A man reconnects with an old flame online, but the spark fizzles once they hit the sheets. He blames it on his painful back. Ya think??
Dr. Gilda Carle
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
Dear Dr. Gilda,
I recently started exchanging emails with a woman I used to see on and off about 15 years ago after she found me on Facebook and initiated contact. (We’re both divorced.) One thing led to another and we went on a date for drinks. It went well, so a couple of weeks later we went out again but it was right after I’d hurt my back. I mentioned my back injury, but assured her that I wanted to go out anyway. I took her out for dinner and to meet a few of her friends for drinks afterward. She held my hand under the table or rested it on my leg the whole time. Afterwards she aggressively insisted on coming home with me, knowing about my back problem.
Obviously, I couldn’t be that physical with her because of the back pain. Since then she hasn’t contacted me and when I text her, she takes hours to respond with only brief replies. I realize that because of what happened that night she isn’t really into me anymore. I’m 46 and she is a single 37-year-old mom of two boys, so guess I thought she would be more understanding about my situation. It appears I was mistaken. What should I do?
Why do you interpret this woman’s distance as rejection? And even if it were, why would you think it was tied entirely to one night together? Despite having a less-than-spectacular bedroom romp, acknowledge that you really don’t know anything about Ms. Hot-to-Trot. Thinking you “knew” her 15 years ago does not count; people change. It’s possible that she chose to be with you because she was lonely and wanted a no-strings-attached night of intimacy. Since your recent tryst, events in her own life may have interfered with her ability to spend time with you. I repeat, you don’t know her, and jumping into bed without building a relationship first can lead to all sorts of questionable outcomes.
When you told this woman about your bad back it would have been nice if she had shown a little compassion. It also sounds like you wanted HER to set the pace for your more intimate activities. However, that gives this woman too much power over your body. She is clearly into her own life and her capacity to care about you after two nights out was asking too much. Yes, she was the initiator, and you read her actions as “aggressive.” Perhaps you’re right — but how you responded to it is what gives me pause. It takes two people to be on a date. You could have refused, admitting that your pain was too great for an evening of gymnastics. Or you could’ve simply said, “Let’s not rush into things.” So the necessary question to ask yourself is: With YOUR bad back, why didn’t YOU pass on the invitation? Were you lonely, too? Were you especially lustful that night? Were you blinded by the flattery of pursuit from this woman? Oh, and one more thing: if the outcome had been different, would you be “Disappointed” now? I don’t think so!
Many men wrestle with the problem of “performing” sexually with someone new; if the experience is anything less than what they personally consider to be mind-blowing, they feel inadequate and the romance fizzles. Of course, that’s when they typically contact me. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Sidestep a poor performance by spending time rehearsing before scheduling your first recital.” Translation: Try building a romantic relationship together before embarking on future sexcapades.
To soften the blow of this experience, I recommend you do the following:
• Create some personal dating rules and stick to them no matter how flattered you are by a woman’s attentions or charms.
• Vow to get to know someone before you hop into bed together, even if your lust is obviously mutual.
• Join interesting groups to stave off loneliness and engage in exciting activities from which meaningful relationships can naturally evolve.
• Get your back taken care of at once! You must certainly know that stress exacerbates back pain, so focus first on lessening your discomfort and stop worrying about what this woman thinks of you instead.
From time to time, everyone engages in some dating behaviors they regret. Stop beating yourself up for being human. By making mistakes, you learn to modify your behavior for the next special someone you meet. Eventually, you’ll find a woman with whom you share a real connection. Allow for the process of getting to know each other over time. For now, get to bed with the sole purpose of sleeping and feeling better!
With Love to All Who Are Sleep-Deprived,
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at www.DrGilda.com is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), and 15 other books. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.