My next step towards finding true love was to identify some of my self-destructive beliefs and behaviors that have resulted in what Dr. D calls â€œDeadly Dating Patterns.â€ You can read about all thirteen of the Deadly Dating Patterns in Chapter 2 of Love in 90 Days; in this entry I will share with you only three of my most common experiences. Iâ€™ve assigned my exes fictitious profile names in order to protect the guilty- err, umm- I mean, the innocent.
Boy Wonder: The Fantasy Relationship. I am a repeat offender of â€œThe Fantasy Relationship,â€ an obsession with the possibility of a romantic relationship with someone who is completely unattainable. My latest flight of fancy happened with Boy Wonder, a former student of mine who confessed his attraction to me during a phone call made years after his graduation. I laughed it off at first, but he persisted with his flirtations and reminded me that the boy I was remembering was now a full-grown man who was nearly thirty. Truth be told, Iâ€™ve always adored Boy Wonder. Heâ€™s a virtually unknown recording artist, but he writes pop songs with exquisitely heartfelt lyrics and he can spit rhymes with rapid fire precision that speak of truth and wisdom or just straight-up tomfoolery. Heâ€™s a perplexing mix of Southern charm, playful humor and boyish good looks infused with an unexpected shot of wanton sexuality that heâ€™ll only reveal late at night over the phone. For him, sexting is fun and easy, but he readily admits that he lacks the emotional maturity for a relationship; so he chooses to bury his hurt, his fears and his desires in a non-stop touring schedule and his music. I may not hear from him for weeks, so I try to come up with â€œlegitimateâ€ reasons to text him so I donâ€™t seem desperate. There is virtually no chance of having a real relationship with this guy and I know it, yet I canâ€™t stop myself from frequently thinking about him.
Magic Man: The Flame Out. A â€œFlame Out,â€ is an intensely romantic relationship that ends as quickly as it starts. I met Magic Man online in Georgia and we spent hours talking on the phone before we even met. Our attraction to each other was intense and he would drive two hours every weekend just to see me for about five months. Then one evening when I called to make weekend plans, he was clearly in a very bad mood, but he didnâ€™t want to talk about it. The next day Magic Man pulled a disappearing act. He simply didnâ€™t show up that weekend and he wouldnâ€™t accept or return my phone calls. I eventually drove to his house to confront him and he seemed sad but still refused to give me an explanation. A few months later I left Georgia and never saw him again.
Secret Lover: â€œCrumbsâ€ One of my most painful lessons to learn was the Deadly Dating Pattern of â€œCrumbsâ€- a situation in which you are willing to accept whatever small tokens of affection you can come by while your lover lives out a separate, exclusive life all of his own. He could be married, a player, or in my case, caught up in some crazy babyâ€™s mama drama. Before I went to graduate school, I fell deeply in love with Secret Lover, a successful businessman who had been having an on-and-off relationship with the mother of his child for five years. He swore to me that it was over for him, but she was extremely jealous and would make it difficult for him to see his daughter if she discovered he was dating someone else, so I foolishly accepted his crumby handouts for months. Finally, I refused to see him again until he could make a commitment-and so he did, the next time I saw him he was wearing a wedding ring.
The both of us were stuck in what Susan Page calls â€œBTNsâ€ or Better than Nothing relationships. At least when he got married, I (eventually) got out. BTNs destroy our self-esteem and distract us from using our precious time and energy to find somebody else. We stay in BTNs for many reasons but mostly because we donâ€™t say no when we should have and the longer we say yes, the harder it becomes to walk away. I had to walk away from a BTN with Big Daddy last weekend, an attractive man in his mid-fifties I have been spending time with occasionally for several months. While I find Big Daddy charming in his way, (even despite my typically cougar-bound instincts) heâ€™s divorced with two teenage children and doesnâ€™t intend to remarry or have any more kids. When our friendship began to move toward a romance, I had to end it before it went too far.
The best way to avoid BTNS and DDPs is through self-empowerment. â€œThe secret of finding love,â€ Page writes, â€œis to clarify what you want and then to pass up anyone who doesnâ€™t fit the bill. To make that plan work you have to meet many people so that you are operating from abundance and be able to say no to all the ones who arenâ€™t right.â€ Dr. Dâ€™s â€œProgram of Threeâ€- dating three men at the same time (no sex allowed) enables you to methodically determine the ones who are truly interested by moderating your behavior, particularly important if you tend to get burned by hot-and-heavy Flame Outs. Even Greenwald agrees (in her ever so tactful way) that a dumb dater puts all her eggs in one basket and a smart dater keeps her options open for as long as possible.
Wonderful. So now in order to find The One, I first have to find at least three men with significant dating potential. Plus, last weekâ€™s homework for Love in 90 Days didnâ€™t go so well. It was hard to mingle at the pajama brunch and afterward I had to have â€œthe talkâ€ with Big Daddy. I have not been very successful saying hello to three new men a day or very mindful about choosing my daily activities. Thankfully this weekâ€™s homework is to continue my previous assignments and to make a conscious effort to break my Deadly Dating Patterns when I look through online profiles.
Whew! This love questing is hard work! Can you identify your past or present Deadly Dating Patterns? Are you ready to break them?
Iâ€™m still struggling to make eye contact three men a day, none of which has resulted in any conversation so far. My Match.com profile generated one lunch date and two other potential connections.