I had been on a dating spree after the New Year when all the dating apps are most active. I went on a bunch of dates, met a few nice men, all lovely in their own right, but not right for me.
I saw one man more than once, John, a widower from New Jersey, who was kind and polite—maybe a bit too polite—but lovely, nonetheless. At the end of our second date, he took note of my address when he walked me home. He surprised me with red roses a few days before Valentine’s Day. He knew I was going away for that weekend and wanted me to enjoy them before I left.
It was thoughtful. I was impressed.
For our next date, I planned a fun day in lower Manhattan where we could explore our common Irish New York/New Jersey heritage. On the subway ride back to my place, he told me a story about a salesperson at a department store who was insensitive when he, a new single dad, took his then ten-year-old daughter shopping for an Easter dress for the first time.
I was moved.
Our on fourth date to celebrate my birthday, he arrived with a small gift bag with matching paper stuffing. Inside was a robin’s-egg-blue box from Tiffany’s containing a silver necklace with an XOXO pendant.
“I’ll keep you around just for the gifts,” I teased him.
My girlfriend’s cheered, “Go Jersey John!” when I later texted them a pic of the necklace.
But to be honest, it didn’t feel right.
John was nice, but a little too stiff. His jokes were bad—not even good enough to be a bad Dad-joke. Mostly, the necklace made it clear that he liked me much more than I liked him. But his character and attention prompted me to gave it more time. ‘Maybe my feelings would grow,’ I told myself.
On the next date, after an early dinner, we went back to my apartment. I sat on the opposite side of the couch from him and feigned interest. He may have expected something more physical, but instead I sent him home saying I was jet-lagged, promising that I would let him know when I was available again. But I knew there wouldn’t be an again.
A few days later he texted “Are we on for Thursday?”
I answered several hours later with “let me get back to you.”
Meanwhile, I met up with a former boyfriend. We had remained friends, and had I invited him over to see my new apartment. Not surprisingly, our reunion turned physical. I couldn’t ignore that it didn’t matter how much better Jersey John treated me compared to this man who lay with me on the very same couch that John sat on a few days earlier. It didn’t matter how kind or lovely a man John was if I didn’t want to cuddle up and make-out with him.
I finally called John after receiving a “I’m sensing you’re losing interest” text.
“John,” I called him work. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I met up for coffee with a man who I dated off and on for two years, and we’ve decided to give it another try.”
Ugh. Such a lie, but it felt kinder than saying ‘I’m just not that into you.’
I had no idea if John bought it or not, but later, he impressed me again. He called me back.
“I’m sorry I had to cut the call short,” he said. “I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed getting to know you and I wish you much luck.” Before he hung up he joked, “And if you’re ever like to date a good-looking guy from Jersey, let me know.”
Good luck to you, too, John from New Jersey.