When I was divorced and in my thirties, I had numerous male friends. Some of them, including at least one who was married, made it clear that they were available for taking the friendship into the sexual realm. I didn’t take any of them up on the offer. At the same time in my life, I had romantic partners. Most of the time, I was a serial monogamist. One notable exception was a brief period during which I was seeing two men who knew one another because they were on the same soccer team. When they began treating me like something to be competed over, I got the two of them in the same room, told them I didn’t like being treated that way, and threatened to stop seeing them both if they didn’t cease the competitiveness. But I didn’t talk to either of them about the other.
Now, half a lifetime from those experiences, I realized that I could use a male friend to talk to about the odd dating experiences that had recently come out of left field. I could talk to my best friend, Antonio, about pretty much anything, but he wasn’t a good candidate for this particular discussion because he had been married for many years and had no knowledge of the online dating subculture.
Jake knew I had a date two days after our meeting. The day of that date, he sent me a short text. A few days later, he sent another, saying he hoped my week was going well. I texted him back saying that I’d had an odd little thing out of left field happen on Monday. He wanted to know what it was, and I told him it would take too many words to get across in a simple text. In classic Jake style, he asked if I’d had a craving for chocolate . . . or something.
“Or something,” I admitted. It was true that I’d had a craving or two related to him since our meeting. “But that wasn’t the left field thing.”
Two days later, he texted again, asking if there had been any more left field moments. Actually, there had been an odd little incident, though not related to dating. I’d been abruptly awakened from a deep sleep with the thought that I’d left my credit card at the restaurant I’d been to with female friends that evening. I mumbled to myself that I don’t do that sort of thing, but I was so thoroughly awake that I hauled myself out of bed, went down to my office and looked in my billfold, just to confirm that the credit card was there. It wasn’t. I had been awakened by my guides to alert me to that fact. They’d picked a moment when my mind was receptive. I was grateful. Days or weeks might have gone by without my having discovered it because I didn’t use that credit card often.
I admitted that another odd thing had actually happened. Jake wanted to call me to hear about it, but I was waiting for a call from a potential client and couldn’t talk.
Two days after my date with the man I suspected of having some degenerative brain disease, I texted Jake. “I hope that the old superstition that things happen in threes is true because the third out of left field thing happened on Sunday.” I was hoping that superstition was true because I definitely didn’t need a fourth odd occurrence.
He texted back that his curiosity was killing him. The phone rang before I saw another text saying he would call me in two minutes.
I told him about all three odd, out of left field occurrences. He was friend-like: attentive and supportive. He agreed that I need a man who is my physical and mental equal, and he didn’t seem to simply be looking out for his own interests as he talked about it. He even shared a couple of stories from his own dating experience. He was so sensible and so objective that I found myself wondering if he had simply lost all interest in me as a woman and could therefore retreat into younger brother role completely.
After we hung up, I sent him the link to my blog. I had told him about my blog early on, before friendly banter had morphed into physical demonstration. Now I was giving him a direct link to it. Was I deliberately trying to scare him off? If so, why? Was I afraid I would become too fond of him and wanted to send him packing before that happened? Did I want to see what he was made of, see if he could handle reading about the other men I’d dated?
Actually, my feelings about him were complicated. I liked him. I wanted to spend time with him. But I also cared enough about him to want for him what he wanted for himself. And I knew that wasn’t me. It was a woman closer to his own age, preferably one who was good at the style of dancing he was competitive in. And what I wanted for myself was a man for whom I was first choice, not someone to dally with while waiting for the right woman to come along. Jake and I were definitely strange bedfellows.
This was more complex than mere friendship. It was more complex than a f*** buddy relationship would be. In some respects, it was more complex than a romance would be. I hadn’t just gone down the rabbit hole. I was wandering around Wonderland, full of wonder and clueless about what I was doing.
Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall