Last Friday night I went on a date with someone new who I met on “Bumble." I'm 54 years old and he is 58. He has two children and is legally separated, but not yet divorced from wife number two. Maybe that should have been my first red flag?
We had a really nice time at dinner and when we were almost finished he said, "I'm not a hook-up type of guy, but would you like to come back to my place for an after-dinner drink?" I agreed. The conversation was flowing and we both clearly wanted the evening to continue.
When we got back to his place, he opened up another bottle of wine and we sat out in his backyard where he lit a fire. There were two lounge chairs and we each sat in one. As the evening progressed he moved over to my chair, sat on the end of it, and rubbed my leg. Nothing inappropriate at all. There was clearly a connection. A little while later after I came back from the bathroom, he motioned for me to sit with him, my back against his chest. It all felt so nice and comfortable as we continued to chat. By then it was getting late and I told him that I should be heading home. He walked me to the door and told me that he had his boys the next day and that he would call me on Sunday. He kissed me goodnight and I headed home. It is now almost a week later and nada. That date began at 8:00 pm and ended at 1:00 am. Clearly we both had had a really nice time.
In the past when I've had successful dates such as this one, I usually hear from the guy that night making sure I got home okay OR, at the very least, the next day saying what a nice time he had.
He did tell me he was leaving on Monday for Europe for work for 5 days, but the last time I checked phones work across the pond. I had also texted him the next day following up about something we were both unsure of that I had found the answer to. He didn't respond. Do I leave this alone? I’m exhausted from trying to get into someone else’s head and figure them out.
Mystified by Men
Dear Mystified by Men,
Dating I think is a little bit like cooking. Necessary for most, enjoyable even sometimes, but not an activity that you want to attempt without oven mitts. When you are cooking for other people it requires vulnerability, exposing your soul a bit and ultimately being open to feedback. How does it taste? Did you like it? What could I have done differently? Could I have added more of this? Used less of that? Dating, if memory serves is not so different. In order to be successful in dating you must be vulnerable, expose your soul a bit and be open to feedback. Sometimes the feedback isn’t even about you at all and may have more to do more with where the other person is in his/her life. And sometimes, frustratingly enough, it might not be communicated at all. And while it’s not your job to be a mind reader, it is your job to find a balance between being in the game and knowing when you're being played. I remember a few of those well.
I remember dates that from my perspective felt easy, breezy, and chemistry filled and then...silence. UGH. For someone without the toughest of skin, that alone can be enough to make a girl (or guy) want to crawl back into the fetal position and tell themselves they are better off alone, but that's not the answer either. If you want to walk with someone in this life, as I've said before, they are not knocking on your door and inviting themselves in. You gotta get out there. Walls down, radar up. That doesn’t mean it's for you to figure it out or to lose sleep over it, but I actually think the fact that you are wondering, asking questions and allowing yourself to take a deeper look at that night makes you very smart. And I hope when he circles back to you (and he most likely will) you will remember that you deserve something different.
Because my children currently have zero interest in reading these posts and they also happen to be at a 7 week sleep away camp with zero access to technology AND because I happen to be married to an incredibly confident, understanding and dashingly handsome man, I’m going to go out on a limb here and share a personal dating story from what feels like another lifetime. One that at the time nearly crushed me, but ultimately became a great lesson for me both in resilience and trusting my inner radar.
Shortly after I separated from my first husband I started dating again. At 30 years old, I knew I wanted nothing more in my life than to have a partner and children and I also knew that wasn’t going to happen without efforts being made on my part. I was still licking my wounds from my divorce but feeling a little stronger, (and a lot thinner) when I began to put myself out there again. A dear friend of mine Phyllis and her lovely husband Andrew lived around the corner from me on the upper east side of NYC and wanted to fix me up with a friend. I had already made a decision to say “yes” to anyone who was kind enough to want to fix me up. When my dermatologist wanted to fix me up I said “yes,” my mother’s friends, “yes.” “Yes” to dating websites, to peers, it was all a giant “YES.” So, this was a no brainer. I was sad from my divorce but I was not broken.
So of course I agreed to go out with Jeremy. The chemistry was there. The conversation flowed over dinner as did the wine, and soon I found myself back at his apartment. Yep. Slept with him. This was new territory for me. Vulnerable territory. After all, up until very recently I had been with the same man for 12 years.
I heard from Jeremy the next morning telling me what a great night he had had, and that while he realized it was rather soon he wanted me to attend his office holiday party with him. I was over the moon. Butterflies, validation, hope for the future, and another step towards healing. And then CRICKETS. Silence. Nothing. I felt sick. Heartsick. I was confused. My head spun trying to decipher what the hell had gone wrong. I replayed every bit of our evening and beat myself up mentally for sleeping with him on the first date.
“Oh Jule, you idiot, you're 30 not 22, you’re supposed to know better.” With every day that passed I felt more confused and sad. There was so much riding on this one date in my mind, a get out of jail ticket from the prison of the sadness of my divorce that I wanted to grab and run with. The idea that I had been duped or that I had made a fool out of myself was just too painful.
About a week later I sat at my desk high up on the 30th floor of Worldwide Plaza when the phone rang. It was my Dad, calling to say hi and to check in. I watched the snow coming down softly, swirling through the darkening Manhattan skies outside my window and tried to focus on the small talk that my father was trying to make.
“What’s wrong kid?” He asked. A flood of emotion welled up and spilled over. I sobbed into the phone. Big heaving can't catch your breath sobs and told him everything. Everything. And after I finished he took a deep breath and quietly but firmly said, “He met someone else.” I was angry, I was shook, I was dumbfounded.
“How do you know that?” I sputtered through my tears, my face flushed with embarrassment and indignation.
“Because I know. And I’m sorry but he met someone else right around when he met you and he feels more strongly about her. “Move on Round Face,” he said gently, “there are more Jeremys out there.”
Two days later I got a text. From Jeremy. My heart tightened in my chest as I read exactly what my father had predicted.
It went something like this…
I hope you can forgive me for my silence. I didn’t mean to go quiet. Our date was amazing, our connection was real. I met another girl 1 week before our date and also felt a connection with her. I wasn’t trying to be deceitful, but I was still continuing to date other people at the time. I have to pick a direction instead of leading two people on. I met her first and think the connection might be stronger with her. I’m so sorry. I wish you every bit of happiness, you are amazing.”
I cried the whole way home blubbering back to my lonely lovely apartment that I had once shared with my first husband. It wasn’t really about Jeremy. Even then I knew that, it was what he represented. It was the shimmer of hope that was gone, the waves of loneliness crashing in again, the back to square fucking one exhaustion and resentment.
More blind dates, more standing in my kitchen alone eating “cheese toast” for dinner (the only thing that appealed to me at the time), more pounds slipping away on the scale. The cold winter months slipped away, I had made it to spring. I thought of Jeremy often as I continued to say “yes” to dating. I tortured myself thinking about how happy he must be with the girl he had chosen over me. She would be tall (I’m only 5’1”), she would have dark hair (mine is blond), she would be beautiful and smart and successful and she would have been wise enough not to have slept with him on the first date. I tortured myself. And just when I could no longer clearly remember the contours of Jeremy’s face, I met Bazz. One date, two dates, Jeremy who? Our relationship took off. Not without hiccups (as mentioned here), but it felt real. Grounded with butterflies.
Late that summer I got a call from Andrew, my friend Phyllis’ husband who had been the one to fix me up with Jeremy. Phyllis and Andrew had met Bazz by now. They knew I was in a good place and happy and I was surprised when my phone rang from Andrew one night.
“Jule, it’s Drew. Phyllis knows I’m calling you but she’s not in agreement with it. I hope you’re not going to be angry with me.” I couldn’t imagine what he was calling about.
“I know you're happy with Barry, but this is also your life and I feel like this is your information to have, your decision to make, not mine or Phyllis’. I heard from Jeremy today. He and that girl broke up. About a month ago actually. He asked me to reach out to see where you are regarding him. He never was able to shake you from his mind and wanted to see if he could reach out. I told him you’re dating someone and happy, but…”
Andrew’s voice trailed off.
It was exactly what I had prayed for all those months after that first date with Jeremy. What every rejected woman wants to hear. And yet, I didn’t feel my heart soar. I didn't want to scream “Hah! I knew I didn’t imagine the connection!” I felt quiet, I felt a little sad and I felt fiercely protective of this baby beating heart of my new relationship with Bazz. This man who was so kind, and patient and willing to allow me to continue to heal even as he held his heart out to me to potentially break it.
I didn’t hesitate. “Thanks Drew, please wish him every happiness from me, but let him know I’ve already found it.” I hung up and turned my face towards the sun.
So, my very wise Miss “Mystified By Men,” I think you have this more figured out than you realize. Certainly more so than I did at 30 when I went on that fateful date with Jeremy.
My guess is you will most likely hear from “Mr. Caress Your Leg On His Chaise Lounge.” I’m sure it was a lovely night and I believe you that the connection and the chemistry was there, but it almost doesn’t matter because there is better waiting. Better timing, better suited for you, and for G-d’s sakes, better manners!
PLEASE DON’T give up and PLEASE DON’T try to figure this one out. Walls down, radar up. You’re doing great. I promise.
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