Psssst… I have a confession to make, and I have to get it off my chest. Not only do I not have the typical male problem of an inability to commit to a romantic relationship; I seem to have the exact opposite syndrome. You see, I commit way too often and too easily. Say I’m on a coffee date that appears to be going well. The woman is attractive, the conversation intelligent, entertaining and flows smoothly. You might think she’s interested in me. I certainly do.
What I’ve come to realize about this sort of encounter is that she may or may not be interested in a second date. She could simply be enjoying a pleasant first meeting, and if I pursue anything further, I can pretty much be guaranteed some version of “You’re a great guy. It was really nice meeting you, but I just wasn’t feeling the magic/chemistry/spark/mojo, etc.”
Before, however, we even get to dessert, my mind is hard at work. I’m planning not just our second date, but also booking her for events up to six months down the line, introducing her to my friends and family, picking out towels and dinnerware with her at Macy’s, and, of course, in the ultimate grand gesture of imagined mutual love – purchasing adjoining gravestones with lyrics of “our song” on each. The song, naturally – “’Til There Was You.’”
You might say that love at first sight isn’t just a rare occurrence for me; it’s pretty much my default mode. By the end of any positive coffee date, the two of us are already in a committed relationship, at least in my mind. This raises four questions:
- Why am I like this?
- What am I going to do about it?
- Why should you care?
- What can you do if you have the same problem?
Okay, the third question’s just rude, so I’m going to ignore it.
I started thinking hard about why I fall in love so rapidly, and I think it’s part of my optimistic nature. I see my bed as half full rather than half empty. I make Love Lemonade out of lemons. And I simply take it for granted that any woman naturally likes me as much as I like her. I am often wrong. And I am almost always surprised when I am wrong.
I clearly needed a plan of attack to correct this behavior. I realized it wouldn’t be easy, because it’s against my loving nature, but I knew I was going to have to stop being so naïve, stop wearing my heart on my sleeve, stop making assumptions about what’s simply a pleasant one-time encounter. As those great philosophers, Quarterflash, said in their song:
“I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m gonna turn…and…leave you here…..”
I decide to put my desire to change to the test. The next coffee date I have is with a woman named Kathy. Within the first five minutes I’m with her, I check off the all-important five attributes she clearly has: smart, funny, attractive, interesting, fun. So naturally, this somehow triggers the part of my brain that transports me to Nordstrom, to pick out our sheets. And I’m wondering if we should use an Arial or a Times New Roman font on our wedding invitations. That’s when the alarm goes off in my brain or libido or wherever it is that the loving is happening, and I try forcing myself to stop.
To do so, I engage in what Method actors refer to as Sense Memory. I recall my marriage – how it started (a comedic series) and what it became (a cancelled drama). I flash forward my relationship with Kathy to the point that we’re both fed up with one another and want out. This slows my libido way down. I immediately drop the bed sheets, walk out of Nordstrom and settle into the more reasonable, mature perspective that Kathy is a lovely woman with whom things may or may not work out for the long term and that it may take several dates, weeks or even months to determine whether she is The One. My marriage may have failed, but its lessons will help me succeed.
So, what can I offer you, fellow post-divorce dating rapid-lovers? How about the other nine of the Ten Post-Divorce Dating Commandments, along with the one mentioned above?
- Thou shalt be gun-shy about falling in love again.
- Thou shalt slow down. Way down.
- Thou shalt not let feelings in thy sexual parts overrule those in thy thinking parts.
- Thou shalt not assume the object of thy desire feels the same about thee.
- Thou shalt not introduce her to thine parents/friends/children/neighbors/boss/co-workers within the first month of meeting her/him.
- Thou shalt not purchase expensive gifts for her/him within the first month of meeting her/him.
- Thou shalt not end thy memberships on online dating services within the first month of meeting her/him.
- Thou shalt not suggest dating exclusivity within the first week of meeting her/him.
- Thou shalt not utter the words “I love thee” during the first month of meeting her/him.
- If he/she chooses to end the brief “relationship,” thou shalt refrain from anything resembling a nervous breakdown.
The next time you see me, if I mention I’m in love, ask me how long I’ve been seeing her. If it’s less than a month, slap my face and shout, “Snap out of it!” You have my permission.