html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Perhaps a nice widower?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Perhaps a nice widower?

Four times in a row. What is that about? How is it that I keep finding myself wooed by boys (who I really think are being genuine), who a short while later (after kissing, and daydreaming on my part) let me know about this other girl? Four times seems like more than coincidence. I’m starting to think it is because of the kind of guys I like.

The problem with being attracted to emotionally open men is that they will have emotional attachments. The problem with liking very decent men is that when they split with their girlfriends, they probably did so amiably and afterwards they don’t demonize her. And if they are the kind of guys who can form deep attachments, which they should absolutely do once they meet me, well, maybe those attachments stick around for a long time, longer than they intend. This wasn’t a problem in college, because the guys I dated didn’t have serious girlfriends before me. But I’m in my thirties now. Good men will have loved people before and those women still exist.

If I can think those things, then I can think that my filters are working, that I am almost getting results from exactly the kind of guy I want to be with. The next problem, of course, is why the hell do the ex-girlfriends come back right after I show up? A few weeks earlier and there would have been no problem, ‘cause I wouldn’t have met the guy. A few weeks later, and I might have enough contact to compete. My data points don’t help on this one; circumstances for the four guys were pretty different (to the extent I know them). Why does the universe alert those women then that, you know, he really was such a great guy and treated her right and maybe she was wrong last time? I don’t know for sure, but I have an idea that flatters me a little. Maybe I wasn’t completely wrong about all the cues I thought I saw and maybe they really did like me, could have liked me a lot. And looking at something that could become serious made them aware that they weren’t ready, that they were not quite so over their last person as they thought. Maybe he reached out to her or she felt a difference when they talked like usual. I don’t know. I’m only guessing and trying to find a way that accounts for such a strange streak and includes my perception that these are good guys who are trying their best.


Blogger ScottM said...

Sounds like a very good prediction.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno. I've always been of the opinion that real grown ups don't get back together once the break up has occurred. You broke up for a reason, right? How often do those problems actually go away?

Why would you talk like usual with an ex? There's a lot of room between demonizing them and having long talks with them on a regular basis. I like most of my exes but I only talk to one on a semi-regular basis and she's married with a child and lives in Scotland so no one has to worry about us ever getting back together.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You might talk like usual with an ex if you weren't over her.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

The next problem, of course, is why the hell do the ex-girlfriends come back right after I show up?

Well. Most situations like that either involving myself or a friend, where we had independent sources of information other than the guy, looked like one of the following:

1. (Most common) He strategically, deliberately, contacted Lady X (although often with a subterfuge) after finally getting a new relationship going. He used his new, developing relationship as leverage and/or to make her jealous. Like, "I've got something new starting now, so you either make up your mind or risk losing me forever." He figured he'd give her one last chance before he gets serious about the new relationship. I've been in the X position, too, so I know it happens.

Who knows how many women this happens to who never find out because Lady X rejects the guy?

2. He was not telling the truth about her being an ex. A new opportunity that he liked better came along, but he didn't want to admit that because he'd look like a jerk. So, he tried to ease the situation by pretending she was an old girlfriend.

Any way you cut it, it still sucks. I'm sorry. Perhaps it is just very bad luck.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I’m only guessing and trying to find a way that accounts for such a strange streak and includes my perception that these are good guys who are trying their best.

Sometimes it also happens that Lady X contacts them, because she's heard through other sources that he's got something new going, and this makes her jealous/anxious/second-thoughtful. So it doesn't always mean the guy set it up. Still, though, in my opinion it speaks to a certain wishiwashiness.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'd believe a modified version of 1., where he wasn't acting deliberately, but unknowing and wistfully, driven by his familiar feelings. I suppose it is better if he does that early in with the new girl; I certainly wasn't far enough along to call any of those relationships monogamous.

If 2. is true, then I don't understand anything about people and I read every one of their tells wrong and I missed that entire segments of our interactions were falsehoods. I don't think I am that far off. It is easier to believe that it was bad luck.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Perhaps it is just very bad luck.

Well, of course it's very bad luck, regardless of their motives. Don't know why I said that. What I really meant is, perhaps just a lousy coincidence and they're all honest men who had the best intentions.

We never were able to think of a screen for this -- just the usual old saw of be very careful and take things slowly, yadda yadda.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I certainly wasn't far enough along to call any of those relationships monogamous.

The bright side being that circumstantial evidence would suggest such men were planning on getting serious about their new relationship -- once they got closure on old situations. Then it went awry, unfortunately.

I am probably bitter because the last guy to do that to me (nerdy law school dude, natch) was not nice at all, lied to get as far with me as possible after he agreed to get back with the ex, made sure as many people as possible knew what happened with me, and most certainly did not invite me to hang out.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Another annoying part is that I can't win over their shared history, but their history should be exactly what swings the balance to me. So far, I am the one with the clean record. I've never dumped him. But I've been the person with the crush before, and you just can't think things that don't align with the crush. They don't fit in your head.

Also, Guy #3 just told me that he read my "Good Luck With That" post to his ex when she dumped him the second time. That's pretty awesome. And Guy #2, I noticed you were around today. Hi!

11:41 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Here's another idea. Were all these guys you met online, through a blog or dating service? Maybe that has something to do with it. For instance: Guys who are still stuck to some degree on the X might try online dating before they tried asking out people they already knew IRL.

Also, through a dating service, you lack the context you'd have if a guy asked you out that you already knew. If he was someone you knew at work or through friends, you'd probably already know he had some big relationship that just wouldn't die. You'd be able to ask about that. And he'd know it. He'd worry his friends might bring it up. So he'd be less likely to pursue a relationship unless he really, really knew the old one was dead. With strangers, it's harder to screen for that.

So it's not as unlikely a coincidence, maybe, as it would be if they were all guys you'd known first.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's always possibility #3 which you touched on...nothing makes a guy appear more attractive to an ex, than another woman finding him long as he's single, she's justified in thinking "See? He's a loser - no one else wants him either..." But then another woman and the whole "Hmmm - he did do some great things" reflex kicks in.....

Something else to ponder - it's quite likely the guys said nothing overt - just that the exes "sensed" a difference in them...women have these incredible radars about men and just seem to "know"....

Which all does nothing to lessen the suckitude of what you're going thru....were the nachos at least good?

6:57 AM  
Blogger Megan said...


My friend Jon from junior high? I don't think he reads this...

The nachos were really good, thanks.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


He's not me or I'm not him or something like that...

From a man's viewpoint, I do think the guys were into you...but that yes, they felt they owed it to themselves to see if the old flame still had some sparks....and as you astutely note, they'll likely get burned again...

Which is great for the rest of us - Darwin applies to the dating game as well!

I'm guessing your hangover wasn't all that impressive due to the lack of posts pondering the knowledge that you can't be dead b/c your head hurts too much....tip - avoid gin lest you experience this eternal moment of hell.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

No headache. I was meant to be a drinker!

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No headache? just weren't trying hard enough...

Regarding personality's like what Cosby said about cocaine - it just makes you more of yourself, which is great as long as one already isn't an a**hole....

Perhaps this means your uninhibited soul longs to be a 50s housewife? How's your guacamole?

8:04 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I haven't settled into a consistent guacamole (Resolution for 2008?). I tend to stick with lemon, salt and pepper over avocado cubes.

I don't know if my inner soul wants to be a 50's housewife, although I certainly like being domestic. I've always thought the 30's would be a good decade for me, even more since I've been listening to the Andrews Sisters for a week straight.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What???? No chilis???? No garlic???? Highly disillusioned here.....ever tried with lime juice instead?

Hmmm - picturing you in a pseudoPostBauhaus apartment with some Art Deco furnishings thrown in for good measure...Victrola playing the latest hits and the pig tails cast aside for a sophisticated metropolitan style...the hubby jauntily dons his fedora and with a kiss you see him speed away in his Dusenberg...might work - but how would you play ultimate?

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The next problem, of course, is why the hell do the ex-girlfriends come back right after I show up?

I tend to think that stuff only happens when people are open to it, with a corollary that everything happens at pretty much the same time. So I think that, for these guys, the state of mind they needed to be in to get involved with someone new (you) is the same state of mind that lets them try again with their exes.

Also, I wonder if these guys feel that they'd have to tie up all their loose ends before they could be with you--that they'd need to offer you completely wholehearted devotion.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah, I already explained this. Your tolerance is too low for you to get a hangover.

A hangover is basically just dehydration. If you only manage to drink 4 drinks in a night and get wasted, you're not drinking enough to dehydrate you.

Just wait, your tolerance will go up, and then you'll get the real experience.


11:11 AM  
Blogger PG said...

I recommend dating guys whose exes either are married to someone else or are geographically distant. Ones who are legally still married to the guy, and/or are within a single day's drive, are Signs.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't need us to comment between your comments? What does that mean?


12:45 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm not sure what it means. I wrote it when I was drunk. I think I was miffed that at 12:30 at night, you guys weren't responding to all my drunken comments. Anyway, it completely cracks me up, but I haven't parsed it all the way through.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...then I don't understand anything about people and I read every one of their tells wrong and I missed that entire segments of our interactions were falsehoods."

By definition you can't read another person well when you have a crush on them. Initial romantic attraction is this process of weaving a big web of star-struck idealization around somebody else. Natures way of getting us to mate; if we saw each other fully clearly at all times nothing would ever get off the ground.


3:30 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hmm. I've had a crush on someone and been pretty darn aware that he wasn't making any extra effort to come hang out with me on the sideline, and he didn't talk to me in the group more than he talked to that other girl. And that his body didn't face me or mirror mine involuntarily.

And still the crush lasted, because, you know... he had hops.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Pandax said...

Glad to see you've been keeping busy. Both men and women talk to exs for reasons good and bad. I continue to talk with a couple exs because we knew we weren't right for each other. No harm, no foul. Why lose a friend over it? On the other hand, others I was just too hurt to keep in touch with or saw no reason for it.

I also think there are people who might be good for each other, but the timing wasn't right. I know of some cases where they met later in life and things worked out wonderfully. Maybe some people believe too much in "When Harry Met Sally" endings and stay friends just in case.

Spungen presented an interesting theory about whether these are guys you've met via blog or other channels. Perhaps they form a different opinion of you from what they see in person?

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yeah, I don't know what to say aside from:

I'm sorry, that sucks.

Interesting, though to hear that #3's broken up with his ex already. I like the fact that she got to read your prophetic post too.

I have to agree with spungen and say that it's just bad luck. Bad luck paired with excellent observation and pattern recognition skills. I'd bet that it happens to others and they're just not that analytical about it or maybe even intentionally blind to it.

I also think that friendship with an ex _can_ be a danger sign. It's difficult to tell, from the outside (or, heck, even from the inside), if the friendship is simply a way to maintain contact in hope of restarting things. If you want to be ultra safe, you could stick with only people who don't have contact with their exes. Of course that's problematic because you can still be friends with exes and have not intention of rekindling the old relationship. In addition, it'd be hypocritical since you have contact with some of your exes, too. Though one should never reject a good strategy simply because it's hypocritical.


PS. Your post a while ago about global warming scenarios is making me nervous now as I'm taking up snowboarding and getting a season pass at Mammoth next season. :-) Oh, well, there'll still be good snow for a while anyhow...

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

California really doesn't get good snow.

Tahoe isn't bad, but it's nothing compared to Colorado. The snow out here tends to be wet. It's generally too warm I suppose.

And, I don't think you have much to worry about, despite the fairly dry year, Mammoth still has a snow base of 6-8 feet. It's also been a cold year for California, but that doesn't always translate into more snow.

Oh, and snowboarding is the work of the devil. Skiing is obviously a far superior sport.


5:08 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Spungen presented an interesting theory about whether these are guys you've met via blog or other channels. Perhaps they form a different opinion of you from what they see in person?

Well, from what Megan's said, it sounds like however the relationship may have been initiated, it developed from in-person contact. It's not like they come up with this excuse the first time they meet her.

My theory is more that Internet contacts are easier to make than real life contacts. So, there's a higher probability of the net dragging in people who aren't really over their last relationships or aren't ready for a new one. Not that I'm putting down online efforts. I'm just saying it's probably a bigger risk.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

The first I met in person, and he was very forward with the looking me up and down and pulling me aside as we were walking home with a group.

The second is a friend of a friend.

The third read the blog and contacted me.

The fourth read the blog and contacted me.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Ah. So two were IRL -- that seems like a normal number for true randomness. Then two more came in through the Internet. Guys who weren't over their exes, but were very comfortable sitting at their computers and reading about someone's life with no one knowing, and not having to expose themselves in return, and developing a nice safe little crush. And reading that the person was available.

So it was much easier to ask for a date than IRL where they would have had to risk just to get to know you, and maybe would not have made that investment unless they were truly ready and available. Just my theory.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're on the wrong side of loss aversion. If you want to win at this game you're going to have to get more strategic, which you don't want to do, because you don't want to believe it's necessary. The moment he tries to choose you and forecloses her as a option, he's going to feel a powerful, painful churning in his body. This is not rational, but without realizing he's doing it, he will confabulate a rational argument to explain why he's feeling this. It will run, "Fuck this hurts. I must really, really love her. Jesus fucking Christ, I've made a horrible mistake!" Notice that his conclusion is not logically necessary, but plausible (in fact it is WRONG--as you already know but are powerless to point out). He'll stop searching for a reason for his pain as soon as he finds this one, so it becomes real to him. He acts on it. Goes back to her. Shuts you out. And guess what? The pain is relieved. Holy Shit! An unbearable burden of pain and anxiety is lifted. The new conclusion (also WRONG), confabulated to provide a rational explanation for the internal experience of relief: "You see! We were destined to be together..." This lasts, as your spreadsheet will surely show, a predictable period of time significantly short of happily ever after.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Josh G.,

I don't use the "game" or "win" concepts, which would re-frame something I take seriously and want to share or build with someone equally serious. And strategy is the very opposite of what I want, which is the luxury of being genuine and open with someone genuine and open.

But I do like your application of loss aversion, which hadn't occurred to me. Thanks - that is helpful.


I do mostly agree that people who are dating online and don't move to meet early like the comfort of their monitors better than the stresses of real people.

5:13 PM  

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