Maybe if he was a little taller I wouldn’t have said anything. Seeing that I’m being overly critical here, I also don’t really like the way age has etched creases along his upper cheekbones when he smiles. And he’s smiling a lot. Brian is clearly enjoying our first date pasta dinner more than I.It isn’t that Brian is a bad guy / horrible date / evil person. The reason he’s so incredibly excited is because he can’t believe his lucky stars that he’s out with me. Now, before you go rummaging around for a “conceited bitch” card in your purse to go throwing in my general direction—let me explain:
Brian was married for 26 years;Brian’s ex-wife ultimately left him for a lover with whom she is still involved;
Brian hasn’t felt this alive in years;
Brian is turning over fresh stones / leaves / pussy and delighting in the newness of it all;
Brian has been officially divorced exactly two weeks.
“We married really young,” Brian talks a lot, which is okay I guess seeing that I’m hungry. “And we started having kids right away. We . . . .”The buzzing static in my brain relieves me of my auditory senses. I am able to enjoy the rest of my penne in vodka sauce with only white noise going on in the background. I nod AND smile AND nod AND smile politely on cue. This is by no means my first rodeo but I decide, all the same, to shake things up a bit.
ME: You are probably the most “raw” date I’ve ever been on.
BRIAN: Like I said, I’ve really been healing. . . .
ME: I know. I remember you saying that. Hate to burst your bubble, but your blood is spilling on the floor you’re wound is so raw.
BRIAN: I don’t think I know what you’re saying.
ME: Let me put it to you this way—what are some of the names of my ex-boyfriends?
BRIAN: Hmmm. I don’t think I know. Did you mention their names?
ME: No. No, I did not. You want to know why? Because they are so far removed from my life and my psyche that I’m not giving them a second thought—not right now.
BRIAN: I guess I did mention Janice once or twice.
ME: Yes, I do know her name, but what really triggered me was how you still refer to your life with her as “we.”
BRIAN: I do what?
ME: When you’re ready to date someone like me Brian, you will be far removed from thinking about yourself in terms of “we”—a couple still—and focused on yourself. I’m not interested in dating someone so raw.
There. I said it. I stated clearly and succinctly that I didn’t want to date a man who was so incredibly emotionally unavailable that all he could do was talk about his married life—his life as a “we.”Brian could have reacted negatively to this proclamation but instead it brought him alive. He launched into his dating plan—I sent emails to about 90 women and heard back from 10. Now I’m regularly talking to 6-8—wanna see?—and started extracting dating advice from me:
Make more friends;Spend plenty of alone time;
Try going out just to have fun;
Focus on learning who you are all over again.
When I finally got home I received a text from Brian that read:Julie, you are a classy, smart, articulate woman, stunning visually as wellJ I really appreciate your advice and your thoughts. The date ended in the way that it should have. Not in the way I had initially wanted as I was hoping it would end with the promise of a second date. But it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had in some time. Thank you! Brian.
I wrote back thanking him again for dinner. What else could I say to him? I want to be in a relationship where I’m part of a “we” team, too. When I hear about strong marriages and other relationships like the one you describe I think to myself: That sounds really nice. I hope to be a united front with someone one day.
I’ve told some men that I loved them and I have risked being vulnerable in my lifetime. I’ve made sacrifices for relationships, and I’ve learned over the years how to compromise. I also know how to retain “me” when someone invites me to be a “we.”
I think I’m poised and ready for the real deal. I think I’m ready to get raw.