It was the nicest turndown a woman could have, and I said as much in a message to the man. We had checked out one another’s profiles. He’d sent me a message saying that I had a nice smile and a nice profile. His profile suggested that he had numerous and varied interests. One of them was an interest in a particular style of dance with which I was unfamiliar. In fact, while I had taken classes in ballroom dancing in my thirties, I had not danced at all–except by myself in my kitchen, bedroom, and office–in many years. I sent him a message saying that if he was willing to teach, I was willing to learn. I admitted that dancing in the kitchen with a man while cooking dinner was a fantasy of mine.
“Dancing is so much fun. Honest,” he replied. “If what we are looking for was a little bit closer, I would take you up on that idea in a heartbeat!” He pointed out that it takes time to learn and become proficient at that particular dance style. “Your profile intrigued me, and your response is one to savor,” he wrote. “The dancing in the kitchen idea hits me the same way. I have always wanted to do that!” He finished by saying that he had no doubt that I would be a blast to slow dance with.
It was very sweet, but it was clearly a turndown. He was trying, with ever so much compassion and tact, to say that I was just too old for him.
His age? Fifty-three.
Yes, he was too young for me. I had overlooked his age or discounted it when I replied to his initial message.
“I believe that is the nicest turndown a woman could have. All the best to you,” I replied.
I thought I would hear nothing further, but instead, I received another message from him. “I just frowned. I hate that kinda stuff. Guess I have a big heart and respect for women’s feelings. You are absolutely gorgeous and sexy. I hope the best for you also.”
I couldn’t quite tell if he was frowning because I had been so honest about it being clear that he was turning me down or because he felt a little bit bad about the whole situation. I didn’t want him to come to the conclusion that it would be wiser to simply ignore messages like the one I’d first sent him that he had so sweetly replied to with the turndown. I wanted him to know that getting a turndown message was preferable to getting blown off. But I didn’t want to send him another message he would feel obliged to respond to. So I let it go.
Nearly a month and a half later, I saw that he had joined another dating site I was on. This was my opportunity to encourage him to keep being so honest and sweet with women. “Wait a second, I know you,” I said in a message. “You gave me the nicest turndown you could have on the other site. You were bummed about that, but you should know that getting a message as respectful and sweet as the one you sent beats the heck out of getting no response at all. So stay a nice guy.”
He replied that he remembered me well because I had been hard to resist, still found me beautiful and sexy, and liked both my earlier message and the one I’d just sent. What followed was a series of message exchanges between us over the next ten days, followed by a phone conversation and texts for another ten days. A lot of texts–over three hundred.
There was playful flirting and banter in our texts, with an underlying sense of friendship. I liked him. He variously referred to me as hot stuff and baby in our text exchanges, and while it would have come across as smarmy from a lesser man, it came across as sweetly endearing because he was so authentic, honest, and nice. In some ways, he was like a fun combination of close male friend and younger brother, the male friend part being flirtatious and suggestive and the younger brother part being protective when I spoke of my online dating experience.
But at some point, the mood shifted a bit. The flirting became a bit more pronounced and we danced around the idea of meeting one another. Selfies were exchanged. It was reckless. He was clear that he was looking for a woman closer to his own age. I was clear that I found him appealing, regardless of age.
I could end up with a bruised heart again.
Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall