Slow and Steady

Ayden and I went on our 3rd date last week.  As usual, he selected another fantastic restaurant and since the weather was lovely, we dined all fresco again.

He was unusually late but called to let me know.  He wasn’t happy I had to buy myself a drink and made very sure the waiter switched our cards at the bar. I don’t mind buying either of us a drink but I could tell from the last date that he didn’t like me doing it.

The dinner, wine and company were perfect.  I’m a bit at a loss over what we talked about exactly.  I know along the way I told him about some kids stuff that happened this week and mentioned the doctors appts I had been too.  I feel like my head is a jumble of nothingness lately.  I really can’t seem to get my act together this past week.

Ayden asked what the doctor appts were all about and I mentioned female problems.  I also said I didn’t really want to elaborate as it upset me.  He backed off and we moved on to other subjects.

Before we left the restaurant we went to use the bathrooms and he stepped in behind me to kiss me hard.  I will let you guess what favor I returned to him.

I wasn’t happy when his hair down there caught in my throat. It happened twice more during the evening and I finally told him all blow jobs are off until the hair gets trimmed.   I don’t think he cares.

Makes my life easier.

We took a long walk, holding hands and kissing for close to an hour.  At one point he pulled me aside and said he really wanted to have a private conversation (the night was nice so the walking paths were busy enough). He explained wanted clarification on my medical issues.

He pushed.

Because I was getting upset, I don’t recall exactly what he said that pushed me over the edge but it did. The words of the last 6 months spilled over and out along with the tears.  I didn’t mention the pregnancy but simply told him it all started from the cyst, which is true.

I made a grave mistake at the end when I blurted out “on top of it all I learned my x-boyfriend is a porn addict and I probably need surgery.”   By then the tears were sobs and he realized he had allowed it to go to far.  He held me for a while and tried to explain himself.

He said he had a major fear of illness, his own illness.  Dying of cancer.  His wife died 7 or so years ago from cancer and his mother was diagnosed relatively recently.  His fear is easily understood. Last week I watched him wait for a call in anxiety from the dermatologist as he had a suspicious mole removed.

As he was talking, I calmed down and we moved on.  Again, I don’t really remember the transition.

I didn’t have Bobby on my mind, at least not consciously,  but my guess is that my own anxiety which consumed me the day before had taken its toll.  My brain was fried.  I wasn’t paying attention. On some level I knew this wasn’t good and, on another I didn’t care because I needed the distraction.

We walked to the hotel he had chosen while seated on a bench together.  We chatted easily along the way.

I enjoy his easy company, but he is officially the hardest man to read.  When I am with him like this, it all seems fine, just normal.  I forget that I barely heard from him during the week or even that I don’t really know him well.

We undressed one another and fell to the bed.  We had a few instances of mixed signals on his part.  I was writhing too much and he didn’t know if it was a sign to stop or go.  He finally figured out how to hold me a bit more still to finish his task at hand.  His mouth and fingers were magic and infinitely better than the first time.  Other than the little mix-up, which I chalk up as getting to know one another, he was delicious.

It does occur to me that some lovers have no learning curve. Ayden does. But he wants to learn. He pays attention and he asks me questions.   While I prefer the lovers who just get it and take control, I don’t mind learning the way with Ayden.

Actually, let me rephrase that.  I don’t mind right now.

I am aware that I like him well enough to try.  There are a lot of good things about him.  But he doesn’t make me swoon in any way and we all know I quite like the swoon.

We fooled around and it started a bit rougher than the first time but then moved into that same “love-making” cadence.   We didn’t finish.  I don’t know why, but by the next morning I could surmise that he had some thing on his mind that was probably too distracting to him during sex.

I feel like we can improve together, but I don’t see him being mind-blowing.  I’m really trying not to let this be the deterrent. It sounds selfish of me but it’s really nice to spend time with him and I don’t want to break it off yet because the sex isn’t spectacular.

This time he held me as we fell to sleep and I told him how much I liked that.  He said he was happy to hold me but didn’t like touching during the night.  I know all people are different about this but it is something I love.  The man doesn’t need to be on top of me, but I like to have body parts touching during sleep.

Early morning, I knew he was awake before me because I could feel him fidgeting.  I don’t know how long I waited before I asked if something was on his mind.  I heard a sigh of relief.

He said “Yes, Madeline, I would like to have a serious talk, can you wake up enough for that yet?”   I said yes and went the bathroom first before giving him my full attention. We lie on our sides looking at one another.

Ayden said he was very, very nervous about talking to me and was too afraid he would hurt me, especially after what I had shared the evening before.   It was running through my mind that he was about to break it off with me.   I couldn’t think of anything else it might be.

But it was something else entirely.

He was completely worried about the fact that my x-boyfriend was a porn addict.  He wanted to know how long ago I was with him and then asked, with a very big rush of breath, if I had been tested for Aids.

I could see how stressed he was now.  Now that I understood.

I answered calmly and told him, that I have been tested, twice.  I also know for a fact that Bobby was tested and we were both clean in December.  I have had many, various other tests since then as well.  He made a comment about certain diseases not showing up until months later, and I asked him, with all sincerity, if he would like me to get tested.

Ayden said he broke with his last girlfriend 8 months ago and has had no sex until me.  The sexual disparity became just a bit more apparent to me.

His response was enormous.  He was overjoyed and grabbed me and pulled me towards him.  He said he couldn’t believe that I could handle this conversation so calmly and with such grace and ease and he thanked me many times and kissed the top of my head.  I didn’t think I had done anything special.  I understand this is really important to some people, I don’t mind allaying his fears, it’s no problem.

Then he moved away, looked me in the eyes and said that it meant so much to him that I would have such a difficult conversation so easily (and he seemed amazed by it, even commented that “this really is just you, isn’t it?”) that he wanted to give me a gift.

Of course, I made a joke and asked what kind of gift I could have, hinting that morning sex would be lovely.  He told me then he doesn’t like morning sex and he will always have sex with a condom on.

I admit, that deflated me some.

He went on to say that he would like to pay for my son’s summer math tutoring as he knew my x didn’t want to pay for it and he felt it was really important.   I think he saw the look of confusion on my face and he quickly added that I could also choose a sexy pair of spiky heels.

Whatever I wanted to do that would make me happy, so he could return the favor.

I laughed it off at this point and explained both of those gifts were too much 3 dates in.

For all the times I have joked about expensive shoes, I hope you all know me well enough to know that this was just too much to accept 3 dates in.  Maybe if he was a jerk, I would let him spend the money on me, but he’s not.

By this time it was well past 8am and I assume we had been talking for about 30-40 minutes.  When I asked him the time, I remarked that he had an 8am call and wondered if he postponed it.  He told me he missed it because he was talking to me, which was much more important to him.  I made a mental note of that because I could tell how serious he was.

We dressed and had breakfast together at a cute little place next door.

He insisted I sit down while he secured breakfast at the self-serve bar.  I could get used to being spoiled like this.

A perfect coffee and egg sandwich were returned to me.

While at breakfast, he recalled that I had walked quite a distance in heels the night before and he promised me a foot massage.  So, under the table, he removed my shoe and began massaging.  He promised he wouldn’t forget for next time.  The strange thing about this was that he really was upset he forgot to do something he promised.  Again, I made light of it, I had forgotten as well, it was no big deal.

After breakfast we walked a bit together and he had to stop at the bank ATM so I went in with him.  He withdrew a large amount of cash, which I know for two reasons – I was looking over his shoulder and I watched all the 20s come forth from the machine.  He walked away with a huge wad of cash and put it in his pocket.  I thought it was funny at the time.

Until it was time for us to part, kiss goodbye and he went to hand the money to me for my “gift.”

In hindsight, the feeling I had wasn’t good, maybe like almost throwing up a little in my mouth.  Why was a man I just slept with handing me a wad of cash?  I was very clear in the bedroom I couldn’t accept his gifts, but had no impression that he still expected me to take money from him to purchase the gift myself.

He told me again it was important to him and I stood my ground.  I could see he was a little crestfallen but there was no way I was taking the money.  I offered a compromise, if he would like to purchase a gift for me, he could take me shoe shopping, try shoes on with me and make the choice of the gift himself.  He agreed.

We parted and I felt awkward.

I called at least 3 friends to tell the story to make sure I wasn’t crazy, this was just strange.

I did not send him a thank you text on Friday, but I did get a Good Morning from him on Saturday and that is it for the weekend.

Is this what dating looks like?  Is this how the cadence is supposed to go?  I barely hear from him between dates, then I spend 15 hours with him overnight each week and have a lovely dinner at a fabulous restaurant?

I’m not so sure how I feel about this.

I have told him twice now that I don’t like the lack of communication between dates and he replied he could only give me one night a week.  I agreed that was fine, but it was really about having some conversation in between those dates.  There was no resolution to the discussion and obviously things haven’t changed.

To be honest, I don’t know how much longer I can do this.  I want to like him more.  I want to get to know him better.  But this once a week is beginning to feel like an escort service (well called Libido Bootcamp!) and perhaps my time is better spent looking for a man to fulfill more of my needs.

Ayden and I are not on the same page.  Sexually, I don’t think it will work – can you imagine if this man were ever to find out my history?  He would run for the hills.  I also don’t think he is interested in experimenting.  I think he is going to be very happy with once a week, very standard, very vanilla sex.

On the other hand, I don’t really want to give him up because I enjoy the time with him.  I just don’t know how to balance these quirks or the pace he is setting.

And what’s underneath it all with the money?  He clearly likes control, knows I like to be served, and that piece works well between us.  I dress up like a pretty little doll each week and entertain him.

I’m not sure how I got here, except I can feel in my bones that I am tired….really tired.  Tired of the last 6 months.  Tired of being sick.  Tired of yelling at my kids.  Tired of being in charge of anything. I’m tired in my soul and in my heart.

And scared to death of having no income in exactly 11 more weeks.

So maybe I just need to let this roll, but it’s not sitting quite right with me.  Part of me feels like this is just Ayden.  He’s not very emotive but I did see something, sparks of something, on this date that I hadn’t seen on the others.  I do think he likes me and I know he was surprised, and continues to be surprised at my level of empathy and understanding with him and my world at large.

Sometimes I surprise myself, even.

Resilience is a good trait, but it’s awfully exhausting now.  Can’t someone else have a turn?

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

43 thoughts on “Slow and Steady”

  1. I understand how you feel about being “in charge” all the time and wanting a break. I’m not sure Ayden is the long-term answer you’re looking for… The lack of communication would get to me, too, on all levels. I’d say to follow your heart and yet that’s hard to do when the all of you is exhausted.
    Personally, I’m taking a break from dating, too many disappointments and need to regroup.


  2. M, is it just me, or are there red flags here? What’s the story about once a week? Are you sure he is not married? Any guy can have an excuse to get an overnight once a week. Something just isn’t ringing clear for me here, but perhaps it’s just my way of thinking.
    Regarding everything else, yes the sledge hammer seems to have come down on you really hard at this time. You do have a lot on your plate. If anything can be eliminated, get rid of it. And hopefully you are getting in some cardio exercise and maybe even Yoga. Keep talking to your therapist. It can help.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am utterly sure he is not married and his wife died 7 years ago. However, Oceans tour intuition is very good so I don’t put anything past anyone anymore…this time I did my google research. What I could find was exactly what he told me.

      I do hear from him in between, but it’s not what I call conversation.

      Funny about the therapist – she thinks I don’t need therapy. And as much as I promised myself I would exercise I haven’t been. I know this would help.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well I think we could all use someone objective to talk with every now and then when we are dealing with stressful events in our lives..

        Yes, even a great Yoga session twice a week would help. You just need a way to release some of the tension. There is only so much a body and mind can handle.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Something is way off with this one. The once a week is weird and paying you (with gifts or cash) for your time and empathy rings of prostitution…you are definitely NOT that, so my vote is to let this one go.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea I’m stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I just don’t think he did it with any negative intention and when he looked upset that I didn’t take the money it was because he realized he made a significant social error.

      But agree something is off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At this point since you are not really invested in him do you think that it would be safe for you to be clear with him on what you need…perhaps tell him you need his attention in between dates, the gift of his attention, rather than gifts of money and shoes?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I did that the last time and I can see he endeavored to communicate a little more today.

        Since it’s just 3 dates I’m going to leave it out there. The time will show itself when it’s right to have any more in depth discussion.

        It might not even be worth pushing him for more talk when I don’t see it going much further relationship wise than it is now

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Am with the others. Glad you having a good time, but too many things seem like red flags to me… once a week and no communication in between is very strange in my eyes…
    Still, I get it, sometimes it is just nice to have someone to hang out with for a bit.
    Sorry that you are so tired, take care. Hugs. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Something is off, but I don’t think that he’s married. I sense that he is deeply afraid of getting intimate. He’s deeply afraid of getting into something that can once again be taken away from him because of death. The distancing, the paying, it allows him to have the fantasy of a beautiful evening without the falling into a commitment that could be ripped away from him in the future. This guy has been through hell and back if he’s widowed (I know this first hand, although my late partner wasn’t my husband). He’s been through hell and back, but it isn’t your job to fix him. If you can get in the right mindset about this; enjoy the things about the dates that you like, be firm about holding your boundaries with the things that make you feel not so great (ie hte gifts), and let go of any expectation that this will blossom into anything real, you and Ayden can provide some real-time, emotionally safe comforts/distraction for yourselves respectively at this juncture in your life. I have dated a few guys shared the trait of giving great date, but wanted nothing to do in between. Usually guys who were hard-core not in touch with their feelings, yet had this picturesque understanding of what a good date should look like. One night at a time was all that they could handle. Its fun 2-3 times, and then its time to move on, because its not our job to help these guys heal from whatever damage emotionally stunted them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know Nich, I think you hit on something here. He is clearly afraid of moving too fast and too much attachment.

      I do think, since it’s been a month and 3 dates, that I realize I can enjoy my dates and leave it at that with him. He is safe for me and I for him and I like that thought. Maybe safe isn’t a bad place for me right now.

      Great thoughts here – thank you, I appreciate it!

      I am sorry to hear you lost a partner…I was wondering (for Adam) exactly how difficult that must be.


  6. Part of dating is getting to know, determining compatibility, and evaluating how well he fits with your value system, wants, and needs. Ayden is really looking like a poor fit for you. His concerns about illness are understandable considering his history and present situation with his mom, but he also lacks some skills – seriously, trying to hand you money after your third date? Also his emotional and sexual needs are not a match to yours, M, and that alone is enough to make me realize he’s a nice guy with quirks, but not the quirky nice guy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The social skills thing is becoming more obvious but I have a curiosity about that because I have a son with Aspergers. When I told Ayden that, his surprising reply was even people without Aspergers have difficulty with social skills – and I totally understood that as a reference to himself.

      The emotional and sexual – I agree.

      But see, the value system part has triggered my brain and that is a good call. I like and admire this man for many reasons. Are those reasons outweighing logic?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe the reasons you like and admire him are simple requests to continue to go out on your weekly excursions for right now, kind of exploratory missions. I think it’s good for him to be exposed to someone of your kindness and empathy levels, and I also believe there may be more for you to learn about yourself – in patience, in satisfying curiosity, in some great or small unknown – to be found in spending time with him. Or maybe he is just the respite from your ongoing life fatigue that you need right now. You’re not doing anything wrong, M. You’re getting to know him, not making promises you have no intention of keeping.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. OK, I don’t think he’s the One, but I also don’t think you need to kick him to the curb ASAP. He treats you well, gives you a reason to get dressed up for a nice, adult evening out. He’s respectful and thoughtful. You need that in your life right now.

    I think he has some emotional growing to do. His nervousness about discussing STI testing shows a reluctance to confront (even thus simple request that in our world is no big deal and a very valid request). His gift giving & Acts of Service are probably his Love Languages (as in the 5 Languages of Love). Perhaps you should have him take that online test and exchange results so he better understands you and vice versa. That might help with communication.

    Listen, a decent guy for a weekly distraction isn’t a bad thing for you right now. He’s not creating any additional demands on you but is providing the weekly nice evening. Meh, trim his public hairs as some sexy foreplay and rock his world for a couple of weeks. That’s my two cents.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You read my mind!!!! I totally walked away thinking he’s an acts of service and doesn’t understand I’m a words of affirmation. I was going to ask him – if I see him this week – if he ever heard of it before!!

      I did suggest I would like to trim it and he was potentially open to that idea…perhaps a week with no blow jobs will do the trick to convince him! Or maybe he will suddenly surprise me and trim. One never knows.

      After writing the post and hearing comments I am sure I’m going to go with it a little longer. I’m not invested, I like him and he’s good to me.

      The quirks – well those we either have to figure out or learn to manage better.

      But it funny how I assume a man at his level, a Harvard grad, might have some social learning to do – I didn’t see it before and just assumed he had it. Maybe he doesn’t.


    1. I did say I didn’t like being paid after spending an evening and he was very clear it was simply a gift.

      He can return the favor in person and I will be very happy. I don’t need him handing me money.


  8. Ayden is a little bit of an odd duck, but I do think he means well, and I am going to think his handing you cash was mostly a major social faux pas, and I am going to take that camp. Because he is attentive to you, he seems to care about your interests. A guy who just wants to fuck you like a prostitute in my mind isn’t going to take the time to make sure you are happy, send you sparkling rose and pick up on small things that make you tick.
    While I do not think he is The One, I do agree with your decision to keep giving him another change. I do agree that the incommunicado in between dates is very weird, I feel like if I am interested in someone I will make time to communicate with them a little bit each day….


  9. My initial gut reaction is Ayden is married. Plain and simple. He is also very good at studying you. He appears to be playing to your wants, perhaps hoping you won’t see his big red flags.

    Follow your intuition M 😘

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, it’s not quite right. I’ve decided that I will let it go since I’m really not invested in him and I don’t have anything else going on at the moment. I’m tired of the stop and start dating and at least he is reliable.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Does Ayden know that you are currently unemployed and worried about money? It seems that you spoke with him regarding your concerns about your ex not wanting to pay for your son’s math tutoring — so maybe he feels you are somewhat of a damsel in distress that he needs to rescue financially? Regardless, it was a tactless move on his part — even the most socially inept should be able to figure out that the offer of money after a night of sex suggests a quid pro quo, which is offensive unless both parties agreed on the terms beforehand. I’m a bit concerned that you felt the need to agree to let him buy you shoes after telling him no. If he got his feelings hurt because you refused his offer of cash — that’s his problem. For you to then suggest that he could buy you a gift of shoes in order to soothe him sends out mixed messages, in my humble opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could see that, but I suggested the shoes as more of a way to soften the blow that I would accept a gift if given in the right circumstances. I was pretty taken aback so that seemed the easy way out and he’s aware how much I love spiky shoes.

      Yes he absolutely understands and knows the job situation and the finances with the X. He is a money manager and I do think he was trying to solve a problem.


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