You had an instant, magical, mutual connection. On the first date you both expressed how attracted you were to the other, and how much you enjoyed your time together. He kissed you on the cheek during dinner, showing that he was a gentleman — not assuming privileges too soon.
After dinner, neither of you wanted the date to end, but the restaurant was closing. You didn’t want to say goodnight just yet. The waitress suggested a bar for “mature people” which you interpreted as anyone over 30. You struck out in pursuit of a place to linger with some unobtrusive dance music. The suggested tavern had morphed into a hard-rock, under-30 place. You found a nearby lounge at a chain restaurant, so cozied up in a booth for more time together until it, too, closed.
You couldn’t wait for the first kiss. It was as yummy as you’d hoped. You said goodbye for the evening. He promised to call the next day. He did. He called every day for the next four days, when you saw each other again. The hours passed quickly as you hung out, enjoying holding hands, talking, and sweet kisses. No pressure to go beyond simple affection — he wasn’t pressing for sex. More expression of your both feeling close to each other. At the end of the evening, you felt you’d found someone with whom you could spend the rest of your life. Yes, you realize this was happening quickly and knew your friends would tell you to slow down, but you hadn’t felt like this in years.
He called the next day and the next and the next. But there was no definite time set to get together. You called him and asked about lunch or dinner, but there was always some reason he couldn’t set a day and time — meetings, business dinners, evening classes, short business travel. Was he in a relationship and just trying you out to be his spare? Had he changed his mind about how he felt? Had he been feeding you lines? Was he a player? If so, he would have pressed more for sex.
You toy with getting angry and telling him off. But you don’t really know what’s going on. He does call, so you think he’s still interested. You struggle to not take it personally. He never really said he’s finished; he’s just not making an effort to get together again. But he does still stay in touch. You’re tempted to cut the cord, but decide there’s no loss with staying the course.
This has happened before, where things began swimmingly, deliciously, fabulously, only to have the connection dissipate. You can blame him for whatever (being a coward, leading you on, apparently lying, being uncommunicative), but that doesn’t really get you anywhere. You could blame yourself (easily wooed, heart on your sleeve, needy, see things as you’d like them not as they really are, you get your hopes up too quickly), but that doesn’t get you anywhere either.
I’ve decided that when I have these fizzled encounters — which luckily are rare — I will reframe them as vacation flings. So what if I wasn’t really on vacation, or if these assignations happened within 25 miles of my house. A vacation fling is full of juicy romance, yet you know it is unlikely to continue when you return home. The difference between a real vacation fling and a faux, close-to-home one is with the former you know going in that it isn’t going to last. With the latter you have to reframe it in retrospect — rewriting a bit of emotional history. Delusional? Perhaps. But it’s harmless.
Does it still sting? It can. Or, just like with a vacation dalliance, you can look back with a smile, enjoy the connection and affection, and be happy you experienced it. After all, he wasn’t abusive or mean, he was just not there for the long term — that being more than two weeks.
Have you experienced reframing a short, strong connection in a way that leaves you happy, not angry or hurt? If so, how did you recategorize the “relationship”?
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