The Ambivalent Man

June 23, 2008

Have you ever pursued a man, a man who flirts with you for months, gives you all the right signals, and then as soon as you’ve gone on a couple of dates, this man starts acting weird? And I mean weird beyond not returning phone calls, but weird as if acting like you’ve got the plague and he really badly doesn’t want it?

Something happened to my friend Carla this weekend. A man who she started dating, who she bragged about to all of us, suddenly didn’t want anything to do with her. And Carla was crushed. Let me start at the beginning…

Carla works as a receptionist at a very important lawyer’s office in downtown Toronto, she sees her share of grumpy lawyers, angry clients, and, amidst them, some very cute guys. One of these very cute guys was a newer lawyer at the firm, who was trying to make it to partner by years end, and always took a minute out of his day (who are we kidding? like 20 minutes!) to joke, flirt, and talk with Carla.

We’ll call cute lawyer guy Adam. Adam and Carla even started doing lunch once a week, usually on Wednesdays when they both seemed to have more time. Adam was also a perfect gentleman who never insinuated any sexual feelings for Carla, never made her feel uncomfortable, and always complimented something about her – her hair, shoes, outfit, her eyes – and Carla loved it.

She became very infatuated with Adam, so much so that she would talk about him at lengths end whenever the girls got together. Everyone always told her to go out for dinner with him, ask him on a date, and she always blushed away and said she couldn’t because she didn’t want to start an office romance.

The romance had already started. Carla just didn’t want to risk putting herself out there and have him say no, she was secretly worried that he was gay because he had noticed her shoes on more than one occasion.

Quite a few months after they first started talking, Adam asked Carla on a “sort-of” date, the kind where someone’s having a party, and it’s going to be ‘all couples’ and he doesn’t want to look single. Carla said yes, but was still worried about the gay factor. After the party, Adam took Carla to a martini bar, walked her to her condo, and gave her a kiss in front of her doorman. Well, there goes the gay theory.

Carla re-lived that memory in her head over and over, and Adam didn’t stop by her desk for a week. Friday rolled around, and Adam stopped by about how busy his week was, Carla batted her eyelashes at him, and was pleased when he asked her to dinner a week and a half from that date.

I scolded Carla when she told me this – you never tell a guy that you’ll go out to dinner with him a WEEK AND A HALF from today – ever!! It makes you look SO available, seriously. But Carla was in la-la land.

Adam took Carla to a trendy sushi restaurant for dinner, he talked mainly about traveling to Italy, his love for black & white movies, and how much he wanted to become partner. Carla sat there nodding, mainly because she was in awe of him as much as she didn’t know anything about Italy, black & white movies, and she wasn’t a lawyer.

After dinner Adam took Carla to his place, and they had sex in so many positions that she lost count. The next morning they went out to breakfast at a local bakery, kissed over lattes and croissants, and Carla spent the rest of the day in a blissed out state while shopping for dresses she thought Adam would like.

Their third date happened two weeks later, again Adam was too busy and Carla was available, they went out to another dinner, another sex session, and another breakfast. It was like they were on a two-week schedule of sex and breakfast, and Carla was starting to think of the future, as many girls infatuated with their boyfriend do.

Carla started telling us girls about how she wanted to marry him, and that’s when I started to get worried about her. Because in between each date, those two weeks without him, she would do nothing. She always stayed at home, perfecting herself for the next date.

After 8 long months of this tumultous dating cycle, Carla started getting nervous. She started caling me up, asking me, “When is he going to get serious? When are we going to get engaged?” But there was nothing I could say to calm her. Really, she had showed him that she liked this relationship the way it was, so why should he offer her any more of him?

But Carla couldn’t stop worrying, she started bringing it up to him on their dates, talking about futures, and where they saw each other in a couple of years from now. They had a talk and Adam said something to her that calmed her right away and I didn’t hear any worries from her again.

Until he stopped coming by her desk altogether. In one month, she saw him twice, on their designated date nights, and she was starving for his attention. She was getting a little moody with him, asking him what was up, and his standard reply “I’m Busy” became not enough for her. They didn’t have sex that night

Then he cancelled their next date. And Carla snapped.

She called his cell phone constantly, trying to figure out what was going on.

And then she called his house phone. A woman answered the phone.

Carla asked to speak to Adam,  and the woman asked who she was.

“His girlfriend, Carla.” Silence. “Hello?”

“There must be some mistake, I’m his girlfriend. Nicole. Are you sure you have the right number?”

“Oh my god – I’m his girlfriend, is this some joke? Is he putting you up to this to break up with me? He can’t do it himself? Every two weeks we fucked in his apartment and now he can’t even break up with me in person? He told me – he told me he was going to marry me!”

Carla hung up. She was furious. She went on a five-day drinking bender, took two weeks off work, and I spent this time with her shopping, spa-ing, and crying with her.

Nicole was Adam’s girlfriend for two years now. It turned out that Nicole was in some type of work that forced her to travel to the New York office every other weekend. Every two weeks. Just like Adam & Carla’s dating schedule. And that was Nicole’s apartment that Adam had been fucking Carla in.

Carla still hasn’t gone on a single date for the past six months. Adam had found himself homeless. Nicole found herself a man who had his own apartment.

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I’m a few months shy of turning 25, I’m young, I’ve been in a long-term relationship for almost 5 years, I have a baby, and for some strange reason, lately everytime I’m asked if I’m engaged/married, I get a look and a ‘Aww, you poor thing.’ Why is it that if you’re 25 with a baby and a man, you are automatically supposed to be married?

25 is mid-twenties, the majority of my friends have recently finished a second degree in university, many of whom are in Europe backpacking and travelling. Some are single, some aren’t, many are still out clubbing it up every weekend, and the thought of marriage isn’t even in most of their minds. Yet, because I have a daughter and I’m with the father (I get asked everytime), it’s like people look at me and want to ask ‘What’s wrong with you?’

What’s wrong with me? I’m young. I’m not ready to be married – yet. Don’t get me wrong, I want to get married in the next couple of years sometime, but at the same time, I’m not desperate to be married tomorrow. Yet lately, I’ve been getting this panicky feeling.

A panic that’s been setting in for a few weeks now, and I don’t know what to do about it. Anytime I talk to my bf on the phone (who’s away for a week for work), somehow I bring marriage and weddings into the conversation, and I end up sounding like a desperate girl who needs to get married. And it’s frustrating to me as a girl who is SO not like that, it’s frustrating that I’m coming off this way.

Do I want to get married? Yes. Am I afraid my bf is going to leave me? No. Am I concerned that our relationship will dissapate? No. So what’s the big deal? What is this panic I’m feeling? Why am I letting people get to me like this?

I know I have a bit of control freak in me, and I probably just need the reassurance that I will one day get married.

But sometimes I feel I need to take a step back out of this bubble and tell myself that I’m not even 25, I’m going to get married one day when we’re both ready. I’m not ready. What is this whirlwind I’ve gotten caught up in?

Where’s the ‘easy’ button I can push to make this all blow over?

And what can I say to those stupid women who are all married/engaged and wondering where my ring is? One day I’ll think of something. Until then. xoxo