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Thursday, July 26, 2012 01:36 pm

Better luck nest time

For nine months, I’ve been having fun seeing a nice woman a few times a week. We’re both 50ish. I told her I didn’t want a serious relationship. She went along with this but now clearly wants more. She has a picture of me at her desk. (I wouldn’t think of displaying her picture on mine.) She talks about our future, once even saying we should move in together, and said we should make plans to celebrate our upcoming one-year anniversary. Perhaps I’m emotionally blocked from being only one year out of a 33-year marriage, but I don’t have lovey-dovey feelings for her now. (Part of me wants to date every woman available.) Is it wrong to keep this going when I know she wants more and may even be convincing herself that we have more? —Torn

It’s got to be unsettling, coming into this woman’s office and seeing what’s basically a framed billboard advertising the serious relationship you told her you aren’t ready to have. In her defense, she does have more contact with you than the guy whose stock photo came with the frame.

You were only looking to hang out with her a few times a week, not wear her around your neck at all times like a scarf. Maybe she thought she could go along with this, or maybe she figured she could nudge you into wanting more. She probably works hard to contain her true feelings, but they sometimes tiptoe out and whisper suggestions, like romantic ideas for your upcoming “anniversary.” Which for you is the anniversary of “I’m dating you in the wake of my 33-year marriage hitting the wall – mainly because it seems more life-affirming than curling up in a fetal position and sucking my thumb for a year or two.”

The big myth of relationships is that you just have to find “the right person.” The reality is, it has to be the right person at the right time. A year ago, a giant meteorite landed on your life, and you’ve just about collected your wallet, your keys, and all the change that blew out of your pockets. Now’s the time to crawl out of the hole, look around, and figure out what you want. Unfortunately, this is difficult with a woman clinging to your ankle, campaigning to change her Facebook relationship status to “engaged” while you’re hunting for the button for “entrapped.”

If you decide to date around, explain that you really like her but the timing’s off. (“Great moments in bad timing” is easier on the ego than “Great. I spent nine months with a guy who never really wanted me.”) If you want to keep seeing her exclusively, remind her that you’re far from ready to shop for bathroom accessories together. She may decide that some of you is better than none of you, but the ground rules will be clear: You can drag a guy to a chick movie, but you can’t make him buy into the plot – unless it’s the first chick movie ever that ends with the male lead waking up hung over in Thailand with two bar hostesses, a tattoo, and a monkey on his belly.
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