the way.
    Take care Kat, and I really hope you figure this one out.

    • Kat Richter

      Thank you, Lisa. There some other *minor* issues which I’ve chosen not to share but they’re certainly not deal-breakers. And the more I think about it, the more I realized I don’t want to throw this away either.

  4. debwill72

    Remember to think about “who you are” and “what you want”… I had this posted on my board wihen I was in the whirlwind of Mr. South America. And in the end, these two little word phrases saved me from something that would not have been a good situation. Number of months into a relationship aside, you know deep down. Be quiet and listen…

  5. Meghan

    I used to do the same thing with all the men I dated (thought it never got anywhere near 10 months). You’ve already made progress since you haven’t pulled the trigger. I’ve read your stuff for awhile now, and I keep seeing the phrase “perfect so-and-so….” and I think you stop worrying about being perfect. You’re pretty darn awesome all the time, and you should be happy with that. The undue stress of trying to be perfect in all areas of life means you end up chucking things away you’re “merely” wonderful at so you can devote all your energy into being perfect at one thing. It’s damn near impossible to be perfect at relationships, so that’s usually the first casualty (I say this from experience). You’re no one’s step-mom yet, or wife. You’re still learning how to balance all these new components in your life. In the Wedding Date’s eyes, you’re probably perfect, and he probably loves you even in those few moments you’re not-so-perfect. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself – you’ve earned it.

  6. The Edmonton Tourist

    I’m siding with Lisa, your mom and all the other people who think this is self sabotage. Being with your best friend forever is the ultimate gift. Maybe you aren’t mature enough for a forever relationship and it is the right thing to end it with him now. It’s not fair to him. You have it all and it’s not enough. Yikes Kat.

  7. xclampa

    I guess at some point it is time to step-up your game and get thrown in the deep water.

    You have a perfectly good reason to be scared, I think. No one counts on having a great relationship with a guy who has kids. After so many LDRs, at 26. And what I am reading about here is… a great relationship 🙂 You’re afraid of going deeper, which is what should happen now. I mean…. You want to learn to actually s l e e p together with the man, how much more comfortable can you get ;)? You fell for him *so much*, you’re afraid to hurt him (and them) by being ‘not enough’ – and the standard here is being there for not one but three people (a friend, a lover, a quasi-stepmom).

    It is scary – some piece of me still thinks I’m an idiot for wanting to adopt children in the future. But as my mom could tell you (and ask yours if it was so scary, and how she managed, how she feels about raising you now – I think you’ll hear some interesting answers) – ‘You go step by step, day by day, and you’re amazed by how much you’re able to cope with’. Children have a power of their own – they teach you the craziest things, once you’d never get from adults, and I think you got a glimpse at that when teaching preschoolers.

    The stakes are higher than the usual, but so seems the Weeding Date’s quality as a partner 🙂 At least from my perspective. Go for it! You deserve what’s coming next, while being thrown in the deep water – it’s a happy place 🙂

  8. Jill

    I have nothing really to add, except that I think the standard of not only BEING at a band concert but Not Wanting to be somewhere else is unrealistic. I, for instance, attended a band concert this week, for my OWN offspring no less, and sincerely wished to be somewhere else. Somewhere the a/c worked; somewhere with better lighting so I could knit without dropping a cable; somewhere a 5yo was not doing gymnastics in the seat next to me thus shaking the row of chairs so my teeth rattled. That was MY 5yo, by the way. Did you ever have any unwinding time after the crazy rush of rehearsal/performance/end of year presentations?

    • Kat Richter

      Very true, and to answer your question: no. The recitals are still going on… I’m only half way through (4 down, 3 to go) and the weekend spent with TWD and his kids was my only free weekend in I don’t know how long (which might explain why I was a wee bit resentful of spending so much time arcading/band concerting…)

  9. Dennis Hong

    It’s true! Women who blog together do get on the same cycle. I remember reading pretty much this same post on Catherine’s blog earlier this week.

  10. Dennis Hong

    On an, ahem, unrelated note, here’s a racist pickup line I’ve always wanted to use:

    “Hey baby, let me be the Chink in your armor….”

  11. Wilma

    Ok, chica! I’m with Lisa, Meghan, and Edmonton. I want to give you a good shaking. However, I also want to give a bit of advice.

    First of all, you need to drop the perfection thing. It’s killing you and your relationship. Until TWD asks you to marry him, you say your vows, and move in together, you are nobody’s wife or step-mom yet. Drop it. Being in a long-term relationship is different than just dating. It’s not just about finding the perfect pair of sexy shoes and entertaining the kids so TWD sees how fabulous you are. That’s superficial bullshit, and if anyone will sniff it out, it will be the kids. They will respect you more if you’re real with them.

    Secondly, in any relationship, it is often very easy for us women to lose ourselves in the other person. We do it all the time. You have to stop trying to be something that maybe you’re not cut out to be. You need to just be YOU. Otherwise, you could easily find youself five, ten years down the road, looking in the mirror and not recognizing the woman looking back at you.

    I know you don’t share all the details will your readers. Most of us don’t, but from what you’ve told us, TWD seems like a pretty sweet find. Yeah, he’s kind of geeky, likes geeky games, geeky movies,…he’s pretty much geeky. However, at the end of the day, you said you’ve found your best friend. And, it sounds like you think he’s sexy. Isn’t that enough? What more do you want? Or are you trying to fit yourself and TWD into an idealized image of a relationship that simply does not exist?

    The most important thing you need to do is to be yourself, and allow TWD to by himself. If that means you spend less time with him and his kids, then so be it. Let your relationship evolve honestly and give it a chance to move through your efforts to sabotage.


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