Having lunch with two friends, both 16 years my senior, we were discussing relationships. They asked about my love life, always wanting an update on the soap opera of my dating situation. One had been married nearly 50 years, the other was a divorcée from a 30-year marriage. I often bounced my relationship dilemmas off them.
I shared I was torn between two really great guys, one of whom I’d been seeing for 5 weeks, the other for 3. Both were generous, affectionate, communicative, tender, intelligent, and successful. The 5-week one had also shown he was reliable, thoughtful about pleasing me, and emotionally mature, but I wasn’t physically drawn to him. He wasn’t unattractive; it was more his kiss and touch didn’t do it for me. The 3-week man also displayed some of the same positive characteristics, but since we hadn’t spent as much time together, the evidence was less apparent. But I got goose bumps with his touch and kiss. We definitely had chemistry.
I was wondering if it was right to keep seeing the 5-week guy since I didn’t have the same physical reaction to him. Was I being fair to him? Would I grow to get excited by his touch? Should I let him loose and focus on the one who got my blood boiling? Or should I continue to see both a bit longer and see if one emerged as the clear front runner?
The longer-married one began: “After a while, the physical part of a relationship wanes, no matter how hard you try. If you have to choose between a good man and a hot one — at least for the long term — always choose the one who treats you the best. The hottie may be good for a tryst, but sex appeal is not the primary basis on which to build a relationship.”
The other chimed in, “Yes, passion fades, but respect, kindness, and emotional maturity are more likely to stay intact. If you’re looking to stop dating around and settle down, focus on the one who shows more solid character, even if you’re less drawn to him physically.”
“But,” I protested, “if I can’t get excited about him physically, how will that bode for the relationship? In the beginning if one isn’t pulled to a man, can you learn to be passionate toward him?”
“Do you think he’s teachable? Could he learn how you like to be kissed and touched?” asked the 50-year veteran.
“Yes, I believe he would want to learn. He does seem interested in pleasing me.”
The divorcée added, “You can be swept off your feet by passion. It is exhilarating. But it often blinds us to the lack of other important criteria by which to make a long-term decision. Yes, ideally your future mate and you will have passion for many, many years. But the relationship should be grounded on mutual respect, caring, kindness, and wanting to make each other happy — not only in the bedroom, but in general.”
The long-married friend capped the conversation with, “Dear, you’ve only just begun to get to know these men. You don’t have to choose at this juncture. Just enjoy having two great guys in your life, be respectful of their feelings, and when the time is right, it will be clear which one should get your focus. Or maybe neither of these is the right one for you. Have a good time while being mindful of not doing or saying things that make them think you are focused on one exclusively.”
These surrogate big sisters served thoughts to chew on as we nibbled our lunch. Having their 80+ years of relationship wisdom in which to marinate my thoughts was the seasoning I was looking for.
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