My sudden transition from a hardcore trophy hunter to... a non-gamer?!
I doubt anyone noticed, but a few blogs back I mentioned that I had basically slowed down on playing games for personal reasons, but I didn't want to mention them yet because there were still things up in the air. Things have settled down now, so I think it's time to at least get this off my chest. Yes, this is a relationship entry, and it will be long. I think it's worth the read, but you don't have to take my word for it!
So at 31, I've never actually had a steady girlfriend, and up until about 3 years ago, I had basically decided that I would be ok being single. It's not about fear of commitment, but more like I couldn't see how a relationship would benefit me, as well as seeing enough examples of bad relationships to decide that it likely wasn't worth the risk (my uncle had a SUPER messy divorce, someone I knew online had 2 messy divorces in a row, etc). I was generally happy the way I was. This all changed after I moved into my house with my brother. While he was around I was fine, but then, about 3 years ago, he decided to move to China. I'll tell you this, living alone for a year in a 2 story house without local friends to go out with will do some damage to your psyche... At that point I decided I'd try to at least enter the dating world - but do note that yes, it was a very late start.
Right as I was picking a site to join, out of the blue, one of my dad's old college classmates who lived in Kansas contacted him and wanted to visit. I met him and his wife, and it turned out that he had met his wife through a Ukrainian marriage agency (they had been married 6 years at this point, and were very happy). While they were here, they visited my house as well, and I guess I made a good impression on her, because behind the scenes, she decided to try and matchmake me with her friend back in Ukraine who was NOT using an agency. Unbeknownst to me, she and my parents traded our pictures, and once all sides (minus me!) said ok, then I was given her contact information. This was about a year and a half ago.
The courting process:
Initially we attempted to communicate via email, and she tried to type in English, but our emails were sporadic and simple. I couldn't really ask much, and it just didn't work out too well. However, due to my dad and his classmate communicating every so often, I had insider information - Elena (my dad's classmate's wife) would talk to the girl in Ukraine, and then would pass on at least some of that to her husband, who would pass some of that on to my dad, and then to me. Apparently she was frustrated that we weren't communicating more, so after a few months of that, we finally discovered that she wasn't really good enough at typing in English (but her speaking/reading/understanding is excellent), so we decided to communicate via Facebook, and with her typing in Russian and me in English. Google Translate would be our guide. After that, things took off and we were talking nearly every day (~1 hour per day on most weekdays, generally not on weekends due to time zones and scheduling).
A note here, I knew that since she was not using an agency, her desire to leave Ukraine was not necessarily as strong as people that did use agencies, so while our ultimate goal was indeed marriage, it would take a much stronger bond than general agency relationships.
About 6 months in (~March 2013), we decided to take the first step and try to meet. I figured that visiting Ukraine would be too risky because the relationship, while very good, was still not anything above a good friendship, so after some debate, we settled on Hong Kong - a nice neutral country to visit, and I had enough backup in relatives that I'd have a place to stay and help making plans. So I flew her out to HK for a week, and while the trip went well, she was so tired all the time (she can't sleep on trains or planes, so she was dead on her feet a couple of days) that I didn't push anything. Despite my insider info saying she was waiting for me to make a move, there were 2 problems - 1. I didn't know how, 2. she turned down taking pictures at a couple of slightly romantic locations, so I decided just to not do anything. The conversation was great though, and we ended that trip as closer friends, but still just friends.
After returning to talking online every day, she invited me to Ukraine for a second visit - I had known that Elena would be visiting Ukraine in July, and I had hoped to tag along and maybe have her help advance the relationship further, but I couldn't say that, so I waited for her to invite me first. After working out the details, it was decided that I'd visit, but after Elena left, due to timing issues and other things.
The courting process, advanced:
With all that settled, I was in Ukraine July 15-23. The first 2 days I stayed at a hotel, and the next 2 days we went to a beachside hotel with her brother (plus his wife and daughter), and her friend. It went well, but my major issue was just seeing no reciprocation from her. Everything I had been told said that she was refusing to make any move at all, but I was getting absolute 0 in signals to work with. After a discussion with my dad where he said 'you'd better try something now or just give up and stop wasting her and your time', I figured I'd take the plunge - remember, I'm socially awkward at this stuff, so this was actually a VERY big step for me. That night I confessed everything to her, and after talking it over for an hour or so, our relationship was official! Not deeply so, but at least it was a load off my back (and likely hers as well). Unfortunately this was 2 days before I left, and the schedule actually left us absolutely no free time at all. I do mean ABSOLUTELY none. But that was ok with me, at least we had better terms to work with.
The courting process - the proposal:
The next day's plans were to visit Elena's parents for lunch, and then come back and have dinner with Inna's (my date) parents and her brother's family - they were all supportive, of course. All in all, it went well enough that that night, I decided to pop the question...
Unfortunately I had to leave Ukraine before we could do anything (my flight was at 3 in the morning and the airport was ~an hour away on not so great roads so we just went to sleep so she could be well rested for the drive), but we've started the fiancee visa process now. If all goes well, the wedding is projected to be first quarter 2014. I'm dealing with a lot of separation anxiety, but overall, I'm a lot happier than I've ever been. In keeping with the topic, I had slowed down on games because my nights had been spent talking to her, but now I've basically quit. I will still play here and there, but I've lost all interest in trophies, so that's that. She's a very outdoorsy person, which is 180 degrees from my lifestyle, but to be honest, I had never been all that happy with my lifestyle to begin with. I just never had motivation or opportunities to change it. This is my chance, and I don't plan to let it go.
Will I make a good adjustment and be a good husband? I don't know, but I will absolutely try my best. Thanks for reading this, I just needed to let someone (anyone) know.
Footnote: Ukraine was a lovely place to visit. It's so much more laid back than the US that honestly, I kind of prefer it there. I dislike their roads because they're in terrible condition, but I enjoyed the general natural feel of the country enough to make up for it - for example, there are very few processed foods there, so people eat a lot healthier. Produce and meats are plentiful and VERY cheap. Also, the people were very friendly. Just something to think about, maybe I will visit much more often.
- Ink.So.Well. likes this