a right blessing

Forgive me for the double entendre, but I’ve swiped right on a couple of fellows who have become friends and I’m going to share a bit about one of the more unconventional of these…

We met for lunch one weekday when I was already fairly certain things with Brad were headed toward an actual relationship and, furthermore, I don’t get too excited about these first meetings anyway. We greeted one another, sat down, ordered curry and he immediately let me know he was married.

Which it did not say on his profile.

And quickly followed with how he was merely looking for friendships and had his wife’s permission to use the site, blah, blah, blah… I didn’t think much of it and wasn’t sure I’d see him again after lunch. But he was insistent I bring the children and join his family for a go-karting party one day. So we went and had fun. And then another lunch, followed by brunch with his family, afternoon trail runs, and so on.

He is from what we still refer to as a third-world country, as in there’s still not typically electricity on for 24 hours a day. And, while his family was prominent and lived well, he has made his home in the suburban midwest with a white wife and modest lifestyle. He has said many times that he was “sleepwalking through life” and wanted to meet vibrant people, substantial people, to help him learn how to live a more fulfilling life.

Like many men his age, he is a bonehead — smart and focused in his field, a reasonably good earner, and yet so, so dumb when it comes to happiness and fulfillment. He once texted me with a conundrum:  He had yard work to do, but his wife wanted to take the children to the apple orchard. I told him to listen to his wife, give her what she wanted and offer his presence to his children. The yard work could wait. Another time, over a glass of wine, he invited my family to lunch at their home adding, as an aside, that it was the day after his wedding anniversary. I asked him what he was doing to celebrate. He hadn’t thought about it. So I admonished him to make dinner plans, rent a hotel room downtown and send the children to their aunt’s for the night. It was as though he’d had a revelation! The lightbulb over his head went on and he exclaimed, “I would never think to do something like that! And my wife mentioned she’s always wanted to spend a night together in a hotel.” Then I admonished him again for not listening to his wife, as she’d already given him the road map, and told him I would not accept his lunch invitation for that day.

With nothing to lose in this strange new friendship, we are brutally honest with one another. My boundaries are firm and clear. I am full-on, unfiltered me. And he is wildly smitten in the most innocent of ways. He admires me, values me and wants the best for me. He appreciates when I chastise him and tell him to treat his wife and family as his primary priorities. His wife has even thanked me.

The other night, we Tindered together. That is, I resisted swiping out of boredom for a couple of days so that I could show him what’s out there. And it was fun to see how much more choosy he was for me than I am for myself (I figure it will net out in the conversation, if these fellows endeavor to start one.) He swiped left on anyone who wasn’t fit, good-looking and college educated. He swiped left on anyone from a certain college that wasn’t up to his standards. He swiped left on photos of children (as I do –a dating profile is where you state that you’re a parent, but don’t show pictures of kids). He approves of the software company CEO who “super liked” me, and wants him to have a jet, because I deserve it. In other words, I should probably be swiping right more selectively, as he does.

And, in any case, it’s wonderful to have someone who not only thinks I’m worthy of a great and generous love, but who also translates my relating of relationship needs and wants into ways to serve his wife and family. In this way, swiping right on him has been a tremendously rewarding blessing and it seems appropriate to express that gratitude this Thanksgiving.

May you all feel the joy of gratitude this weekend!

left on scene

On our last date, Brad and I toured my neighborhood, stopping for drinks and small plates at a few of the local establishments. As always, we had fun talking and touching. We ended our evening making out on my sofa, and he thanked me for a fun and relaxing evening once he’d arrived safely at home.

The next day, he texted me “Good morning, sexy!” Then later, one of those strangely detached messages about hanging out at Best Buy while waiting for one of his children to be done with practice.

And then nothing.

It’s been two weeks. A girlfriend admonished me to Google him to ensure he wasn’t injured in a car crash.

But I knew.

I told my son he hadn’t been texting me back. He said, “Mommy, he’s busy with work and his kids; I’m sure he’ll text you.”

I told my daughter I’d been ghosted. She said I’d been left on scene. I guess that’s what the kids are saying these days.

It’s easy to see looking back that he wasn’t really emotionally in it. It’s easy to revisit and recall the exchanges we had in which I was looking for a connection, but got detachment in return. Along the way you wonder what it means; and whether something will change and evolve. It never does. You’d think I’d have learned that by now. And it still hurts.

The worst parts are:

  1. Having to put on a sad movie to watch with my son so that it would seem normal that I was crying during our usual Friday night family time.
  2. I miss him.
  3. Dealing with the anger that’s been boiling up. Seriously, there are compassionate ways to end relationships, and this was not one of them.

a blossoming relationship?

Since I last left you, Brad and I went on a half a dozen more dates — from a fun sushi dinner to dinner at his place to a microbrewery tour and sampling. Gosh, we’ve had fun! We’re flirty and cute together — and I love how boyish-looking he is!

And all the while, I continued to wonder if this was going anywhere. Between our parenting schedules, we managed to see each other every ten days to two weeks — which was simply not enough for me to feel a growing emotional closeness. He greeted me with such affection that, even if I was feeling a little grumpy about the interval between our dates or the quality of our communication between times, any tension simply dissipated on contact.

Finally, after our evening the brewery, I said to him:  “You know one of the things that I find so attractive about you is that you’re so ‘F*CK YEAH!’ about life…so if I’m anything less than a ‘F*CK YEAH!’ to you, you’ve got to cut me loose.”

Without hesitation, he exclaimed, “F*CK YES!”

And we kissed (some more). And talked about whether we were ready to be in a relationship…YES! And we talked about meeting him meeting my children and our consummating the relationship (remember my rule:  intercourse only after exclusivity) and other things to come. And even if we hadn’t yet negotiated all of the details, I tossed and turned for hours that night with the giddiness of a schoolgirl so so happy that I could now call Brad my “boyfriend.”

As a few days went by, it became clear that the momentum had not, in fact, changed. Nor had our communication:  while mine might be sweet and flirty, his was tactical / functional — the sort of communication you might get from a husband…or an even more disinterested party, e.g.:

“I’m in training today. How’s your morning?”

And so I looked forward to our next date, during which I would share this communication challenge / opportunity as something that might be a risk for us in a relationship…