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I met Paul online, and it wasn’t long before we were talking on the phone, engaging in the most introspective, enlightening, and enjoyable conversations I’ve ever had, replete with deep discussions about the world, about people, with lots of laughing, crying, and crackling of ice cubes. Sometimes our talks would last for hours, literally. To say Paul gave “good phone” is an understatement.

Our first few dates were spent attending a movie, a show, or a sporting event — stuff like that. This was well and good, except for the fact that on these excursions, Paul would often seem to ignore me. Total silence from him — before, during, and after the date. Oh, sure, he would nod occasionally, so as not to appear like he was dead, but that’s all I got.

I soon realized that what he wanted and expected from me was that I become an expert at mind-reading. Once I did, everything fell into place. Mind-reading allowed me to quickly ascertain that there were many things that annoyed the heck out of him but that I shouldn’t expect him to share any of these annoyances with me (or anything else, for that matter), as it was clear he was uncomfortable talking about his feelings. Or his “feebangs,” as he would call them. Yes, I’m serious — he actually had trouble saying the word “feelings.”

I should mention that Paul had two teenage sons — obviously old enough to stay home alone when Paul and I would venture out. But when he became uncomfortable with me (usually immediately after we had sex), he would use the excuse that he “needed to get home to the boys.” It seemed that the better and more intimate the sex, the sooner he needed to get home.

Paul would often talk about how much he’d like to meet a woman and spend his life with her. He said this with all sincerity, and I believed him. He also admitted that he lost interest in a woman as soon as it was apparent she was interested in him. To his credit, he did acknowledge that this was destructive and that he was becoming increasingly frustrated at his inability to conquer this destructive trait. So he gets an “A” for acknowledgment.

Of course, Paul required quite a lot of “space” and said to me several times that what he needed was a woman who was comfortable allowing him that. This woman was also expected to be available and happy when he returned from his “distant” mood (which could last for weeks), with no “annoying” questions as to why he’d been gone. This was crucial, Paul said, or “things just wouldn’t work.”

Paul also had a drinking problem. It would start out fun, sharing a bottle of fine wine with him, but then he’d drink so much that he would pass out.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I’ll add one more thing: Paul enjoyed surfing the Internet, spending most of his time on various dating sites. Sometimes he would tell me about some of the women that he was attracted to and say that he hoped I didn’t “have a problem with that.” He did this during the entire time we were dating — which, believe it or not, lasted four years.

By now you must be wondering why in the world I tolerated this arrangement. For four years, no less. Believe me, I’m still wondering that myself. I guess I thought that something was better than nothing, but I don’t know why I thought I had nothing if I wasn’t with a man.

Tell us the story of your breakup and/or date from hell and we will publish it and pay you ($100 for 500-2000 words).

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San Diego, CA 92186

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M. E. March 25, 2008 @ 12:09 a.m.

Seems to me the guy was pretty upfront about everything.


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