Anatomy of a Dear Jane
Rejection from a spouse whether romantic, career related, or due to physical changes, can be likened to blunt force trauma. But much like a boxer in training, we become tougher and able to withstand most attacks. In due course most marriages fail from one spouse finally rejecting the other enough that departure is the best strategy for personal survival.
Although I was used to certain kinds of ‘rejection’ during the course of my two marriages I was always taken back when I faced it as a single.
At age 36 I became single for the first time as an adult. An odd feeling to be sure… walking out of the court room with the final dissolution in hand I felt curiously all alone. At that point it mattered little to me that I had initiated the divorce, my sense was that of having quite suddenly, and legally, less family. Since my kids were both small, whom would I call if I was stranded on the road, or in the hospital? All my frames of reference changed on that day.
The search for Mrs. Me begins! In the mid 90’s internet matching sites always pointed to bricks and mortar businesses, after a few confirming visits to such places and finding the cost prohibitively high I turned my attention to other options. Fortunately I had discovered chatting on AOL.
Although I’d spent a generous amount of time socializing in the Seattle chat room and getting to ‘know’ the others I can recall nervously attending my first AOL Party. These were locally scheduled, loosely organized social events. Like any high school, the room was always full of drama, flirting, and lively discussions. In those days I found my dates from chat room meetings, AOL Parties or church introductions.
The word “ouch” comes to mind when I consider my dating failures, I received my share (and a football teams worth) of romantic rejections. First dates were the easy part; it was second dates that were so elusive. No chemistry on a date always means…. NEXT! A few women actually said that to me too. That sword has two edges.
Once I learned the rules of engagement second dates were more common, third and fourth dates soon became possible. My success however, brought me to a new situation, “Dear Jane”, as I call it.
Men and women sure are wired differently!
I discovered quickly that women, as a general rule, date one man at a time. When asked about it many responded it felt too much like ‘cheating’ to them. Contrast that to my classic male behavior, unless I had “the exclusive talk” with a woman I felt complete freedom to date others without ever disclosing that fact to any of them, reasoning it was “my business.” After all, they could initiate “the exclusive talk” too.
Let me just offer this, if a woman does initiate “the exclusive talk” and discovers you dating others, you are likely to she her beat a fast retreat to save her emotions. Some feel used and deceived, expressing outrage even, that they weren’t informed of those facts from the beginning.
(A note to the women reading this, if you have not actually had “the exclusive talk” with someone you are dating, he will feel free to date others while still seeing you!)
Eventually some lucky woman (I nearly wrote ‘women’, that would have been awkward) commands my attention more than the rest, perhaps she’s the next Mrs. Me. This realization brings me to the always uncomfortable “Dear Jane” responsibility. Since being single for the past two years again, I’ve hit this point three times.
On the first occasion I had been entertaining four women, the late comer to the situation stole me away. Boldly I informed the other three that I wouldn’t be seeing them any more, I’d met someone and “she is worth my time” to see exclusively. A well thought out “Dear Jane” is not so careless as to ever use the phrase, “she is worth my time” as it suggests to Jane she is NOT! Suffice it to say, I had three very bad reactions from otherwise pleasant women. Two really hit melt down and used foul language that made me blush. Oddly, for about a week or so, each would continue to contact me with more precise descriptives of my character. Since you will ask, I used email to deliver the news.
On the second occasion, “Dear Jane” was delivered on the phone, and in the case of one woman, I just never called her again. Phone call delivery puts everyone at risk! Wish I had some of those lame reasons back, I can tell you that. And I wish I’d never heard from their voice some of the things leveled at me. It’s of little consequence the accusations weren’t true, I was on the business end of a woman scorned. Next time I ever use the phone for my “Dear Jane”, I will first submit the written “feel good” script to a focus group and edit per their suggestions.
The third time I pretty much used Instant Messaging. At least with IM’ing I didn’t have to hear their voice, and could still answer any questions they had immediately and genuinely. To my surprise, each had clarifying questions, all honest and obvious questions to give them closure. Curiously I experienced closure on those relationships too and realized these ladies would still be my friends. It was the first time I had the results I’d actually wanted.
I’ve been on both sides of “Dear Jane” and have determined once again, it is enough that one of us just wants to move on. NEXT!
Thanks for reading this far.