Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The One-Person Rule

Deb's most notable feature was her flat abs, and the related piercings. She sent me a picture of those abs shortly after we started chatting. Needless to say, it got my attention. Deb was the first woman who formally articulated what several other women had intimated.

On an earlier date, one woman asked to see a picture of my kids. It looks like the three of you (I have two kids) are at a pool. Yeah, I said, the pool at my place. "My goal is to be sitting next to you at that pool," she said. Whoa. I definitely did not remember women being that forward with me during my earlier dating life. On a subsequent date with a different woman, I was asked who else  I was seeing and where she fit into the picture. Yikes. Now that is some aggressive interrogation, and she wasn't even an attorney.

But Deb took this all to a new level.

 I met her on Match and after about two emails she told me that she'd like to get to know me better through messaging, but didn't really want to invest the time if I was talking to anyone else. I said I wasn't and so we began chatting with the understanding that neither of us was talking to anyone else.

While our messaging never came close to the emotional or intellectual heights later reached between Suzy I and myself, our messages were still exchanged frequently and with some excitement. After about three weeks, we decided to meet in a park by a lake. Deb brought a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers. It was a nice evening. We walked around the lake, held hands, and did a fair amount of kissing.

The next day Deb sent me a message telling me that, in so many words, I was too mellow and we'd never be more than friends. I said fine and moved on. What? She exclaimed. That's it? Well, yes, isn't that what you just said? "I guess." And then she seemed to slink away in disgust.

I was never sure what any of that was about, but what I call the one-person rule did intrigue me. I had been with one woman for 19 years, and found that monogamous relations could be quite satisfying. Monogamous relations seemed to fit my personality much better at 49 than they did at age 17, 18, or even 25.  Not long after Deb, I met Suzy and then Jane, two more notorious one-and-doners.

After these three failed dates, I consulted with a few middle-aged friends who had been dating longer than I had. Every single one of them told me that the one-person-rule, at least as I was applying it, was ridiculous, and nobody else did it that way. Effectively, they said, I was shutting myself off from perfectly good dates with perfectly good people on the small chance that things with one person would work out, and, if I didn't know by now, they almost never work out. The one-person rule might make sense after several dates with that one person, but never before.


A perspective check.

What great friends I have.

But wait.

The story isn't over.

So now it's two months later, and I'm talking to Susan Sarandon II and  Susan Sarandon III at the same time. Next thing you know, I'm going on dates with both, and, even more surprising, I'm going on second and third dates with both.

And I don't want either relationship to end.

Nor do I want to disclose that I'm dating multiple people.

There just is no perfect way to do this.

As soon as there is even a tiny light at the end of the grim tunnel of middle-aged dating, even that light comes with an asterisk.

*Sooner or later, everyone out there will hurt someone else's feelings, and there is nothing you can do to protect your own feelings or those of your dates. The pain is just part of the ritual.

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