After more than a year on the dating rollercoaster, “Will you marry me?” was not something I expected to hear again, let alone just 70 days into a new relationship with the Older Man – and a couple of days after we had split up.
My carefully considered response, after all of five seconds thought, was “don’t be so fucking ridiculous”. I am pretty sure this is not one of the usual answers on the card in response to a marriage proposal, but these were not normal circumstances.
We discussed the recent break-up, and I reiterated my frustrations about his living situation and the slow pace of moving out. We had arrived at the ‘finding out the things that irritate you about the one you love’ phase of dating, and number one on my hit-list is ‘people who faff and dither’, followed closely by ‘people who over-think everything’.
I confess, dear readers, that I am an ex-ditherer, a former procrastinator extraordinaire, and I used to be able to ruminate and worry for England. But having hauled myself out of the endlessly frustrating cycle of analysis paralysis some years ago, I am now a ‘person who does’, without worrying too much about it.
And I now feel very sorry for other people when I witness them worrying themselves into a frenzy of overwhelming confusion, and I wish I could somehow help them to stop. Worry is almost always a total waste of time and energy, but we humans are so very good at it!
Yes, I had met and fallen in love with a man who faffs, procrastinates, worries…and gets nothing done. This recipe for utter disaster duly noted, but with a big tick on the plus side for his ill-timed but sincere attempt to prove his commitment to me by proposing, he asked me to give him a week to ‘sort his life out’. I departed with little expectation that he would do so, but 5 days later received a phone call to say that he had indeed done exactly that.
My inner commitment-phobe started limbering up for a fight. She was not going to give up single life THAT easily and was certainly not getting married in the very near future. We all have one of those, right? The part of us that likes being single, answering to no-one but ourselves; laying on the floor on Friday nights drinking too much wine, eating crisps and cheese for dinner and listening to 80’s music, in preference to going out on yet another potentially dull date? (Just me then? Oh dear…)
There followed a period of intensity in which our hopes, dreams, and fears were discussed and dissected, and we had a lot of fun discovering all the things we have in common, from the tiny to the meaningful. Our level of understanding of each other deepened, and 5 months in, I found to my surprise that I could imagine myself married to this very unexpected man. We planned a holiday and I had no doubt at all that a further proposal was on the cards (asking my ring size was a bit of a giveaway. I didn’t know it anyway because I don’t wear rings!). My inner commitment-phobe was by now having a major sulk, close to admitting defeat and waving a white flag – whilst having the last dance in her pants to ‘London Nights‘
But she hadn’t given up just yet. It was becoming increasingly apparent that our definitions of ‘commitment’ were very different, and this had led to a few arguments. To me, commitment did not involve getting married or moving in together anytime soon – I was fully committed, according to my definition which I had agreed with myself at the start of this year. But attempts to explain this were falling on deaf ears, and actually seemed to be making him more stubborn in his insistence that I needed to commit to him as much as he was willing to commit to me. Three days before our holiday, this led to an epic and frustrating all-night row, which got pretty malevolent, and me asking him to leave at 4 A.M.
So I went on holiday alone. Sigh.
Older man and I talked whilst I was away and agreed that neither of us wanted to give up on the relationship. Our on-off status was by now becoming legendary and comedic amongst our friends and families, but it seemed worth one last try.
My advice to you, dear readers, is that if it has been on and off more than once, then it probably should remain off. We limped on for another month, but the fundamental differences in our personalities and values were becoming ever wider and more glaringly unresolvable.
And then one Sunday morning, a couple of days after yet another disagreement about commitment, I suddenly felt like I had woken up. All the concerns over the preceding weeks, which I had somehow managed to see as isolated incidents, came tumbling into my brain all together as a connected pattern. We were making each other unhappy and stressed. It was time to stop.
The ending, later that day, was very sad. Large quantities of snotty, wailing tears were emitted, a whole box of tissues was used up, but still the tears kept on coming. The next morning, starting to cry before I had even properly woken up is a terribly grim feeling, and feels like it will never end. We all know it does, but that doesn’t make it any better at the time.
It was Halloween. At least it was appropriate to dress all in black, have very red eyes and look like death. After a suitable period of mourning the older man, it will be time to dust the cobwebs and spiders off the dating roller coaster and get right back on.
Meanwhile, my inner commitment-phobe recommends the following methods of cheering yourself up when you feel unworthy, unloved and like you will never have a relationship ever again:Firstly, a bit of dancing in your pants to this –
Followed by a few Literal Videos: this is my favourite
Then reading this most beautiful, heartfelt description of how it feels to be heartbroken by Cherlyn Chong, to make you feel less alone
Taking as much time as you need to cry, reflect, learn from the experience, and set yourself some goals for what to do differently next time. My number one goal – if I already have doubts, no more second (and third, and fourth) chances!
And finally, remind yourself that you are awesome in whatever way works for you. Ask friends, keep a list of compliments you receive, and find inspiration from those who have been there and learned well. Have a read of Michael E Reid’s book ‘Dear Woman’ for some inspirational quotes
Comments below are welcome. Please share your ideas too – asking for help and support is also one of my new goals…