We've all heard about the phenomenon of "born-again virgins": women and men who want to pretend their wild and crazy days never happened and revert to their innocent status. But we've got a new phenomenon to report today. Let's call it "born-again teenagers." These are the women and men who are suddenly single after a long marriage and approaching dating with all the wide-eyed innocence of a teen in the first throes of romance. Case in point: Melody.
Melody had been married for a long time, 27 years. Her husband passed away five years ago after a long illness. She had no plans to ever date again. She had a very demanding career and was raising teenagers on her own.
"I'm very self sufficient and successful," she says.
Two tears after her husband died, she ran into Andy, a former co-worker. He had also lost his spouse. He asked her to have lunch with him, and she agreed. He was 10 years older and had grown children.
She says: "I was very taken by him. He was very successful and wealthy, but I cared for him, not his wealth."
Things progressed, and Melody found herself falling in love with Andy. After six months of dating, she told him how she felt. He said: "I can't return those feelings. I still love my wife. I think I'm going to date around."
Melody was crushed. She understood that Andy still loved his wife. After all, she still loved her husband. But she realized that they're gone and not coming back. She wanted a relationship with a living, breathing person. She ended the relationship with Andy.
One month later, he called her and said, "This is awkward and embarrassing, but I miss you."
She says: "I was ecstatic, but extremely guarded. I went out to dinner with him and then he started saying, 'I can't wait for you to meet my children.' He had already met my whole family and I never understood why he had never introduced me in the six months we had dated. Why now?
"The dinner was awkward. I wanted him to sweep me off my feet and profess his love for me, but he was just acting like we would go on from that point like he never told me he wanted to date around. When he dropped me home after dinner I asked him never to contact me again and I went inside and cried.
"That was three years ago and I still think of him often, even though I've never run into him. He broke my heart. I just felt that he would never be able to give me the love that I desired. I've been heartbroken even since. This was a terrible introduction to the dating world and I was unprepared for it.
"I still wonder what happened. It was a learning experience. I don't want to become jaded, but I would be very cautious if I were ever to date again. I was defiantly naive when it came to dating, and I won't be so quick to every follow my heart again."
What do you think happened to Andy? Do you think Melody handled it properly? Or was she expecting too much? Send your thoughts, along with your questions, rants and problems to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not.