Q: This divorced dad I’ve been seeing for a month is really sweet, but he’s pushing to go way too fast. Lately, he’s been very intense. He came over after I specifically told him I wanted a night alone. He said he thought I needed him but was “too independent” to say so. He says he loves me (I can’t say it back), and wants to change jobs and move in with me (he lives 30 miles away). I said I wasn’t ready. He keeps trying to convince me that I’m just scared and once I “let go” and let him move in, I’ll see that everything is as it should be. I’m 30, divorced, with two children; he’s 32, recently divorced (four months ago, after his wife cheated). He hasn’t met my parents, and I won’t let him meet my kids until I’m sure about him. He says what others think shouldn’t matter because “We’re in love and happy, so it’ll all come together.”
A: Well, here’s a romance for the ages.
“How’d you two lovebirds get together?” people will ask. “It’s so completely sweet,” you’ll say. “He was standing on my porch waving a bunch of red flags.”
This guy takes the “Dear Occupant” approach to love: Instead of “It had to be you,” it had to be somebody, and you’re standing right there and have yet to call the cops on him. He claims to love you, but you really have to know somebody to love them. Of course, “We’re in love!” plays better with the ladies than “I’m lovable, right? After what that last woman did to me?” or “I’m terrified to be alone…got any spare drawers?”
As for his push to live with you one month in, you don’t even meet somebody’s parents at that point — not unless you’re 14 and need somebody with a license to drive you to the movies. Plus, an emotionally together dad doesn’t expect a mother to announce, “Kids, I brought a strange man home from the bar. He’s going to live with us now. I forget his name, so you can just call him Daddy II.”
Oh, the way he makes you feel…smothered, pressured, and in need of lingerie with a seatbelt attachment. It’s completely creepy how he’s trying to sensitive-guy his way into your life, sounding protective of you when he’s anything but. You e-mailed me that you’ve seen the guy maybe six times, yet he’s named himself the world’s foremost expert on your “real” feelings — which align so perfectly with his needs: You really love him. You really want him to come over. In fact, you wish he’d arrived in a moving van on the first date. (Any guy can bring flowers — it takes a really special guy to bring you his bedroom set and 36 boxes of his stuff.)
Love (when you actually have it) supposedly makes the world go round, but relationships run on the boring day-to-day stuff, and how you argue, and how annoyingly one of you chews. This isn’t data that’s readily available on the third date. What’s more, a guy who immediately decides he loves you will find it near impossible to see if he actually does — until it’s too late. Tempting as it is to buy into a whirlwind romance, keep in mind that the focus is always on the romance, not the whirlwind — the part that leaves your living room in little pieces in the next county under a herd of cows.
Q: A friend read that in 70 percent of relationships, men will cheat, but I’ve seen all sorts of different stats. Do you have reliable numbers on the level of cheating that goes on?
A: You can get pretty reliable stats on cheating, providing you restrict your inquiry to twotimers with wings and a beak. Researchers who test baby bird DNA find that up to 60 percent of the chickies weren’t fathered by the mommy birdie’s partner. (And, P.S. Don’t believe the clever public relations campaign of those sluts, the swans.) In humans, data is “self-reported,” as in, “Here’s a number two pencil: Tell the truth about your sex life.” The results are highly accurate — if you don’t count everybody fudging to seem more studly or less hussyish and cases where everything but “and” and “the” is a lie. The bottom line? Men cheat, women cheat, and if you’ve ever been involved with a man or woman, there’s a good chance you’ve been cheated on. Delve into your partner’s character and views on monogamy before you commit, and you might avoid hiring a private detective or DNA lab to do it afterward — when you can’t help but notice that your wife’s a vulture who just gave birth to the most beautiful baby duck.
© 2010 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.