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Jessica #58 - The Waiting Game

Jessica #58 - The Waiting Game

Jessica hears about intimacy from a guy's perspective.


I felt a blush of humiliation and surprise staining my cheeks. I had been sure Joel would be beyond delighted when I made an appearance at his house -- particularly after he'd been irritated earlier in the evening when I'd explained that I couldn't see him that night. And so -- surprise! -- I show up and his reaction is to tell me to “Go home”?!

I felt stung, and looked around, blinking confusedly.

"Oy," Joel groaned, "As usual, that did not come out right. Let me explain..."

"Michal's here?" I asked.

"No, uh, I..." he began.

"Shelley?" I asked, referring to his ex-wife.

"What??" he spluttered, "No! Jessica... it's nothing like that. I, uh... I should have explained this before, but I thought it would have been a bit presumptuous."

I furrowed my brows. Where on earth was he going with this?

He explained: "After my divorce, I behaved badly. Michal was still practically a baby and Shelley had near total custody at that point, so I could do whatever I wanted. It was great for about a year or so.

"But then I realized that I had totally messed up my life. I had been married, I was a father, and now I was acting like I was 22 again."

He continued: “So I started looking at it as the father of a girl who would someday be dating. And when I looked at it that way, I realize that I had been dating women without really building emotional connections, and that wasn't new. I hadn't been the best of husbands and I was turning out to be a pretty lousy father, too."

(In previous discussions about his divorce, he had mentioned before that he had not been the ideal partner in marriage, but I didn't know exactly how.)

That was when, he said, he started to get his act together. He started to really deal with what had gone wrong in his marriage, and decided that he didn't want to be an every-other-weekend father.

"I had to figure out what I really wanted in life -- what was important to me," he said. "I realized that, more than anything, I wanted to be a good father. And I wanted to have a real family and be a good husband.

"First of all, becoming physical early on isn't fair to the woman. It implies a level of commitment that I wouldn't necessarily be feeling. But more so, it was too easy to let the passionate side replace the kind of relationship-building that needs to be done."

I knew what he meant: the easy slide from dating in "A Relationship," which continues along on its own inertia, but never really goes anywhere. And then you wake up a few months later, all emotionally entangled, and emerge -- even though it ends 'amicably' -- with a little less of yourself, and a whole lot more jaded. I had seen the pattern over and over, especially with Beth. Watching it with her, and later with Alison, was a great part of why I had been so much more conservative in relationships.

"Look, Jessica," he continued, insistently, "people carry scars from unhappy relationships or things that finished badly. I want the real thing, not something that is ‘good enough' in the meantime. I have enough baggage as it is."

I felt overwhelmed, and I didn't know how to react. All along, Joel had been less easily understandable to me than most... he was like the onion in Shrek, except that he wasn't a big, green ogre. But I suddenly felt flooded with everything he had told me, and my own confusion. He is emotionally deep, but so complex... and it seems like every day he pulls out a new skeleton...

I suddenly felt the urge to run.

February 23, 2002

Article 58 of 66 in the series Jessica's Journal

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Liorah Chanah, June 19, 2002 12:00 AM

silver spoonfed

The one line summary says it all.

(5) David Wolpaw, March 3, 2002 12:00 AM

How religious is Jessica?

In her saga, Jessica has evolved from a New England liberal arts college feminist dating a non-Jew, to a Jewishly oriented woman who will only date Jews. Through her life experiences she has become closer to Judaism. Periodically, she shares with us a life-lesson she has learned which looks like it's lifted straight out of an orthodox book on dating and relationships. Jessica's thinking is becoming more in line with Orthodox Judaism but she hasn't yet made the leap to becoming Baal Tshuva. Why not? Clearly something (or things) is holding her back. She obviously has some reservations about traditional Judaism or she would have already quit her job and enrolled in an Orthodox women's college. Why doesn't she discuss her qualms about orthodoxy? The only explanation I can come up with is that Aish is reluctant to allow a writer on their website to go into the "why NOT" of becoming a Baal Tshuva. This is understandable. In any case, Jessica's apparent avoidance of this aspect is unfortunate, since discussing her reservations about religious Judaism would make for a far richer, more complete story.

(4) Anonymous, February 25, 2002 12:00 AM

re: be careful what you wish for

I have to agree with you. Being a woman, I have seen that if I chased the man, it didn't work out. What works is if you are friendly with the man, but not too friendly. Do your own thing... go to the movies with your girlfriends. Get involved with a singles group at your local synagogue -- and if there isn't one, start one. Let him know that you have a life and that he is only part of it. Make time for him when it works for you. Let him ask you out on a date. Yeah I know that what you are doing is playing by "The Rules" (which, IMNSHO, make sense in a wierd way), but you are playing the rules on your terms, nobody else's. And yes, definitely let him know that you were not looking for a roll in the hay when you stopped by his place unexpectedly. He'll appreciate it... really! And if he thinks otherwise, that you were looking for a roll in the hay, drop the guy like a hot potato and move on.

(3) Anonymous, February 25, 2002 12:00 AM

I've been there & I'm still hurt

I had a simular reaction from a fellow last year. We had been intimate and then he pulled back saying "this is not fair to you; I realize I'm just not ready for another relationship." On one level I appreciated his honesty (recent divorce) and his not wanting to just use me; on another level I felt if I was younger and cuter he would be parading me to everyone. But I'm not young and cute. I'm in my 40's and ok looking ...

(2) Anonymous, February 24, 2002 12:00 AM

be careful what you wish for

I know how you feel (whoever "you" are).It's weird when after wanting someone who's serious minded you get what you want. Apparently this guy is serious. I still say respect the boundaries and let him come to you. Meanwhile you do your thing and don't put your life or girlfriends on hold. If he can't "make time" for you with reasonable notice, make other plans. Trust me, if he is serious he will make the time. If you show up at his doorstep, you will get this feeling because you will be invading his boundaries. Let him chase you and you use the time and space to figure out how you do feel about being single. In a way being single is comfortable and easy. You will never have that again and it is a scary change. So don't chase him. Let him chase you and use that time so when he does decide to commit you will also be ready. Btw you should have told him you were not looking for sex when you came over. He should understand that about you.

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