Category: commitment issues


Opening The Vault: Part Eighty Six

July 14th, 2012 — 5:22pm

It’s been awhile since I’ve opened the vault of my many journals. Having heard from several readers that this is a favorite part of Single Gal In The City, I figure it’s time to revisit it.

My most recent OTV posts covered an ill-fated romance eight years ago with well-intentioned but clingy British expat Riley. We met at my first-ever speed dating event and quickly began spending a lot of time together.

Upon discovering we had some irreconcilable differences about money and religion – Riley was an atheist, I grew up in very spiritual, interfaith family – I could feel myself becoming less infatuated with him. Still, I tried to make it work, hoping I could grow to love him the way he loved me. I now open the vault and take you back to the spring of 2004…

May 7, 2004

Dear Diary—
I’ve been rereading a lot of old journals to try and get a handle on what I’m going through now with Riley. Today, I read some entries from the summer of ’94, when I first started seeing Sparky. It was five months into knowing him that I started having doubts he was the one for me. And what did I do about it? Nothing. I lingered in that relationship for another year.

Smiling through my doubts during a getaway with Riley (June 2004)

Though it’s only been three months with Riley, I can’t help feeling it’s wrong to continue seeing him when I know in my heart we have no future together. What I keep wondering is why, for more than 10 years now, do I keep involving myself in relationships that aren’t going anywhere?

* * *

May 10, 2004

Well, I thought I had reached my breaking point yesterday. I went up to Riley’s apartment with the intention of ending things. Not surprisingly, he was blindsighted by what I told him – namely that something is missing for me and I have my doubts about us.

“I’m confused,” he said. “I don��t understand how you can say you’re not happy considering how effusive you were when we went out with my friends…Are you saying you don’t want to see me anymore?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, meaning it because I truly felt uncertain about what to do. I started crying, admitting how overwhelmed I feel right now because of Dad’s cancer, my job search and the intensity of our relationship.

Riley said he’s not asking me to get married, and that he gets scared too.

“Were you planning to break up with me today?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

He also said firmly that he can’t live with worrying that every time I have bad day, I’m going to break up with him – and that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship for the sake of having one.

After going back to his place, he pulled me into his arms and kissed me with great emotion.

“I’m not letting you go,” he murmured.

“Good,” I said, holding him tightly.

“I’m just thinking how much I would have missed you.”

And I knew I felt the same way. Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m not ready to let Riley go. When I told a friend I’d chickened out, she said not to see it that way – that it was a productive conversation because I was honest with him…There are so many amazing moments with Riley. I don’t want to give that up without a fight.

* * *
And so, the roller coaster with Riley continued, as I struggled to ignore the sinking feeling that our days together were numbered.

Comment » | commitment issues, old diaries, old flames, Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: Party Eighty Four

August 14th, 2011 — 9:03pm

When you’re having doubts about the potential of a relationship, how wide of a berth do you give it? At two months into dating British beau Riley, that question continued to linger for me. 

Smiling Through My Doubts: Riley took this picture of me during a weekend getaway (spring 2004)

Having turned thirty just before meeting Riley, I was feeling a heightened pressure to figure out what exactly our future would be together. Knowing he felt more for me than I did for him only complicated things. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 2004…

April 2, 2004

Dear Diary,

Riley is away in Arizona this week. It feels like he’s been gone a lot longer — but I don’t know if that’s because I miss him or because I’m not as a crazy about him as he is about me. Either way, I’m no longer sure my obsessing about our future indicates a readiness for commitment.

I’m still in the process of reestablishing myself here in New York, and I firmly believe that I need to be complete within myself before I can fully commit to a long-term relationship. Still, I’m going to try and take everyone’s advice and just see where my chemistry with Riley takes us.

* * *
April 5th

Riley returned last night, and we had an amazing time. Being with him was so wonderful — until the subject of relationships came up.

Riley said our week apart confirmed the depth of his feelings. I, of course, spent much of the week brooding about my doubts. Riley asked me what I want for the future, mercifully offering to answer that question first.

“I’m ready to settle down and meet the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with,” he declared. “And I wouldn’t be with you unless I could see our relationship going somewhere.”

“I need to take things one step at a time,” I said, repeating what I’ve told him before. “And I can’t really think about a long-term commitment when my job situation and other areas of my life aren’t settled.”

So, in theory I suppose, I’ve been honest with Riley. Why then, do I keep feeling guilty? And for how long should I give this a chance? I know I said six months, but if I’m still uncertain at the three or four month mark, I should probably walk away.

* * *
A major milestone for me would make me reconsider my feelings for Riley — and put off dealing with the irrevocable divide we couldn’t get past.

1 comment » | commitment issues, new romance, Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: Part Eighty Three

June 30th, 2011 — 8:00pm

When a relationship is moving faster than you want it to, how do you slow it down? Figuring that out wasn’t easy as I drew closer to my British beau Riley.

About five weeks into our whirlwind romance, panic began to set in. I wrestled with major commitment fears — and uncertainty about what to do about them. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 2004…

March 8, 2004

Dear Diary,

I talked with Dad today about Riley — and how terrified I am of hurting him and being hurt, how I keep looking for signs of doom around every corner.

I feel like I have this vise-like grip on my heart. When I admitted as much to Dad, he encouraged me in a voice thick with emotion to be more open. I don’t know HOW to be more open. Be affectionate and loving? No problem. Entertain serious thoughts about happily ever after? Problem.

Everyone keeps telling me at this stage of our relationship, all that matters is that I’m having fun. Sometimes I am, but it’s overshadowed by the guilt that comes with knowing I will end up hurting Riley like I have several men before him.

“You are the only girl for me,” he told me today. “I’ve been so happy since you’ve come into my life..Are you happy with everything?”

“Mmhm,” I lied. What could I say?

I know why I can’t just go with the flow like people keep telling me to. Because I’ve had enough of being in relationships that I know aren’t going anywhere.

* * *
March 15

Riley called me yesterday — which is unusual because we always communicate by email. During the conversation, we talked about the series finale of “Sex And The City.” Since I’d only watched the show twice before, Riley mentioned the backstory of the Miranda character, who ended up with a guy she initially though was not at all right for her, who stuck it out because he knew they were meant for each other.

I couldn’t help wondering if there was a reason Riley chose to tell me this. If he’s picked up on my apprehension about us.

He also suggested we revisit the places we went to on our second date the next time we go out. I’m game — I need some nostalgia right about now.

* * *
Though nostalgia provided a good distraction from my thoughts of doom about Riley, it wasn’t enough to prevent them from becoming a reality.

Comment » | commitment issues, Opening The Vault, Sex and The City

The Double Standard About Settling Down

May 27th, 2011 — 12:07pm

A few days ago, I found myself chatting with a New York bachelor who had a very definite opinion about what single women are doing wrong.

“They try too hard to force things, they’re too desperate to get married.”

I could feel the heat on my neck rising when he said this, but managed to bite my tongue until he explained the reason for his theory — someone who had clung a little too hard after only a few dates.

Having been on the receiving end of clingy behavior more than once, I can appreciate what a turnoff it is. But I couldn’t help finding in this guy’s observation a troubling double standard when it comes to settling down.

Time and time again, popular culture and wisdom tells us that a man who is ready for a commitment or marriage has his “cablight” on. The very word suggests pragmatism, that it’s only logical for a man to indicate he’s prepared to meet his mate. Conversely, a woman who does this is often perceived as being desperate, or disparaged for her “clock ticking.”

Match.com’s Twitter representative asked me if I would date someone who said he never wanted to get married. When I responded by saying no, the rep asked-

“But what if you didn’t find out until deep into the relationship?”

My answer to that was I make it a priority to find out early on if we’re on the same page. Being clear about what you want and don’t want isn’t desperate or needy, it’s simply common sense. Men tend not to make apologies for stating whether or not they’re looking for something serious. Why in the world should we?

5 comments » | being ready to settle down, commitment issues

Opening The Vault: Part Eighty Two

May 21st, 2011 — 4:17pm

What happens when two people are experiencing the same relationship in a completely different way? Inner emotional turmoil, as I discovered when I dated Englishman Riley seven years ago.

Riley and I had met at a speed dating event. The chemistry between us coincided with a milestone birthday that left me wondering — am I doomed to keep making the same mistakes in my love life? I now Open The Vault and take you back to 2004…

New York, NY
February 26, 2004

Dear Diary,

I feel this bizarre combination of reticence and eagerness when it comes to romance. Like my perspective has shifted since turning 30. Everyone keeps telling me I have plenty of time to find Mr. Right, but what I feel more is that time is getting away from me.

Riley truly is in a class by himself. The fact that we’re moving slowly physically is reflection of what gentleman he is. He’s a man I wouldn’t hesitate to bring home to meet my family. The feeling’s clearly mutual — I’m meeting Radley’s mom this weekend. So much for taking things slowly!

* * *

March 2, 2004

The last few times I’ve been with Riley have been just wonderful. Saturday, he showed up with a pair of earrings for me, a gift marking four weeks of dating. He’s the first guy I’ve been with who’s considered one month a milestone!

But — you knew there had to be one, right? — I still don’t think he’s my soul mate. The spark is definitely there and I enjoy Riley’s company, but something is missing for me. Though a friend of mine says it’s as simple as me not having met Mr. Right, I can’t help wondering if maybe I’m just not as ready to settle down as I would like to think I am.

Last night, Riley said so many sweet things.

“What’s not to adore about you? Do you know how crazy about you I am?”

“Good,” I replied mysteriously, to which he asked if I had anything to reciprocate. “Of course I do,” I said. I do care about him. I’m just not in love with him.

So, how wide of a berth do I give our relationship? I feel that six months is reasonable, but is it right to stay when I doubt my feelings will change? I’ve had enough of being in relationships that I know aren’t going anywhere. I’m 30 now and want to be on even emotional ground with whomever I’m dating.

* * *
Despite my doubts, I plunged ahead with my relationship with Riley — not realizing that in the process would come a very difficult lesson about love.

1 comment » | commitment issues, new romance, Opening The Vault, turning thirty

Opening The Vault: Part Eighty One

May 7th, 2011 — 1:46pm

When you’re in the throes of new romance, you can’t help asking yourself – could this person be the one? And does having doubts mean the answer is no, or just that you’re afraid to entertain the possibility?

Not long in to my romance with England-born Riley, I was grappling with this uncertainty. As Riley pushed to intensify our relationship, I found a big part of myself holding back. I now Open The Vault and take you back to February of 2004…

The night Riley and I went to see “Chicago” marked a major turning point in our relationship

February 16, 2004
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Riley and I spent our first night together after he treated me to dinner and “Chicago” the musical. As always, he was warm, witty and affectionate. That didn’t stop me from a painful reality rearing its ugly head – I don’t think Riley is my soulmate.

Up until last night, I felt open and optimistic about what we could share.  Until he revealed that he doesn’t believe in God. As he described his philosophy on religion – including objections to the God-centric culture of the US – I felt a wave of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. Though none of the men I’ve been involved with were particularly religious, they did have some level of spirituality. I know in my heart I could never be happy with a partner who is devoid of any faith.

Riley asked me if I was okay with his views, but I was evasive. What could I say? That his admission had sealed his fate as another man whose heart I’m destined to break?

I know Riley and I have only been out a handful of times, but it feels like we’ve been dating a lot longer – that’s how big the comfort zone is with us. Rationally, I know it’s way too soon for me to thinking of anything serious anyway with Riley. Everyone says I need to just relax, see what happens. But I’ve never been good at doing that, even less so now that I’m 30.

* * *
February 24, 2004

I spoke to Riley the other night about taking things slowly. He agreed, but then in the next breath said he wants me to meet his mother and asked me what sort of a future I see for us. I don’t know if he’s the one, so how can I give him false hope?

He got endearingly defensive when I brought up the topic of religion again.

“I’m not morally bankrupt, you know,” he said.

“I know that,” I reassured him, and indeed I do. In the month that we’ve been dating, he has been nothing but loving, kind, supportive  and gentlemanly.  I feel like I can talk to him about anything and everything.  I want so much to just enjoy Riley and let the future take care of itself…

* * *
I tried to put my fears on hold about what lay ahead for Riley and me, not realizing that much more than my anxiety would come between us.

Comment » | commitment issues, new romance, Opening The Vault

Bridesmaid Bonding In New Jersey

June 3rd, 2010 — 4:53pm

Sunday afternoon, I headed out to New Jersey for a dress fitting with Lori and Yoshiko, fellow bridesmaids in my dear friend Heidi’s wedding.

Going Bridal: Me, Lori and Yoshiko

We all clicked immediately, falling into easy conversation about the October nuptials and the journey from singlehood to happily ever after.

Lori talked about The Case For Settling For Mr. Good Enough, and I was happy to learn that, unlike what the title suggests, author Lori Gottlieb’s focus is more on not being overly picky and creating roadblocks to giving potential partners a chance. She mentioned a story in the book about one woman who initially dismissed a guy because he wore bowties.

We laughed and I shared a tale in the same vein from my Great Dating Blitz — about a bachelorette whose first date deal breaker is if a guy orders pot roast. Why? Because, she says, it indicates he’s a mama’s boy. Call me crazy, but that’s a lot to infer from a meal choice.

Upon arriving at Macy’s bridal salon, I couldn’t help thinking how it’s been exactly ten years since I was a bridesmaid. There’s something about being surrounded by wedding gowns that makes you imagine yourself as a bride — even when the thought of commitment is as terrifying as it is exciting.

Which is why it means so much to see a beloved galpal find her soulmate, and to be a part of celebrating her happiness.

2 comments » | being a bridesmaid, commitment issues

The Parental Relationship Effect

July 17th, 2009 — 9:24pm

When it comes to what you think about romantic love, it’s no secret that your parents’ relationship tends to exert the greatest influence. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about how true this is regardless of how well – or not – that relationship stands the test of time.

Much has been said about the impact of divorce. As someone fortunate enough to grow up with a mother and father who genuinely adored each other, though, I can’t help wondering – does that circumstance too bring its own complications?

Having gone through quite a few bumps in the road before getting married (including two divorces between them and a fiery courtship), Mom and Dad were all the more appreciative of what they found in each other.

Like any couple, they had their difficult times. But they never took one another for granted. I remember walking into their room on many occasions to find them giggling and curled up like newlyweds. And seeing Mom run into Dad’s arms whenever he came home at the end of the day.

I also remember a conversation with Dad about my quest to find a similar version of happily ever after.

“Well,” he said bluntly, “You might not find what we had…how many people do you know that have been swept off their feet?”

“I know a few,” I insisted, dismayed at the suggestion that I should lower my expectations – while also understanding the loving intentions behind it.

“I just want to see you settled,” Dad said.

Sometimes I wonder if my fear of settling period – of not doing justice to the legacy of my parents’ love – has kept me from taking the leap of faith that goes along with truly committing to another person. Which is why, for as happy as I am being single, I remind myself of something Mom often told me–

“You can try and you can fail. But if you don’t try, it’s for sure you’re going to fail.”

That’s the great thing about love. As my parents discovered for themselves, you get more than one chance to get it right.

Comment » | commitment issues, happily ever after, lessons about marriage from your parents

The Parental Relationship Effect

July 17th, 2009 — 4:24pm

When it comes to what you think about romantic love, it’s no secret that your parents’ relationship tends to exert the greatest influence. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about how true this is regardless of how well – or not – that relationship stands the test of time.

Much has been said about the impact of divorce. As someone fortunate enough to grow up with a mother and father who genuinely adored each other, though, I can’t help wondering – does that circumstance too bring its own complications?

Having gone through quite a few bumps in the road before getting married (including two divorces between them and a fiery courtship), Mom and Dad were all the more appreciative of what they found in each other.

Like any couple, they had their difficult times. But they never took one another for granted. I remember walking into their room on many occasions to find them giggling and curled up like newlyweds. And seeing Mom run into Dad’s arms whenever he came home at the end of the day.

I also remember a conversation with Dad about my quest to find a similar version of happily ever after.

“Well,” he said bluntly, “You might not find what we had…how many people do you know that have been swept off their feet?”

“I know a few,” I insisted, dismayed at the suggestion that I should lower my expectations – while also understanding the loving intentions behind it.

“I just want to see you settled,” Dad said.

Sometimes I wonder if my fear of settling period – of not doing justice to the legacy of my parents’ love – has kept me from taking the leap of faith that goes along with truly committing to another person. Which is why, for as happy as I am being single, I remind myself of something Mom often told me–

“You can try and you can fail. But if you don’t try, it’s for sure you’re going to fail.”

That’s the great thing about love. As my parents discovered for themselves, you get more than one chance to get it right.

Comment » | commitment issues, happily ever after, lessons about marriage from your parents

The Meaning Of Socks

February 21st, 2009 — 12:08am

Wednesday night, I met up with my new friend Jean for a light bite at Demarchelier, a charming French bistro on NYC’s Upper East Side.

As I enjoyed mushroom soup and crab and avocado salad (complemented by a smooth glass of Chardonnay), Jean and I talked about the allure of the blogosphere — she’s got a fabulous idea for a new culture-themed blog — and the perks and pitfalls of single hood.

Bistro Elegance: Demarchelier on NYC’s Upper East Side serves up delicious French fare

We both agreed that New York knows how to deliver an array of non dating-related distractions. The challenge? Finding commitment-minded males in this urban playground.

While trading Valentine’s Day horror stories, Jean shared with me her most recent one — receiving socks from her boyfriend.

Apparently, he didn’t want to give her a gift that implied too much about his feelings. Mission accomplished and time to move on, Jean decided. Thoughtless, overexplained gifts — when paired with a pattern of thoughtless, inattentive behavior — are definitely a deal breaker.

Speaking of deal breakers, I shared with Jean my experience that they usually emerge early on. In an attempt to brush past the commitment issues I’ve often been (rightfully) accused of having, I’ve tended to ignore these initial red flags. And every single time, they’ve ended up contributing to why a relationship didn‘t work out.

Lesson learned — trust your instincts. Or as Oprah and my wise, late mother used to say, when in doubt, don’t.

Up next…celebrity sightings at my second Fashion Week stint and being a first-time engagement party guest.

Comment » | commitment issues, dating deal breakers, Demarchelier restaurant, Fashion Week, Oprah, thoughtless gifts from a boyfriend, Valentine's breakups, Valentine's Day

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