Monday, 18 June 2012

Married friend: I am not going to be your temptress

I fancy an ex-colleague – who is recently married. Having a certain degree of morals, I found it disconcerting to admit this to myself. Lacking further morals, I continue to maintain a friendship with this man.

To do him credit, he never makes "my wife doesn't understand me" type comments. And he has never made a pass at me.


He has a tendency to make comments such as: "I sometimes just want a temptress to make me do naughty things" (ok I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the picture).

I am certainly not going to be this temptress. A child of divorce myself, I don't fancy running even the slightest risk of making a contribution to another child's pain. So thankfully, we are safe – because he clearly does not want to be the one to be in the wrong.

Absolve yourself of any responsibility

I remember having a fling with a man who was not married but did have a girlfriend. I remember sexting him over a long period of time, and he would hint that he would like our fantasies to become a reality. Like my married friend, he was determined to be seduced, rather than be the seducer.

He said:

"I would love to meet up with you. It would have to be an accident though, like we just happen to bump in to each other somewhere, and one thing leads to another..."

It is as though these men forward think the scenario to when they are justifying themselves to others. "She came on to me, what was I to do? I'm only a weak man!" or "It just happened – we were drunk – it was a mistake".

They are covering their backs so that their lives can carry on as normal when they've decided they've had enough of me - their throwaway plaything.

Selfish selflessness

I do have a conscience, and the angel on my shoulder gently whispers admonitions whenever I entertain fantasies involving my married friend. But there is another reason for keeping my barriers up: self preservation.

By entering in to an affair with a married (or otherwise attached) man, I am not only opening myself up to the censure of those around me, but I am also making myself vulnerable to heartache.

He would never leave her. (And when my conscience is engaged I wouldn't want him to.) But he would take my heart.

He would be able to have all the security and stability of a family, but also drink up a Peter-Pan-style elixir of youth by entering in to a butterfly-inducing romance in the guise of a young, single man.

In the moments when we are together, we would forget the other reality – the wife, the home, the job and the family. We would be caught in our reality: the sexy, carefree, refreshing allure of something new and exciting. Amidst this forgetfulness, I would imagine that what we felt for each other was true love.

It could only ever end in tears.

As Nina Simone sings in "The Other Woman":

The other woman is perfect where her rival fails...

But the other woman will always cry herself to sleep
The other woman will never have his love to keep
And as the years go by,
The other woman will spend her life alone

When he goes back to his wife and carries on with his real life, I will be left daydreaming of when I will next see him again; the more time I have alone, the more my fantasies will consume me. My life would become about him, and then I would be neither free to enter in to a different relationship with more potential, nor able to move our own pitiful excuse for a relationship forward.

A resolve

So I must rejoice in this man's lack of conviction; the power of my own happiness – as well as that of others - is in my hands. Perhaps I too had been hoping to be seduced, to be able to have the excitement but deny responsibility for taking it. But I do have a responsibility – to walk away from our friendship. Because this isn't friendship at all – it's foreplay.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dating Geeks (Or: The Shallow Tastes of Henrietta Canary)

I think I must be emotionally immature: I have a tendency to focus on the physical appearance of a man and my physical feelings towards him, and then feebly attempt to build up a relationship from there.

I have recently joined a dating site, and find myself browsing through the men as though they are a list of products in a catalogue. I flick through impatiently until something pretty catches my eye. My internal monologue as I accept or reject "matches" goes something like this:

Bald... No.
Glasses... No.
Old... No.
Buck teeth... No.
Ginger... No.
Black and white posed photo of a good looking man... He looks like he could be the one...

I'm obviously punching above my weight

Because when I add these last category of guys to my "favourites", or whatever it is one does as a cyber equivalent to smiling, I get "viewed" but never selected as a favourite in return. And when I look at who does like me, the list includes: the bald one, the bespectacled one, the old one, the buck teeth one and the ginger.

So, reluctantly, I check them out. As I click through the photos, I cringe more and more. How could I be attracted to any of these men when there are so many hot guys out there?

But what if....

I read a profile and imagine that a good looking man has written it – my heart starts fluttering with feelings of innate compatibility. But then I take another glance at the photo and the butterflies turn to lead. I do not feel excited looking at this man.

When I get a text from a Geek who is interested in me, I huff with impatience at his neediness, feeling stifled and pressured. In general, this sort of reaction has led to a belief that women like me want a Bad Boy – someone who will "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen".

But again, I close my eyes and I use my imagination: the man who has just text me is that really hot guy from the pub the other night... I read the text again as though my fantasy is true – and suddenly I don't feel so stifled anymore. In fact, I feel tremblingly excited – I can even feel my cheeks glowing.

So it's not that I don't want to be doted on. It's that I want to be doted on by someone who excites me.


I have never particularly considered myself to have a "type", rather a set of (what is increasingly looking impossible) criteria: incredibly good looking, intelligent, deep, fun, masculine, sensitive, happy, independent, doting....

In her book, The Surrendered Single, Laura Doyle argues that this kind of criteria prevents a woman from really being open to love. She suggests accepting dates from anyone, on the basis that until you fall in love you can't possibly know if someone is right for you.

Deciding to follow this advice, I went on a date with a Geek. I determined on seeing all the positives and dismissing the negatives. I enjoyed the conversation, he was a gentleman, and I had a nice time.

But between that date and our second date, the negatives kept niggling away at my mind. I didn't fancy him. It wasn't just that he wasn't as impossibly good-looking as my unrealistic ideal; he almost repulsed me. He was boy-like in many ways: inexperienced, unconfident, frequently talked about his mother... I couldn't envisage enjoying his touch or laughing with abandon while we do something crazy.

So I went to our second date feeling completely uptight, but trying my best to be all smiles and pleasant conversation. Having once decided he repulsed me, I began to really dislike his company. His nervous laugh grated on me, his awkwardness stressed me out. I could not wait to get away.

I'm ashamed of myself for these feelings. I feel cruel. There is nothing wrong with this man's heart; he is honest, sincere, warm, friendly and generous. But I felt in my gut that dating him was like giving in to desperation.

Onwards and...?

Having said that, going out with GeekBoy1978 has done me a big favour; I am now looking through the other online profiles with a more positive view:

Bald... but has similar taste in music.
Glasses... but that comment he made about grapes is hilarious!
Old... but check out those manly arms...
Buck teeth... but so intelligent.
Ginger... but otherwise very very cool.

If I knew who the right man for me was, the chances are I'd be with him already. So if I can open my mind just a little, then maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. GeekBoy1978 wasn't the one, but maybe OldManBigGuns will be...