Control freak or detail oriented?

In the 18 months between when my ex left and I started dating, I had plenty of time to consider what I wanted in my next man. One of my realizations was I planned 99% of outings in my marriage. I wanted a man who would take the time to plan, as I was burnt out from it, and I saw it as a way to show he cared.

I quickly found a planner in one of the first men I met online. We emailed a few times, but he didn’t proofread, so I couldn’t understand what he was saying half the time. I thought he must be foreign born. He asked if he could call me or I him. I called the evening before departing for a 6-day trip, thinking I’d have a brief conversation, then blow him off.

He was not foreign born, and was smart, charming and funny. The planned 10-minute call stretched into 30. I told him during my trip I’d only be available by email because of my tight schedule. We flirted by email several times a day for four days during my trip. On day 5, he asked me to join him for dinner when I returned. We agreed on when and where.

He was the first stranger I’d had a date with. The previous “dates” were with colleagues, and I wasn’t really sure if they were dates or not, although they were all with single guys and they treated me to dinner. There was a hug at the end. I called them pseudo dates.

This new guy did things that no man has done since. My friends were either impressed or incredulous. This guy was a uber-planner!

menuWhile still on my trip, he emailed me a PDF of the restaurant’s menu, saying if I had an idea what I might want (e.g., fish, beef, lamb, chicken), he would pre-order the wine so it would be ready for us.

On the appointed evening, I was nervous since this was the first time I’d had a date with someone I didn’t already know. I obsessed about what to wear. I must have changed clothes 6 times.

He greeted me at the restaurant bar with a hug and a gift of two CDs. He said that we could listen to them while cooking together sometime. Cool.

banquetteAfter a drink, the maître d’ told us our table was ready. We were escorted to a secluded candle-lit, semi-circular banquette. The manager came over and greeted my date by name. I thought he must come here often.

Later I learned that my guy had come to the restaurant earlier and discussed this evening with the manager. He told him he was bringing a special lady and wanted the evening to be memorable. He’d asked for the best server working that night. Then he chose the most romantic table in that server’s section. The manager assured him the table would be reserved for him, and that he’d inform his server to go out of his way to make it a special event.

We lingered over dinner for five hours, laughing and talking. We were the first couple in the restaurant and the last to leave. He walked me to my car and we ended with a hug.

Did I want to see him again? I wasn’t drawn to him physically, but he made me laugh, and I liked being treated well. I decided I’d see him again. Why? Because he went to so much thought and effort to make the evening distinctive and me feel pampered.

What did I learn? That I like a man who pays attention to details, who goes to some effort to make me feel special and that a little thought can overcome a lack of initial physical attraction. He scratched an itch I had and evidently I scratched one for him.

Some friends thought he was controlling and anal retentive to put so much effort into this first encounter. I thought it was sweet and made me feel special. So what works for one may not for another.

We went out for six weeks, and he treated me well, but only one other time did he put the same thought into a date as he had that first one. When I realized we weren’t a long-term match for many reasons, I told him I didn’t think we should continue going out. He still wanted to see me, but I knew he wouldn’t see other women if I agreed. We continue to stay in touch, and occasionally see a play, movie or have dinner together, but as pals.

The lesson to share is that behavior trumps physicality. However, if after giving it a chance if you still aren’t a match, don’t hang on as it’s not fair to either one of you. Release each other to find your true match.

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One response to “Control freak or detail oriented?”

  1. Janet Avatar

    DG, I admire your ability in discovering about yourself, what you really want out of each date. I would be great if I can do that myself when I am ready to date. I am same as you, 99% of the time, I planned most outings or vacation with my husband. Did it ever occur to you that we were doing it because we didn’t trust them to make the arrangement? We would rather have the so-called “control” over this. Or, has he ever plan something and you ended up not approving his plan?