The Sad State of my Love Life (long)

I’m a 28 yeard old man. Here’s the sad story of my life life. Before I begin, two disclaimers:
(1) I’m sure there are other people who have far sadder love life stories
(2) I’m even surer that there are even more other people who have far bigger problems to deal with than a sad love life. But I’m going to whine nonetheless

I fell in love for the first time at the age of 15. We met at a music camp (insert your own “this-one-time-at-band-camp” joke here). I played basoon and she played cello. Our eyes met across the orchestra, we smiled at each other, and we were in love. The week of camp we spent together witnessed my first kiss, and was perhaps the happiest time of my life. There were two problems, thought. One was that she’s Jewish, and I’m only half Jewish, and the wrong half at that. Her parents did not approve of me. The other, bigger, problem was that it was a long distance relationship (I lived in northern California, the music camp was in souther California where she lived). Nonetheless, for many months we were incredibly happily in love. It was the full on cliche bells-are-ringing love. When she was around, I was happy. When she wasn’t around, at least I wanted to talk to her on the phone all the time (I had to get a job at McD’s just to pay the phone bill). It was bliss, despite the fact that over the entire 11 month relationship we spent less than one month together.

She was in many ways perfect for me… smart, aggressive, outspoken, competitive, argumentantive, with a fundamental childlike sweetness of sorts.

Unfortunately, however, things being how they are, it didn’t work out. In retrospect, I think it was mainly that at 16 I wasn’t mature enough to handle a long distance relationship, and her parents’ disapproval sure didn’t help. So we started drifting apart. Eventually, she broke it off, but I had known it was over for a few months.

I’ve never really felt any closure, though. We lost touch for a while, but we’ve been very close email and mail buddies for 8 years or so now. I still have daydreams about us getting back together, but she’s happily married in Boston with a kid. But to this day you can more or less measure how attractive I’ll find a woman, both in personality and in appearance, by how similar she is to Girlfriend #1. (who I will refer to as M1)

So that was M1. (basically, junior year of high school).

After that, I had a few crushes but no real dates and certainly no relationships until sophomore year of college, when a close friendship I had gradually developed (girlfriend #2, A1) into something more. This relationship always had an aspect of friends-plus-more to it. I think I tried to fool myself into believing that I was in love with her, and she may have been in love with me, but honestly, we were just friends who also slept together. Nonetheless, we were very close for a long time. We lived together (in a dorm suite) junior and senior year, but when graduation approached, we broke up.

So I graduated in may of 1995. From then until March of 2001, I had exactly one relationship, in 1997-98 (M2), which was a mistake that basically taught me that it isn’t simply enough that a girl be kinda cute and really like me… it seemed good for my self esteem, and it kind of was, in the short term. But it was a mistake in the long term.

So that brings us up to March of 2001, which is where the current era of the story begins. At that point, I had spent about 9 months of the previous 5 years in a relationship, despite it being a near-constant preoccupation. Which sucks. And which sure as heck didn’t increase my level of confidence about things. I’ve always been a weird mixture of arrogant and insecure about things, and in the case of my attractiveness towards women, or lack thereof, I came up with the Principle of Why Max Doesn’t Have a Girlfriend, which goes like this: “Max is an exceptional guy, who has a number of wonderful qualities. Among them are his intelligence, sense of humor, compassion, and generosity. However, he is also totally lacking in a number of the qualities that initially attract women, such as social poise, spontaneity, bad-boy-ness, taste in clothing, etc. Thus, he finds it hard to initially attract women, but when he does get a girlfriend and she truly gets to know him, she will have no choice but to love him”. Which is not as good as actually having a girlfriend, but is a basically plausible way to keep from feeling like a loser.

So, it’s March of 2001. I meet a woman (A2), and we fall absolutely crazy in love. It goes something like this: On a Thursday, we have our first date, which goes pretty well. On the following Tuesday, we have our second date, we kiss, we make out, she spends the night, and we basically spend every moment together for the next month.

That month is the happiest I’ve been since M1. We seemed so perfect for each other. We understood each other’s flaws. We appreciated each other’s good points. We had weird quirks in common. We had the same taste in things. We both loved singing along to Les Miz on road trips. We were so giddy that if we had lived in Las Vegas, and gotten drunk, I’m certain we would have gotten married. After the first month, however, I was still crazy in love with her, but she just started to drift away from me. She never said anything was wrong, she never confronted me about anything, she didn’t even have the guts to say there was a problem at all until I confronted her, but she eventually dumped me. I still really don’t know why… (And afterwards there was a misunderstanding in which we had previously gotten tickets to go see Rent, and we agreed we would go see it anyways, but then we didn’t email for a week or so, and she assumed I never wanted to talk to her again, and made other plans, and I didn’t find out what happened until like 6 months later. Grrrrr.)

However, mere weeks later, I met S. I was kinda lukewarm about her at first, but we kept going out on dates, and the more I got to know her, the better I liked her. Unlike most women who I’ve been really attracted to, she isn’t the aggressive, competitive type. She is, however, incredibly smart and knowledgeable, and does have a geeky streak (although she also loves horses). Anyhow, a couple of weeks or so into our relationship, she really liked me, and I was just warming up to her. But over the next couple of months, I liked her more and more, and was just starting to fall in love with her when… she started liking me less and less. And eventually, again after some prompting on my part to figure out what the heck was up, she dumped me. The reason? Apparently talking to me is like talking to a high school student, because I have no life experience. That may be true, but I really don’t know what it means, and it’s not something I can easily try to improve.

So I was in a funny place then, emotionally. On the one hand, I had had two quite serious relationships in 6 months, whereas my previous Mean Time Between Girlfriends had been on the order of years. On the other hand, I couldn’t keep believing that all a woman had to do was get to know me and she would have no choice but to love me. Plus I had been super crazy in love and it hadn’t worked out, which might mean either:
-Capital L Love is possible, and I should never settle for anything less
-Capital L Love is just an infatuatory illusion
and I’m still not sure which one.

So in March of 2002, I began to date O, who had already been a friend. This relationship started out well, but O, despite being a fundamentally good person, is someone who has really serious issues of types I am unfamiliar with, and which I proved unable to deal with. Plus there were lots of other issues. It eventually became quite painful and difficult, and I had to break up with her. (One good thing that came from that relationship, however, is that it was the first one in which I really started to feel comfortable with the sex…)
Anyhow, that’s all the girlfriends I’ve had, but my current state of bummer comes from yet more recent events (if anyone is still reading this).

First off, about 4 months ago I was at a friend’s birthday party, when I met the absolutely perfect woman (M3). She’s incredibly erudite (using words like “hubris” in everyday conversation), smart, peppy, competitive, clever, creative, friendly, and just about everything else one could want, including super gorgeous. I was sure that she must be attached, but after the party I asked my friend, and it turns out that M3 is single and straight. I was floored. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. So I emailed her, asking her out. And she didn’t write back. And she didn’t write back. AND SHE DIDN’T WRITE BACK. AND SHE DIDN’T WRITE BACK. This drove me absolutely bonkers. We had spent much of the birthday party chatting, although not in a specifically flirtatious way. I was a good friend of her good friend. Obviously I’m not some creep who shouldn’t have her email address… why wouldn’t she write back? And then she did, and turned me down cold, without really giving a reason. Sigh. So I spent a weekend completely nuts for her, and a week going nuts waiting for a response, and then nothing.

And finally, we come to the present. Two weeks ago I went out on a first date (with J) which I thought went extremely well. We had dinner, chatted, laughed, smiled, connected, and then went to a bookstore and hung out for several hours chatting about children’s books and halloween and so forth. She’s smart, and loves making up games in all situations (which is so me), and plays scrabble, and is a bit bashful, and is adorable, and I’m totally crazy about her. So while we were at the bookstore, we saw that Janeane Garofalo was going to be in San Francisco in two weeks (ie, today). So I asked her to it, and she said yes. So nothing much happened in the intervening two weeks (should I have called her? Should I have been surprised that she didn’t call me? We did email a tad, but her emails were very short, but from things she said I think she’s just a short-emailer). Anyhow, we had made plans for a restaurant to meet at before the show.

So this morning I email her to finalize the plans for where to meet, and she emails back, and after work I drive on up to the city, find my way through the maze of one way streets, find a parking space only two blocks from the restaurant, get out of the car, turn on my cell phone, and there’s a message… she’s really tired after work, and can’t make it, and is sorry.
So I’m confused. Or rather, I’d like to think that there’s something to be confused about, and it’s not a simple case of her not being interested in me. On the one hand, she didn’t have to agree to go on a second date, and had two whole weeks to call it off if she wanted to. On the other hand, she easily could have said something like “but I really was looking forward to seeing you, and I hope we can get together next week” in her phone message, but didn’t.

Here’s the email she sent me this morning, in its entirety:

What does this mean. Is she sad not to have heard from me? Did she expect me to be more communicative between the first and second dates? Or am I just grasping at straws hoping that she likes me anywhere near as much as I like her.

Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!
Crap crap crap crap crap crap!

So that’s my tale of woe. Thanks for listening. (On the plus side, I ended up going to Janeane Garofalo all by myself (couldn’t get ahold of my cousins who live in SF) and she was AWESOME.)

Well. “I hope you are okay. I have not heard from you” would suggest to me that she has been hoping to hear from you. You haven’t called her at all in the two weeks between your first and second date? I would say you could be a little more communicative and at least give her a call to let her know you’re thinking of her and looking forward to your date. No wonder she wasn’t sure if you’re still on or not! It sounds like the same thing happened with M1 - she assumed from your lack of contact that you weren’t interested in talking to her.

So there’s one thing you can do. Be more in touch! Instead of waiting for her to say it, let her know you’re looking forward to the date, and don’t assume that once vague arrangements have been made that there’s nothing more to say until you see each other again.

You sound like a nice guy. Best wishes.
go there and read buddy this should help solve your problems
go there and read buddy this should help solve your problems

Umm, yeah, that looks really helpful. :rolleyes: In case you weren’t reading carefully, he’s not looking for “10-15 dates a month,” nor for “how to hypnotize women.”

Max, I think in general you need to lighten up a bit. As someone who has only recently figured out this same thing myself, please trust me when I say women can sense desperation.

The way you discuss women makes it seem like you meet a lot of “perfect” women. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone with whom you’ve been on one date; I can understand that the date went really well (and I’m glad for you), but I think you’re getting yourself tied up in knots of agony a little prematurely.

I’d say try to get situated with yourself before you wrap yourself up too much in the possibilities of a new romance. I know this is pretty nebulous advice, but as one who has been there many times, that’s what it’s going to take. Do you find yourself acting differently on dates? Speaking differently? Always second-guessing yourself and trying to figure out what she wants to hear so you can say it? If so, you’re heading for disaster, because suddenly she’s not out with you; she’s out with who you think she wants.

And always remember the words of wisdom written on men’s-room walls around the world: “I don’t care how beautiful or how perfect she is, somebody somewhere is sick of her shit.” Not to say there aren’t great women out there; just that if you look for one who’s perfect, you’re setting yourself up for continual disappointment.

Good luck; her e-mail sounds to me like she wants to hear from you and is a little puzzled that she hasn’t. And it also suggests that to her the cancelled second date was just that: a second date, and not a potential life-mate negotiation. That stuff comes later; first you have to find out that she hates cheesecake, or loves Ernest movies, or watches court TV shows. That stuff is the fun part; enjoy it, and take it day-by-day without a preconceived idea of where it’s heading.

(Disclaimer: This advice provided by a 30-year-old single guy, so maybe take it with a grain of salt.)

I think that you need the advice of a thoughtful woman in a stable relationship knows you well. I’m sure that the people, men and women, who know you have formed opinions, but keep them to themselves, e.g., “You know, Max is so this but he would do better if he wasn’t so that”.

As I said, ask for help from from such a woman and ask her to be brutally frank. Tell her you need her to be honest with you; that you will be eternally grateful for her impressions and advice.

If you can’t do this, then I suggest you go to a therepist, again a woman, and describe your situation. Good luck.