On Sundays, I teach art to fourth graders at a Hebrew School and “Amy” teaches Jewish Studies on weekdays. We’ve only crossed paths at staff development meetings, but I like her. I have a feeling if we got to know one another better, we would be friends. At the end of the school year, she hosted a brunch for the staff at her home, and I was looking forward to spending time with her.
As I drove through the gates of her private community and pulled into her gravel driveway, there was Amy waving at the door. Behind her modest grey colonial home, there was a sparkling blue lake. It was a perfect day for a boat ride, and many of her neighbors were already paddling canoes and kayaks. Lovely!
I gave Amy a hug, and walked into her country kitchen. I noticed the meticulous care she put into preparing for the party; the table set with white dishes, the food arranged artfully on the counters – everything was attended to with loving care and careful attention to aesthetics and beauty. As she thanked me for my spinach quiche and placed it in the oven, I turned to see a man entering the house. “Who’s that guy?” I asked. I didn’t recognize him as a fellow staff member. “Oh, that’s my boyfriend,” said Amy.
I didn’t realize she was divorced, but then again, I didn’t know much about her. She has a boyfriend. How nice for her! I am always happy when people find love again after divorce. He was bald, nice looking, about an inch taller than me. He reached out to shake my hand, “Hi, I’m Tom. It’s so nice to meet you”. I was overcome with a strong feeling of déjà vu. Hmmm. Do I know this guy?
Tom…Tom…where have I met him before? Maybe he just has one of those familiar faces. And then it hit me. I know who he is! I slowly backed out of the kitchen, grabbed a friend and pulled her aside. I had to tell someone. “Oh my god! I think I DATED Amy’s boyfriend Tom! It’s got to be the same guy. Only I don’t think he shaved his head 2 years ago. How long are Tom and Amy dating?”
“Oh, they’re together about 2 years. They’re such a great couple! They met on JDate.” Yep, it’s got to be him. I also met him on JDate. He must have started seeing her immediately after our first (and last) date.
My date with Tom
Our date was quite memorable. When I walked into Starbucks that December morning, Tom was already seated in one of the large leather upholstered seats by the fireplace. He stood up and gave me a way-too-long hug. You know the kind of hug that lasts a minute or two past socially acceptable? He smiled and stared at me with this sort of love-struck look. I was starting to feel a bit uneasy.
We got in line to order our lattes. “He’s pretty cute. He gets bonus points for looking like his photo,” I thought. And then he turned to me, stared into my eyes and said, “I’m very attracted to you. Are you attracted to me?” Like a deer caught in the headlights, I plastered on an uneasy smile and muttered, “Yes.” I didn’t know what else to do. Lie? Run out of Starbucks?
How does someone respond to that question, especially five minutes after meeting a guy? If he’s attracted to me, why not give me a compliment. He can say, “You’re prettier in person than in your profile.” Or, “That’s a lovely dress.” But when he asked if I was attracted to him, it made him sound insecure. Confidence is one of the qualities I look for in a man. And I was becoming less attracted by the minute.
We moved to our seats and sipped our lattes. “What type of work do you do?” he asked. “I’m a life coach,” I said. “Me, too!” said Tom. “Really? Where did you get your certification?” “Oh, I didn’t go to coaching school. I’m a student of life. I’m actually a car salesman, and I love coaching my coworkers about how to stay motivated and make a lot of money.”
Huh? How can he call himself a life coach? I’m usually very open-minded on a date, looking to rule a man IN instead of OUT. But the life coach comment sealed the deal. I thanked him for the coffee and said I had to go.
The morning after
The next day, I received a gushy email telling me how much he enjoyed the date and that he wanted to see me again. I lied and told him I enjoyed meeting him, too. I didn’t have the heart to say, “Hey, you creep me out and I never want to see you again.” I didn’t yet have the skills to be honest and kind. So, when he asked me out, I made up some excuse about being busy with work projects. Partially true, but if I had liked him, I would have made the time to see him.
I moved on and dated many other men over the past few years. Tom was long forgotten until I shook his hand at Amy’s house, and memories of our creepy date came rushing back. I could not tolerate his overly saccharine sweet voice. Yuck. I have a hard time being around fake people.
Thank goodness he gave no indication that he recognized me. Luckily he didn’t stay long at the party. He came in and out a few times, and each time, I managed to duck into another room. I know, I was acting like an adolescent, but he was just too creepy for me.
Throughout the party, I kept thinking, “How can Amy be in love with this guy? She seems like such a down to earth lovely woman.” Love is a complex thing, and it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly what makes two people fall in love. So, I eventually relaxed and enjoyed the party. I let go of any bad feelings I had for Tom. He must be a good man if Amy loves him. I wish them only happiness and love. Just don’t ever invite me over to a private dinner party!
Lesson learned: Recycling men is good for the dating environment. Amy is deliriously happy with Tom. One woman’s creep is definitely another woman’s Casanova. So don’t worry about tossing a dude back into the dating pool. Someone else will love you for it!
Note: Why did I tell a little white lie when he asked me out again? Why did I say I was busy when the truth was I didn’t want to date him again? I thought it was rude to say I wasn’t attracted to him and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. That was a few years ago. Today, I have the skills to be direct and kind. I’d say something like, “Thank you so much for taking the time to meet me for coffee. I don’t feel a romantic connection, and I wish you the best of luck.” And I do wish him only the best luck as Amy’s Casanova.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Please share your thoughts below.
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