I’ve previously written that I Have An Admirer. Today I was experiencing some distress because of texts from my Ex, was feeling rather blue and overwhelmed, as is often the case. After my weekly therapy appointment I checked my phone and found the following text from the man I call “Rocky.”
Bright . . . like the morning sun.
Sweet as sweet can be.
Strong like a raging wind.
Yet tender as can be.
Hard like ice . . . wet like water.
Talent to the . . . extreme.
Mind so strong and yet so wise you solve problems at night in your dreams.
I’m proud to know you Roxanne.
I feel better now. Thanks, Rock.
Just Me With . . . a new text, and a smile.
It’s sad but true, women will put up with a lot of crap. But it seems like one thing is very universally unacceptable — when an adult man lives with his mother.
Remember in Sex and The City when Carrie discovered that her latest guy shared a beautiful apartment with his parents?
Samantha: He lives with his parents?
Carrie: It’s their apartment.
Samantha: So not sexy honey. Dump him immediately. Here — use my cell phone.
Season Three, Episode 15.
Carrie didn’t dump him immediately, because she liked him, his parents were friendly and brought them food and he was a struggling business owner.
Once she realized, however, that Power Lad was still a child in the household, governed by his parents’ rules, and that he was not saving money but actually spending it on really good pot, well it eventually ended.
I haven’t had one of these, but this guy is just out of school, has his first real job or is looking for one. He’s recently discovered, “Dude, they want first and last month’s rent and security before I move in? That’s a lot of money.” Yeah dude, better get a bank account.
Acceptable: If he is saving for his own place.
Unacceptable : If his Mom still does all his laundry, cooks all his meals, he drives her car and he routinely buys rounds for everybody at the local bar.
2. Break Up Guy
So the marriage/relationship didn’t work and he moved out of the home, leaving the kids (if any) with their mother. Suddenly he’s homeless. You can’t sleep on somebody’s couch forever and his married buddies are not taking him in long-term . . . so . . . he moves in with his mom.
Acceptable: If he is providing financial support to his kids, someone has filed for divorce, and he is actively looking for his own place.
Unacceptable: If he visits the kids at the marital home “overnight.”
3. Norman? Older guy taking care of his elderly or sick mother.
This guy still lives in his home town, and may even have a good job and his own place. But his mother is getting older, or has taken ill. Maybe she’s widowed or divorced, either way she’s alone and probably should not live that way. So he, like a champ, gives up, sublets, or keeps his place — but he moves in with this mother. He is probably a good guy, but depending on his mother’s condition, this could go on indefinitely.
Acceptable: If the mom is really sick.
Unacceptable: If the mom goes out more often than he does.
4. Ethnic/Large family/family business guy or filthy rich blue blood guy
This guy works in his family business. So does everybody else. They all live in the large family home. If you were to marry him, you might live there too for a bit.
Ironically, this also happens in blue blood very rich families or royalty, “Chad” (or William, or Harry) will move back to the main house while interning for “Daddy’s” company. Except in that case Chad’s bedroom could probably accommodate most of the ethnic guy’s family and their business.
Acceptable: If he wants to have his own family one day.
Unacceptable: If he buys a dog. (There’s no way he’s thinking about leaving if he’s recently acquired a dog.)
5. Grad school student guy.
This is a guy getting an advanced degree, perhaps a professional degree. He studies all the time. He lives with his parents because he can’t justify paying rent only to be conscious there only a couple of hours a day. He reasons, “Why pay for a city apartment just to study and occasionally sleep there?” — especially true for medical students or interns. This arrangement is almost always temporary, and, frankly, worth the investment. One day he’ll graduate — and probably get a damn good job.
Acceptable: If he is actually in school.
Unacceptable: If he is merely planning to get back to school. Look for that acceptance letter.
You see, a guy living with his momma should be given an opportunity to explain. It should not be a deal breaker– at least not until you know the underlying reasons and can access the likely duration of the living “arrangement.”
But here are the red flags I don’t believe anyone should ignore:
1. He has a basement “room” completely set up where he pursues his personal interests — music, computers, lifting weights. Yeah, this dude has set up house. He ain’t going nowhere.
2. He works from home, yet there is no home office, desk, or computer and he has no cell phone.
3. He’s mentioned that he hopes to inherit the house. He’s there for life, or at least his mother’s life.
4. He has never actually said he plans to move or has any interest in doing so. Pay attention to the silences. The silences are very important.
Just Me With . . . no momma dwellers at the moment: one is estranged, “If I’d Married My Stalker,” the other is a very special friend who defies any type of categorization, “We Thought You Were Dead, Mommy — Almost F*cked to Death”
See other types of dating fails:
I have an admirer. Let’s call him Rocky. There’s a reason why I’ll rename him Rocky here. First, I want to protect his privacy. And, second, he’s an ex-boxer. These days I think he works as a bouncer. Yes folks, my admirer is a bruiser with a heart of gold.
We met years ago when I was still married and working as a contract attorney for my former neighbor, see Riding With My Boss. My boss was representing Rocky and his union in some kind of complicated dispute. I was doing background legal research in a back room. One day when Rocky had to come by the office my boss introduced us. As I recall he complimented me, my smile. Thereafter, when Rocky stopped by he always had a smile and compliment for me. He also gave me his card, which I stashed in my wallet and never used. I must have given him my contact information as well, though I don’t remember doing so.
Rocky’s case went nowhere. Consequently, there was no reason for him to come to the office anymore. In fact, most of the work disappeared for my boss also and I didn’t have a reason to come to the office anymore either.
For years since then, Rocky has sent me a text on or near my birthday and about every other month saying things like, “I was just thinking of you, lovely lady.” He’s my age or probably younger, but he is always so polite, referring to me as “young lady.”
After I became separated and sought to test my new status, I tried to call in some favors. Specifically, I developed a list of guys I already knew who might go out with me. I was on a mission. See The Best Advice I Never Took. I figured Rocky must like me and I’ve got to go out with somebody so — I called Rocky. He seemed to pleased to hear from me. I invited him to come to one of my gigs. As he always works at night he could only make it if he came early and he wouldn’t be able to stay long. This was good, since I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out. Plus, this was good because I had scheduled another guy come to see me for the second shift of my one day dating frenzy. Yeah, I was a player, and I was on a mission.
So Rocky was date one for the night. At that time I hadn’t seen him in person for a couple of years.
He still looked good, bigger than I remembered, a burly Teddy bear of a guy, soft-spoken and so sweet. I found out that evening that although he is such a tough guy, he spends his free time writing poetry and songs. Who knew?
It was as close as we got to a date. We hugged good-bye and I haven’t laid eyes on him since.
By the way my second date of the evening was with the man who would become my stalker. I should have stuck with the boxer . . . but I digress . . . If I’d Married My Stalker
Since that early evening “date,” I’ve received semi-regular texts from Rocky. This has gone on for years. He tells me I’m beautiful, refers to me as a friend or wishes me and my family well. I don’t get them often enough to feel like I’m being stalked or harassed but I get them often enough to know I’m still thought of. These texts never request a date or phone call, they are just — complimentary. Recently he sent a picture of himself — just his face, and it was NOT, I repeat, NOT taken in the bathroom. He asked me to send one in return, which I did not — yet. Oh snap, what if his memory of my appearance is better than my actual looks in real life? Wait, what am I saying? Clearly, this could not be possible. heh heh heh
Last month Rocky’s text said:
“You made a positive impression on me from the time I met you. That helped me survive some very tough times. Thank u. :p lol”
I’m not really sure how the “lol” works with the rest, so I’ll just ignore that part. And I don’t know what “tough times” I helped him through, so I’ll just accept that part. All in all, it was a nice message. Sometimes we help people without even knowing how.
Just today I woke up to a text from Rocky which said,
“Good Morning to a very special young lady who is so very sweet. In case no one told u this morning. You r very unique. :p Have a great day.”
Awww. Is it strange? Maybe. Weird? Perhaps. Whatever. I don’t care. It’s nice to have an admirer. And currently there is no one to wake me up by telling me I’m very sweet, so Rocky was right on time. I’ll take it. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt to know someone who could and would kick somebody’s ass for me. Just sayin’ . . .)
Just Me With . . . an admirer, via text. Absolutely.
See also, “Another Text From My Admirer”
I was a couple of weeks shy of eighteen, we’d been dating for two years. He had recently become my first, I was not his. I loved him. He loved me. One of the things I loved about being with him was the fact that I could be myself. Ididn’t have to prove anything or act a certain way. I didn’t have to try to fit in or be a certain type of girl. He gave me something– not school related — to do. In hindsight, what he provided me was a way to escape those awkward teen years of discovering myself, making choices and mistakes, finding my own way, being proud of who I was and who I wasn’t, making new friends, and learning how to be social. He had already made some decisions about life, had some bad experiences and had strong opinions about almost everything. He was an old soul. I was not. It ate me up.
He was completely against drinking (which is not a bad thing for someone underage, but he would not even go to parties where others might be drinking, even if they were hiding it.) I respected him for that. I supported him in that. He had had a rough upbringing. His mother had a bad reputation, his brother was the local drug dealer, other family members, including siblings and his mother’s boyfriends had addictions, and teen pregnancies were the norm in his family. So having been brought up in the underbelly of suburban drug and alcohol addiction, he swore never the touch the stuff and forbade me to get near it. Forbade. In his family, he was the one good child. He wanted to stay that way. He was painfully shy unless involved in a sport, so he wasn’t one for hanging out. He didn’t want to travel because he didn’t see the need, and was uncomfortable out of our town. He hated the beach, sand; he hated crowds. He was also very possessive and jealous, so he kept me close and would become angry if he felt threatened.
But he was very cute, tall, slim with haunting light eyes.Teachers loved him, though he was not academically oriented or talented. I think, like me, they saw a polite guy who, despite his family, seemed to be a good kid. He was charming that way. People wanted to help him. People wanted to forgive any shortcomings. He had a smile that could and did charm everyone — that is, when he did smile. Most of the time, unless people were looking, he appeared sullen, angry. Some folks were a little scared of him. (Years later a friend described him like this: He’s the kind of guy where when he walks into a room, the temperature drops ten degrees.)
Me? Well, I was an achiever, academically, musically and athletically, but socially I had struggled, been a victim of past bullying. I was a book smart girl from a good (if not wealthy) family; my parents were teachers. My siblings were in college, they had gotten away from our suffocating suburb. I was lonely. I wanted to have fun but I was basically the stereotypical “good girl” from a stable family. I would never want to do anything that would embarrass my family, and my girlfriends weren’t drinkers or party girls either. Still, we liked to go to parties and dances and just have some sober fun. Before I started dating him, I had had only one short relationship with a boy. Nothing to speak of. No broken hearts. I don’t think we ever even went anywhere together. My hymen was still intact.
At my tender teen age, I thought I’d never have a boyfriend. I just wasn’t seen as girlfriend material in my circles. At the time, I truly thought he was my only and best chance at having any attention from a boy, at least any attention from a boy who was respectful to me. He was what I needed.
Miraculously, once I started dating him, the bullying stopped as well as the false rumors about me. (Somehow, I had gained the reputation of being a slut according to popular, misinformed opinion, even though I was a virgin.) But with him, I had support. No one wanted to mess with his girlfriend.
I see now I was co-dependent. But then? I was in love.
I didn’t know. I had nothing to compare him to and no one to talk to about it. My girlfriends weren’t dating, they didn’t know any better than me. My siblings were gone. After having been treated so badly by other kids, I thought this was right. In a way, it did save me. (The reasons for the bullying primarily have to do with race, and are just too much to get into now.) I never told my parents about how I had been treated at school. I should have. An early, huge regret, one of many to come.
He and I were inseparable, but completely antisocial. We rarely went anywhere with or around other people. He didn’t want to be around people. Usually we went to movies or hung out at his or my house. He met me at my locker every morning. We met between classes. (We never had classes together, I was in the college prep courses, he was not). We were such a cute, dysfunctional couple. Both tall, and we even looked a bit alike.
One night, there was a Friday night basketball game, as usual. He was a star player, I was a cheerleader. (I know, gag me, and this did not mean I was popular). We never went to the parties afterward, though, if there were any. But this night, for some reason, he decided he wanted to go to a party. I don’t know why. I never knew why. He usually was against such behavior. He told me to go home, I wasn’t allowed to go with him. Obediently, I went home. Telling me what I was allowed or not allowed to do was normal for us.
I didn’t see him for the rest of the weekend, which sometimes happened since neither one of us had a car, and in addition to my studies I had a part-time job.
The following Monday, he did not come to my locker. When I found him, he seemed distant. He wouldn’t make eye contact all day. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was different. Paranoid, and suddenly needing reassurance, I asked him,
“Don’t you love me anymore?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
My very being shook to the core, I felt as though I died a bit. My knees buckled.
In another cruel twist of fact, it was Valentine’s Day, the day we celebrated as our anniversary.
I was still reeling from his answer when he added that — he wanted to see other people!
Then he finally looked me in the eyes. He said, “I don’t want you to, though.”
“Okay,” I said.
I know, I know. In my head the voices still scream No! But I was already under his thumb, caught completely caught off guard. He had unilaterally changed all the rules without any warning. I was still freaked out just because he went to a party! And now this? I had given myself to him in every way possible, and now, it wasn’t enough, or it didn’t matter, or — I didn’t know what was happening!
For about two weeks, heartbroken, devastated, and confused, I nevertheless continued to allow him to meet me at my locker, walk me in the halls, kiss me hello and goodbye. I was still his girlfriend (property). But there were more goodbyes than hellos, and I saw him flirting with other girls, one in particular. He didn’t hide it.
He had a swagger about him. I felt small.
Since we’d been dating for two years, we were quite an item. But kids talked. Through the high school rumor mill I found out later that during the party he attended a girl I knew had flirted with him. Well, she grabbed his crotch, is what I heard. That must have been enough to turn the tide, to make him take the next step after control and isolation, to further humiliate me, his girlfriend of two years — but still keep me at his beck and call. He acted as though this was completely normal. And I allowed it. It was the beginning of a hurtful and unhealthy pattern of accommodation I have struggled with ever since.
One day, a friend of his and fellow basketball player who was in one of my classes said to me, unprovoked,
“I don’t know how you put up with it.”
I think I visibly shuddered. I was trying to operate under the illogical belief that no one knew what was really going on or at least wouldn’t acknowledge it in front of me.
The nice boy continued, “I mean, given his family and all it’s amazing he’s turned out as good as he has, but still — he shouldn’t be doing this to you.”
Hearing that from another boy, a boy who was a old friend of his but who didn’t know me that well, got to me. Then, I did some thinking. I had more time on my hands, after all. Throughout this whole thing I kept coming back to the fact that I loved him. I kept telling myself, “But I love him.” But then I asked myself, is being in love supposed to feel like this? Because this doesn’t feel good. This isn’t fun.
Love shouldn’t feel like this.
The next day I was not at my locker when he arrived to meet me.
He had to find me. When he did, I told him I wasn’t going to do this anymore.
When an abused woman hits back, it’s useless unless she kills or runs. Hitting back and standing there just sets her up for another beat down. Mine was coming.
I cannot remember what he said exactly, I do know that he was angry, that he demanded to know why I wasn’t at my designated place. He also told me he did, in fact, love me. I think I may have blocked most of the rest of it out, because it was so contrary to my sense of self-preservation. I’ve beat myself up for years because of it.
Bottom line: He got me back.
He said he wasn’t going to see other girls. We were monogamous again. (Well, he was monogamous again, I had never been free.) I didn’t date anyone else in high school.
He was still my boyfriend when I went to college.
Years later, I married him.
Months ago, our divorce became final. He has since remarried.
Interestingly, I heard later that the girl who had felt him up at the party told him she couldn’t actually date him because her family would not accept her dating a black boy. His would-be conquest wasn’t having it – or him. Whatever. His coming back to me had nothing to do with me — except that he wanted to keep me — unto him, under him.
When I started to pull away, he pulled me back — and he was stronger.
With him I had traded one kind of bullying for another, really.
But something broke inside me then, not because of how he treated me, but because I allowed it —- and I think — just now, I’m trying to get it fixed.
Just Me With . . . a love story?
P.S. Why all the Twilight pics? I have a hard time with the series because of my romantic history. A high school girl who does not fit in should have a chance to experience life outside of high school before changing her DNA for a boy. Bella is so sad and tortured and Edward makes her feel better, but I want her to go to college, get a job, move to a place where she chooses, and have fun, make friends, have boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, without all the danger and without having to forsake her belief system, family, and biological options before she’s had a chance to even develop them.
It’s okay not to have a boyfriend in high school. It really is. And it’s okay to break up with your first love.
For a story on what it was like to still have this boyfriend when I went away to college, see The Night I Became Cinderella.
And for how I feel about him now? I Don’t Love Him.