It looked promising. At least on paper and in our email exchanges through Lavalife, the online dating site.
Who: S, a Lavalife online dating match
Occupation: Freelance graphic designer and part-time college teacher
Attraction factor: He looked cute in his pictures, slightly boyish and not really the type I go for but I thought I should shake things up. Plus, he’s artistic and has excellent taste in music. Through the course of emailing, I learned we went to the same concert a few months ago and sat only rows away from each other in the same section. Aha! It must be the fates conspiring, no? To make things sweeter, he also lives in my neighborhood! This is actually a big, BIG bonus considering I have a knack/propensity/misfortune for clicking with guys who live in different countries (not good especially considering my low tolerance for long-distance relationships… been there, done that).
What we did: On S’s suggestion, we met at a bar in the hood where a good local band was playing. We sat at a window table near the door so we could hear each other. At first I was a bit nervous ’cause this was my fifth blind date in so many months – and I’ve only just started documenting them. They do start to feel a bit… old hat. That is, you develop your intro schtick and unfortunately I tend to talk a lot about myself at first. I don’t know why. I think it’s just nerves. It’s as if I feel like I have to perform some kind of stand-up routine.
But it was fine. That is, we broke the ice and ended up discussing a gamut of things — music, bands, what he did for a living, what I do for a living, my travels, and his extensive travels during his twenties. We even discovered a few common links. The most eyebrow-raising is that a very good friend of mine teaches S’ two kids (girl 8, boy 11) to play piano. Definitely a “whoa small world” moment, especially considering we live in a city of over four million, not in a town of four thousand.
Before we knew it, it was last call. We’d talked a blue streak from 8pm to 1am.
We left the bar and started walking home, in the same direction. When we got to his intersection, S asked me if I wanted to come over to his place for tea. I was tired and still don’t know what possessed me, but I said, “okay, sure” which I like to think is not my normal behavior.
But I believed him when he said “just tea and continue our conversation” and something in me wanted to keep talking. So we trudged through the snow and enjoyed the magic of the quiet snowy streets and houses decked out with twinkling Christmas lights.
Back at his place – a very nicely kept semi-detached, we had tea and sat on his couch, talking and listening to music. He lives with his kids part-time and it looked like a family home, but in a nice way. We continued discussing our travels and it was all very proper. No need to worry about any unwanted passes, etc.
At four in the morning, I called it a night and S walked me home. When we got to my door, we both agreed we had a lovely time and I – sigh and hangs head in shame – probably sounded a little over eager. I asked if he wanted to get together again before I leave for Thailand.* He begged off saying he would have his kids post Christmas and it would be hard to carve out that time.
* This is ironic because I woke up the next morning with the completely opposite feeling. More on that further down.
On the plus side: S was very easy to talk to. I really enjoyed being able to enjoy music with someone else.
On the minus side: Oh boy. Well, you knew there was a big minus coming didn’t you.
S peppered all of his conversation with references to “we” and “our”. Initially, I wanted to think he was referring to his kids, but as the “we’ing” continued into territory that didn’t make sense to include kids, I decided to clarify things. As diplomatically as I could, I asked if he was still living with his wife because of the “we” and “our” references, and because it sounded like they were… um, still living together. That’s when he said he was separated (I assumed they were divorced), then later I found out that she “left the marriage.”
Because I’m tired, I’m just going to sum it up as this date was “We Versus Me”. I got the very distinct impression that S is not ready to date, but I don’t think he even knows it. At the end of our date, I discovered I was the first person he’s met from Lavalife, and online dating as a whole.
Chances I’ll see him again: Slim to none. I’m sure now that I know who he is, I’ll probably bump into him all the time in my ‘hood, and I know I’ll be pleasant enough with him. I genuinely liked his company, but as for romance… I’m going to take a big pass. The “we/our/separated/”she left the marriage” are BIG red flags that S isn’t in the same emotional space as me. I’m ready to date, I’m ready to be part of a “we”, he still hasn’t gotten past the fact that he’s NO LONGER in a “we.” Big difference between the two. Also, and this is so much less significant… he doesn’t make a lot of money, and he already has two kids, AND he’s undecided about having more kids. If he was gung-ho about kids, was in a headspace to START a relationship, etc, then I wouldn’t be so turned off about the money. I guess the money isn’t a turn off either way. If he had lots of money, I would still give him a miss because of the “we vs. me” thing.
Of course, I can’t help being a little angry with myself because when I said good-bye I gushed about the good time I had, etc. And the guy probably thinks I’m desperate. Whereas, I feel the complete opposite. Yes, I did have a good time and when I said good-bye I was caught up in the moment of having had a decent date, but I was bothered by all the veiled references to his ex and he’s really NOT someone I want to date again. I hate that I wasn’t more truthful in the moment and I hate that I didn’t just call him all the ex-talk point blank. Why did I play the goof/chump so I could spare his feelings? I don’t want to do that anymore.
Lesson learned: Don’t spend seven hours talking. I don’t know why I didn’t just go home after the bar. The “we/our” thing was already bugging me and there is such a thing as “leave ’em wanting more.” I also learned that I do not want to date a man who is NOT divorced. Separated is still married in my books and I do not date married men. But I don’t know if I would have learned how important this is to me if I hadn’t gone on the date. To clarify, separated men whose wives left the marriage in search of something (most likely, someone) new and better are still vulnerable to that spouse coming back and then turning to the other person, saying “Yeah, sorry, but for the sake of my kids, I need to give the marriage a second chance… you understand, don’t you…?” Because my God, it’s the marriage.
Sure, I could be making a huge assumption about S. But it doesn’t matter. There wasn’t much spark in the kiss, I didn’t find myself very attracted to him, and … why settle? I mean, really, why settle at this point in my life? Hell, my period is late and I could be peri-menopausal for all I know… so why settle?
I’m not sure there is a man out there for me. It makes me sad, but whaddamIgonnado? Go to Thailand, that’s what. Go to Thailand and do what I can to improve the relationship I have with myself and hope the chips will fall in a way so I can find some contentment.
After all, being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee happiness.