Years ago when I was a young, single man beginning my career in the oil industry, I was introduced to a rather attractive woman a few years younger than me who was sort of on holiday. In the circumstances of our meeting we were the only two people in our twenties while everyone else was over fifty, so naturally we got on quite well. That evening the two of us went to a nightclub, and for some reason I brought a Canadian soldier along too. We got horrendously drunk which culminated with the girl lying unconscious on my bathroom floor while I explained to the disappointed soldier that she’s getting the spare bed and he has a choice of the sofa or the other half of my pit.
The next morning she woke up with a major hangover and went home. That afternoon she called me and said she wanted to go out again, and in the evening we did. We got on very well and, as I may have already mentioned, she was rather good looking. To cut a long story short we ended up back at mine, sans Canadian soldier. From that point on this girl gave every impression she’d fallen for me and wanted a relationship. She said I was awesome, and she’d never met someone like me before, and when she left to visit London the next day she said she needed to come back ASAP and I ought to get myself over to the US pronto. Over the next couple of weeks we exchanged emails, messages, and talked on the phone. Every indication was that she had found someone she wanted a relationship with. This put her on much the same page as me. By chance I found myself on a business trip in London while she was still there and we met up. It was brilliant. She was delighted to see me, we ran all over town, and had as much fun as two twentysomethings can have when they’re falling in love. The next day she was going back to the US, and she said she’d be back out to where I was living soon. I kissed her goodbye in her hotel lobby, sure I’d see her again.
For the first week she was back in the US, we spoke every day. And then suddenly she didn’t pick up her phone, and she started taking longer to answer messages. I knew something was wrong and then, just like that, she lost interest. We exchanged a few emails and broke up, leaving me more than a little disappointed. I wrote it off to the pitfalls of a holiday romance – which it was for her – but it wasn’t the practicalities of a long-distance relationship which had put her off.
I was connected with her on Facebook and I watched over the next couple of years as she’d move to a new town, get together with a young man who’d gush all over her, then suddenly quit and move elsewhere. There was a musician in London who went from posting artsy photos of them kissing against a wall to increasingly desperate messages about where she’s gone and what the hell just happened. She turned up for a while dressed like a Mormon in the family pictures of a new boyfriend, before they were all taken down.
I caught up with her six years after our first meeting via the same people who’d introduced us. I was heavily involved with someone else by then, so there was no question of retracing my steps. We got along fine and didn’t bring up the past, but she did talk a lot about her amazing boyfriend who, from what I remember, was a DJ with a severe drug addiction and mental problems. A few years later she passed through town again, and we arranged to meet up. By then she was with another boyfriend, and I waited for her to confirm the meeting time until it got so late I went to bed. She later apologised to say she got “caught up in a vibe” (by now she was over thirty) but I suspect her boyfriend objected to her meeting me.
Because we have mutual friends I still know what she’s up to. She seems to be doing well but she’s still single, and she’d be in her late thirties by now. What this experience taught me is that there are women out there who say they want a relationship but don’t. For whatever reason, this girl – despite being pretty, smart, fun, and from a good family – didn’t want to commit to a relationship. Which is fair enough, but she said she did. I was there when she assured me she was ready for a relationship, and using flattery and much talk of a future together she convinced my skeptical side that she was serious. And then I watched her do the same to a succession of other men. She’d put in considerable work to enter a relationship with a man, and at the moment he’s fully committed dump him citing trivial reasons and move on. It seemed like an exhausting way to live, constantly seeking attention and the thrill of a new relationship but never taking it further.
What I never forgot was how I just knew, immediately, that the relationship was going cold. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but the subtle changes in the tone of her voice, the length and vocabulary of her text messages, and the delays in responding sounded a warning. No matter what else I told myself, I knew something was wrong and the relationship would end.
I mention this now because I found myself in a similar situation recently. I happened to meet someone who was adamant she wanted a serious relationship and pulled out all the stops over the course of a month to convince me I was the one it should be with. No sooner had I agreed when I noticed an odd delay in our correspondence from her side and a reply which should have been a touch longer. I knew what was coming. Twenty-four hours later she’d called it off for unspecified reasons and refused to talk to me any more. When pushed, she resorted to insults and blocking. Now there were red flags fluttering high in the breeze from the very first moment in this particular case, and I wasn’t daft enough to go in with my eyes closed: I just decided it might be worth a shot and I didn’t have much to lose. But the most telling of these was that over the course of about two years she had been on dates (of one kind or another) with 58 different men. I was the 59th. She was pretty, clever, and not an obvious nut (at least initially), but that statistic alone speaks volumes. This is not a case of her needing to meet the right man, but addressing the issues keeping her single.
Clearly there are women out there (and probably men too) who say they want a relationship and go to considerable lengths to find a partner, but for whatever reason can’t make the commitment and bail at the first opportunity. So here’s my question. Do they realise they spend half their time lying to people, or have they convinced themselves they’re genuinely interested in meeting someone? I get the impression it’s the latter. It’s an odd world, isn’t it?