Sleeping around: A bit of balance

'There's a lot to be said for taking the time to get to know the other person and not falling for a fantasy image'

Catherine Townsend
Sunday 14 September 2008 00:00 BST

To take my mind off Charles, I decided to indulge in a bit of internet flirtation. "Ted", a blonde, successful, 40-year-old lawyer, seemed perfect on paper.

But when we met in person, alarm bells started to ring. Everything about him screamed "Trying Too Hard", from his insistence that we meet in his city office (so that he could prove that he was "for real") to his diamond-studded gold Rolex.

Within five minutes, he dropped the first bomb by asking if I was Catholic. When I said no, he said: "If you had kids, how would you feel about raising them in my religion?"

I replied that honestly, the thought had never occurred to me. Hypothetical children before appetisers? This was getting heavy.

He then explained that since his divorce, he has been living in hotels in London. "But I want to sort out my home situation very soon," he blurted out, and started talking about how lonely the road can be.

It's ironic, because I've been looking for a man who isn't afraid of a long-term relationship. But although Ted was sweet, I got the impression that he wanted to settle down with me or the very next woman with good teeth and the right waist-to-hip ratio who came along.

So I made my excuses and left. At midnight, I got a text from him, which read: "You are the most beautiful girl and I loved spending time with you. I have to see you again I sensed a real connection between us and know you felt it too. X x x."

I went to bed. At 2am, my phone vibrated again. This time it read, "Good night sweetheart, Just want to say that you are as rare as a unicorn!" I decided that it was too late to reply, but didn't have to worry, because I had yet another text waiting for me at 7.30am the next day.

"Oh dear, I guess I've failed. I know that I AM THE MAN who can give you the 'knowingness' you crave, if you would just give me the chance. Is your fear of getting hurt making you run from this relationship?"

I politely texted back, telling him that for me, there just hadn't been the right romantic chemistry. Five minutes later, he messaged back. "Oh well, I understand, but I KNOW that I am the guy who is truly capable of giving you the emotional stability that you so desperately need."

Now I was annoyed. If a woman chases a man, long after he indicates that he isn't interested, and continues to text and call him, she's branded as a stalker.

Men, on the other hand, are encouraged not to take no for an answer. Dustin Hoffman relentlessly pursues Elaine Robinson in The Graduate to the point of crashing her wedding and it's considered one of the iconic romantic movies of our time. Glenn Close does the same in Fatal Attraction and ends up getting shot. Is it too much to ask for a bit of balance?

By the time he sent flowers the next day, with a note reading "Gentlest of hugs", I was thinking about a restraining order, not romance.

At the end of the day, we all want to find someone to love, and who loves us equally in return. But there's a lot to be said for stepping back and taking the time to get to know the other person, instead of getting caught up in the intoxication of falling for a fantasy image.

After all, there is a fine line between someone who isn't afraid of commitment, and someone who needs to be committed.

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