No matter how cautious you plan to be, heartbreak happens. It can happen between the best of friends, between parent and child, between family members, and between lovers. I don’t think we ever set out to hurt or be hurt – anyone who’s experienced that wince of pain caused by the loss of love would more than likely attest to that. But the heart, as complex of an organ as it is, is relatively simple in its emotional make-up. We store all our emotions there, and when you stop to think about it, that’s quite a vast capacity. Thinking just about the supposed ‘seven major emotions’ that psychologists categorize, we’re talking about fear, contempt, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness and surprise.
When we lose our relationship with someone we care for, no matter the context of that relationship, we generally feel loss. There can be loss of trust, as in a friend who you feel alienated you and your life that you entrusted to them; a loss of innocence, like when a child crosses a line you never would have imagined would be crossed; a loss of intimacy, when a partner betrays your faith or simply denies your feelings altogether; a loss of confidence, when you deny yourself and doubt all that you know to be true.
Regardless of what the cause of this loss, the angst that follows must be allowed to process, in due time. Denying ourselves and our emotions is both detrimental to our emotional health, and harmful to our attempts to rebuild who we are as individual beings.
I recently entered the dating world after a 25+ year departure. Let me simply say this: dating over 45 is ridiculously difficult, and dating in 2015 – absurd. Apparently there is no more simply meeting someone, enjoying their company, and wanting to spend more time with them. Most everything is done online now. I don’t know if you’ve seen the commercials – there must be 50 dating sites, at least – one for every different group you could imagine…ethnic groups, religious groups, age-based groups, farmers, you name it…there’s a group. The premise is all the same…girls and guys trying to meet each other, via picture and profile, with or without a membership fee involved. So before you even get to the date, you can be rejected any number of times, by a mere ignoring of your message, to a nasty message sent to you, to a nasty comment on your photo – it’s the screening before the date that knocks your feet right out from under you. Back in the 80s, that happened at the bar, and at least you had a drink to wash down the sting.
So I started with the Christian group, thinking I’d have the best results there. That site was a joke! It was basically non-Christian guys looking to ‘hook-up’ with good girls to see what they could get away with. I figured that out in less than a day, lucky me! I previewed a couple more sites and ended up on one that seemed ok, but regardless of where you land, you certainly have to keep your guard up at all times. I spent a few days hanging back, seeing what the guys were all about – like 80% said they go to the gym every day (as if!); many have photos of their cars (oh, my racing heart!); an incredibly high amount have photos that include their exes (yes, you read that right!) – and I came to the conclusion that many guys my age have no idea what women want, period. I don’t know whether to have a tantrum or cry over this information…the jury is still out.
I did, however, meet someone and we started to chat on the website. He really was great – he said all the right things, and truly meant them. I felt comfortable with him immediately, and I trusted what I felt. We talked for a few days, then agreed to meet for our first official ‘date.’ No pressure…yeah, right! He was perfectly charming, our conversation was enchanting, and I didn’t want to go home. The weather was bad, and he texted just after I got into the car to tell me to let him know I got home alright – how sweet! I smiled the whole way home, despite the treacherous driving. We texted for over an hour after I got home – again, very sweet.
The next day, though he was busy helping out a friend, we managed to plan catching a movie in the evening. I was giddy just knowing I would be seeing him again – I felt like I was in Junior High all over again – what would I wear, did my hair look ok, what would we talk about. Never once did the huge smile leave my face. We had arrived early which allowed for time for some great conversation. Just as the lights went down, he reached over for my hand – I thought I was going to melt right there in my seat…so much better than Junior High! The movie was amazing, and the company even better.
We saw each other two more times that week, and each day the conversations we so sweet and tender – extending into the evenings until we were both too tired to talk any more. I was being as cautious as necessary, but also feeling so safe and secure – it was unbelievable how well we were getting along. He met one of my friends and her husband when we went to see a band at a local bar – I was really nervous and acted quite out of character, but he quickly reassured me that everything was alright. We were enjoying simply spending time together – we didn’t have to be doing anything special – just being.
He was happy as well – he communicated how he felt – he couldn’t get the smile off his face either, and things were going well. He worked hard, and I gave him his space, perhaps popping in via text midday to say I was thinking of him or to ask how his day was going. He responded as time permitted, and this worked out fine.
And then suddenly, something changed. To this day, I have no idea what happened, and that is what really kills me. Being the logical person that I am, just about the worst thing you can do to me is to walk away with no explanation – nothing. I am left with self-doubt, self-loathing, self-abuse. I simply cannot process the not knowing. My mind goes to every horrible scenario possible…and then it splits in two.
On my birthday, nonetheless, I got a ‘snippy’ message from him. I had an idea something had shifted, but he didn’t really say anything was up. I was busy that day, and decided as the day was drawing to a close, to reach out and ask how his day had been. No answer. Next day, a little bit of chit-chat, but certainly not status quo. I decided to ‘put myself out there’ in words – I do that quite a bit – and often I give everything away when I do. I asked him to just be real. I said I trusted him, and that he could trust me. And the response I got was more than I ever bargained for.
The next day he said we needed to take a break. I don’t personally own the Guy Code book, so at first I didn’t really know what that meant. A break? From what exactly? Me texting him during the day? Oh…from me…I’m a little slow sometimes. I responded curtly but not ugly, then stopped before I did get ugly. Then I processed for a little bit. Then I can back with something ugly. Then I processed some more. Then I apologized. Then I went to therapy…a lot of therapy.
I gave him the space he asked for, though I’m still confused of what exactly happened. After the allotted time, I texted him again, asking if he could call so we could talk. Nothing. So I called after a day. Voice mail. Then I waited the acceptable amount of time for him to respond, and I texted that obviously we were done, but if he could give me a clue why, I could process this a whole lot better. Nothing.
I cried every day for the first 9, no, 10 days. I can’t say my heart is broken – I did feel something for him – I definitely could have felt something. My brain is broken, most certainly. And I am left in a heap once again. What did I do wrong? Why can’t he even answer that for me? Am I that annoying he can’t speak to me one more time, seriously? How is this ever, ever going to work?
The worst part is I sent a message after the phone call, telling him I wouldn’t bother him again – could he just tell me what happened. And then two days ago, thinking I’m moving on finally – I text him again. At this point, I’m sure he thinks I’m a stalker. I’m sure that’s why he dumped me…future stalker in the making.
So I’m reluctantly returning to the website – where of course I see his profile every time I log on. They are so very kind to tell you who the perfect matches are for you. Little do they know that some of those ‘perfect matches’ will snap your logical brain if you’re not careful. Guard your hearts? Guard your minds, too.