Speaking for myself…or maybe most women, the ideal man is strong yet sensitive. Sensitive in the way that he knows if I’m having a bad day. It’s not because he can read my mind but that he can tell by the text I sent that said “I can’t wait for this day to be over” or the red angry swearing emoji I sent when he texted to see how my day was going. Sensitive in the way that a glass of wine is waiting for me when I get home. Not sensitive in the way that he is more likely to cry during a sad movie than I am. I hate seeing a man cry. There are only a handful of occasions that a man can cry and not lose an ounce of his manhood – death of a family member or close friend, death of a pet, death of vintage automobile. Okay there may be a few others I’ve left out, but you get the idea.
This particular dating experience occurred before my adventures online. I was introduced to this man via a mutual friend so I guess you could call it a “fix up”. He (we will call him CB) was tall, blonde, fair skin with freckles, decent looking. I’m not really into blondes but I gave it a shot. I had actually not ever seen this man but he had seen me and our mutual friend was acting as the go-between. The one common interest we had was hockey so we met at a hockey game, all three of us, since he and I had yet to meet face to face. He had chosen wisely as it was a game commemorating some of the hall of fame hockey players, and we were in the box seats with them!! Apparently his dad was good friends with a hall-of-famer. CB seemed nice and not too aggressive as he let me enjoy talking with the former hockey players without hovering. At the end of the game he asked if he could get my number so he could ask me out for dinner.
He was quite the date planner. The first date was drinks followed by dinner at undisclosed locations. He told me the appropriate dress and what time to be ready but not exactly where we would be going. I was impressed with the take charge attitude. He chose a trendy rooftop bar at a nice hotel for drinks followed by a very tasteful dinner location. He definitely had my attention at this point. The second date was to an art museum which housed a very large blown glass sculpture by one of his favorite artists followed by a gourmet dinner prepared by him at his home. I was a little taken aback when we arrived at his house. The first thing I noticed were all the candles everywhere. Nice candles, the kind you find at the high end department stores. Other things I noticed were lots of framed photos and lots of plants. As we made our way to the kitchen I saw that the dinner table was already set for two. It was the full compliment of china and stem ware. Every detail accounted for down to the very last piece of silverware for dessert. I have to say I was starting to question his sexuality at this point. I asked him if he had a decorator or an ex-girlfriend who decorated his apartment. No, it was all him…but he had once staged apartments for a leasing company. Okay, that made a little more sense. As he made dinner I asked if there was anything I could do to help. He asked me to put some of the spices away in the cabinet. When I opened the door I saw every item arranged by height from short to tall going left to right on each shelf. I stood there for a moment remembering the movie “Sleeping With The Enemy” with Julia Roberts, and hearing the creepy classical music, Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique, in my head. He noticed and said “I’m not like that guy in Sleeping With The Enemy”. Hmmm, I don’t know about that.
Our third date was another surprise date where I was given a time to be ready and the appropriate dress. This time it was unusual. I was told to be ready at 9:00 am and to wear warm outdoor clothing (Chicago winter outdoor) including boots that I would not mind wearing if I had to walk through mud. He took me to a hunt club to shoot clay pigeons. This may be a turn off for many girls but, being that I grew up in the Midwest with brothers, I loved shooting guns. I had actually mentioned this to him on our first date which is probably why he was so bold to choose shooting as a third date. Impressive that a man had listened to what I had said on a first date! At this point I am looking past the almost strawberry blonde hair and fair freckled complexion. He dresses nice, he cooks, he shoots guns, he likes hockey, he has an impeccably neat home. Where could I find fault? Why did I want to look for fault? I didn’t want to be a Doubting Thomas or Debbie Downer! What goes up must always come down. It’s the law of gravity, and unfortunately relationships too.
Soon, the “I love you’s” came. Too soon? Yes, a little bit too soon for me but everything was going very well. Why fight it?? The overnight stays started. Okay, I can’t say that I was as impressed with his intimacy skills as I was with his date planning, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was out of practice. Maybe he was nervous. He was comfortable enough with me, however, to set me down to confide in me something he felt was very serious. He said “I have to tell you something.” That phrase always makes me nervous. What bomb is about to be dropped on me? Seems that Mr. Date Planner had an occasional vertigo problem. He said it had first started a few years before we had met and that it “rarely” affected him and that his neurologists (yes more that one) told him there was nothing to do for it. One night after a delicious dinner and a bottle of wine at his home, I awoke 2 am to find him standing in his hallway, arms outstretched in front of him, eyes closed, balancing on one foot! He came back to bed 30 or 40 minutes later. I asked him what he had been doing. He hadn’t realized I was awake. “I woke up and thought I might be dizzy” he responded. “So, are you?” I asked. “I don’t know.” He said and he got up again, did his one foot maneuver and asked me if he was wobbling. “Not anymore than I would be” and I got up and did his little maneuver and quickly hit the wall. “I’m not dizzy and I can’t even do this, now can we go back to bed?” I said firmly. This was another warning sign. I think I saw it, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. A few days later I was supposed to go over to his house after a long day at work. He texted me that he thought he was coming down with a cold. He actually called in sick to work that morning! Yikes, I can’t remember the last time I called in sick…oh wait…NEVER!!! That’s not completely fair though because I would be punished for the next six months if I called in sick to work. He texted me throughout the day letting me know he was “napping” off and on. Napping?? Who says this?? I was cancelling our plans as I had no time to become sick and wasn’t too fond of playing nurse maid. However, he asked me to pick up a few things for him before I came over that evening…orange juice, chicken noodle soup, and pedialyte. PEDIALYTE?!?! Seriously? The cold resolved in the next couple days. This was followed by several sexless nights with a prelude such as “I’m just so tired, I didn’t sleep well last night” and an occasional “my stomach doesn’t feel well, I think it was something I ate” and the ever endearing “I think I may be dizzy”.
The full blown man child showed itself when we took a trip together. By the way, if you really want to get to know someone take a trip with them. In the dead of winter we chose to take a trip to a warm, tropical local. It so happened that our birthdays were one day apart and during this particular week. We had a five hour direct flight leaving on a Saturday morning, 8am. We were at our destination, checked in to the resort by 3:30pm (same time zone as home) and walking on the beach by 4 with tropical drink in hand. You never eat well while traveling and as such we were starving. We made dinner reservations for 6 pm at one of the resort restaurants. Once seated, we ordered a bottle of wine and appetizers. He excused himself to the washroom during appetizers. When the meal arrived he excused himself again. Upon his return I asked if he was okay. “I think I’m feeling a little dizzy. I’m going to have to go lie down. Do you mind?” What could I say?? I was dumbfounded but the words “no I don’t mind” seemed to trickle right out of my mouth and in a flash he was gone.
Here I was, our first night on vacation, sitting alone at dinner. I finished my meal and all I could stomach of the wine and contemplated how I wanted to handle this situation. Was this how the entire trip would be? Could I leave and go home now? Wait a minute…this is my vacation and my birthday too. Should I make him go home?? Could I do that? I decided to have mercy and see if there was any way to salvage the rest of the trip. He was an adult after all, right? I walked back to the room with his dinner in a to-go box. He was lying on the bed, on top of the blankets, all lights on, when I walked in. “So, are you okay?” I asked. “I think I’m just dehydrated and tired from the trip.” he responded. WHAT??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? (this was going through my head, I didn’t actually say it out loud) We talked and tried to come to an understanding so that we could move forward and enjoy the rest of our vacation. Plus, the next day was Valentine’s Day and his birthday. I had serious doubts.
I had given him his birthday presents prior to the trip so I wouldn’t have to pack them. He had given me my present (singular) on the day we arrived, so I assumed it was a combo birthday/Valentines Day present (which I despise). It was nice, a necklace from Tiffany’s. It did have two charms on it so maybe one was for my birthday and the other for Valentines Day. I went ahead and gave him his Valentine’s Day present at that time too since we were exchanging gifts. It was a keyring from Tiffany’s. The next morning I gave him two cards – one for his birthday and one for Valentine’s day. It always bothered me when people would do the combo present or card so I didn’t want to do that to him. He opened the Valentine’s day card first. When I looked over at him after a moment of silence I noticed that he looked like he was crying. Not just watery eyes or a single tear, but crying!!! It wasn’t a sappy card and I didn’t write a heart-felt message in it. By the time the trip was to happen I was already dreading it to a degree and probably knew the end was near. Nevertheless, I searched for two cards that were nice without expressing undying love, or love at all. In fact, all I wrote in the cards was my name after the printed message. When I saw his emotional outburst I was completely disgusted. I couldn’t even hide my disgust. “Why are you crying?” I asked. “Because this card is just so touching!” I replied, “I’ll write Hallmark and let them know.” I held my breath and counted to ten to get my composure and then I just couldn’t help myself. “I am going to say something to you that probably isn’t the nicest thing to say, but here it is anyway. I need to be with a man who is tougher than me.” He handled it well. He didn’t flip out or anything. Maybe he didn’t realize the end was near. Maybe he was ignoring what I said. We had four more days to get through and I wanted to enjoy the trip so I tried to keep my cool. However, from that point forward I was aggravated by everything little thing he did. By the way, I didn’t get a Valentine’s day card OR a birthday card from him! That day we had gone zip-lining (even though I thought this was a bad idea with his vertigo and told him as much – but he insisted) and of course on the way back to the hotel he tells me he might be dizzy and wants to lay down with his head in my lap! No!
On our very last evening in Costa Rica I wanted to go into town one last time and have dinner and do a little souvenir shopping for my friends. We had gotten dressed and were waiting for the shuttle and he says “Maybe we should stay here.” “Why?” “Well, we won’t get back until almost 10:00pm.” “So?” “We still need to pack to leave tomorrow.” I sighed. “OK, let’s just eat at the bar here.” I started walking away from the front entrance of the hotel. He followed me saying “Are you sure?” What is that?? ARE YOU SURE? Have you noticed that people say that when they want to appear that they are open to other options or let you change your mind. In actuality, they do not want to give you an out and they are not open to other options. It’s just a nicety, but meaningless. We sat at the bar and all I could think is “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” I was packed and ready for bed by 9:30 that night. The trip home seemed to last for hours. On the cab ride home I suggested spending the next day apart doing our own things.
I spent that next day talking with one of my girlfriends, rehashing the events. I never wanted him to even touch me again. I was thoroughly disgusted. It was over. Can anyone recover from that? I don’t think so. I knew what I had to do. I had to break up with him, like really break up and say the words “I don’t want to see you” because he hadn’t taken any of the hints to this point. We had only dated for a little more than 2 months, it wasn’t if I were giving up on something that years were invested. I knew there would probably be crying (on his part) and most likely some pleading to give it another chance.
I began formulating the plan. I needed it to be foolproof. I was at work contemplating the approach when he texted asking if he could come over and make dinner for me at my place and of course stay the night. NO!!!! But that gave me just the idea I had been searching for. Yes, we would make plans to have dinner together, but at his place! I had decided that breaking up at his place was best since I had the option of leaving at any time. If he came to my place I may have to call to have him extricated. I did have some items at his house that I would rather collect than to have them tossed out the window. Make-up and hair products are too expensive to waste! I let my girlfriends know the plan since they all had their own worries about how he might react. I thought he would cry and beg me to give him another chance. My mother was afraid he would stalk me. My friend B suggested he might try to kidnap me to keep me there or kill himself. My friend G laughed at all of this but she was worried I would get sucked in talking and arguing all night. I continued formulating my plan and called it “Operation Crybaby”.
I went to the gym after work to really get myself pumped up for my mission. I didn’t even shower after my workout. I didn’t want to lose any of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I had my hair pulled back in a pony tail (it was long then). I grabbed my army green twill duffel bag to use to gather the items at his home. I zipped my tall black leather boots over my jeans and grabbed my long black coat. I sent a text to my friends that Operation Crybaby was about to commence. (Cue theme music from Mission Impossible)
I drove over to his place, called to announce my arrival. I carried my empty bag up the stairs. It was staged as if I were coming to spend the night. When I came in I told him we needed to talk. That’s another one of those phrases no one wants to hear. He looked worried. We sat in his living room and he asked what I wanted to talk about. “I’m not happy with our relationship and how things are going.” I expected the tears to start or questions of “what can I do?” etc. I was caught off-guard though by the belligerent behavior that ensued. He demanded to know why. I began listing all of his ailments and how if he wasn’t ill he was always afraid he would become ill. He said he couldn’t believe I was throwing away everything we had over one incident. “One incident? It’s one incident every single day!” I replied. His response was that he had a real vestibular problem and that I had no idea how it feels to get dizzy. “Neither do you most of the time.” I responded. I tried to redirect and rationalize, “Look, I didn’t come to blame or fight. I just wanted to tell you face to face that I’m just not happy and I think we should just go our separate ways.” He then tried the guilt trip, “I can’t believe you don’t even want to try. In a relationship you have to work to overcome obstacles. You just want to run away.” I tried rationalizing again, “We’ve only been dating two months! We shouldn’t have obstacles like this to overcome at two months!” Then, without thinking, I went for the jugular, “I think you are a little too emotional.” Ouch! I think I struck a nerve because then he got really angry. “No, YOU’RE too emotional!” Okay…round two “You were crying over a Valentine’s Day card!” His come back was “You cry too!” Round three. “There’s always something wrong with you. You’re either coming down with a cold or thinking you might be dizzy.” The reply? Yes you guessed it. “You always have things wrong with you too!” “okay” I replied, “is this how we’re gonna play this game?” I suddenly felt like I was back on the grade school playground saying “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” I decided the discussion part of the break up was over. I started walking down the hall to gather my things. I heard him slamming things around in the kitchen which I assumed were our pictures and a candle I had given him. I leaned my head out of the bathroom and shouted to him, “I guess asking if you still want to be friends is out of the question?” I know it was not nice, but I couldn’t help myself. “I have friends!” he shouted back to me. “Oh, OK” I said. Once we were back in the same room, he threw something small at me. I instinctively caught it. It was small and metal and jingled in my hand when I caught it. I thought it was my keys. When I opened my hand I saw the Tiffany’s key chain I had given him. “This was a gift, don’t you want it?” I asked. “No!” he replied. “Well, can I have my keys back too?” I asked. He threw those at me as well. Darn! I wasn’t as smooth with those and they fell to the floor. I half-hardheartedly threw his keys back at him. I gathered my things and he opened the door for me. As I stepped out onto the landing, the door slammed behind me and I heard the dead bolt click. I walked out to my car smiling and resisting the urge to look and see if he was looking out the window. When I had driven out of sight I called G …”hello” “Mission accomplished” I said.
In retrospect should I have seen this coming? Yes, I should have. When the dates changed from super cool outings to dinners at home followed by “I might be dizzy” I should have cut bait and run. He presented himself as this confident successful person and in a matter of weeks decompensated to a hypochondriacal baby! Is there a moral to this story? Yes, when the true colors start appearing, if you aren’t liking what you are seeing, get out! Odds are high it’s only going to get worse.
[photo credit: Pixabay.com]