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Is it Him or Is it Her?
The Great Wall of Daniel went up about three months into the relationship.
"A massive wall," says Ariel, who butted up against it.
Ariel is a schoolteacher. There're only two male teachers at her school, both married. The only other men she meets regularly are the divorced fathers of her students. And since she doesn't want any of her students as stepchildren, she relies on dating services and fix-ups.
She met Daniel, recently divorced, through a fix up. It was one of those blind dates where afterward both parties rush back to the mutual friend who fixed them up. "Ariel is fantastic. Thank you!" and "Daniel is so great! You were right!"
They dated for several weeks, and Daniel came on like gangbusters.
"We met, we went on dates, the sex was great, he called and texted often, I thought we really had something going on," says Ariel.
Daniel was always talking about plans for them. They'd visit his favorite cousins in California. He'd take her skiing. His parents always did a big Thanksgiving dinner. Ariel didn't say much, but she started believing that Daniel might be the one.
"Somewhere around the point where I really started relaxing into our relationship, it happened," Ariel says. "A massive wall suddenly, without the slightest warning, was erected."
One night Daniel was himself; the next night he started acting funny. Before, he was openly affectionate. He seemed to enjoy PDA. Then, he picked her up for their Friday night date and greeted her with a peck on the cheek.
When she confronted him after more of this cold treatment, Daniel said he didn't want to have a romantic relationship anymore. That they could do date-like things together, but not date, if you get the difference here.
Being so newly divorced, Daniel said that "he wanted to get out there and learn from women, that he married his childhood sweetheart and it's a whole strange new world for him and he wants to find out where women are today."
"What a crock," says Ariel. "He didn't want to 'learn from women,' he wanted to sleep with as a many as possible before he settled down. I could respect that if he had been upfront about it. But he never told me that was his agenda. It was a lie of omission."
Or was it her fault? There's a little part of Ariel that thinks maybe she allowed herself to get too comfortable in the relationship. Did she drive him away because she started being herself and not her "date" self? Was it because she stopped wearing makeup when they hung around the house on the weekends and sometimes told him she wasn't in the mood for sex? Was it because she didn't clean the bathroom every time he came over? She doesn't want to think she always has to be on, but she wonders.
"I relate it to my classroom. If I'm not up there tap-dancing everyday, they kids don't tune in. They're so used to being entertained. Are men like children?"
Do you always have to be "on" in a relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out my new ebook, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."
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