Zhao Chen looked at him, not knowing what to say for a moment. “You … Do you have issues with trusting people?”
Li Ming tilted his head and closed his locker. Leaning against it, he motioned at the clothes still in Zhao Chen’s hands. “How about getting changed first?”
“Oh.” Zhao Chen hurried up, not wanting to derail their date. At the same time, he couldn’t help but give Li Ming a look. “You don’t have to answer, by the way. I guess we’re still in the dating phase so I understand if there are things you don’t want to share yet.”
Li Ming shook his head. “No, I’m … all about honesty and I like it to be that way from the very beginning.”
Zhao Chen nodded slowly. “I noticed. But, you know, there’s a difference between honesty and over-sharing.” He smiled and then cleared his throat. “That’s … not meant as a dig. I really love how open you are.”
Li Ming smiled as well. “I didn’t take it as one. And even if it was, I wouldn’t mind. It’s … related I guess.” He pursed his lips for a moment and then mentioned to the door. “That place you want to go, do we walk, or is it farther away?”
“Mn, if you’re not in a hurry we could walk but since we wanted to go and work out first …”
Li Ming nodded. “Well, surprise me then. I’ll tell you on the way.”
“Alright.” Zhao Chen finished changing, reached over, and put an arm around Li Ming’s shoulder. “Is it the kind of story that can be shared at work or do we need until we’re a little further away?”
Li Ming chuckled. “I’m not the type who does embarrassing stuff so I’m not afraid of anyone knowing. Even if I did, I’d own up to it.”
Zhao Chen gave a hum and looked at Li Ming’s profile while walking out of the room. Honestly, he had noticed that about him as well. Li Ming was … well, he tended to be serious even though he had a sense of humor. He thought about things before doing them so he really wouldn’t regret anything. It could be a bit vexing while you were waiting for him to decide but at the very least, when he finally did, you could be sure he thought it was the right thing. It was … charming, really.
Li Ming noticed that he was being stared at and raised his brows. “Is there something you want to say?”
Zhao Chen gave another hum, drawing it out this time. “Quite a few things, actually, but I’d first like to hear that story. You … actually, you’re never really over-sharing. While on the job, you’re really focused, and when out on a date, you’re such a good listener that I’m afraid I’ve told you much more about myself than I’ve heard about you. I think it’s about time to change that.”
Li Ming nodded. Indeed, these last few weeks, he had done more of the listening than the talking. He was happy about it though. This wasn’t his first attempt at dating in the last two years but this time, he was much more secure already and felt like it could go somewhere. He had still needed that time though.
Walking out of the hotel and up to the street, he finally couldn’t help but sigh. “Well, I guess for now, I’ll spare you the long version with all the details. The short one is that … about two years ago, I got into a relationship with a new co-worker back at my old place of employment, he … lied … pretty severely, and our relationship imploded.
“I didn’t deal well with it.” He rubbed his brow, not sure how much he should elaborate on that. Keeping quiet for a moment, he finally sighed again. “I don’t know if I should tell you this but back then, I really thought he could be the one for me.”
“Oh. So … I guess there was a lot of heartache involved?”
“Yes. Took me … a good half a year to somewhat gather the pieces and move on. Then … I needed another year before I felt ready to start trying to date again. It … wasn’t easy and I noticed that I was …” He rubbed his neck, his brows furrowed tightly. “I think I was looking out for signs that I was being lied to again. There was no trust and without trust, a relationship can’t work.”
Zhao Chen nodded. “I understand. That is … also why you take things so slowly? Not judging, by the way.” He raised his hands in defense, not wanting to step on Li Ming’s toes. Having this kind of honest talk early into the relationship was nice so he’d know what he was up to but it also meant that you had to tread carefully because you didn’t know these things while having the difficult talk.
Li Ming shook his head. “No, I always took things slow, even before that. That experience might have just exacerbated things. Anyway, just like with taking things slow, honesty was also like that. I’ve felt for the longest time that you shouldn’t lie, shouldn’t keep secrets no matter how small, and just always be open and aboveboard.”
Zhao Chen nodded. “That sounds like a good philosophy to have.”
“Yeah … as long as you don’t overdo it. Back then, after our breakup, I’ve learned a lot about myself. One of those things was that I did tend to overdo it in that department. You can’t always expect a hundred percent honesty. It’s … human to keep some things to ourselves and not want to share. I think even in a long-term relationship, there would be things like that. Maybe not … forever but sometimes, you need time to make things out with yourself before you open up to others.”
Zhao Chen nodded again. “Even if it’s your partner.”
“Yes, even if it’s your partner. So in that regard, I think I’ve come a long way. I’m … not that prone to over-sharing anymore.” He chuckled and then motioned ahead. “Alright, unless you want more details, that’s enough. I don’t think we should talk about our exes while having a date.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows. “Well, I could tell you about one of mine or maybe my worst breakup to make it even. Otherwise … yes, I agree. Let’s just focus on us and … our relationship.”
He squeezed his shoulder and the two of them dropped the topic. Indeed, there was no need to focus on the past when the present held everything you wanted.