Stuck in the Middle, Without You

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(All of the artwork in this post is by Carole Wilmet and Jarek Puczel. I love their  work!) 

This is a story about Donald and Donny – two very different guys with two very similar names.

I met Donald about a year ago through a mutual friend. I met up with a couple of friends for after work drinks & he was there. My immediate impression was that he was cute, friendly and had a perfectly coiffed head of salt and pepper hair that would make even Roger Stirling jealous. When I heard him telling my friend about how he’d just started watching 30 Rock and that he loved it, I immediately butted into the conversion. Within minutes we were waxing poetic about our mutual love of Tina Fey and I was showing off my ability to quote Dr. Spaceman like a pro. Since we were both headed in the same direction, we shared a cab home and agreed to hang out again in the near future. The next day I received a text from my friend, “Donald just texted to thank me for introducing him to you. I think his exact words were ‘your friend is very impressive‘!” A few weeks later, Donald and I went on our first date.

Over the course of that first date and the month that followed, I learned that not only did Donald have perfect hair, he was also incredibly smart, thoughtful and fun to be around. We spent a lot of time talking about books, checking out local restaurants and lounging in front of the TV watching so-bad-its-good reality shows. He’d often do sweet things like bring me flowers or treat me to dinner. He loved hearing about Joe the Intern‘s adventures and even went as far as to make him his very own surfboard. Donald was in the truest sense, a total mensch. Things would have been perfect except for one thing: I just didn’t feel the right amount of physical chemistry for Donald. Instead, it just felt like I was hanging out with a really good friend. That’s when I knew I had to break things off.

Rejecting someone who is essentially a wonderful human being is never easy. After all, there is nothing wrong with Donald. I just don’t feel the way I should feel about him.

Donald and I have since transitioned into a friendship. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. On several occasions he’s asked me to reconsider my decision about us dating. I’ve thought about it – I really have. Donald’s a wonderful person and I’m sure will make someone else very happy. However, that person isn’t me. Chemistry is so, so, important and we just don’t have it. The thought of being in a sexless relationship (no matter how wonderful the other person is) not only makes me incredibly sad, it goes against the core of who I am as a person. When Donald told me, “I’ve just never felt this way about someone before” I realized that yes, I have felt “this way” – many times – just not for him. I knew that no matter how many times her asked me to reconsider my decision, my answer would always be a definitive no.

If there’s been a theme to my dating life in 2014 it’s been this: It all comes down to chemistry. You can’t live without it, however you also can’t survive on it alone. 

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Flash-forward six months or so, to a few weeks before my best-friend’s wedding. We were hanging out, drinking wine and catching up as we usually do.

“We’re taking bets on who you’re going to hook up with at the wedding” my friend told me, a smile spreading across her face as she took a sip of her wine.

“I thought you said I was going to be one of the only single people there?”

“Well yes, but there are a few guys who will be there. I’m putting my money on Donny.”

Although I’d never met Donny, I knew a few things about him – that he lived in another city, had a high powered job in finance, was smart, funny & my friend’s (now) husband’s single best friend. However, between seeing the European, briefly dating Young Guy and a few other adventures in between, I’d already had a “busy” few months romantically, so I wasn’t exactly looking to add anyone else into the mix. Even when my friend pointed out that Donny was “super cute,” I wasn’t convinced. Part of the reason we’ve been such good friends for almost 30 years is because we have completely opposite taste in men.

However, when I finally did meet Donny, he was ridiculously cute. He was tall, handsome, impeccably well dressed and wearing black Rayban sunglasses that matched my oversized Marc Jacobs ones. Electricity crackled when we shook hands. Donny had a wry sense of humour and we quickly bonded over our shared Russian roots and love for dirty jokes. He was exactly how I like my men: a perfect gentleman with a filthy mind. I knew I was in trouble.

We spent the whole wedding weekend flirting. The wedding and reception were held at a gorgeous seaside location. Midway through the festivities, we snuck away from the party, grabbed two chairs and placed them at the water’s edge.

“Just so you know you’re going to have to make the first move” he told me, as we watched the sun set over the ocean.

“I’m perfectly OK with that.”

“Actually, I lied” he said as he leaned and kissed me.

We spent a very sleepless night on a sofa bed, a tangle of naked limbs. He told me I was beautiful. When I ran my fingers up his smooth forearms, I was amazed at how similar his freckles were to the ones on my own, much paler limbs. He was beautiful too. Dazzling even. Dazzling Donny. I had to do everything in my power to quell the anxiety that this gorgeous creature would eventually disappoint me.

In the morning, when I threw up against a tree (windy country roads + too much champagne the night before = never a good mix) he  held my hair back and kissed me afterwards.

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After the wedding, we stayed in touch and spoke regularly.

“I like talking to you” he told me.

“I like talking to you too.”

When I finally worked up the nerve to show him photos of Joe the Intern, I told him, “You probably think I’m weird.”

“But that’s what makes you so great! You’re funny & smart & sexy and not like anyone else I’ve met.”

“Thank you”

“I like you.”

“I like you too.”

When he told me he was going to be in town for a few days, we made plans to meet up. However, when the day of our date arrived, he kept on moving up the time (“I’ll text you in an hour” “Just finishing up some business. I’ll text you after I’m done.” “Want to meet up tonight instead?”) When I woke up at 2am, fully clothed, my makeup still on, my hair still done, and realized that I’d spent a whole day waiting to meet up with a guy who never came through, I burst into tears. I really, really liked this guy and felt like such a fool. This was the kind of behaviour I would have expected when I was 21, not 34. In this sense, Dazzling Donny was a throwback guy.

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He apologized profusely the next day and we remained in contact for a few months, until one day he just didn’t return one of my texts, never to be heard from again. That’s when I realized that Dazzling Donny and Disappearing Donny were one and the same – at least at this point in time. Since knowing the European, I’ve learned to hold on more lightly to the people I date. I decided that it was better to just let this situation go than stress over something I have no control over.

When I told my best friend about my experiences with these two guys, she said, “Isn’t there something in the middle?!

THAT’S A VERY GOOD QUESTION.

I’ll let you know when I find it. I’m hoping that it looks something like camaraderie with chemistry, and passion with sanity. 

In meantime I’ve met guys who have lots going for them – handsome, smart, funny, ambitious – but who cling so tightly to me, that I feel like I am being smothered.

I also meet guys who are at the other extreme end of the spectrum: characters like Fitness Guy who are all about the disappearing acts, minus the dazzle.

Then of course there is The European – my non-relationship that comparatively, makes a lot of sense. However, since the The European is moving to another country in a matter of days, that brings me back to the drawing board.

I get a lot of emails and comments from men who say stuff like “Women don’t know what they really want!” or “Women want too much! They have crazy, unachievable high standards! If you aren’t perfect and a millionaire they aren’t interested!” However, I don’t think this is true.

I do know what I want. I want someone with a good heart, who is reliable, but with whom I can have great chemistry, sex and conversations with. Someone who is also excited about life, motivated and ambitious. Love without clinging. Respect. Someone who wants to stand still with me for a minute and run with me, not away from me. A guy who’d never wear shorts to a funeral or post shirtless selfless of himself on the internet. I don’t think any of this is “crazy” or asking too much. Do you?

Until I find it, I’ll be here. Hanging out in the middle, not settling. Feel free to pull up a chair.

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