“I’m sorry. Really, it’s not you, it’s me.”
And with those classic words, I saw his face crumple into disappointment. I hated to do it to him, but what choice did I have?
We were sitting in Pasta Bella, talking over linguine and Montepulciano, and I had decided, somewhat impulsively, that now was the time to end it. Paul was a genuinely nice guy, in fact I rather liked him, which is why we had been dating for two months now. But the oomph just wasn’t there for me.
“What… but why? I thought everything was going so well?”
My heart sank, as I saw him sink into sadness.
“Paul,” I started, marshaling my words, “I don’t mean to hurt you. Really, I like you quite a lot, and in other circumstances…”
He wasn’t buying it, I could tell. He sat there, crushed, looking down into his pasta, taking a gulp of his wine.
“I wish it was working better, really I do, but I just need something… different.”
“Different. I can be different. Different how?”
Ok, now he was getting desperate, and I don’t know about you, but desperation doesn’t do it for me. I mean, he wasn’t doing it for me before, but it was only getting worse.
The trouble was, I really couldn’t say exactly what was wrong. Paul really was a great guy, he was nice, he was romantic, he was attractive and intelligent, really he was everything a girl should want. Except when we were together, I wanted… more. Well, maybe not more, but not what he was offering.
Before Paul, it was the same with Steve, and before Steve, there was Mike. All of them great guys — I don’t date losers, after all — but in the end something was always missing.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but even I could see the common element here.
So, I meant it when I said it wasn’t him, though clearly he didn’t believe me. I mean, who would? It’s such a trite line. But really, I needed to discover what the hell was wrong with me, that I couldn’t find what I’m looking for in not just one, or two, but any man I dated. What was I looking for? Hell if I knew.
A dozen different thoughts flitted through my brain in the brief moment from Paul’s question as I thought of an answer I could give him, an answer I could give myself. Was I a lesbian and just didn’t know it? Hmm… well, no, I didn’t think so. I mean, I find men attractive enough, no question there. Paul, for instance… ah, but I’m distracting myself. Maybe my libido is just suppressed? I’ve heard there are treatments for that, but really, if my dreams at night are anything to go by, I don’t think it’s a problem with my libido. I mean, I can get hot.
So, what was it? What could I tell this man, who so earnestly tried to make me feel good?
That he’s a lousy lover? I wasn’t even sure that was true. Yes, it’s true that our lovemaking didn’t satisfy me, but empirically I couldn’t put a finger on anything that Paul did wrong. He was attentive, he seemed to really be into it, he tried his best to satisfy me, but somehow it just… didn’t.
It kept coming back to me. I was the problem.