Cut to the Chase, Part I

This scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding is on my mind today. More and more in recent years, I have found myself being the chaser, rarely the chasee {or, if I was, the chaser was less than desirable and I was likely to keep running indefinitely}. Something happened last night that was both unexpected and yet somewhat predictable, and I don’t know what to do with the way I feel about it.

Charles is someone I met online a few years ago. I really liked him right off the bat and could see a future with him under different circumstances. He’s a family man, seems to really have his act together. Cares more about spending quality time with his family than going out and partying. He was a refreshing change to most of the guys I had met {and have met since}.

He lives here but works out of state, coming back and forth whenever his schedule allows. He didn’t look me up every time he was home, but did on occasion. I always wanted more from him but was somewhat content with what we did have. Even though I’ve gone on plenty of dates with other guys and have even gotten at least a little serious with a couple of them, part of me still held out hope that somehow things would work out with Charles. We’ve kept in touch, seeing each other very sporadically, but his genuine care and concern kept me from letting him go. Without ever meaning to, I began to love him. I subconsciously compared other guys to him, and they usually came up short.

Sometime last year, I found out he had serious heart problems. I can’t say I was surprised. He was under a huge amount of stress, working full time out of state and regularly driving back and forth eight hours each way to be there as the head of his family. His kids are here, as is his grandmother, who is in poor health. I was genuinely concerned for him, telling him more than once that he couldn’t continue like this. He was slowly driving himself into the ground in an effort to be there for everyone else.

Around Christmas, he told me he’d had quintuple {!!} bypass surgery on his heart and was in town recovering at his sister’s house. I was glad he’d had the surgery but it was still scary to think of him going right back into the same situation that got him there in the first place. It bothered me that he only just got around to telling me after who knows how many weeks here. Granted, he was recovering from serious heart surgery, but if I meant anything to him at all {other than a friend with benefits, which I strongly suspected was the case}, he would have contacted me much sooner.

Late last week, he said he’d be going back to work soon and wanted to see me. He didn’t say when, and I didn’t ask. After feeling like I’d been chasing him for the better part of our ‘relationship,’ I figured that if he really wanted to see me, he’d make it happen.

Earlier today, we were texting about Mardi Gras, and he asked if I’d ever been to New Orleans. I said that yes, I had been there twice and would love to go back because it’s such an amazing city. His response was that I should find us a nice hotel room and we should go. I was utterly speechless. Was he saying I was more than just a friend? You don’t just invite a woman to go on vacation unless she means something, do you? My mind was reeling. Finally, I said, “You really want to go on vacation with me?” He replied, “Why not?” {A confident ‘yes’ would have been nice, but whatever.} I decided to put it out there. I said that I had thought I was nothing more to him than a friend with benefits. He didn’t respond for an hour or more, so I said, “Maybe I’m just reading too much into it,” to which he quickly replied that yes, I was reading too much into it. Then he said, “We can even get separate beds if you want. I just want to go on a real vacation.” I felt like he had punched me in the stomach.

We’ve really shared some emotional times, like more than once when he was on the verge of tears over missing his kids, like when he was genuinely concerned for me at times when I was sick. On more than one occasion, his kids were there when I came over to see him. I thought that meant something, somehow. He has told me more than once that if he was working here, he’d want me to be his woman. But I guess all I am is a convenience to him. I’ve found myself in this position before…realizing I’m nothing more than someone to pass the time with. Why is that? Because I’m a nice person? Because I foolishly allow myself to become emotionally invested in people?

I think, where Charles is concerned, the blinders have finally come off. I’m forced to see things for what they are, and it hurts. I guess I’ve known all along there was a strong possibility that nothing long-term would ever come of this relationship, but I can’t help feeling like we might have been good for each other as more than FWB. I’ll never know. I can be his friend, but I won’t ever allow myself to drift back into that gray ‘benefits’ category. As much as I enjoyed spending time with Charles, I need to have enough respect for myself not to be convenient to him anymore.

On the bright side, something else is brewing that could {possibly} make this a moot point. When Charles first mentioned the vacation, I knew that had he brought this up a year or two ago, I probably would have jumped through hoops to make it happen. Now, I’m not so delusional, and I realize the grass is not really greener on his side of the fence. Stay tuned.

Cuffing Season?

Looking back at my last few posts, I guess I’m overdue for a progress report. I’m still talking to Michael, and after some very intense conversations, I feel like we’re in a better place. I feel like he’s understanding my insecurities in general and I’m understanding his. He has since unhidden his friends list, which helped. It wasn’t so much that I had this burning need to see who he’s friends with. I just really have a hard time with secretive people, and me wanting him to unblock his friends list was more a matter of principle. If he was really serious about wanting a future with me he’d unblock it, and he did {I didn’t put it quite that way. I’m NOT one for ultimatums}.

We still talk every day and he’s talking about coming to visit again in the next month or so. I’d say things are going better. I think we both have emotional baggage we’re dealing with. When we first started talking, he said he was suspicious of my motives because he couldn’t figure out why a woman as attractive as me {his words} would be interested in him. We’re working through some things and I’m hopeful.

With that said, I’m suddenly finding myself getting attention from every direction and it’s so foreign to me. I’ve never been the girl with the guys chasing her, but now I’m hearing about this guy or that guy who’s interested in me. Huh. As far as I can tell, I’m still the same person. I don’t know what’s changed that’s got guys noticing me.

First, there’s Joe, who I had kind of a FWB relationship for a while. He’s probably the best cuddler I’ve ever known. He’s about 6’5 and his hands are as big as my feet {which are not little or dainty}. Joe makes me feel small and safe in his arms. Romantically there wasn’t much there, though. We fooled around a few times, but sexually I wasn’t really into him. For one thing, he referred to his package as his “li’l wee-wee” several times. I finally told him to stop it. I told him that’s not sexy. He’s not small {more like average} but I don’t know any woman who would be turned on by a guy calling his dick a wee-wee. Anyway, I haven’t seen Joe in maybe a year or so, but lately he keeps poking me on Facebook and texting me from time to time. Maybe he’s lonely, I don’t know.

Then there’s Finch, who messages me every other week or so, saying he dropped the ball and hopes I’m single soon {I had told him I’m talking to someone} so he can have another chance. I suppose I might be flattered if I didn’t know that he messages me after each failed attempt at a relationship with someone else. I see him posting on Facebook regularly, looking for women and referring to himself as a handsome chocolate teddy bear, just in time for winter cuddling. I don’t know if he thinks I don’t see those posts or what. I told him I can’t offer him anything more than friendship but he still persists.

Next there’s Freddy, who I talked to for a while and had a couple of meh dates with. He also knows I’ve been talking to someone but messages me every few weeks, I guess to remind me that he’s still there. There was no chemistry at all when we went out, and he had a weird habit of staring at my elbow while he was talking to me. At least, I think that’s what he was looking at.

Another one is Calvin, whom I met a year ago at my friend Keisha’s house on Thanksgiving. He’s a friend of her uncle’s who happened to be there. They were all playing Pokeno, which I had never played, so he was coaching me. Nothing at all happened with him, other than playing cards and laughing a lot, right along with everyone else. Well yesterday, when I was at her house on Thanksgiving, Keisha’s uncle told me Calvin was down in Louisiana with a bad attitude. I asked why, and he said, “Because he knows you’re here and he’s not.” I was really surprised. A whole year had passed since I had seen Calvin, and like I said, our interaction was nowhere near romantic in nature. But Keisha’s uncle said Calvin sure remembered me, and was not happy that he wasn’t able to make it home {he’s a truck driver}.

And finally, there’s Nate. If anyone is a temptation, it’s him. We became friends on Facebook within the last couple of months or so. He’s seriously good looking and we’ve had a few good chat conversations online {some flirtatious, some not}. He lives much closer than Michael does and told me he’s recently single and would love to meet me. Of course, REBOUND was the first word that popped into my mind when he said that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tiny bit interested in meeting him face to face. I was good and told him I’m talking to someone, but damn. He definitely caught my attention. That’s all I have to say about that one {for now, anyway}.

I suppose this all might come off sounding conceited or vain. But on the contrary, I don’t get it. I’m actually perplexed by it. I’m not overly flirtatious. I don’t wear clothes that show all my business. I don’t hop in the sack with every guy who smiles at me. I’m friendly…I pay attention when people speak to me…I’m generally kindhearted and I love to laugh. Maybe it’s just that Christmas is coming and people get sentimental when they don’t have a special someone. Maybe they’re just looking for someone to fool around with. Who knows? But I’m definitely not used to the attention, and I’m humbled by it for sure.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that I’m in a place emotionally and mentally where I can be selective about who I spend time with. I’m ok with spending an evening on my own and don’t feel the need to constantly find some random guy to validate me or to stroke my ego {or to stroke my…*ahem* never mind}. I’m grateful to have a good head on my shoulders and friends I can count on. The past few years have been quite a ride, but I see myself evolving, and I gotta say, I kinda like who I’m becoming.

A Matter of Trust

“I’ve seen love come, I’ve seen it shot down, I’ve seen it die in vain.”
~Jon Bon Jovi

I’ve heard many times before that you shouldn’t punish one person for the mistakes of another. But when you’ve been jerked around so many times, when you’ve fallen victim to sweet-talking players so many times, when you realize how few people you can genuinely count on, it’s hard not to be a little jaded. I try not to assume the worst with people, but it’s so hard not to when I see certain patterns emerge.

How do you put the past behind you and open your heart? How do you tell the difference between trusting your gut and just being cynical or paranoid? I don’t want to go through life with my guard up but it’s so hard to let myself be vulnerable.

For the past few months, I’ve been talking to a guy who has many qualities I’m looking for, but I have a few misgivings. In the beginning, Michael called me at least four times a day. We texted and talked a lot and sent short video messages to each other. But lately, our conversations have dwindled down to once or twice a day. I get that days at work can get busy, but still. He also has his friends list in Facebook hidden. When I noticed it and asked him about it, he claimed that he had dated a girl who started sending angry messages to various people on his friends list after they split up, so he hid it from everyone. That just seems shady to me, like he has something to hide. For all I know, he’s adding new girls on there daily. I’d never know. Also, he had his phone locked when he was with me. I’ve done that before myself with different people, so it’s not an automatic dealbreaker, but it still raised another red flag. I also happen to know that on at least two occasions, he claimed to be exhausted and said he was going to bed, when he was still up chatting with at least one female on Facebook. Oh, and he lives in another state, which doesn’t help my insecurities.

When we first started talking, I made some comment about how he could have all kinds of women after him and I’d never know. He said that with as much as we were talking on the phone etc, how could he have real time to devote to anyone else? At the time, I bought it. But now that we’re talking significantly less, I can’t help but wonder. Now I’m the one getting scraps of his attention. Someone else could easily be getting those four phone calls a day and I’d never know. When I’ve brought up various insecurities or concerns, it’s almost like he’s shaming me. He’ll say things like, “Here I was thinking how much I love your laugh and how happy you make me, and there you are assuming the worst about me.” I don’t like that.

One night he texted me right after work claiming that he forgot he had church that night and would call me later. Close to midnight, he texted saying he was just getting home. I don’t know of any church that has functions til nearly midnight on a weeknight. I didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t buying it. I really like{d} this guy and was starting to think there could actually be a future with him. Now I feel myself kind of withdrawing. I don’t want to get hurt or be made a fool of. He talks about long-term plans with me, things he wants etc. He talks about meeting my family and wanting to get married. But instead of being excited about that, I’m sitting here with my guard up. I’m left wondering how many nights he claimed that he couldn’t keep his eyes open and got off the phone with me just so he could talk to someone else.

My ex-husband was {and is} one of the most dishonest people I’ve ever known. If I wouldn’t put up with his BS, why would I put up with it from someone I’m not even married to, let alone dating? I’m not about to introduce anyone to my family if I think he’s just using me or playing games.

How do you trust someone? How do you open yourself up? Is there anyone out there I can really trust? I don’t want to give up hope that I’ll find a guy who thinks I’m enough. A guy who just sees ME, rather than looking over my shoulder to see if there’s anyone else out there who might be more interesting.

I haven’t quite written Michael off yet, but he’s definitely on thin ice for now. I guess time will tell how genuine he really is. I just keep thinking, please please please don’t let me regret the time I’ve spent getting to know him {and turning down other offers because I thought this was really going somewhere}.

The One Who Raised the Bar

When I first started going to BBW parties, I didn’t really know what to expect. I admit, I was a bit jaded after years of a very unromantic marriage, and I really didn’t have high expectations of meeting someone special. It was mostly an opportunity for me to get back into the social scene and figure out all over again how to date.

At the very first party I went to, one of my friends told me about a guy she knew whom she thought I would like. She said he was a big guy {former minor league football player} and that he was a gentle giant. Toward the end of the party, I noticed a guy fitting that description who came in and started dancing. I was pretty sure it must be him, but I couldn’t find my friend to ask her.

As things were winding down, people were leaving, and the lights were turned back up, I was talking to my friends when this guy came walking over. He said hi to the ones he knew and gave my friend a hug. She turned and introduced me to Ben. He looked down, smiled, and shook my hand, then it was almost as if I had said, “HEY!” He had started to look away but quickly looked back down at me {he was easily a foot taller than me} like he was really seeing me for the first time. Then he started turning on the charm. He was talking and flirting and kept asking for my number. I didn’t know what to do, and certainly wasn’t used to any guy coming on to me like that, so I finally said, “Give me your number and I’ll call you.” He didn’t believe that I would, but eventually gave me his number.

The next afternoon, I called him. When he answered, I said, “Hi, do you know who this is?” At the party, my friend had teased him about being terrible with names and said he probably wouldn’t remember mine. But he immediately guessed who I was, name and all {score one point for the gentle giant}. We talked for a while, and he asked if I wanted to meet for dinner later that week. I accepted.

We pulled in at the same time, and he immediately came over to my side of the car before I was even all the way out. He had this big smile and gave me a big hug and kiss. I loved being wrapped in those arms. We walked together to the restaurant, which he said he had worked at years before. A few people there remembered him, and he introduced me to all of them {score another point}. During dinner, he held my hands across the table and gazed at me like a big lovestruck kid. He said that when he had met me, he took a double take because he had been mesmerized by my eyes. At one point, he said he wanted to show me where the restroom was in case I needed to go while we were there. I followed him over there and as soon as we got around the corner, he pulled me into his arms and kissed me. He said he just wanted an excuse to kiss me, not to show me where the restroom was {points scored all over the place}.

After dinner, he tucked my arm in his as we walked back to the car. He held me and kissed me, and I was loving every minute of it. He called and texted every day, and we made plans to meet again. After talking for a week or two, I went over to his apartment one afternoon. We were on his bed kissing, touching, fooling around, and it was so nice. At one point, I looked at him and said, “You’re gonna make me fall for you.” He kissed me and said, “Go ahead and fall, I’ll catch you.” Hook, line, sinker. He had me.

As we were fooling around that day, he wanted me to go down on him. I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well enough to assume I wasn’t the first girl to be in his apartment. I also assumed I wouldn’t be the first girl in his bed to blow him. Something had to set me apart. So I ignored his request. We kept fooling around, and he ended up going down on me. My ex-husband had never been very good at oral sex. He only did it occasionally, and I was never really comfortable having his face downtown anyway. One time, when he halfheartedly did, I asked if he even enjoyed doing it. He said he only did it because he thought I wanted him to. So I told him not to worry about it anymore. I think both of us were relieved. But when Ben touched me with his tongue… I discovered for the first time what all the fuss was about. He had me digging my heels into the mattress, gasping, moaning… He was amazing.

The next time I went to his apartment, all bets were off. Naked, kissing, touching, making love…it was so good. We went on dates, and every time, he was holding my hands across the table, being a perfect gentleman. It was as if I had conjured him out of a dream. THIS was what dating was supposed to be like! He was courting me, wooing me, and winning me with every kiss, every gesture, every moment that we were together. He came to a bar he had no interest in, just because he knew I’d be there. He went out of his way to be wonderful, paying for me on our dates and being so sweet and attentive.

I should have known this was too good to be true.

One afternoon, we were at his apartment in bed. I was contentedly lying there, with my head on his chest, when he dropped a bombshell on me. Oh, by the way, he had sort of a girlfriend who used to live here but was now living in Canada for work. They talked on the phone a few times a week, said the “L” word, and what he was really looking for was someone who was not only okay with him having someone else, but who would ideally have her own guy on the side so he wouldn’t feel bad about it. I slowly pulled back from him and felt myself inwardly withdrawing, like a turtle into a shell. He saw my reaction and tried to be sweet but I didn’t even know what to say. He had been acting like I was his girlfriend, but here he was telling me all he wanted from me was some no-strings-attached fun??

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

We continued talking, and after several days, we were back to going on dates and fooling around. Despite what he had said, he was acting so romantic, so caring… like a boyfriend, not a friend with benefits. I stupidly let my guard down, thinking maybe he cared about me more than he was willing to admit. But one evening, we were at his apartment, sitting on the porch and having a glass of wine, when the same discussion came up again. He said he hadn’t misled me, that he had made it clear what he was looking for. I said I didn’t like knowing I was nothing but a convenience to him. He tried to say that wasn’t the case but what else would you call it? He asked if I wanted a relationship. I said I didn’t know what it was that I wanted. I was getting more angry and feeling more and more foolish. I asked what he would have said if I’d said yes when he asked me about wanting a relationship. He said, “I would have said I’m not ready.” I looked at him angrily and said, “You’re damn right you’re not ready.” I took the last sip of my wine and said, “We’re done here.” I calmly {but purposefully} walked back inside and put my glass in the sink, intending to walk out of his apartment and out of his life. He tried to stop me, looking like he really didn’t like being the bad guy, but I left anyway. He told me to call him when I got home. I never did.

He texted me a few days later and I ignored him. I did my best to put him out of my mind, but too many things about him were exactly what I was looking for in a guy. I couldn’t forget him.

A few months went by, and I was out at a club one night with my friends, when who should walk by but Ben. I had sworn I’d never hook up with him again, but seeing him after all that time, all the memories came rushing back. We started talking, and I was trying so hard to just act like we were friends, nothing more. But then he asked me to dance. We had gone to this same club together before, and he had never really been into PDA. But this time, he got me on the dancefloor and couldn’t stop kissing me. He kept telling me how much he had missed me.

Needless to say, all of my bravado went right out the window and I ended up in his bed that night. It was better than it had ever been. The sex was incredible. He kept telling me how beautiful I was, how much he had missed me. The next morning, he had to drive his cousin somewhere very early, and he told me to stay there and he’d be right back. Before he left, he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. I was lost all over again.

The second honeymoon didn’t last long before we were right back to square one. I distanced myself without much fanfare this time, and even though I would occasionally hear from him, we didn’t see each other again…until several months later when he invited me to his cousin’s wedding. I was surprised and flattered and accepted the invitation. We had a good time until I noticed that he couldn’t keep his eyes off one of the bridesmaids. Every time she went by, his eyes went too. I finally saw him for what he was — a dog in his late 40s, still chasing tails. I knew I was done.

Ain't nuttin but a hound dawg

Ain’t nuttin but a hound dawg

For the longest time, I couldn’t put him out of my mind. I was mad at myself for giving any thought to a guy who clearly thought of me as nothing but an option. I couldn’t figure out why I was still thinking about him, but it suddenly dawned on me. He set the bar for how Mr. Right should be. Ben may have turned out to be nothing but a dog, but he was also so many things that I’m looking for in a man: attentive, romantic, sweet, great lover, funny, sexy as hell…

I’ve had plenty of dates, and while I’m not super picky, I do have certain standards that I’m pretty set on. Yeah, I’ve gone out with some guys who weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I’ve tried to be less demanding and not automatically rule out a particular guy just because of one thing or another. But the fact is that my marriage was 17 years of me constantly lowering my expectations. I’m not looking for the perfect guy, just the one who’s perfect for me. I have to be true to myself and hold out for what I really want.

Next up: Chocolat