“I was going to ask you to marry me,” he said

Karen Madej

Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplashhttps://unsplash.com/photos/glpYh1cWf0o

Falling hard and being unable to see the object of your desire through anything other than the proverbial rose-tint stings worse than and longer than a paper cut when you’re rejected. Doesn’t it, ladies and gents?

I thought it was only females who pined for their chosen one until my son admitted he fell for a co-worker who told him she didn’t feel the same way. Over a large mocha (for me) and one of those mango slushy drinks (for my son) we compared our sad love lives.

“Mental chemistry creates interest, emotional chemistry generates affection, physical chemistry generates desire, and spiritual chemistry creates love. A soulmate includes all four…and I will not settle for anything less!”
John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: Practical Guide for Improving Communication

The first of two men I hurt that way was over thirty years ago. I didn’t have a clue he felt any more for me than I did for him. Until I mentioned in passing that I’d met a guy in a nightclub and had gone home with him. I was shocked by the way this man doubled over as though he’d been punched in the belly. Naturally, I pretended nothing had happened. If we’d used the word in 1985, I might have been called a narcissist. In 1985, I’d probably have been considered a slut or a dirty stop out. I was oblivious to what other people thought or felt.

You could say I didn’t appreciate the finer points of dating. Monogamy, for example. I had a stable example from my father who only wanted to be married. My mother had other ideas. She wanted her freedom from his suffocating and possessive ways (sorry Dad, her words not mine). I take after her in many ways. In this instance, it wasn’t wanting control in a relationship, but more the inclusion in decisions. I wanted equality.

I knew I never wanted to get married. I wanted my own life.

Back to the first man I hurt. I did not feel anything for my colleague and one-time lover. He sweated all over me as he pumped away. This was not something I wanted to repeat. Especially the being drenched part. I blame it on the super-hot chilli-con-Carne he cooked for us.

I didn’t feel a thing for my first long-term boyfriend until he slept with another woman. Then I had revenge sex with his friend. Then nothing. No relationships for years.

Then I met my future husband. He asked me to marry him. I accepted. We had a child. Perfect. No. He wanted control of everything and if he didn’t get his way he had an inordinate talent for making me feel guilty. I don’t like being controlled. We divorced. I felt nothing. Was I dead inside?

The next life partner was the one I fell for. Big time. You can read his story here. But ended up leaving him two years after he shagged my friend on the sofa in my house while our (hers and mine) children were sleeping upstairs.

My third long-term partner fell for another woman. I had to leave him because he couldn’t or wouldn’t admit his infatuation. He married her three months later.

There hasn’t been another potential romantic male interest in my life for around ten years. I’ve changed a lot in those years. I didn’t realize how much.

Feelings return

I regained feelings about eight years ago. I stopped being oblivious to everyone. I had time to think about family and friends, even remember their birthdays.

Attracted to my uniqueness (his words), the latest guy I hurt hasn’t found the right label for me yet. Particular, intelligent, intellectual, and articulate are the adjectives he uses when I’m on top form. While I love to hear these from a man who is almost the one I’d like to spend the rest of my life with, I also squirm every time I hear them. I’ve never been 100% comfortable with compliments, but I can smile and say thanks (while inwardly cringing), now. I don’t like labels, do you?

And when I’m distracted (in the middle of work or writing) or he’s speaking to me as though I’m a five-year-old who can’t cross the road by herself, I can be quite short-tempered with him.

He often mishears me. He wears a hearing aid and is Scottish, which means he uses Scottish colloquialisms, whereas I’m English and I have my own colloquialisms. Sometimes it’s like we speak strange languages. Of course, I get frustrated because I don’t understand what he’s saying, and he’s hurt because I get snappy.

Then I go into quiet mode because it was all so stupid and I don’t see why we can’t just agree on things. I know it’s me, choosing to not give in or gloss over something I feel strongly about that he can’t handle. The age-gap is pretty big.

“Why are women and men so different?” he asked me, out of the blue.

Stunned, I opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish for a long moment before I came out with, “that’s a big question to be asking at ten on a Friday evening after several glasses of vino.” After further thought, I decided that is something we have to work out for ourselves.

He told me, only a week before, that he is an empath. The first male and potential companion I’ve ever met who is kind and generous, (I had to ask him to stop giving me cakes and biscuits because I ate them all) and offers unconditional friendship. I have a hard time believing this. My reaction is probably due more to mistrust than him not being genuine.

Is unconditional love actually unconditional?

A month and thrice-weekly foot massages later, on the evening of Valentine’s Day, he kissed me. It wasn’t the first time. But this time I pushed him away.

He tasted of cigarettes and coffee and had transferred bits of food from his mouth to mine. A big turn-off. I pulled away. He made his excuses and went across the hallway to his own flat.

Reflecting on my actions the next day, I realized this man, nearly ten years older than me, cared so much for other people he was neglecting his own health.

Every day he told me he only slept three hours the night before. He knows he drinks too much coffee and smokes too much, both are stimulants!

He’s already had a stroke and stopped exercising.

He’s experienced the deaths of his parents, an older sister, a younger brother, and his mother’s pet terrier.

He told me I’m his breath of fresh air. I regret to say he is not mine (I know I’m being mean again). I’ve been overwhelmed by his kindness and generosity.

A walking buddy and easy flowing conversations (no analysis thank you) were all I wanted after we discovered all was not in order in his body. He’s the third in a row and I’m not going to find the kindness and patience to encourage another man into an amorous function because I wasn’t successful with the other two. I can see why older women fall for younger men.

I knew I felt nothing for this guy. I was behaving exactly as a couple of men in my past had behaved towards me.

For a week, I felt uncomfortable and stayed indoors to avoid him. In the past, I didn’t understand how men could turn their emotions on and off. I do now.

In the street, the day after he texted to say he didn’t want to see me, we bumped into each other. I said, “you know this is going to keep happening, don’t you?”

“I was going to ask you to marry me,” he said.

Gulp. “I had no idea. I’m sorry, I’m not able to turn love on and off.”

He knew.

“We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us they will react and behave in certain ways — the ways we react and behave when we love someone.”
John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships

Knowing doesn’t ease the overpowering desire to convince the object of your affection/love/lust that you are everything they ever wanted and needed. I know, I’ve felt debilitating lust twice. At the time, I talked, to anybody who’d listen, about my passion for these men who had rejected me. I won over the first but the second messed my head up for a long time.

I accept that people are going to upset me and I’m going to upset other people every now and then. I want love/lust/affection again but this time around I’m not going to be someone I’m not to get it.

Like me or lump me as we say in the UK and I’ll do the same for you.

Comments / 3

Published by

Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.


More from Karen Madej

Comments / 0