Happily Eva after: The mysterious case of Stan, ‘the wrong man’

Eva ruminates on dating in the 21st century.

EVA ruminates on dating in the 21st century (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
EVA ruminates on dating in the 21st century
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
As the ’80s classic goes, “(doo doo) I know this much is true....”
I know I love caramelized onion tart, and the satisfaction of an article well-written (I’m hoping to get that feeling soon – har!); I know I am not fond of line-cutters (welcome to Israel) or radishes.
But sometimes, in matters of the heart, things are less clear.
Take the mysterious case of Stan. Because he was “right on paper,” I wanted him to be the one, but couldn’t put my finger on was “wrong” with him.
Looking back, though, it’s clear what the problem was.
THE TALE: Prizing seriousness over steamy sexiness these days, I could tell that Stan was more of the “stable guy” type (not to be confused with the stable boy). We had known each other for a few years through the bitza (singles swamp, if you watch your Srugim), having even gone out once last year.
Some years older than myself, he was ready to settle down, with a good job and a solid outlook on life. And he was Anglo, something highly attractive to me, as it means fewer cultural snafus.
Yet on the initial encounter, while I found him pleasant, he somehow didn’t hold my interest – something I attributed to lack of attraction – so things just fizzled.
We re-met at a party, and feeling no pressure, I spoke with him in a carefree way, cracking semi-dirty jokes – even snorting once, I believe. Apparently this appealed to him, since he asked me out again.
Having been so relaxed, I saw him with new eyes. He really was nice to be around, a good person and very accepting, laughing at my puns. He seemed to make the most of life, cycling around the world and having adventures. And had he been working out? I decided to go for it. We met after my Tuesday gym marathon; I was feeling the endorphins. He took me for a really nice dinner, and conversation flowed on a variety of topics, both superficial – his recent trip, my gym obsession and, paradoxically, all things food-related – and less so, such as our family histories and responsibilities.
I had a great time, as did he (he told me so), and it all seemed really promising. I agreed to go out again, and we went to hear a ’60s cover band, which ended up being cocktails-fueled fun. (Who knew Janis Joplin went so well with lychee martinis?) For our third date, he suggested cooking me dinner. I was touched, though apprehensive – I don’t like going to guys’ houses, or having them in my own, at the beginning of dating. I feel it gives them the wrong idea and might lead to hanky-panky that will derail a long-lasting relationship; in the first few months, I prefer going out to staying in.
However, since we had known each other for some years, I thought it could be okay. Plus (surprise!), I’m a sucker for a good dinner.
Being a Good Little Stan, he picked me up – he had a real four-door vehicle, did I mention that? – and we went over to his apartment. It was groovy, decorated in the “retro monastery” chic that goes so well with some Jerusalem dwellings, and we ate his delicious food on his mirpeset.
The thing is, I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
Perhaps it was my disquiet with being in so intimate a setting and feeling it was too early in our connection, despite my agreeing to come over? Perhaps it was the weight of expectations I – or he, I wondered – put on such a dinner? Either way, when we retired to the couch in his salon, I sat far away, at the opposite end. I wasn’t cold about it, but wanted to put distance between us so he wouldn’t get any funny ideas.
“Do you want to come closer?” he asked, motioning to a spot near him. “No, I’m fine right here,” I replied.
We continued schmoozing over after-dinner mints, and half an hour later, there it was again: “Come sit here,” he said. It was obvious that moving closer would lead to a smooch.
I didn’t want one, or the few that might follow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to a third-date kiss, if things are going well, but I didn’t feel ready or close enough to him, especially in his apartment. And I didn’t like the possibility that he had brought me over to try something on me; it didn’t seem to be the case, but the seed of doubt had been planted.
“I actually don’t like getting physical early on. I like to get to know the person,” was my answer, which, to his credit, he accepted without argument.
We went on with the evening as if nothing had happened, but my defenses had gone up.
Thereafter, though we went out numerous times, the issue of physicality became a bigger deal than it needed to be. While it might have happened naturally otherwise, it kind of loomed between us.
Moreover, though I continued to learn about his good qualities, like the previous year, I still wasn’t sure I was attracted to him. The only way to find out was to smooch. But we weren’t smooching! In hindsight, part of the problem was the initial issue: He kept inviting me over for dinner – a midweek bite, a formal Friday night (I felt like we were playing Ima/ Abba). It was lovely that he wanted to cook for me, or do it together – eventually I began chopping veggies – but being on his turf made me nervous, especially since I knew we had “unfinished business.”
Every date, we would have a seemingly nice time, and I would try to put it out of my mind. But whenever it looked like we might finally get it over with, the moment would stretch on too long. We would be talking away, suddenly silence would fall, and we would just sit, looking at each other. Stan wouldn’t seize the day, I would make some silly remark to cut the tension – and it would all be too much for me. I would then ask him to take me home, and he would look disappointed.
This can’t go on, I would tell myself, maybe I should just end it. Then I would remind myself of all of his “onpaper” qualities, and agree to meet again.
Why didn’t I communicate with him about this? I don’t know. Maybe I was annoyed that he had set the wrong tone early on, and being that I wasn’t sure of him, just didn’t feel like it. He certainly wasn’t saying anything – was it possible he didn’t notice what was going on? How could he not? In any case, it was becoming clear I was not enjoying spending time with him – and my instincts were telling me he wasn’t right for me.
I finally ended things, which he handled well. I was very relieved, and when the business with the rockets began in Jerusalem, I felt no impulse to check in and see if he was okay.
That sealed it – if in war, he wasn’t top of mind, he clearly was not the one.