I don’t know how usual or unusual this is, but I had instant, strong chemistry with the very first man I met in person after I posted my profile on a dating website. I couldn’t believe it. Could it really be this easy? I, very painfully, over the next several months, found that the answer was no, it wasn’t that easy. But I learned volumes from the experience.
Lenny was attractive, charming, sweet, passionate and he immediately liked me and was turned on to me. And he was 9 years younger! I was flattered and surprised that a younger man was interested in me, a woman of a certain age. His first email message to me was portentously enigmatic and characteristically seductive and poetic. He simply wrote, “Lovely, aren’t e?” He called me “Baby” and “Love”. He had a habit of calling me 5 minutes after every date to tell me how wonderful I am and how glad he was to have met me. I was impressed! Hell, let’s be honest, I was completely hooked!
I woke up the morning after meeting him with Katy Perry’s song Teenage Dream playing on endless repeat in my head. And it was just a few days before Valentine’s Day. I had officially begun the ride!
But as eager as Lenny seemed and as receptive as I was, our relationship never progressed. We saw each other every week at first but the afternoon coffee dates never turned into the evening dinner dates. I made many excuses at first for why he would be moving so slowly. I waited and agonized. I felt everything was hanging in the balance. Did he want a real relationship with me or not?
This question that hung in the air for several months stirred up all the feelings I had in my relationship with my father, who, frankly, didn’t want a close relationship with any woman, including my mother. Of course, as a child, I interpreted his lack of interest with a lack of lovableness in me. With Lenny, I was able to realize that his inability to get close had very little to do with my inherent qualities. This freed me up not to take rejection so personally in the months to come. If a woman does take a man’s rejection personally, she’ll close up and be one of those who are always complaining that all the good men are taken and there are only losers left on the internet dating sites. You don’t want to be one of these women. They are doomed to fail in love.
With hindsight, I see how my anxieties about dating after so many years and my lack of confidence at the time made me ready to jump into an instant relationship with Lenny. I’m sure this scared him to death. I think that’s the thing I’ve most come to appreciate about men and women in love connections. As much as we’re all searching for love, we are all so scared. And men, especially. Probably because the land of love and feelings is not their natural habitat. Their fears that they will have to give up their freedom to be with a woman. The fear of losing themselves and being controlled by a woman. Things have to go slowly. But sometimes you just can’t slow down.
So for several months we tried to find a way to get comfortable with each other and never could. I wanted more and he was always busy, feeling guilty and making excuses. It was horrible for both of us.
I felt devastated, misled, deceived and I was furious at him when he finally confessed to me over the phone that he just wanted to be “selfish.” I felt he had totally taken advantage of my new-to-dating-after-many-years virgin state. I let rip a scathing email like none I have ever sent before or since. But still I pined for him, for what might have been, for what was only in my fantasies.
He pined for me too and would send little notes occasionally about missing me. He would visit my profile on the dating sites. Just when I had succeeded in forgetting about him, or, at least, being able to move on, there he would be. It was frustrating and infuriating. And the worst part was that he didn’t know himself well enough, or feel able to express his feelings, so talking about what was going on was impossible. I was left to try to figure things out on my own. It just didn’t make sense to me. Here was this man who seemed to want me so much and yet he couldn’t show up to claim me.
Now I can see that Lenny was a reflection of how scared I was to get on the love ride back then. That’s why we found each other. I’ve come to believe that we attract people who are exactly where we are in their journey to love. When I began my journey, I was nowhere near ready to be authentically claimed in love by a man. And you probably aren’t either. But that’s OK because you can get there from here.
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