Monday, December 12, 2011

Cultural Language Issues

So the 51 year old divorced man called me last night, to try to set up a date;  he is in town for three days before his next business trip.

A friend of mine told me that I would be lucky to fall in love with a man who travels so often and is barely home, because it would allow me to have that experience of couplehood while maintaining my independence as a woman and as Raphaela's mother.  That feels counter-intuitive to me, though perhaps at the age of 42 I am still naive about healthy relationships.  Isn't the point of a partner for life the idea that you share your time, and that together it all becomes deeper, richer and more fulfilling?

But what do I know...

As I may have mentioned previously, I have had less than optimal success in the Israeli dating field.  This person made two comments during our phone conversation that raised red flags for me, and it took all my strength not to over-react or pre-judge. 

I have not met him yet, and he deserves a fighting chance, as do we all.

In my experience, even when a person says something as a "joke," there is an element of truth to the words, that it comes from a place of programmed upbringing and cultural background.  I have no expectations of changing my partner, I will love him and accept him for all that he represents, as long as the compromise on both sides does not negate my basic belief system.

Potential Date:  When can you get together this week?  I leave again this coming Saturday night for two weeks.
Me:  I need to confirm a night with my baby sitter, and I will let you know for sure.
PD:  I am sure that you want to find a husband just to have a person to take your daughter off your hands. (Not followed by nervous laughter...)
Me:  (Stunned silence) Ummmm
PD:  Just kidding! (Followed by nervous laughter)

[What I was thinking in my head but did not say:  I don't need a man to validate my existence or provide free baby sitting.  I am looking for my best friend, my lover and the father to my child, possibly more children.  I am looking for the person who completes and balances my life, as I do for them, I am looking for my equal.]

PD:  So what kind of Chiropractor are you?  Are you the type who does...massage as well?
[NB  In Israel, among some men, the word "massage" is code for, "If I pay you extra,will you have sex with me and not say anything to my wife?"]
Me:  I am a Doctor of Chiropractic, not a massage therapist.  I choose to take a holistic and professional approach to the human body.
PD:  (Nervous laughter)

In my head, my Higher Voice was giving the rest of my mind and heart a lecture about keeping an open mind and giving the benefit of the doubt.  I would hope that he did not mean to call me a prostitute, or imply that I am easy, simply because I touch people for a living.


koshergourmetmart said...

I have friends in a 2nd marriage-each w/kids from their 1st. he takes vacations w/o her and she goes on business trips w/o him. they are very happy together. I would think that after being single for so long and a single cparent that having some independence with interdependence would be a plus rather than a minus. I would also look to finding a partner who can be a father to RR;be realistic in that you may not have more kids.

Amy Charles said...

I think you're scaring this guy, and also that he figures you're desperate. A lot of men assume not only that single moms are desperate, but that they've got something over a single mom -- in their world, they have and you don't, so of course you want them; otherwise, who do you think you are?

Give him a chance, though. Don't get defensive with him; if he's rude, answer quietly and gently-but-firmly set him straight, without polemics, and he'll soon respect you. That doesn't mean he'll want to see you again, or you him, but respect is always a good thing.

Also, don't dive-bomb him with questions that imply you're looking to get married next month, and are so laser-focused you don't want to think about anything but marriage. Friends are also good to have. This is a look-see and nothing else.

I'd think the main problem with someone who travels, if marriage is ultimately what you want, is that you really don't get a chance to know this person. How would you even get to know such a guy well enough to decide to marry him and bring him into RR's life? And why does he think it'd be good for your daughter? It sounds to me like what you want is a family man.

Doc said...

I am not sure how I scare him, I did not present myself as an Amazonian warrior who doesn't need men. The distinction is this: I am not less of a person or a woman because I do not have a husband. I will be a better version of myself with the right spouse.

I am also in a good place at the moment, and not desperate to get married (like Raphaela's nursery teacher, who just got engaged after four dates...) but my questions would certainly be directed toward the long term, rather than a one-night-stand or "friends with benefits."

koshergourmetmart said...

why call rr's teacher desperate b/c she got engaged so quickly? Perhaps she met the right person immediately? Perhaps on her dates she did not play the games people do and they each stated what they wanted from a marriage. I have cousins who get engaged after a few dates and have happily married for 20 years +. I know you believe in marrying when you are in love but you can fall out of love. If you marry someone w/similar values, love does come. I heard a famous Rabbi speak about this matter. He said his parents first met under the chuppa. Late in life, he developed cancer and was told he could have chemo which was in its infancy and would be painful and prolong his life for a few months or not to do anything. He decided to do chemo even though he was in pain and it was not going to cure him b/c he loved his wife and did not want her to suffer thinking that chemo would have kept him here with her longer.

Sarah said...

First awkward moment: He has a very VERY dry sense of humor and you didn't catch it.

Second awkward moment: Um, awkward. He may have just been trying to flirt and see how verbally playful you might be but, still, awkward.

Marni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marni said...

Have you considered dating men with "Anglo" backgrounds? I have female friends who live in Israel, and have visited numerous times as well, in addition to dating Israel men. I have found that many (not all) sabras have less than progressive views on women and their roles, and you might have an easier time connecting with someone who made aliyah, or was raised by Anglo parents....

Amy Charles said...

Doc, I think the best way to answer the question of what he's after is to take things very slowly. If he's after sex and goodbye, he'll tell you whatever you want to hear, and it'll still be sex and goodbye. If you keep things slow, and wait for actual friendship and a relationship to bloom, and he's really just after sex -- he'll disappear fast and save you trouble.

I think if a man made that kind of joke about childcare while arranging a first date, I'd deflect and turn it by asking him about his children, and getting a chance to hear how he talked about his own -- and how he talked about their mother. Talk is cheap, of course, but it's not nothing. If he had no kids, I'd figure he saw children as rather a nuisance, and one date would likely be all we'd have.

As for needing men, and being a better version of yourself...well, at this point I don't feel I need a man, though I enjoy the right man's company. But marriage, even a good know, it's trying. I think often women feel fragmented and naggy and like it's very difficult to be coherent people at all, let alone better people. I think what happens is that we develop and deepen in ways we wouldn't otherwise, just from the daily experience of living with another adult, attempting to share our lives, trying to get along and protect love. It's a teacher, marriage. Better, worse, I don't know; deeper and wiser, almost certainly.