The dating scene is a funny old world (just as well, or I’d have nothing to blog about!). People are out on the hunt without knowing exactly what it is they’re hunting for; they are deluded about themselves; they confuse the urge for sex with the urge for love, and vice versa; they overestimate their own currency, and their own decency. And I include myself in all of the above.
However, the confusion I am currently feeling is about men who are attracted to me, without seeming to be all that interested in me.
I’m not talking about a clear, “no-strings”, sexual attraction, where they couldn’t care less if you’re an unemployed, alcoholic, manic-depressive loser, as long as you swallow. I’m talking about a connection that is far more than that, and yet far less.
Exhibit A: Shane.* Shane and I met about a year ago. He lives in a different city, but travels a lot for work, so we met when he was in my hood. Lovely man. Charming, kind, generous, intelligent and sexy. Over the months, he and I have caught up on many occasions, mostly in my own town, but sometimes he has flown me to another city to join him for a few days. We get on beautifully. No hassles-no dramas. Enjoy each other’s company. Wine and dine and flirt over dinner. Have great sex. We respect each other. We’ve become very fond of each other. We both know that this will never become a full-on “relationship”, not least because we live a thousand kilometres apart. But also because we actually have very little in common, other than a love of food, wine and fucking. Accepting graciously what we both bring to the table, and what we both take, this delightful, fun, casual connection, has happily continued. And I am enormously grateful to have him in my life.
But he hardly ever asks me anything about myself. The usual update questions maybe: how was your weekend; what have you been up to; how’s your Aunt Agatha. But nothing deeper. He actually knows very little about me: certainly little for someone who has been hanging around me for many months. Even when I volunteer information about something reasonably interesting I may have done, he asks one or two practical questions, without seeming truly engaged with what I’m saying.
Now, I’m under no illusions about my romantic assets. I’m not classically beautiful. I’m not rich. I’m not famous (unless being a D-Grade celebrity in a small city counts as fame…). I’m not overtly vulnerable or dependent, so I don’t make a man feel “needed”. But one asset I am sure of, is that I am pretty fucking interesting. Certainly compared to Ms Average. I’ve lost count of the amount of times a man has declared that he’s never met anyone like me. And I generally take that as a compliment. So I can’t work out why Shane doesn’t find me endlessly fascinating. Has never asked me much about myself. Has never ooooed and aaaahed over some of my accomplishments or extraordinary stories.
Exhibit B: Max*. I met Max a few months ago. Another very charming, very generous, very kind and very sexy man. Again, like Shane, we don’t have much in common, except the potent triumvirate of food, wine and sex. We have been seeing each other quite casually, and have caught up on several occasions to indulge in various permutations of said triumvirate. From the beginning he seemed quite keen. He would often text me just to see how I was, or to say something rather lovely and complimentary. But I would put money on the fact that if you asked him what qualifications I held, what jobs I’d had, or even how many times I’d been married, you would be met with a blank stare.
I don’t get it.
I should clarify at this juncture that I ask THEM lots of stuff about themselves. I’ve asked both of them some gently probing questions. I know a lot about their working history, their marriages and subsequent break-ups, their children, their aspirations, their gardens and their elderly parents. I’m not sure either of them even know if MY elderly parents are alive or dead. Mind you, I sometimes wonder that myself, but that’s another topic!
I have a lovely, much younger, gentleman in my orbit. Being of a different generation-never married, no kids, early stages of career, still living in a share-house-I thought he might bring some insight to this. Which he did. He explained to me that many men, if they meet a woman with whom they rub along pleasantly, have good sex with, where there are no hassles, will quite happily fall into something approximating a relationship, and have no desire to delve deeper. That’s really all they want.
But I want more. I don’t mean I want them to put a ring on it. I’d just like to have these delightful liaisons with some added engagement, secure in the knowledge that when I regale them with stories of my latest success, they will be kept entertained (apologies to Billy Joel). Because when I’m with these men I have to deliberately suppress a huge part of myself, lest I am found in breach of the rules of engagement.
And then I berate myself for being greedy. Or demanding. Or narcissistic.
And then I berate myself doubly for dismissing my own needs.
And then I get confused, pour myself a wine…
and write a blog.
* Not their real names.