This is an unusual post for this blog, a one-off: My Gentleman’s view of our dating experience.
I think the only other time I’ve had someone guest-write on my blog was my ex-sub who participated in an extensive reader Q&A way back when we were loved up (holy shit, that boy had a way with words. Unf <3).
This though, ‘an anatomy of dating Ferns’ from a vanilla man who doesn’t really know me, is a new and odd thing.
What strikes me most is that MG and I were pretty much aligned in interpreting what was going on, albeit from different sides, so there were no big disconnects or revelations given I’ve told the story already. It is still strange and interesting to have a third party perspective, to be seen through another’s eyes, to see it unfold behind the veil.
So, here it is.
I started online dating after my previous relationship came to a rather messy end. She was only the third woman I’d dated in my life – I was very inexperienced at dating.
I doubled my lifetime dating count in two weeks by jumping on Oasis (difficult), RSVP (pay for every contact), Bumble (seems superficial, but easy) and OKCupid (overly complicated).
I was looking for someone intellectual, professional, someone to grow with, attractive; I didn’t want a wallflower or submissive woman. Each date was an opportunity to learn something more about how dating worked at 50 (with my sincerest apologies and thanks to those first three women).
Browsing OKCupid on a Friday night, I come across this stunning, confident, articulate woman.
Only two photos, but her profile text is what catches my attention – she knows what she wants and knows who she is. She’s probably not going to be interested, but rejection in online dating is painless, so what the hell. I drop her note asking for 24 hours to “wordsmith” my profile, do a little tidy up and then… Wait.
A week passes and then… Bing. A message. A quick back and forth and I have an email address. She points out my lazy language, has pixel-perfect emails and asks for a meeting. I like her proactiveness and being willing to take the lead in a collaborative way. We joke that I might be a serial killer, I determine she has a sense of humour (tick!), and am looking forward to meeting her.
On the first date, I’m nervous as hell, but convincing myself I can do this, it’s part of getting over the fear of rejection. Conversation is fairly easy, if superficial. She’s keeping private, which is understandable on a first date, but, given her profile, a little surprising. I realise I’m impatient, but learning that I can be patient if need be. We do the usual dance around where you’re from, what you do, she tells me she writes books and blogs about “relationships”.
I suggest a walk down on the beach and am thrilled she agrees. I carry her shoes while we walk down to the water – probably miss a romantic opportunity, but I’m having too much fun just talking to her and see no need to rush. I offer to help her put her shoes back on as an excuse to touch her skin.
I haven’t quite figured out the “goodbye” part of the first date yet, so when we part, I give her a kiss on the cheek and tell her I’d like to see her again. She asks for a hug, and I sheepishly accept her offer. I suggest that she come over on the weekend so I can wash the bird poop off her car as a way to try to nail down a second date, she laughs but doesn’t accept. I send her a text when I get home to say ‘thank you’ for an enjoyable evening and a plan to organise second date.
She agrees to a second date for dinner the following week. In the meantime, I find my stride on the dating sites and have quite a few more first dates that don’t really go anywhere. Still, after my sixth first date, I’ve built up more confidence, and am ready for my very first second date from this online dating experience.
Dinner is wonderful – the conversation is easy, she’s still keeping her writing private (though she said it was a second date topic). She won’t let me move to sit next to her when I ask (rejection taken in stride – the practice is paying off), but she suggests we grab another drink at a bar after dinner. It was a fabulous evening that I don’t want to end, but I have work.
Note: I saw later that you wrote “He looks at me like he can’t believe his good fortune”: I was amazed at my good fortune on our date – you had pretty much everything I was looking for, except the openness (and that’s not begrudging your lack of candidness – I understand why). Why wouldn’t I be amazed at my good fortune?
After our second lovely date, I scroll through her OKCupid profile and see she has a pretty open mind about sexuality (and also doesn’t like socks with sandals :-P). Some of the answers are more revealing than others. She clearly has a fulfilling sex life and is apparently very liberal. None of which particularly concerns me (well, maybe the ‘slapping is hot’ comment :-P). From the range of answers, I’d say she’s assertive / aggressive sexually, which doesn’t particularly bother me – I don’t want a passive woman.
I text her the following morning asking if she’s interested in a weekend get-together and she’s proactive with a suggestion that we head down south to some markets and grab lunch. I pass on playing my usual Saturday morning sport, and again read through her OKCupid profile the morning we’re meeting. I have to answer a bunch of questions so I can see her answers – yes, I focussed on the sex and intimacy ones. There are some “interesting” answers, but I don’t jump to any particular conclusions.
I get to spend a glorious eleven hours with her on Saturday. She’s witty and funny, she calls ‘bullshit’ when I do or say stupid stuff. We have deep conversations about multiple topics.
We laugh, we talk, we drink champagne on her deck. I have a marvellous time.
I get her to hold my hand a couple of times during the day, I try to touch her gently, but she doesn’t touch me back (that I recall).
We sit on her balcony drinking champagne and talking about all kinds of things, none terribly personal, but intelligent conversation, thoughtful conversation, philosophical conversation. I push her buttons with a few ill-thought out comments, am (correctly) called to account and acknowledge my errors. I loved that she called it out and I had a chance to reflect. Being called to account is not a bad thing – it prevents laziness in thoughts and words.
I suggest dinner when it gets dark, and we head out to a local restaurant, where the conversation is free and easy, but she’s still quite private about “her” – work and family are OK topics, but nothing too personal.
I can rarely get her to look at me most of the evening (unless she was only looking when I looked away). I finally get a second taste of her lovely kisses and her soft lips. Tender and sweet, with a couple of firm bites on the tip of my tongue, which I don’t react to either way. She’s very quiet as we kiss, but likes touching my face (which I really enjoy). She tries to position my head a couple of times, but I have no idea what she’s after nor what she wants me to do. It’s confusing for me.
We don’t talk much during kissing, besides when she tells me I’m tickling her ear or neck. A neck rub elicits more reaction than any of my kisses.
It feels like work, feels like she’s not terribly interested, or I’m just not that good of a kisser. A touch of fingers on her skin doesn’t elicit much response. I’m not feeling any reciprocation, and we don’t seem to be making much of a connection.
Maybe I was right? I’m not her type. I figure after 11 hours, best to call it a night. Still, I do get a most wonderful hug from her as I get ready to go.
I tell her I’d like to see her again, but don’t specifically ask for anything. I decide I might see if she’s interested, if she pursues me at all.
My mind works overtime that night trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m finding it extremely difficult to read her – I know that’s not one of my strong suits to begin with, but it’s like she’s a closed book. I can only read the title and the jacket cover.
Slowly I start putting one and one and one together. About midnight, I think I have an idea of what the answer might be. Her blog/books/podcast are probably about sexuality, most likely some sort of fetish, likely BDSM, but possibly more broad than that. And, it appears, she thinks that if I know that, all I will do is want to talk to her about that, possibly from past experience with other dates.
The following day, I have a first date with someone else, and realise she’s the first woman I’ve actually felt a real connection with. She’s going to become important in this story.
I get home and write the stunning one a long, frank email about my reflections on our dates. Mention that I felt hurt that she doesn’t trust me enough to tell me her secrets. And ‘hurt’ may be too strong – ‘disappointed’ would probably be more apt.
I really like her, I like her forthrightness about what she sees, I like that she’ll call ‘bullshit’ when she sees it, I like that she’s comfortable taking the lead sometimes. I want a partner, not a doormat – she says she’s looking for the same. I realise the email may send her running for the hills, but it’s all part of the new bold me (hahahaha – eek!). I did hope the email would get her to open up – after finally reading her blog, it sounds like it might have, we were just too late.
She acknowledges the email, but we can’t find a time to get back together. Finally we get a date planned for Tuesday, 9 days after I sent the email.
In those 9 days, I’m fast building a strong connection with the other woman I met. We talk every night, the second date is wonderful, we spend the weekend together, I am vetted by her bestie. I decide this is the relationship to focus on and now know that the date with Ferns is to say ‘thank you and goodbye’.
I’m stressed as hell about telling Ferns about my decision. I spend hours trying to figure out the wording. I’m still curious about her writing, but it’s really not important now. I need to tell her in person, not over the phone: We both put in the effort, she’s an amazing woman and I’d like a proper ‘good bye’. She may get up and walk out once I tell her, but that is her choice and I can live with that.
Ferns is as beautiful as ever when she arrives. We sit down, chat, look through menus, move tables, order drinks and order food. Then, as she starts to bring up my email, I gazump her serious talk (sorry!). I wanted to give her the option of not sharing anything, if that was her choice once I told her that I’ve met someone else.
She doesn’t walk out. She’s gracious and complimentary and congratulatory. I probably tell her more than she wants to hear, but I like talking about my new relationship and want her to know that I’m genuinely happy and not trying to ease away from her with a “it’s not you, it’s me” bullshit.
She flatters me, tells me I’m the subject of some of her blog posts, and STILL won’t give me the details. She admits she’s a closed book and we have the most open conversation over our four dates. It’s free and easy and I realise I will miss talking to her, even if we don’t have a romantic relationship.
We close the restaurant down, I walk her back to her car, give her a hug and wish her well. A bit of me is sad that I probably will never see her again. But I know the woman I see this amazing potential with is waiting for me to call her and can’t wait to see me again. And right now, that’s what’s right for me.
Except five days later, I wake early and decide to see if I can find Ferns’ blog. Given everything she’s told me, I manage to find it in about three minutes. And then I see the blog posts on “My Gentleman”. Oh hell! Suddenly nervous and excited. I can’t read them right now, so I put the iPad down and start laughing to myself. I’ve never thought of myself as interesting enough to write about and realise I’m still probably not that interesting, but flattered, nonetheless.
I start to type Ferns a text, but it’s 6am, so probably not a good idea. I would like to remain friends with her. That’s complicated and probably unfair to my budding relationship at this point. But I’ve told her I want to remain civil with my ex-wife and that seems to be ok. And I don’t need or want a romantic relationship with Ferns – my circle of friends is small, so when there’s someone you click with mentally and philosophically, it’s hard to let them go.
So instead of texting Ferns, I go read the posts properly. I’m completely flattered that she wrote about me – sue me! I haven’t really read anything but the posts about us (that’s the narcissist in me) and the “About Me” page (OK, OK!!! I’ll admit I looked at the nude birthday photos. Note: You were everything and more that my imagination conjured up. :-P).
It is completely surreal to read about yourself from someone else’s view point – I’ve never done that before. Particularly when they’re sharing their viewpoint with thousands of readers and they wouldn’t share those same viewpoints with you. Unfiltered viewpoints are the most valuable, so, in many ways, it was fantastic that Ferns didn’t tell me about the blog, because she could then truly say what she was thinking without worrying about me reading it (she had to know I’d find it eventually). She is as wise as she appears :-).
And then I decide that I have to write down my thoughts. Whether I send them to Ferns, post them as a comment on her blog or just save them on my computer is the next question. I send her an epic 5000+ word email, and offer to share my thoughts on her blog as well. Since you’re reading this, you know how that panned out.
Thank you, Ferns, for your honesty, your insights, your company, for being you. I enjoyed all of our interactions and wish you all the best.
My pleasure, MG. Thank you for the pleasure of your company and for offering to share your thoughts here. I hope your new relationship is everything you hope for, and that it turns into something amazing for both of you.
And so it goes.