That lasts for about a month. By this time, we've spent a lot of time either on the phone, on the computer, or actually with each other. I've started to invest a fair bit of effort, time, and occasionally money into the relationship (and call it what you will, it is a relationship).
Somewhere around the 30 day mark, things go a little kaka. I may have come on a little too strong, or there may be something else going on beneath the surface that I'm not aware of, or maybe the connection that I was hoping for just wasn't there. Regardless, I'll usually get a phone call or email that starts of to the effect of "You're a great guy, but..."
There's a lot of other cliches there as well:
"It's not you, it's me."
"I really like you, but not in that way."
"I think you feel more for me than I feel for you."
"I don't want to mess up our friendship."
"I've sort of fallen for someone else"
"I'm so confused, I need time to think."
And so on, and so forth.
The end result of it is that I wind up having my feelings hurt, my heart beat up (not quite broken at this point, but still banged up), and we do a quick pull-back and retreat to our neutral corners for a while.
After a few weeks or a month, we'll resume contact with some trepidation, and not nearly as close as we were from even the time before we were dating.
I state all this because today is the 30-day mark for Anni and I.
In that time, we've spent a good deal of time with each other,
...but not every waking moment.
We've sent frequent emails,
...but not the long and heart-wrenching tomes I'm known for.
We've spoken on the phone just about every day,
...but for 15 or 20 minutes, not for hours at a stretch.
We've gone out to dinner a number of times,
...but we've probably stayed in and watched TV more than twice as often as we've gone out.
We've spent the night together at least twice a week for the past month, and there has been a certain physical aspect to our time together,
...but we haven't been consumed with sex and insatiable passion. We spend most of our time in bed either talking or sleeping.
Now after 30 days, she is frequently in my thoughts, but I'm not overwhelmed.
We are adults and recognize that we have lives apart from each other, and while we talk about our friends and family, there isn't the mad rush to meet them and insinuate ourselves into each others social network. I know some of her "back story", and she knows mine, but we still have a lot to learn about each other, and neither of us are trying to push the other into revealing too much too soon.
In short, I can say that I like being with her, look forward to seeing her, and I think my life is better with her in it. I think she feels the same way (or if she doesn't, she sure has me fooled).
At the extreme risk of jinxing things, I think my 30-day curse is broken.
Now I need to get through the 60 day, 90 day, and 120 day milestones.
(Since the divorce, I haven't been with anyone long enough that it would be a concern, so the fact that I can worry about that now is actually a good thing.)
It's been smooth sailing so far, and now I can let my guard down a little more (as Anni is so fond of reminding me, she's not going anywhere). I know it won't always be beer and skittles between us, and we'll have some disagreements, arguments, and flat out fights in the future. The nice thing is that since the highs haven't been Mount Everest peaks, the lows won't be a free-fall crash into Death Valley chasms.
I think I've finally figured out the formula for a happy, healthy relationship: there is no formula.
(hey, I'm a guy, it takes us a while to realize the painfully obvious)
You just take what life gives you, accept people as they are without trying to fit them into your set of predefined archetypes, and treat each day with them as a gift from God. Nobody's perfect, but I'm not looking for perfection, just for happiness, and I'm glad I've found it with Anni.