That Ship Has Sailed

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Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and “unusual” social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,
I’m a fairly attractive man in my middle 20’s. By chance, I was invited to a small yacht party this past summer and met the most beautiful, smart, funny woman, who bore a striking resemblance to Brigitte Bardot. We had the most incredible conversation, danced and talked into the early morning hours. We shared an unexpected and passionate kiss. I wanted to ask for her number and at that point realized that I’d lost my cell phone. I excused myself to look for it, and I was gone about 20 minutes but when I found it and came back, she was gone. I’ve gone through the entire guest list, put notices in the local weekly paper, online, and even posted a sign at the marina asking for any information about the woman of my dreams but no one seems to know her personally. My friends think I’m crazy, but I believe love at first sight is possible and I don’t want to give up on finding this woman. Please don’t murder romance by saying I’m crazy! — Waiting for Bardot

Hi Waiting,
Okay, I agree not to say it. But we both know someone else will. Romance is alive! I am grateful for that. You can be grateful that you shared an interlude with an exciting stranger. Then you can set a date, preferably sooner than later, to move on and accept that she is just not that into you. Even if no one else happened to be acquainted with or met her, your tireless and exhaustive quest for la belle inconnue would surely have been met with any mutual interest by now. Maybe she is otherwise committed and simply got carried away by the moonlight by a “fairly attractive” stranger, or something else altogether. Whatever the circumstances, twenty full minutes is long enough to test any enchantment and invite reality back.

I am not sure what your attractiveness had to do with your story, but your confidence sounds promising for your romantic future. You will have one, too and hopefully with someone as hopelessly romantic as yourself. Do not lose that spark, that romanticism, because it will help you find that person. Do not stop dreaming, but get back to the business of living.

Get Thee to No Nunnery

Hi Tim,
I’m a youngish widow (51) and trying to navigate the dating environment again after 24 years ‘off the market’. I was never good at the whole dating thing before my marriage — it seems I suck at it even more now. I’ve been seeing a pattern in my ‘relationships’ where we do two dates, on date 3 there’s physical relations, date 4 a repeat, then things just die out — either on my side or theirs. The expectation that we’ll end up in bed by date 3 is putting me off — I’ve read online this is what ALL men expect now — is that true?

I’ve also found myself feeling so disheartened by some of the reactions I get when I mention my late husband. He was no saint, I’m not still married to his ghost — but some men don’t even want to know he existed. I don’t get jealous of their exes — Geez at my age, we ALL have a past. It’s getting to a point where entering a convent sounds like a good idea. I’m lonely, but… — JC

Hi JC,
Fortunately for me, you already made the “market” metaphor, and I can pick it up running. So, if you are a product being presented to these customers, and you have been misinformed that the path to customer loyalty is free samples, the result might be a succession of mindless impulse buyers and this seems to be in direct conflict with what you say you want. If you do not want to be intimate by the third date, then stop altogether. No matter what some article or blog says about “what men want today,” it is irrelevant. There are no reliable formulas for dating, at least not with the goal of a lasting relationship. You have been around long enough to know what you want, and now you just need to meet men out there who want the same thing. Meet your own expectations, not someone else’s.

You did not mention how you are meeting people, but online matching services allow users to be very specific about their interests. Whether online or in person, letting someone know you want to “take it slow” speaks volumes and will sift out the less promising suitors quicker. Take all the time you need to get to know someone. I am not making a “buying the cow” reference; I limit myself to one metaphor per response. I am acknowledging that you say it makes you uncomfortable to be physical by the third date. You owe no man anything at any time, so I recommend following only your own heart and internal calendar. Getting to know someone is what may be a big part of attractiveness for you: those shared experiences, embarrassments, private jokes, and yes, the occasional comment about your late husband. Enjoy them and do not give a second thought to who may or may not stick around. When he does, he will be making the commitment for the real you. You do not need a convent, you need to convert… to satisfying yourself first.

If I Ran the Holidays

Hi Tim,
The Christmas season always fills me with dread. My relatives constantly screw with my head. “You’re still at that job?” and “You broke up already?” “Don’t worry; your life will someday be more steady!” Mother, father and brothers all hound me plenty, but I am only an inexperienced lad of twenty. As the holidays loom, I must once again face, that familiar torment only booze will erase. We drink, and we drink, and we drink more and then, some loudmouth inevitably overshares an opinion. The verbal assaults escalate until one by one, we grab our coats and/or guests and exit; the holiday done. Is there some way to avoid this tired Christmas trap, so I may spend one December 26th not feeling like crap? — Sad I Am

Hi Sad I Am,
Oh how I wish I could rhyme like you do! And also make Christmas not so blue for you. You mentioned that alcohol provides holiday cheer, but not how much you folks consume the rest of the year. I do not mean to assume you are a pack of mean alcoholics but goodwill has given way to excessive vitriolics. For some relatives too habitual to change, the best lesson, is your skipping the next family holiday session.

So this Christmas, before the first cardinal sighting, before the lights and candles start lighting, the daying and nighting, and eventual fighting, agree on a drink limit or better yet, dry! It sounds intimidating but cannot hurt to try. If family cannot curb the drinking and get over themselves remind them you can and will celebrate somewhere elves. See, I told you my rhyming is not quite as clever, but I can wish you a sincerely happy holiday and the best New Year ever.

Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author’s alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.

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