Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Cheap Chocolate Day!

Today is the best part of Valentine's Day for single people and chocoholics. It's the day when all that Valentine chocolate goes on sale for half off. Woo hoo! (I'll be hitting the store later today.)

I was thinking last night about my sad relationship history, and I've realized that my dating life for the past fifteen years falls almost entirely into two categories: The Incredible Disappearing Men and the Cling-Ons.

With the Incredible Disappearing Men, there's sparkage that seems mutual. We have one or two dates that go really well. We seem to have a lot in common and a lot to talk about. On the final date, we're making plans for the next one -- and I don't just mean he says, "I'll call you," (which we know is code for "you'll never hear from me again unless I'm bored or desperate"). He's actually talking about what we'll do, to the point that the only thing left to settle is the exact day and time, and sometimes just the time and logistics because the thing he was talking about wanting to do takes place on a specific day. Then I never hear from him again, and he doesn't respond at all to my attempts at contact.

That particular pattern is creating a downward spiral, I'm afraid. I've been disappointed enough times that I'm almost afraid to let myself get my hopes up or even show too strong an interest, even if I do meet someone I really like. Part of my brain is saying, "Why bother? He's just going to disappear." Then I'm sure he picks up on the ambivalent vibes, thinks I'm not interested, and disappears, cutting his own losses. So then I'm even more afraid to let myself like someone, and so on.

With the Cling-Ons, I'm usually a little less sure about my level of interest, but willing to give the guy a chance. We have a couple of dates that go well enough that I may be starting to think things could work out. And then he goes all weird and control-freak clingy on me. He'll call when I'm out, leave a message, then call and leave another message complaining that I haven't returned his call before I even have a chance to return his first call. He'll act like he's trying to catch me in a lie, such as calling me on a night that I've said I need to be writing because I'm on deadline to make sure I'm really home and writing (that was a real problem when I had a full-time job and was writing books on the side). He'll get in the habit of calling on Friday afternoon to see what we're doing that weekend, then get angry and accuse me of avoiding him if I've already made plans for the weekend. I've even had these guys get whiny about me not wanting to go out when I'm sick or have just had surgery. Seriously, I once had a guy whine, "But when I'm dating someone I want to go out with them," after I'd had knee surgery, was on crutches, and found just getting to and from work and physical therapy to be a major ordeal. In these cases, I break things off because some of these are early signs of potential abusers, or at the very least, whiny, annoying, selfish jerks I don't want to deal with. I'm not actually sure what I said to break things off with the post-surgery guy because he called soon after I'd taken a pain pill, which kicked in midway through the conversation, not long after him starting to whine because I didn't feel like going out on a date, and I don't remember the rest of the conversation. It must have been good because he never spoke to me again, even though we went to the same church and had a lot of mutual friends.

Even my exceptions fit into one of these categories. My one serious boyfriend during this time frame pulled an Incredible Disappearing Man routine after we'd been dating for the better part of a year. We had a really great date, he talked about how glad he was to have found me, and then I didn't hear from him again except for one phone call where he called me, then ended it abruptly because he was cooking dinner and his food was done. I did have one Incredible Disappearing Man who told me after our one great date that he was having to move out of state for work, and there was another I'd been flirty friends with but hadn't dated who moved away to go to grad school just as things looked like they might lead into dating, and he did tell me he was moving. Then there were a couple of Disappearing Men with whom the few dates were stretched over the course of months, so that they'd appear, we'd go out, then they'd disappear again for a while before finally disappearing for good. One stretched things out longer because he'd respond when I contacted him, and then we might get together, but then he never contacted me on his own and I got the message. I did have one potential Cling-On who apparently did pick up on the vibes and bowed out before becoming a pest (he did most of his Cling-On behavior on the actual first date).

I can think of a few blind date scenarios that didn't fall into either category because there was next to no interest on either of our parts, or else it was such a "hell, no!" on my part that I managed to pass the word through the people who set me up that it was a no-go (if I didn't manage that while actually on the date).

And that's why I'm still single. I guess the other reason, according to an article I read yesterday, is my working environment. Apparently, more than half of all people in couples met their significant others through work or school. I guess if I met someone at a writing conference or booksigning that might count, but otherwise my work keeps me from meeting a lot of people on a regular basis. That's still not incentive enough for me to want to get a real job anytime soon.

Now to head out in search of chocolate. I've almost finished my stash from last Valentine's Day, and even last year's Easter stash is dwindling, so I need to re-stock.

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