relationships


I feel guilty for having coffee and dinner with two different women over the course of this past month. One or both of them, I think to myself, will be hurt at some point in the future, when another is chosen to receive my romantic affection. [yeah, and presuming they don’t drop me first and so on, but that’s not the point]

I have been worrying about this, stressing over it, for days, wondering if there was any way I could have avoided it, if there was anything I should have done differently. Kicking myself for having gotten into this position.

Then just a few minutes ago, the opposite thought hit me.

I need to do this. It’s not just something that is a by-product of my lack of willpower. It’s not something I can avoid because it’s difficult, or even because it’ll hurt others. If I want to be sure of my next relationship, I need to meet and know more than one woman. Which means that — all arrogance aside — some other women will be hurt.

And I need to do it.

There isn’t enough time for me to chat with all the hot 38 year old divorced single moms out there.

Seriously. I’ve got one new good lady friend now (I’ve mentioned her here before), and over the last three months we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. Sometimes we’ve gone a week or so without talking, and sometimes we’ve talked for hours in a day. Over three months, that’s a lot of hours. Way more hours than I spent talking with my wife in the last two years of our relationship (if you exclude shouting matches). At the start, it was strained and I had a hard time breaking through her shell, but lately she’s been pretty much wide open to discussing anything and everything, even open to having fun together. That doesn’t sound like such a big thing — who wouldn’t want to? — but it took her a while to come around. At this point, I think she’s very interested in me.

And that’s kind of the problem. I never planned to only date one woman before choosing to settle down. And since I’m still separated, not divorced, I don’t want to start really dating now. But when January (or so) comes along, and I am divorced and want to start dating, it’ll be a very awkward situation. I want to hold back from a serious relationship with her for now. I also want to move forward with a physical one, but I want to be fair to her more. So the next couple months will be somewhat strained, with (presumably) both of us wanting to explore a bit more in our relationship, but me holding back. I ask myself: Am I leading her on? And I answer: If I don’t tell her my intentions, yes.

Ok, but then, problem #2: A week ago I was talking with my therapist and told him the above part about not wanting to date until I was divorced, and he asked why not? “Because I don’t want to have to explain why I’m dating while I’m technically married”, I said. He asked what would happen if I was just up front about that from the start and see what happens. I couldn’t think of anything wrong with that idea. Actually, it was only a question, but it quickly became an idea… :-) I talked with a friend about it and he told me about some gals he had met online; that night I listed myself on a dating site, www.millionairematch.com. I browsed around a bit and added a few hotties to my favorites list, but didn’t contact anyone.

The next day, one of those gals “winked” at me. As it turns out, folks are notified when others add them to favorites. I wasn’t quite ready for that. I was just browsing. But she was very pretty. So pretty, in fact, that I had serious questions for the first week about whether she was a “trap” profile, the kind of admin-created profile that winks at all the guys to get them to pay money to chat with her. I was, in fact, suspicious until today when after exchanging four emails, she asked to talk in person. That kinda reduces the likelihood that she’s imaginary.

And she wasn’t the only one. Oh, maybe a dozen others have winked or emailed me. Most I’ve replied to with a polite thanks but no thanks, which was a very hard thing to do. I admit I was judging them 80% based on their looks and 20% based on their profile, and I didn’t think that was fair to them. But there are so many, I really can’t talk to all of them, especially not meaningfully. So I choose the pretty ones to add to my “someday” list, hoping that one of them is also secure, funny, and likes geeks. It almost sounds like I’m bragging about this — hell, it almost feels like I’m bragging about this — but I’m genuinely concerned too. I haven’t promised exclusivity to anyone, but if my new lady friend found out that I’m having conversations or coffee with someone else, I think she’d be hurt.

The thing is, she’s not perfect for me. I could list faults, even what I consider serious ones and deal-breakers, but even with all that, I enjoy spending time with her, whether in person or on the phone. (Mostly.) I don’t want to lose that. But I need to be honest and open with her. I’m just afraid of hurting her.

Too much of a good thing isn’t the same thing as just the right amount of a good thing.

These last few weeks I have found myself trying to impress “her”. I mentioned things to let her know how full my life was (men’s group, friends, work events, parties, etc). I showed off my daughter’s room, a friend’s gift, our flower garden. I’ve several times told stories to show what a great father I am. That’s even with me knowing that showing off is a sign of lower value — it needs to be seen naturally or at a minimum through the words of others. And what’s more, I’m not attracted to her in a long-term relationship way. So why show off?

I suppose there are two possible answers, maybe not exclusive of each other.

  1. I do it because I need to know from somewhere outside myself that I am ok.
  2. I’d like to have sex with her and this is part of convincing her. She’s not that seductive or flirty, but it would be interesting in a self-affirming sort of way.

Sigh.

The approval of others is like cotton candy: sweet but not very filling. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t showing off for that reason — sometimes I like sweets — but it’s easily dealt with once awareness sets in.

Showing off to have sex with her, though… there could be something to that. Sex with attractive women stopped for me a LONG time ago, so there is some desire for sex, if not for her. And that is precisely the problem.

I’ve known her for a few months now, so fucking and leaving is no longer considered acceptable behavior. I guess there’s an expiration date on that sort of thing, before which the girl blames herself for her bad judgment and beyond which the guy is just an asshole.

And I don’t want a long-term romantic relationship, I can’t even pretend I do, so fucking and staying is out too.

Unless… is it possible to fuck and stay, but without a romantic relationship? That’s rhetorical of course, I know people who do it regularly.

But I’m not one of them. Never have been. In the past, I mean.

Yeah, I talk big. Acting on those thoughts still doesn’t seem like me. A year ago, thinking them wouldn’t have been either.