I'm writing about a recent end to a complicated relationship that still has me wondering.
I'm in my late 40s and divorced. For a few months I have been experimenting with an online dating service. After exchanging emails with a guy who is in his 40s with two divorces (his last marriage ended because his wife had an affair) and three children, we met for dinner. It was spontaneous combustion in all dimensions: intellectually, emotionally, and physically, and we both knew it right away.
The first time overnight at his home (weeks into dating), he vocalized his frustration in bed and said, "I haven't done this in a while."
As the dating evolved into once-a-week get-togethers, this same "problem" persisted when we were intimate. I did not react, nor did I contribute negatively in any way. One evening, while we were having dinner and watching sports in his living room, he proceeded to strip. He was initiating. My brain immediately knew what was going on: he could do it then. We went to his bedroom and sure enough, he was capable. The rest of our encounters (a few more) resulted in the problems surfacing again and again.
Somewhere nearing the end of the second month, his contact (email, phone calls) was lessening, and it seemed as though he was keeping me at arm's length.
When we talked about our relationship at a safe time without pressure, I requested that we spend more time together. He suddenly announced that there was no connection for him. And, of course, he wanted to be friends.
One thing I noted in our conversations: He had many women friends, all of whom he dated but it never worked out.
Although we are not in touch and he has not made contact with me, my thinking is that friendship is easier for him because it does not involve sex. He reacted emotionally to my dismissal of a friendship (I said absolutely not).
We are all entitled to our decisions. Sadly, my guess is that he is always occupied (kids, work, hobbies) as a shield from reality.
Do you think this relationship ended because of the sex issues? Men usually do not pursue additional dates after the first or perhaps the second if there is no connection. I thought it was selfish of him to continue to see me for almost over two months if he was slowly figuring out what he wanted.
– Extreme Dysfunction, Albany
A: You're jumping to the right conclusions, ED. He has issues and doesn't want to confront them, so he goes from relationship to relationship hoping that it'll be easier the next time around.
Did he ever mention talking to a doctor about the problem? Was he capable of having honest conversations about what was happening (and not happening)? It doesn't sound like he was very forthcoming. You can't be with someone who's going to run from honest discussions, especially when they're about sex.
I'm happy to hear that you didn't accept a friendship. That's not why you pursued him, and he hasn't been your friend throughout this process.
And please know that you're right -- he wouldn't have pursued you if there hadn't been a connection. Don't let this experience mess with your self-esteem. Just accept that this was his issue and that he just couldn't deal with it.
It's time to get back on that dating site and see what actually works.
Readers? Was he selfish? Did he end this because of the sexual issues? Was he ever interested in her? What about a friendship? Sports? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.