Love is (Probably) Not a Board Game

My paranoia runs deep. I doubt this comes as any surprise to you, kittens. A girl who is afraid of Australia, for Christ’s sake, is bound to have some issues. I also won’t go camping without skewers (oleander poisoning), don’t like the swing rides at amusement parks (dangling wires cutting off unsuspecting extremities), and have single-handedly ruined my friends’ love of mushrooms (carcinogens). What I didn’t realize until recently is that my paranoia invades my love life, as well.

Okay, let’s be real. It’s not paranoia, is it? It’s fear. Fear of this, fear of that. Fear that actually comes off as charmingly well-informed and idiosyncratic in most cases. Once I explain the existence of a deadly fish that looks like a freaking rock, don’t you have some reservations about that Down Under vacation? I can logic the hell out of any emotion. It’s the scientist in me.

Relationships weren’t covered in Biology 201, however. There are no rules, no logic, when it comes to being interested in another person. Even my Interpersonal Comm classes are no help. Do you know how hard it is to actually tell if a guy’s pupils have dilated? Bloody impossible, especially if you’re also trying to gauge body mirroring and keep up witty banter. Cut to last week, when I ended up in the hometown of Professor McGregor, who—holy vampire babies!—wanted to know if I could meet up.

So, we met up. He gave me a tour of the house he just bought, he took me to dinner at a great Tex-Mex place, and we swapped stories of our misspent undergrad careers. Then, he kissed me.

Y’all, he kissed me.

Like, up against a wall, straight-out-of-my-literary-fantasies kissed me. The next hour after that is kind of hazy, but I can definitely say pulses were elevated. His eyes were probably dilated too, but I was too busy melting every time I looked into them to notice. Also, I have a whole post on beards coming soon, because that was a revelation.

Awesome, right? Grace meets a boy. Boy thinks Grace is neat. Boy and Grace go all Wesley & Buttercup in the Fire Swamp on their first date. Awesome. Another word for it, however? Terrifying. I am so damn terrified.

I left the professor’s house all giddy and arrived home two hours later scared out of my mind. What the hell just happened? What’s going to happen next? What if, while I’m gone for the next two weeks of West Coast shenanigans, he meets someone else? What if he thinks I’m an awful kisser and never wants to see me again? What if my makeupless face terrified him and he is presently still having nightmares, because did you know that making out with a bearded man results in the disappearing of one’s Laura Mercier armor?

So much fear. What it all comes down to is this: I’m so damn scared that I’m going to like him more than he likes me. Sure, that goes against every feminist fiber of my being that shouts “Grace! If he doesn’t like you, he isn’t worth it!” but it remains the truth. Because, y’all, I really like him. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this into someone, especially not so quickly. I’ve had great conversations and I’ve had really great make-outs in my time, but Professor McGregor…

He’s something else entirely. People talk about relationships like they’re games, something we win or lose. If only it were that simple. I rock at board games. This, however, doesn’t feel like a competition. This feels like I just jumped out of a plane (something else I will never, not ever do) and am starting to question that parachute. Worse, there are no ladders to balance out this potentially malfunctioning chute. I need a map legend; I need some game instructions. What I’d really like is a time machine, so I could fast forward a few months and see if all this worrying is worth it. I’d settle for some words of wisdom, even if it’s just: Calm the hell down, Grace.

– Grace


83 thoughts on “Love is (Probably) Not a Board Game

  1. Ahh don’t worry m’dear. One day you’ll kill to have those butterflies back again. They’re fantastic! And I must say I am also very much looking forward to the impending Beard Chronicles 🙂

    • Thanks, Hailey! That’s exactly what my mother just told me. Let me tell you, The Beard Chronicles are pretty wonderful. I didn’t know what I’d been missing all these years, dating clean-shaven guys!

      • I liked your article, as for board games , I m a board thrower myself. looking forward to the beard article, I have a thing for Hairy chest also. They more hair the better, (i like to look prettier than the guy im dating, ) Good Luck with the writing!.

  2. This all sounds so sweet! Good luck and I look forward to reading more about your dates! Lots of love from the Olympic city. Harriet X

  3. Grace, honey, dear, my sweet. CALM DOWN. I love that you are intellectual, but you fret on the scope of Woody Allen! If he didn’t like you he wouldn’t have continued making out with you. Believe me, one does not continue to keep kissing a bad-breathed carp kisser is not someone you want to keep kissing. I know this is hard for you, but don’t think; enjoy. Your leaving will actually cause him to be even more into you because he cannot have you.

    • C&C, that was exactly the pep talk I needed to read. Actually, you and Mae could co-chair the Calm Down, Grace! Society. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

  4. Thank God, I’m not the only one! And yes, you probably should calm down, but as someone who just recently feels like she jumped out of that damn airplane too, I know that’s easier said than done…You will be ok…and if he kissed you like that and an ENTIRE HOUR went by in a haze, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he is totally into you…

    • Michaela, I am so, so relieved you understand the airplane feeling. (And: Hooray for you!!) Also, you have disarmed me with excellent logic. It was a pretty great hour, after all…

      Thank you!

  5. I completely understand fearing putting yourself out there too far, however I’ve discovered that without a little fear life gets a little boring. Thanks for the post, it’s so very heartening to hear others troubled by the same thoughts. Nothing worse than wondering if you’re crazy!
    Best of luck with the Prof, and I’m glad you’ve been seduced by the bearded side (You’ll have trouble going back!)

    • Thanks so much, Sef! I’m afraid you’re right…dating guys without beards will be a bit disappointing, after this. They’re just so, so attractive.

  6. Pr Mc Gregor sounds sweet and totally worth the worries 🙂
    He’s probably scared as well, fear is part of the dating game. That’s what makes it exciting! Enjoy those first moments, they’ll be a precious memory if it all works out in the end.

    • Thanks, Cécile! It’s funny, I know the fear is also excitement, but I’m having a really hard time staying on the happy, positive side of this. I need to keep reminding myself that he could be feeling the same. Excellent point.

    • Laura, it’s one of my favorite moments, as well! The scenes leading up to the Fire Swamp, then in it, are some of the best pieces of screenwriting ever.

  7. “So much fear. What it all comes down to is this: I’m so damn scared that I’m going to like him more than he likes me” I’m not there at the moment but OMG understand it so well!!!
    us feminists, us independent women, strong, beautiful and absolutely terrified when it comes to emotions, been there, done that, too many t-shirts ;p
    the main thing in my head is: I don;t want to impose, be clingy, what if he thinks I’m clingy? what if I AM clingy??!! aaaarrrggghhhhhh
    what if he can read my mind and see I WANT HIM BADLY, he’ll think I’m clingy, and desperate, and clingy
    and it goes on and on and on…
    yes, it’s easier said than done: calm down 😀
    but you know what? like I’ve said earlier I don’t have it and for quite a while and I would LOVE to feel that horror and thrill :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
    have a wonderful time with Profesor and just GO FOR IT :)))))))))))))

    • Omg. The clingy issue! I could write a volume of posts on this too! You completely read my mind. There is such a fine line between showing interest and “being clingy.” I am terrified of crossing it, whenever I’m dating someone. Thanks so much for the words of wisdom and solidarity, me!

  8. I have been with my husband for 16 years, and I still feel the “how can he possibly love me like I love him?” because my love is too intense. But then in the very next thought I think “What if he truly does?” and I melt. His actions and words say he feels the same way about me as I feel about him. It seems impossible, but let yourself just absorb the giddiness that your man reciprocates your feelings (and is a helluva kisser, too). If he doesn’t feel the same, he’ll show it. THEN you can start to worry and overthink it. In the meantime, just enjoy every moment! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the words of wisdom, Keri! I’m somewhat relieved to know that, in truly great relationships, this never goes away. Just the thought of him liking me as much as I like him is a bit heady and crazy, honestly. Thanks again!

  9. Thanks for this post Grace! I’m currently blogging about my train wreck of romances…makes for a good read, anxiety may be present but its necessary to grow as a person in relationships, remember we are like tea-bags – we don’t know our own strength until we are in hot water. Best of luck! x

  10. I just randomly came across your blog, and the title immediately caught my attention. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I could relate to it. I have the same anxiety about relationships and I have to tell you….made me feel a tad less odd knowing I’m not the only one.No offense? LOL anyways you sound adorable and I hope your Professor sees it. Good Luck -Kate

    • Kate, thank you so much for your comment! Honestly, I’m just glad other people feel this way, as well. I was feeling a bit odd writing this, myself. So, thanks for the commiseration and the good wishes!

  11. Keep calm and kiss on! 🙂 Good for you, girl. A college counselor once told me that “All decision in life are either fear-based or love-based”. It’s scary for you because this one could just be the latter, which is clearly against the norm for you – but in a good way! Wishing you luck and happiness!

  12. Dear Grace,

    I hear you. I read your entire post seeing myself reflected on it. I know exactly what you mean and I agree that board games are way easier than love, romance or relationships. What I also love about your post is that I can feel your emotions through it (making it easier for me to identify me with it).

    So anyway, I’ve been there, I am there and the truth is”relationships suck” at any age, but they also gives us this feeling that makes us want to try harder in life and be better. Even when you find that person who shares your same feelings, your relationship will still be messy, because that’s what happens when two different minds come together. It happens with friends, with parents, with kids, RELATIONSHIPS GIVES US HELL. But they also makes us human, they make life worth living, they makes us better.

    My boyfriend is always telling me that there’s one in the relationship who will always love more in order to stay together. Do not be afraid to be hat person, and please, NEVER be afraid of falling in love or at least trying. After all, love is what makes the world go round.

    • Thank you so much for the wonderful comment! It’s such a relief to know that other people have been in this exact place and gotten through it…and into successful relationships. I’ll try to keep the fear at bay a bit more.

  13. Oh wow. Can I relate.

    I went through a completely shocking, totally bewildering, blindsiding divorce. Which made me question EVERYTHING — especially in my first serious relationship post-divorce: motives, intentions, the way he was looking at me, hell…the way he was BREATHING! It all must have hidden meaning. Right?

    Yeah, not so much. Three years later, and we just got engaged. In fact, I just revealed the engagement to my readers in my latest post. I think they’re just as surprised as I was!

    But long-story-short: let yourself live. Take chances. Fear is for wusses. And me. And you, apparently. But it can be overcome — I’m living proof! And so are you, you beard-lover you…


    • Oh, Mikalee, it makes me feel SO much better that you went through this as well. And huge congratulations on your engagement! Thank you so much for both the advice and the reassurances.

  14. Presumably, he kissed your makeup-less face, so all signs point to good.

    I remember that board game. My cousin got it for Christmas and we played it all day. Real life was nothing like it, although some “Poindexters” have shown up at the door over the years. 🙂

    • That’s an excellent point, Hippie Cahier! He continued kissing, so it must not have been too terrifying.

      I’ve had my share of Poindexters, as well, I’ll be honest. That game was a lot simpler than dating has proven to be, though!

  15. Bearded professor takes former student out for dinner and then takes her back to swish his tongue and brush his whiskers against her face and neck, and quite possibly, illicit dramatic monologues and eroticses below the belt. Charming. Has bearded professor asked you of your feelings? Pardon the strength of this reply- I wonder if bearded professor is taking a tiny bit of advantage of you. No need for pie in my direction or throwing of various objects. Dispensed advice here stems from previous experience and knowledge, and of course- my mission to protect vulnerabilities that bearded professor has not acknowledged in you personally, but are glaring in your account of the evening.

    • Thank you for the concern! I probably should have clarified (or linked to previous posts, rather) that he isn’t, nor has never been, *my* professor. I’m still getting my Ph.D. & M.D., yes, but at a different school. We met through mutual friends and are of the same age, despite his beard. 🙂

      • Professor is “Off-The-Hook,” so to speak due to clarification of necessary background details.

        Just remember with any relationship: 3 “Golden Rules”
        Are they aware how you feel?
        Do they ask?
        Are you comfortable telling them?

  16. Fantastic blog. I went through a similar situation recently. It didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked it to, but at least I got to have that short time of intense happiness and giddiness. So worth it 🙂

  17. I always wanted to play Mystery Date – mostly because I wanted to assign someone as being the shoes and lay on shag rugs. Could never find the board game though – they should make an app for that! Additionally, I’m afraid of plenty of odd things too – I like to think I’m keeping my boyfriend young with all of the hysteria. I’m sure your craziness is a lovable quality to your friends. Or it’s not. Either way, this is funny.

  18. Holy vampire babies! I am SO glad you were Freshly Pressed, because I might not have found your blog. I am in love! You’re such a great, witty, HILARIOUS writer. And Lord knows I feel your pain.

    As for carnival rides, it doesn’t even take wires to creep me out. A few weeks ago I rode a Ferris wheel and thought I was going to DIE. Elevated heart rate, the sweats, the whole nine years. Clear sign I’m getting older. Just wait ’til you hit 30, sweetheart. Just wait.


  19. Fear/angst/excitement/losing balance/craziness: yep, all that an more to come!

    “I’m so damn scared that I’m going to like him more than he likes me.”
    This and many other thoughts make me wonder, how in the world it’s so easy for all the other couples around me?? haha
    I’m def. re-blogging this!

  20. Great post! You made me laugh 🙂
    I used to be quite a worrier too when it came to relationships, but that was when I thought I needed one. I’m now very happy being single, and I think it will actually help when the right guy comes along. So my advice would be, don’t put any pressure on yourself, just have fun!

  21. Great post! I admittedly suffered from a pang of jealousy reading this; I’ve turned 30 without having tasted even mild flavours of love. But it was fun living the experience through you. You captured your elation well.

    I’m routing for you! Good luck!

  22. Ahh! You remind me so much of myself! I really enjoyed reading your post and all the above comments. I love how you had the revelation about beards, and I can’t wait to read your post on it 🙂 I think what it all comes down to is just taking that deep breath and jumping in with your whole heart. It might not be easy, but it sure as hell will be worth it.

  23. Wow, I could have written that exact post. It describes my love life to a T. You’ll be okay. I actually did like someone more than they liked me (though I didn’t know it at the time) and guess what? It worked out (for a while anyway). You’ll be fine! Good luck 🙂

  24. Can’t wait to read more updates! I’ve always thought about how great it would be to know the outcome ahead of time – is it worth all this effort (and make up)? But in retrospect, I guess that takes half the fun out of it (even if it can be a little awkward/painful at points). Thanks for sharing, and glad you are FP so I could stumble on your blog!

  25. Glad I’m not alone! I do the exact same thing; right along with over analyzing everything to the point where I end things too early just so nothing bad can happen. I’ve been told to get out my head. But for me, that’s a lot easier said than done. Hope things go well for you!

    P.s. I also do NOT like swing rides. Though, I never thought about the chains cutting off appendages. I’m always worried I’ll swing into the operating booth with the pointed metal roof. They should really move those things back.

  26. It’s a little bit shocking how anybody ever gets into a successful relationship when the fear and hope for board games rules for relationships is just so clearly common! Loved the post. Quite frequently pep talking myself to “not think” “calm down” “breathe” “just go with it” right now too. Ahhh….. the beginnings. Ridiculous and awesome and yes, TERRIFYING! Great post!

  27. Take a risk, put yourself out there and enjoy….and breathe. This was an entertaining read. Please have a look at my new blog Mr Wrong- ‘learn from Mr Wrong and claim Mr Right.” Please feel free to share your opinions/stories/experiences at

  28. Beards are great. But…Should this one last (good luck!), and for a long time, don’t necessarily say “Hon, I’d love to see your chin. Would you shave?” I did that with my (ex) husband was so horrified by his jowls. Holy hell. Some guys have beards for the same reasons we have Spanx.

  29. Take it from a person who’s going to be married for almost 10 years (this 1st of September), everything is a work in progress. Even love. You’re young and single, so just enjoy yourself. Just remember to : NOT call him first :), and if it ever feels bad at any time at all, then it’s time to move on. Love, an everlasting one anyway (not limerance) takes time and when it does last, it feels safe and wonderful.

  30. Grace, I say go ahead and JUMP! 🙂 and While your preparing for the jump embrace it all…It feels scary at first and filled with uncertainty but it will be worth it. Definitely!!! And Please Calm down…

  31. Pingback: Beards: Too Marvelous for Words | A Confederacy of Spinsters

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