A lot of these one-that-got-away stories date from many years back and are tinged with nosalgia. How about one that's only weeks old? Not to be a bore, but if you're really short of reading material
, I invite you to consider this and send any comments or advice. As you will see, I am not sparing myself or the lady.
1. In September a woman on another match site messages me. She's roughly in my age group. I respond, we hit it off, but almost immediately agree that long-distance relationships (she lives 90 min. away by car) are not a good idea.
2. Nonetheless, we continue to chat, adding phone calls. I learn that she is twice-divorced, both husbands having cheated on her. Understandably, she says that honesty and loyalty are of the utmost importance to her. As far as honesty goes, we may have overdone it, keeping each other posted on our local dates. l'm anxious when she sees someone local, she feels the same about me. We meet. More phone calls. More than once I put down the phone saying to myself, "I have GOT to marry this woman". I tell her "I'm ready to shut down my profile and concentrate on you, let's agree to really give this a chance and work out the distance issue in good time". She says no to the closing of the profiles, she would not want to be responsible for me missing a chance. (Not saying you have to take that at face, but she said it). I leave my profile up. She has five successive dates with a gentleman but turns her face aside when he tries to kiss her. Taking the hint, he disappears. She doesn't email him any explanation but feels guilty about that.
3. We see each other a second time, eat, talk, kiss a little, but I leave with a profound sense of mixed signals. Among other things, her mother telephones her during the date and she says she's with 'a couple of friends'.
4. More phone calls, and emails, but slowly diminishing in number. On my side, I am affected in part by her saying that the distance really does seem to be an unresolvable problem, and by friends who infer from that that 'she's just not that into you'.
5. She needs work done on her house and hires a handyman with whom she'd had a passionate relationship 14 years earlier. She explains that as a woman living alone (empty-nester as well as divorcee) she doesn't feel comfortable hiring someone she doesn't know.; He does great work on the house and doesn't accept full payment. He tells her he has been recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. He asks her to dinner. In the circumstances she feels, well, a number of things, and accepts.
6. Last Thursday at 11:30 p.m. she emails me to say that she's kissed this guy, she's very confused, she wants my advice; she signs the email 'your friend'.
7. I phone back and, trying to be adult about this, ask her questions and point out things for her to think about. She says that while she feels 'chemistry' for me, she feels 'supreme chemistry' for the handyman, who incidentally is the only man with whom she ever had a fully satisfying sexual relationship, way back when. But she will always be honoured to be my friend and I can call her anytime. I reply: no, actually in the circumstances I'm more comfortable if you call me once whatever she has going with the handyman is over. Afterwards, feeling like a sucker, I write her a long email containing some real advice but also some hurt and bitter language -- exactly the sort of email one shouldn't write or at any rate send. But I am determined to send it.
8. A couple of days later we talk on the phone; She bursts into tears. She is so sorry to have hurt me. And she has just learned that the handyman's cancer has been placed at stage 3/4. He wants a relationship with her, it seems, but even more than that, he wants someone to stand by him closely until the end, and who can blame him? she confesses that she doesn't think she has the courage to be anywhere near as close to him as he would like. I apologize for my stupid letter and, beyond that, point out specifically how badly I'd misunderstood her. I add, "I don't want this to be our last call". We agree to speak again in a couple of days.
8. True to her word she calls. She has been to her therapist and knows she must tell the handyman that she will be a friend but no more. She does not withdraw her offer of friendship to me, but there is a certain distance between us. She says she'll keep me posted. I say that if I don't hear from her in about a week, I'll contact her.
9. Call me crazy if you like, but for the past few days I have all-but-convinced myself that she was (apart from my late wife, who died four years ago) the woman whom I loved most and stupidly allowed to get away, first by accepting our slow drift apart, and then by not simply supporting her as a friend when she reached out to me, but writing that stupid letter.
Yes, I fully realize that I sound about 58-going-on-14, I really do, and that she may not sound much older. I get that. Still, I feel heartbroken. I've already said, on another thread, that I tend to be attracted to 'birds with broken wings'. She had told me that, handyman or no handyman, she had never really felt the enveloping love she sensed was possible. I had told her that, having provided such a sense to my wife, I felt that it was one of the small number of things I am actually good at and wanted above all to ensure that she enjoyed that kind of fulfilment. (I put it better than that, believe me :)). Would I try again if she gave me a chance? Need you ask? :) But my prognosis is that things will peter out fairly quickly even on a friendship level. I also think (I know, I know -- cringe-inducing!) that I should write her a letter - supportive and as cheerful as I can make it, not sticky -- every week for the next year, unless she tells me to desist. And that in a year or three or five, she may reconsider.
I also realize that much of this narrative reflects a sub-Christian perspective, but (again as said elsewhere) my Catholic formation is as yet quite poor, though of long standing.
If anyone is still with me on this, and I can hardly blame you if you aren't, I'm interested in anything you have to say, raspberries and guffaws included. Many thanks!