I often hear men complain about women who attach themselves too quickly. These desperate women ask, “Where is this going?” or expect gifts, or even a ring by the third date. No wonder the men run away.
But what about the flip side? I rarely hear anyone talk about clingy guys. I didn’t even know there was such a thing.
Not until about a year ago. But mercifully, that dating experience ended almost as quickly as it began.
If the Shoe Fits
It began innocently. I was walking through an upscale department store, ready to use my gift certificates before they expired. I wandered through the bottom floor of the three-level store, wading through three departments of products that I rarely buy: crowded cosmetic counters, handbag displays, and shoes.
Now before you say anything about shoe-shopping, please understand that it’s very difficult for me to find pretty, feminine shoes that fit my feet without hurting—especially my left foot, which I’ve had surgery on twice. Not to mention, I wear a large shoe size. So I was pretty skeptical about finding shoes that were both A) attractive, and B) fit both of my feet without a wince of pain.
I browsed about a full minute before anyone offered me assistance. Then a tall, dark gentleman about my age approached me, and I expressed my concern. He confidently assured me that if I found a shoe that I liked that was not available in my size, he would place an order for me. He then encouraged me to take my time looking around.
I remained skeptical as I gazed longingly at the Coach flats, Jimmy Choo pumps, and Michael Kors heels until the salesman returned. He made small talk with me in between fetching me shoes, and I gave him my card. (I had just left a speaking engagement and I was feeling good about my feedback.) I was dumbfounded that this man brought me six pairs of beautiful shoes, and they all fit comfortably! I would have loved to take them all home, but my three gift certificates only totaled $60, not $1,000. $60 meant I still had to pay for a shoe and a half after using the certificates, but I just didn’t have enough money, and my store card was over the limit. There was only one thing left for me to do—leave.
I told the patient, confident, gentle salesman that I didn’t have the dough. I was embarrassed that I doubted his ability to find even one pair of shoes that I could wear, only to learn that they were all too pricey. (What can I say—I don’t go shoe shopping that often.)
He did not seem the least bit bothered that he was not getting a commission from me that day. He gave me his card, stapled to a special shoe event for that following weekend, which featured shoes under size five and over size ten. Sweet! That was just what I needed—a selection, and time to get some money to buy the one and half shoes I couldn’t afford today. “Keith” (not his real name) offered to hold one pair of shoes for me, playfully assuring me that I could rest at night knowing that they would be waiting for me next weekend. I could tell that he liked me, but he didn’t make a move. I told him to call me if he knew of anyone who needed a motivational speaker.
I returned a week later, and Keith was caught off guard because A) he was busy when he glanced over and saw me, and B) I looked different, since was wearing glasses that day, but contacts the week before. After I browsed briefly, he finished helping the customer he was with, and then brought out the shoes I had on hold so I could buy them. When I finished paying for them, he gave me another one of his business cards and wrote his cell number on the back, telling me to call him sometime.
I actually didn’t call Keith for several days after that, nor did I wear the shoes. I wasn’t pressed to do either. But after the 50th time walking past the bag from the store, I reached in and found his number. “I’ve been waiting for this call,” he said, when I told him I was. Then he gushed about how beautiful I was, and asked when I would be available to spend some time with him.
I Love Me Some Cheesecake
We went on our first date shortly thereafter, walking around the beach at night. It was cold out, and he asked me to hold his hand. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so I held his arm instead. Then I asked to go to the Cheesecake Factory, but after our table was ready, he said he didn’t want to sit, and suggested I get something to go. He bought me a slice of cheesecake, and then took me back to my car (I had met him somewhere before we went to the beach). I had a trip to take early the next morning, and he offered to fill my car with gas (my tank was on E), which I accepted gratefully before we parted.
Over the next few weeks, Keith came to my house three or four times a week, and often called me whenever he was on a break at work, or got a moment between clients on his side gig. We went on another date, but mostly he came to my house in the evenings after my little girl went to sleep. He even once surprised me by bringing two slices of cheesecake for me, since I left the one from our first date in his car.
Keith did many things right—he gave me attention, brought me roses for no reason, and made me feel like the world revolved around me. But he also exhibited other qualities that were red flags, no doubt.
Love Me or Leave Me Alone
Keith was a little too affectionate too soon (and I don’t mean sex). He wanted a hug from me every five minutes, and he stared at me a lot without saying anything. Keith would often make comments about things he told other people—like his mom or his boys—about me, bragging to them about how pretty I was (which I think he overdid, by the way). And he once told me, “I love love [sic]. I have so much love to give, sometimes I think I’m going to explode.”
On the phone, he would often tell me he missed me even if I saw him in the last day or so. If he said he missed me, he expected me to reciprocate, but when I didn’t say it back, he would get an attitude and question me. But I don’t start dating people on Monday, see them on Wednesday and Thursday, and then miss them on the weekend. Does that make me weird? I think not.
He would get mad and leave my house if he didn’t get his way. If I got tired of hugging him, or just flat-out refused after the first one, he’d put on his coat and stand up, waiting for me to walk him to the door. One time, while we were eating McDonald’s meals at my new dining room table, he swung his long leg repeatedly, kicking one of my chairs. After the third kick, I quietly, calmly asked him to stop, he did, but then packed up his garbage and said, “I feel uncomfortable. I’m ready to go.”
In each of the above cases, he called the next day and told me he was sorry for being stubborn and/or for overwhelming me with attention. I remained adamant about not giving in to his hugging demands and I didn’t let his childish behavior bother me. I liked him, and I told him that at times I thought he was funny, giving, and sweet, but I was glad to see those red flags early so I didn’t let my guard down too fast or too much.
I was able to recognize his problem behaviors at the onset, and I did not entertain his demands or unfounded insecurities just for the sake of having a special someone, or making him feel good at my expense.
The last time I talked to Keith, I asked him I hadn’t heard from him in the past several days. It was odd to me that he be so overly enthusiastic about me one week, and then let three days pass without calling me the next week. He apologized and told me things had gotten a little crazy on his end. After I paused and let an uncomfortable silence rest on us for a moment, he informed me of an outside factor: “A couple weeks ago, a young lady told me that she’s pregnant, but I don’t really think she is. I’ve got a lot going on right now.” He did not say anything else to me about her, but mentioned some other personal things that were on his mind. I asked if he considered that he was trying so hard to get me to like him as much as he liked me, and then waited until I started to open up a little bit to decide to pull away. He said, “I don’t have time to argue with you, ”and then we hung up.
Keith spent time with me in the past “couple of weeks”, and this other woman’s situation didn’t bother him then—he was being himself. So to me, the end of Keith and I wasn’t about another woman. My birthday was that following week, but I didn’t hear from him again. I’m relieved that I stuck to my guns, and that I didn’t kiss him, have sex with him, or do anything else I didn’t want to do before I was ready or it felt right to me.
My experience with Keith taught me that remaining detached to a guy that does not seem right for you helps you avoid much heartache and stress. I protected myself by not giving in to his demands. Many women who are discontent with being single, or tired of waiting for “Mr. Right,” may settle for a man who treats them nice MOST of the time, as long as you are doing what HE wants. Tyler Perry’s recent movie title is a common saying: “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” With the place I am at in my life right now, I’d rather not go there.