Going the Distance

Aiden lived in another state, near the border of mine.  He and I split the distance between us, meaning we would each drive two hours to our designated meeting place.  I was somewhat surprised that he had reached out to me with such a distance between us.  However, he was nice looking and I had experienced many pleasant phone conversations with him, so I decided to chance a meeting.

As soon as we were seated in the restaurant, he asked, “How is it that someone obviously attractive and together as you are, does not have someone already?”  He caught me off guard. What I perceived as an abrupt and sharp tone to his voice made me feel like a small child being questioned for a naughtiness I created, but of which I was innocent.   I wasn’t certain how to answer and almost felt embarrassed that I wasn’t in a committed relationship.  Taking a moment to ground myself, I answered, “I have not yet met someone who interests me enough to commit.”  This led to an exchange of “war stories.”  Aiden’s acerbic style made me feel somewhat guarded and self-conscious.  When he shared that one of his dates chewed with her mouth open, I gently pressed my fingers to my lips to ensure that I wasn’t doing so.  He looked so indignant, I had to stifle a grin. I was sure the woman had not purposely set out to personally offend him and was quite unaware how she was masticating. 

Just So

I had known that Aiden was a widower.  What he had not conveyed over previous phone conversations was that he still terribly missed his wife and was still heavy into individual and group grief counseling.  She had been deceased for over a year.  He spent the last half of our time together bemoaning her loss.  I began to feel a bit uncomfortable as he became more absorbed in drawing both an emotional and physical picture of her in his laments.  The repeated phrase he used to describe her was that everything about her had been “just so.”  I concluded that perhaps driving a couple of hours to meet Aiden had not been the best idea.  It was doubtful he would be relationship material any time soon.  I made a pact with myself that I would not travel more than 45 minutes to future online dating meetups. 


Aiden took to glancing nervously at his cell phone.  He finally informed me he was having his car serviced while we had lunch.  Shortly afterward, Aiden paid the bill, and I soon found myself being escorted to my car.  I felt like a soldier being dismissed by her commanding officer and being accompanied to “the brig” for something I didn’t do.  Frustrated and angry, I entered my car.  As I closed the door, Aiden knocked on the window.  When I let it down, he asked me to get out so that he could hug me.  The thought of a second date crossed my mind.  His embrace felt warm and solid.  However, he began to rock me gently side to side and quietly moaned for what seemed like an interminable amount of time.  I was gob smacked and didn’t know quite how to handle this.  Finally, he quietly released me, allowed me to return to my car, closed my door, gave me a nod.  I had been dismissed.

The next day I received a text from Aiden saying he had enjoyed my company and suggested we might see one another again.  I never heard from him.  Reflecting on the “hug” I realized that I could have been his life-sized Teddy bear or perhaps he had thoughts of holding his wife… 

Fair and Balanced

I was both baffled and annoyed at what I perceived as a dichotomy of Aiden’s attitude and behavior.  From the beginning he had been somewhat off putting with his direct question as to why I was not in a committed relationship.  I found him to be physically pleasing, but emotionally distant.  It felt as if his remoteness was caused partially by his continued state of grief and partly for the realization that the physical proximity between where we lived was an inconvenience.  His aloofness caused me to automatically disengage in order to guard against feelings of invalidation and unworthiness.  However, what puzzled me most was the over familiar hug he gave me at the end of our date.  Where did that come from?

I learned that a greater openness in communication is important and that it is okay to ask questions.  I think that, were I to be questioned as to why I was not in a committed relationship again, I would answer directly and honestly, as I did.  I would also ask Aiden why he would ask that.  Of course, I have come to understand that in this game of online dating, there are men and women who are only in it for flirting and sexual gratification.  Games if you will.  I would also ask Aiden for reasons why he was participating in online dating, which I did not.  Also, we would discuss his dismissive behavior towards me.  Not knowing the truth was curious and uncomfortable, and that was on me.

I like to think that Aiden’s Teddy Bear hug was his way of conveying to me that he appreciated my taking the time to meet him and as a good-bye.  His embrace was welcome, warm, and somehow affirming as a validation of being worthy.  I gained an understanding of how important open communication can be.  It is also important not to fear asking questions when it comes to validating behavior and communication.  My experience with Aiden was also an exercise in fairness of projecting positive understandings for why certain actions and decisions are mad




One response to “Going the Distance”

  1. Catherine Armstrong Avatar
    Catherine Armstrong

    Funny how people take things differently. I saw Aiden’s comment of “Why aren’t you in a committed relationship ?” As a wonderful compliment to you. That was my very first reaction.

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