Lessons Learned

I’m new to blogging about dating, but I thought I’d give it a try.  I’ve been in the dating world, primarily trolling dating sites for 7 years, yet I’m still single.  Why?

This isn’t a blog designed to bash men or women.  It’s a blog generated to help us all understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

So I’m going to start with my most recent experience.  All names have been changed to protect the “innocent” and while right now, my knee-jerk response is to kick his ass to Mars, I won’t do it.  First, my neighbors might object to  seeing a rather tall (and somewhat portly) man go flying off my front porch.  Or not.  They already think I’m weird, so maybe I should give it a try?

Let me tell all of you THIS first:  Before you go buy the Rori Raye and Christian Carter stuff, know that what they are “teaching” is common sense, for the most part.  What I find objectionable about both of them, though is that throughout their seminars, CDs, books, etc., the underlying theme is that women must change their thinking, women must learn to understand and interpret “manspeak” and male body language, etc.  There is very little that teaches men how to listen to a woman, how to understand her and when it’s not a good idea to retreat just because he doesn’t like what he’s hearing.  I’m not telling you not to buy it.  I’m simply stating that if you give yourself time to sit and think, if you take the time to honestly assess yourself, your actions and particularly your REACTIONS when you’re in what you first thought was a great relationship and then it just fizzles, you’ll figure out what went wrong.  And it won’t be entirely your fault.  It won’t be because you said the “wrong” thing to a man and he couldn’t handle it.  Usually.  Not always.

So here’s my first scenario, and I followed the “Rori Raye” school of man-interaction:

Mr. Man calls me while he’s preparing dinner.  Note that I am not invited to join him for dinner, he is preparing it for himself and his son.  I didn’t expect to be invited, nor did I have the time, if he had invited me, so that’s not the issue.  We talk and the talk turns to some heavier stuff.  I was in the middle of a thought, explaining something to him – something he’d initiated – and he says:  “Hey, I need to jump off now, the burgers are done.”

Okay, two things happened here.  First, he called me when he knew full well he had only limited time to converse and did not let me know this.  I believe this to be intentional on his part – it was his safety net.  “If I call now, she’ll be happy I called, I can talk about this thing, give my thoughts and by the time I’m finished speaking I won’t have to hear much of what she says because dinner will be ready and I’ll have to hang up.”   Usually, we will talk for an hour or more.  Sometimes we don’t talk at all.  Ours isn’t a committed relationship, so I don’t expect to hear from him daily, although I usually do hear from him daily.

Second, he cut me off, with a dismissive tone, mid-thought, and in the middle of a conversation he had broached, with “Hey, I need to jump off now, the burgers are done.”  HUH????  Okay, sometimes a burger is just a burger and when it’s done it’s done.

As a woman, when I have to cut a conversation abruptly, I will either call back later or send an email that explains my behavior, apologizes for it and asks to continue the conversation.  Apparently this is not what a man does. And we’re just supposed to accept this, we’re supposed to speak to him using our “surrender” attitude.

So I tried it.  I wrote him an email that said something to the effect of: “I feel sad that our conversation was cut short so abruptly.  I feel dismissed and insignificant.”    When Mr. Man received this email, he began with an apology and then, as I read further, it became a projection.  He apologized for “jumping off abruptly” and then goes on to tell me that I “heard what wasn’t there” and that I “talk in stream of consciousness” so that when I paused, it just happened to be when the burgers were done and while he knew it was important and heavy stuff I was talking about, hey the burgers were done.  Wow.  He said more, and it was mostly all projection of blame on me – I was wrong, I’d heard him incorrectly, and by the time he reached the bottom of the long-assed email he’d written where he says:  “If you ever feel this way again, please tell me and I will say I’m sorry” I was feeling like the biggest heel on the planet – as he’d intended.

Lesson 1:  Food is more important to this  man than anything I have to say to him.

Lesson 2:  This man pretends to own his behavior and is excellent at manipulating others into believing his faults are theirs.

2nd Scenario:

Mr. Man emails me at home one morning with “Hey – how’s your morning?”  I know him well enough to know he doesn’t want to hear me say “fine” or “great!” especially if it’s not that way.  So I replied with:  “Well, not so good.  Just got an email from a long time friend and I’m actually icing down my eyes because I’ve been crying about what she had to tell me, and I have to meet a student in 30 min.  Can’t go with puffy eyes!  :)”

He replies:  “What happened????”

I replied:  “I’ll tell you when I get back.”

So when I got back, I told him.  He was at work, but he emails me constantly from work, and we talk about some fairly heavy things at times, so I emailed that one of my best friends had just let me know she’d been diagnosed with cancer.  I even included the important snippet from my friend’s email.  Mr. Man says he appreciates these little things from me.  Okay – this came at me while I was waiting for my own results of a cervical biopsy; it came a week after my dad had been hospitalized for a seizure/stroke and three days after I’d heard that the contract work I was expecting suddenly dried up and my financial ass was, once again, hanging out in the wind.

Mr. Man did not know about the cervical biopsy – I hadn’t told anyone about it – was going to wait until I knew something definite.  Maybe I should have told him, but retrospectively, I dunno.   He knew about everything else though.

No email reply.  I spent most of the rest of the day putting together lesson plans for my new student and then that evening on the phone with my friend.  Shortly after midnight, I realized I hadn’t heard a peep out of Mr. Man.  Not a friggin word.  Nada.  By one a.m.  the “committee” in my head convened and I was livid.  I hadn’t spent all day ‘waiting” for him to call, or “testing” him to see if he’d acknowledge me.  I’m pretty good at handling my own emotional situations, but since he’d been glued to me pretty much daily, if not in person, then in phone or email for 3 months, I suddenly realized that something was wrong.  If I’d received an email from someone I had told I considered “long-term relationship material” and that email contained something as heart-breaking as a friend being diagnosed with cancer, I’d have been on the phone, pronto, regardless the time.  I’d have emailed as well.

I didn’t sleep that night.  Perhaps that contributed to my anger and distress.  Who knows?   All I know is that by the time I realized Mr. Man had not found it in his supposedly huge heart to contact me about this, I was hurt, angry, confused and every emotion in between.  So I knee-jerked.  Totally.  I sent him an email telling him how I felt, and that while I knew he would see it as a test and one he failed, if he took the timing of my day into consideration and WHEN I realized I hadn’t heard from him, he might understand my hurt, anger and confusion.  I was a hair’s breadth from showing him the proverbial curb.

Whoa, doggies!

So he sends me an email back saying that “now he needs ‘time’ because just as his insensitivity in not sensing my need rocked my boat, the result rocked his boat.”  WTF????  Can this man just not say “OMG, I’m sorry. I got caught up with other things, and I totally forgot.  I am SO sorry.  Do you want to talk now?”  No, he can’t.  He projected on me again.  Sure, he did it in a way that made it appear that he was owning a part of the situation, but in reality, what he was saying was this:  “I don’t like it when you get angry with or feel hurt by me and express that anger or hurt and now I’m going away.”

What the fuck ever.

So I replied.  “Take whatever time you need.”  Oh – he also told me if I needed to talk to call him any time but that he would be listening more than talking.  (translation:  “call if you want, but I’m going to be listening for any signs of anger or hurt and if you display them, I’m taking my toys and leaving the sandbox.”   And he also requested that if I had anything to talk to him about to call him, tell him it was important and he would call me back.

So I decided to give him time, and not to call just yet.

That evening (apparently “time” has a very short meaning for him) he calls me around 8:30 pm.  The first words out of his mouth:  “Hey, I stopped on the way home and bought a bottle of scotch.  I’m not sure I like it much, it’s not smokey or peaty enough.  You wouldn’t know the brand.”  HUH????  Okay first, he knows full well I’m well-acquainted with just about every single-malt scotch out there.  I don’t drink a lot but I’m a single-malt girl and I try different brands all the time.  This is a clue that he’s been imbibing fairly heavily, because his insults are usually cloaked in sincerity.  Second, he calls me after he’s popped the cork on a bottle of scotch???   So I listened.  He talked a mile a minute, saying nothing and I knew he was drunk.  He’d stopped on the way home, bought the scotch, started drinking for whatever reason, got buzzed and then thought it would be a good idea to call me.  For whatever reason.

Now, to his credit, he did apologize for being insensitive to me, but again, he projected his own insecurities and inadequacies on me.  “You know how busy I am.”  “You have so many friends that I wasn’t sure who you were talking about in that email.”  Oh that was a gem.  Did it matter? A friend (whose name I gave him) was diagnosed with cancer.  He knew I’d had a terrible three weeks.  He knew what my stressors were and he also knew that I hadn’t dumped ANY of them on him until he asked. He would ask about things and I would make mention of things – I’d told him about my dad, about the contract work, etc, but I didn’t go into huge detail.

Lesson 3:  This man is all about himself.  He refuses to take real ownership of his behavior.  Wait, wasn’t that in Lesson 2?  Silly me.

Fast forward to Thursday night.  I knew I wanted to break it off with this man, and that’s not something that one does in email.  It’s not right.  And since he’d requested I call him and let him know I needed to talk and that it was important, I did just that.  It was 12:45 am and I knew his phone would be on vibrate, so I didn’t worry about waking him.  I left a message.  Granted, it WAS a bit muddled, but it said:  “You requested that I call you if I have something important to talk about.  I’m in a bit of a muddle here, and I do need to talk to you.  Can we meet to talk?  It can be someplace neutral if you prefer.  I’m hoping this call didn’t wake you and that you’re sound asleep sawing logs.”

The next day he sends me an email commenting on a photo of me he likes.  I replied: “Did you get my voice mail?”

Wow.  That must have been the wrong question.  I wonder if Rori Raye or Christian Carter have an answer for that one.  What did I say wrong?

He replied:  “Whether in person or not, this has just got to be done now…”  and then launches into all the “reasons” why he can’t spend a lot of time with me, why he can’t do this, can’t do that, isn’t sure about this or that and then says:  “I’m attempting to bring a lot of people into my life and it is/will be taking a long time.”  yeah, okay – that’s fine.  Dude. I was going to break it off with you.

So I thought for a bit – I was appalled at the email, because while he’d asked me to call if I had something important to say, and I acceded to his request – I HONORED him and RESPECTED him by doing it, he didn’t accord me the same honor or respect.  That’s what appalled me.  That’s when I REALLY knew.

So I emailed back that it was all okay, and told him that I was fine with it all and that I was glad he was being so clear (he wasn’t, but what the hell, I was dumping him anyway), and  that he hadn’t hurt me.

Oops.  I think he WANTED to hurt me, cuz the next important email from him was a psychiatrist’s dream.

In it he told me he detected anger in me and a certain dissatisfaction with him.  Well yes,  good detection, Sherlock.  But he also rambled on about insults and damning analyses of his character and this had me wheeling back from my laptop saying:  “WTF??”  Then it hit me.  He was either very buzzed or drunk when he wrote it.  Or so angry with me for taking control away from him that his anger overtook him, because there were misspellings everywhere; there was poor grammar and his syntax was so garbled as to need a translator.

But people, here’s the kicker – this is a man who doesn’t get it:

He said:

“I will ask for one more email from you.”  (huh?)

“It will contain only one thing.”  (excuse me?)

“It will be an agreement that we take three weeks so your anger can cool and then maybe we can get together and start again.”  (by now I’m snorting, and am not certain whether to reply or not.”

Then, at the bottom, this treasure:

“this will be the last email you receive from me for three weeks that has any content from me in it.”  Um – is someone else sending his emails?

YAY!  I get three weeks break.  But I doubt it.  He’s angry and projecting it.  He’s angry because he knew I was going to dump him.  I would have liked to stay friends, but I don’t know that can happen, not after this last email of his.  He’s angry because I found him lacking in some way.  So what. We all lack in some way.  He certainly found ME lacking and had no compunction about projecting his OWN inadequacies upon ME.

I replied with one word:  “agreed.”  He doesn’t know what that means.  He thinks I’ve agreed to his controlling, angry and manipulating terms.  No, I haven’t.  All I’ve done is agreed that if he contacts me after the three week time frame is up I MIGHT respond, and if I DO respond, it will probably be to tell him that we can’t be anything and I will tell him why.  He ain’t gonna like it, but at least I will feel I’ve done the right thing.  No, I won’t insult him, I won’t disparage his character, and I will make every attempt to use language he can understand, but he won’t understand.  He can’t get outside himself enough to get inside someone else’s shoes.  He can’t see anything except from his perspective.  That’s not going to serve him well.