I don't think he's the right guy for you, a friend said to me recently. She was telling me about a conversation her boyfriend had with a man I had expressed interest in. I met him at a conference and after that first meeting, we ran into each other at a networking meeting, a party thrown by a mutual friend, and later he magically appeared in my neighborhood. I took these as signs. Signs for what, you may ask? I'm not sure, exactly, but I believe that everything is a sign for something. Because he appeared to be intelligent, interesting, spiritual (doesn't that sound nicer than religious?) and attractive in a Michael Pollan sort of way, I asked him out for lunch, where we found out that we had common interests. In his email, he sent two hours after lunch, he called us kindred spirits. That was a sign to invite him to a party I was having, which he eagerly accepted. Another good sign, I thought because it means he not dating anyone. Sometimes I feel like the black Nancy Drew as I look for clues about a man's availability and interest in being involved with the opposite sex.
Since I don't date the way I did in my 30s, meaning rarely, when I meet someone, I don't like any grass to grow under my feet. Available men don't stay on the market very long, another female friend remarked to me. It's true. I know, they're not new cars, but I think you get my drift. When this man appeared in my life, after a long drought of not meeting anyone, I thought this could be interesting. As you can surmise, I haven't given up on romance. I don't want to brag, but I have a lot to offer. I'm attractive, well-educated, well-read, have a good sense of humor, blah, blah, blah. I don't need to be married, but it would be nice to share my life with someone worthwhile.
But dating or attempting to date in one's 50s is a completely different ballgame. There's no time to waste. After having relationships with men who have had unresolved issues with their mothers, drank or did drugs excessively, were great in bed, but never had any money, or in one instance, didn't want to have sex. In the last scenario, I still can't believe I put up with that for three frigging months! How many ways can you spell gay? He's one of the superstars in my "hall of shame."
I've gotten pretty good at spotting the red flags, finally. I don't make excuses when they are being waved in front of my face. One appeared in the fact that I hadn't heard from him since my party. Let's face it, if someoone's interested, he'll call you. I wasn't holding out a lot of hope and I've sense enough not to sit by the telephone or constantly check my email. That's the great thing about being middle-aged, you don't make time for BS. But when my friend told me she had some news about him, I'll admit I was very curious.
Why do you say he's not the right guy, I asked. Well, she responded hesitantly, he mentioned something to Bernard (her boyfriend) about his demons. Demons, I asked, not sure I was hearing correctly. Yes, demons, she repeated, starting to laugh. Did he go into more detail; did Bernard ask any specific questions about these demons, I asked? No she said, which is typical for guys, I would have gotten a lot more information about this. I looked at the receiver. He seemed normal, I thought. Then I started laughing and thanked her for telling me.
If this had happened in my 30s, I would have wanted to find out what I could do to help him with his demons. I know that sounds a little crazy, but it's kind of mind-boggling in terms of what some women will put up with in the pursuit of a relationship and I was no exception. I would have found the demons exciting, asked my therapist what he thought this all meant. If the sex had been good, who knows how long I would have put up with the demon thing. My libido had a funny way of keeping those red flags out my sight. Besides, we've been told that nothing is ever perfect in a relationship, right? One has to make compromises in the very best of them. That's all true of course, but compromise is one thing, demons are another dimension and dare I say, not a good one.
So I wish him well and maybe we'll be friends, maybe not. In the meantime, I'll keep enjoying my life, being grateful for my friends who love me enough to tell me the truth. And I'll keep holding on to the hope that the nice man is out there, demon-free.