This blog is part two of a series on relationships. Read Thoughts on marriage.
Several years ago, I read a review of stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari‘s book Modern Romance. Ansari is best known for his role as Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. The idea for the book occurred to Ansari after he hooked up with ‘Tanya’ at a party. Though it was not explicitly stated in the review, I assumed “hook up” meant either he and Tanya had sex or engaged in some level of physical/intimate interaction. A few days later, Ansari sent Tanya a “painstakingly crafted phone text” asking her out for a real date. He saw she had read the text and waited for her response. But Tanya never texted him back. She disappeared. I don’t know who Tanya is, but she’s a smart girl. Boys text; men call.
During spring 2015, I met my friend whom I’ll call The Player (TP) for drinks. He introduced me to one of his colleagues whom I’ll call James. I spent more than an hour talking with James, and I could tell he liked me. He asked thoughtful questions (no bullshit small talk), looked in my eyes, and allowed me to answer his phone. (A delightful experience since James is a top defense lawyer and most of his calls are from clients aka criminals.)
Though we were outside, when he lit a cigarette, the wind caused the smoke to blow toward our group. I told James he had to smoke elsewhere; he respected my wishes. James was into me. We exchanged numbers though I made it clear I was still married. We later became Facebook friends, but he never called me.
When TP and I discussed James, TP agreed: James seemed into me. TP encouraged me to call James. I refused. I said if he liked me, he would call me. TP told me I was out of touch. That things had changed since I had last dated. While I acknowledged some things had changed (e.g., forms of communication, online dating), the basics of dating had not. I challenged TP by saying men are the hunters. Even if I were interested in James (I wasn’t), I was not going to chase him. The one time in my life I became the hunter, the situation backfired on me. I fell in love with a man who didn’t love me back. #lessonlearned
About six months after we met, I ran into James at a nightclub, where I was hanging out with some friends. Assisted by his liquid courage, James asked me out for drinks after the show. He was already sloppy drunk. He continued to drink throughout the evening. His hands became too friendly. Even if I had been attracted to him, there was no way I was going to have drinks with him after 11 p.m. He wasn’t asking me for drinks; he was asking me if I wanted to fuck him. I politely declined.
I’ve only seen James one time since that night. We ran into each other at the UPS Store. I invited him to my workshop though I knew he would never attend. He pretended to be interested and took my flyer though he had no intention of showing up. He had a prime opportunity to ask me out, but I guess between the daylight and zero alcohol intake, he didn’t have the balls to do so.
Fast forward a few months. I met a man whom I’ll call Dan at a networking party. I didn’t have much to say to him, but I knew he liked me because he told me I smelled good. Three times. As I was leaving the party, he walked beside me. When I realized he intended to leave with me, I stopped about five feet shy of the front door. I gave him my most polite may-I-help-you look. This conversation ensued.
Dan: “Would you like to continue our conversation at a later date?”
Considering we didn’t have stellar conversation, I wondered what he meant. Then it hit me. He’s asking me out. Sort of.
I replied, “Dan, are you asking me on a date or asking me to continue what little conversation we had at a later date?”
He laughed. “Whichever you prefer.”
Really dude? That’s the best you can do? “No.”
“No to which part?”
“No to both.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because Dan, men are hunters. If you like a woman, hunt her. Ask her out on a real date. Risk rejection. I may be a strong, intelligent woman, but I don’t want to be the hunter. I want to be hunted, pursued, courted.”
He laughed again. He thought I was joking. Shaking his head he said, “You’re incredible. Here’s my card. Call me if you want to get together.”
I stared at his card knowing the moment I got home I would throw it away. (I did.) Dan missed the entire point of what I was saying. Though I’m relieved he did not ask for my number, a real man would have. A real man would have taken the initiative. A real man would have asked me out on a proper date.
As I walked away, Dan said, “It’s raining. Would you like me to walk you to your car?”
“No thanks,” I replied. “It’s not like I’m going to drown. I’m not the Wicked Witch.” I smiled as the 20-something hostess chuckled. She had heard our conversation; she got it.
Dan laughed too. “Man, you’re something else.”
I pivoted on my stiletto heel and walked out. Dude, you have no idea.
During June 2015, I met Edward online through a mutual acquaintance. We hit it off from the first email. Despite our red-hot chemistry and biting repartee in our online correspondence, I didn’t consider him a romantic possibility. He lived 800 miles away in south Florida. He had never lived anywhere else. His family including his mother, his brother, and his three children (two in college and one in high school at the time) lived within miles of him. But he surprised me.
One week after meeting online and exchanging dozens of messages, Edward sent me this email.
“Ok, I’ve made a decision. I’ve been thinking about what we’ve developed and are developing and realize that I have to meet you. No, I MUST meet you. When you wrote how you’ve been more open with me than anyone else and that’s not normally like you, I could have easily written the same thing, verbatim. I feel if we don’t meet, it will be one of those things that we look back on later in life and have immense regrets. Obviously you have a say in this and if you don’t think it’s a good idea then I’ll suck it up and respect your decision.”
As as soon as I read “I MUST meet you” I whooped and hollered, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”
The following month, Edward drove more than 10 hours to Birmingham to take me out on a date. A real date. It turned into the only and best 50-hour date in my life. The following year after my divorce was final and his youngest child had graduated from high school, he moved to Birmingham. Within six months, we found our own place. We have met each other’s families several times. This July marks our third anniversary. Every time I think about him, my face lights up with a smile.
Unlike the countless ding-dongs I had encountered upon moving here, Edward is a real man.
- You are the hunter. If you like a woman, court her properly. Show her. Actions speak louder than words.
- If you want a date, call her and ask her out. Find out what she likes but you plan and pay for the date.
- Texting, messaging, and email are all acceptable forms of contact, but you cannot infer tone. Call her on a regular basis. You will learn more about the woman you like, and you are showing her how much you care because calling takes more effort and time.
- Ask questions. Dig deep. Find out if you are on the same page. If she wants a relationship and you don’t, move on. Don’t waste your time and more importantly, don’t waste her time.
- Be respectful. If she isn’t interested in you, move on. You don’t want your interest to be misconstrued, especially in light of the #metoo movement. If a woman likes you, she will let you know.
- Enjoy the chase. Allow him to pursue you. Express your interest in both words and actions, but allow the man to hunt you.
- If a man texts or emails you for a ‘real date’ after ‘hooking up’ be smart like Tanya and move on. If any physical contact has occurred, the least he can do is call you!
- Going dutch is not a real date. Coffee is not a real date. Drinks are not a real date. Especially after 11 p.m. That’s a bootie call.
- Be honest. The #metoo movement has shown us how important it is to speak our truth. If you don’t like a man, tell him so politely and move on.
Parts of this post were originally published on 12/31/15 on my old blog titled Pondering happiness, hope, and wisdom.