Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

2 years ago · 7 min. reading time · +100 ·

Paul blog
Misadventures In Mid-Life Dating: Heartbreak, Pain, COVID, and WTF?

Misadventures In Mid-Life Dating: Heartbreak, Pain, COVID, and WTF?

Hi all, it's been a while since I've reported on the ups and downs of mid-life dating. This post is about a down... a big down. 

No, a Gargantuan Down.

No, a solid kick to the emotional nuts.

I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Let me set the stage. That could be a story in its own right. Here's the Reader's Digest Condensed version.

At some point in mid-February, I was signed up for Facebook Dating. I didn't do it and no one else admits to doing it. I did however leave my phone unlocked and unattended on a Saturday night next to my ex, her sister, and a mutual friend. They insist they didn't do it.

All I know for sure is that the next day I woke to several notifications like, "Diane likes you," and "Lynda likes you." 

I don't know any Diane's and the only Lynda I know lives in New York and, I think, happily married. 

I was somewhat confused.

The notifications all had a little two-tone heart-shaped logo. I clicked one and discovered Facebook Dating. Intrigued, and with "proof" of its efficacity in hand, I completed my profile and went with it.

After a few less-than-stellar coffee dates (none of which are worthy of a post), I started chatting with Lise, (hereinafter referred to as Biker Babe due to her love of cruising around on her Suzuki 850 for hours on end.)

Chatting led to long phone calls which led to very long dates, which led to other stuff. I won't go into detail on the other stuff, other than to say, "Wow!". Suffice it to say, we got along like two peas in a pod. Our first date was for coffee, which became dinner, which lasted three-and-a-half hours. 

It was like we knew each other forever.

Our second date was another dinner, another three-hour marathon. Half-way through we were finishing each other's sentences. After that date, while saying good-bye in the parking lot, she was obvious in her expectation that we should head to either her place or mine. Frankly, I was ready to go for it on the hood of the nearest car. 

Something stopped me. I sensed this was a very special woman, someone for the long term. I ignored the come-on and settled for a deep good night kiss.

I took a cold shower when I got home.

Looking back. I think her plan was more of a casual, fun sexual relationship regardless of her words to the contrary. I don't think I would have settled for that, not with her, but our relationship probably should have ended right there with some wild Discovery Channel sex. It would have saved a lot of heartbreak.

Our third date was a movie night at her place followed by the aforementioned Discovery Channel stuff. I made her breakfast the next day.

Our fourth date was at a Cat Stevens tribute band concert where our giggling, laughing and joking disturbed everyone around us. We barely noticed. That was a Friday. I went home late Sunday night.

Then disaster struck. 

Two weeks into the fledgling relationship, COVID-19 came to call. We would each be working from home, sequestered, and alone. Worse, we lived in different zones with restricted travel in between. Biker Babe lives in a home north of Montreal, while I live in a highrise in Montreal proper. We would not be able to see each other for an unspecified time.

Neither of us wanted that.

Biker Babe suggested I set up my home office at her place. Social distancing is tough to do in an elevator anyway, and we'd be able to get around the restricted travel thing. My first thought was, "Yikes!" I liked her, a helluva lot, but it's a far cry from dating to living together 24/7, especially after only a couple of weeks. If the 24/7 thing got to be too much, I wouldn't want to break up over it. 

What to do?

I formulated an exit strategy. If being constantly together caused a strain, I would simply say her internet was too slow for the two of us to work, so I had to get back to my place. We could then just continue dating subject to COVID measures. Not an ideal solution, but far better than ending it.

I needn't have worried. We continued to get along famously. 

We expected the crisis to last a few weeks, maybe a month or so. I was there for five months. The travel restrictions were lifted after about a month or so. I stayed put.

In those five months, we had exactly zero fights and zero arguments. In hindsight, that seems weird. At the time, I was amazed. It seemed like I had found the perfect woman-companion-lover-friend-teammate-partner. I don't believe in the concept of soul-mates, but I was coming around to it. 

Heck, if we were in our twenties or thirties, I probably would have proposed a while back.

I fell for her head-over-heels, hard, fast, and deeply. 

It was too good to last, and it didn't.

After five months, her ex-husband started making noises about his alimony payments. Her lawyer suggested I head back home until things blow over. A reasonable suggestion, so I did.

Soon after, she started pulling away. She said the legal battle was dredging up old, bad feelings. Her ex was domineering. He was constantly forcing issues. She was constantly giving in. She hated doing that and refused to ever again be put in that position. Her words were, "I just want to be me. I don't want to give in to someone else ever again."

That confused me. She did her things. I did my things. Together we did our things. I didn't understand why she would be telling me this. She insisted that it didn't apply to me.

Maybe it did.

She said she needed time to figure out what she wanted and needed. Fine, she needs space, I can do that. We were "forced" together by the freak that is COVID before our relationship had time to build roots. 

I get that.

When an attractive woman is alone for eight years, it's by choice. Sure she had lovers but no relationships. Being in one may have freaked her out.

I get that too.

She needed to take a step back to regroup.

I get that too.

Together we agreed on a plan. We would only see each other at my place on weekends and one or two days a week. 

As I write this, it's Friday, September 4th, at 4:44 AM. I haven't been to bed yet. I never did get to bed. This has thrown me for a loop.

She came for dinner Wednesday night, which led to breakfast Thursday morning. For all you gutter-minds out there, we spent most of the night talking about anything and everything, but mostly about the upcoming long weekend and how it would be fun to play "Tourists in our city." 

I booked a hotel for Saturday and Sunday. We hoped to see the laser light show at Notre Dame Basilica (nope, closed due to COVID) and to visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for their Post-Impressionists exhibit. I originally planned the post-impressionists for her birthday back in April but it was closed then. COVID again.

We had breakfast Thursday morning. We talked again about the weekend. I walked her to the elevator, and off she went.

On Thursday night she called to say that we won't be doing the  "Tourists in our city," thing and that this is the end. She went on with the classic it's not you, it's me BS. In a nutshell, she decided that she's been alone for over 8 years and prefers it that way. She does not want to be in any relationship with anyone. She wants to do what she wants, how she wants when she wants.

Now I wonder... WTF?

How can something so good go so bad so fast?

I keep going back to the "giving in" thing. Is that what she was doing? Is that why there were no arguments let alone fights, for over 5 months?!?

Did I fall in love with a real woman or a role she was playing? Did the woman I thought might be my soul mate ever exist at all? If so, what does that say about me? What does it say about her?

She is very empathetic. She senses what needs to be said or done. Was she faking it this whole time? Would she even know she was faking it if she was?

I know for a fact that I never pushed for my way or even made strong suggestions. I have a very powerful personality and I force myself not to impose it on anyone. It's a conscious effort. That's become second nature to me. Has roleplaying become second nature to her? 

Does she even know when she's doing it?

I don't fucking know. I don't fucking know anything.

Playacting fits the facts. So does something else... or maybe both.

Another explanation may be her meds. She has adult ADHD and takes anti-depressants. At one point, she was feeling so good, so content, she asked her doctor to reduce her dosage. At that time she warned me that, "She may do or say something nuts." Her words, not mine. 

Sure enough, the shit started hitting the fan soon afterward.

Is that the root cause? Is that fact, combined with the additional stress of the ex-husband issue the root cause? One hit on the heels of the other.

I don't fucking know. I don't fucking know anything.

This dating thing is harder later in life. I remember it being a lot easier than this.
I expect that anyone my age will come with baggage. Some will come with a carry-on, others with a suitcase, still others with a shipping container. But this baffles me.

If it's the meds, maybe we can revisit later, but I doubt I will ever fully trust her again.

If it's the playacting, well, I fell for it, but haven't really lost anything. You can't lose what never existed.

All I know is that this post will probably be the last in this series. First, they are too painful to write. Second, it will be quite a while before I should date anyone. 

I'm definitely damaged goods right now. Better for the entire world female population that I remove myself from contention.

Or is the best remedy for a broken heart the arms of another woman? That doesn't seem fair.

I don't fucking know. I don't fucking know anything. I don't even fucking know if I'll post this.

I do know that I want to be in a relationship, and she doen't. That seems like quite the deal-breaker to me. On the other hand, I don't know what our respective definitions of being in a relationship are.

What is a relationship?

That's a tough question. There are probably as many definitions as there are people. I'll offer mine.

I am not one of those people who think a couple is two people glued at the hip. To me, a couple is two people operating as a team. It's a gestalt thing where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A couple remains two distinct individuals.

What does that mean? It simply means being there for each other, but only when needed or wanted. Imposing support is no support. Offering support is more like it. Take the support, don't take the support... no judgement, it's the same thing. 

Are there associated obligations? Sure, but I don't think they are onerous.Then again, my opinion is only half of what matters.

  • Generaly, most couples have a designated date night or the like. My preference is for Saturday. Generally, it is assumed that that date night is reserved for couple stuff.
  • Generally, couplehood means fidelity. One does not date or Discovery Channel outside the couple.
  • Generally, couples keep each other informed, they keep an open line of communication. For example, "I have a tee time Sunday afternoon." or "I'm going on a ride, tonight." It's not about asking permission.  It's an FYI not a "Can I?". Neither side is the boss. It's more like, "I'm doing my thing at this time, talk later."

In short, a couple is two people who enjoy each other's company. It comes back to the companion-lover-friend-teammate-partner thing.

Hmmm, maybe that's the real problem.

Let's be clear here. This relationship, while it was such, could go no further. Given the alimony situation we could never have moved in together, we're both well passed the family-making stage. No, we were where we could go, and no further. I was fine with that.

So what happened?

I don't fucking know. I don't fucking know anything.

Signed: Confused, Hurt and Angry in Montreal


Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris

1 year ago #11

I'm usually good at comments (even if they aren't always well-received) but the only thing I could say here is that if this piece was published on Minds, I'd definitely tip you at least a couple of tokens! Cheers

Bill Stankiewicz

1 year ago #10

Bill Stankiewicz

1 year ago #9

Paul, your post here is sad but don’t give up.  Hang in there, you may meet someone at another event.  Keep networking, keep staying kind and positive.  Come visit Savannah anytime here for vacation.  Best regards, Bill Stankiewicz, Savannah Supply Chain Guy.  

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

2 years ago #8

#9 Yeah, hope springs eternal. Yeah, we always fall for it. I still can't get her out of my head.

Pascal Derrien

2 years ago #7

Welcome back Paulo :-) what a heartache and all too familiar story for many .... the thing is we always fall for it :-)

Fay Vietmeier

2 years ago #6

Paul \ I hope you find the understanding & truth you seek and deserve. "Heart-to-heart" communication requires two hearts. Truth and (internal) peace is its own reward & balm ... a worthy journey

Jerry Fletcher

2 years ago #5

Paul, you have come to the inelegant place we older guys get to finally realizing we know nothing about relationships but refusing to give up hope. And so it goes.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

2 years ago #4

Hey, Brian... I can't say I agree. People need what they need, If I misinterpreted her needs that isn't her fault

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

2 years ago #3

Oh yeah! I am certainly grasping for an explanation. I doubt there is one. There is more that I will not discuss that also troubles me. I firmly believe I fell in love with a woman who does not exist. Poop happens

Fay Vietmeier

2 years ago #2

Brian McKenzie I have 4 cats ... so grasp what you say ;~) There are sweet, trustworthy felines ... You are just finding the wrong cats ;~)

Fay Vietmeier

2 years ago #1

Paul \ Sorry for your heartache. Your pain is poured out here in words ... seeking reason & remedy There is much truth in this: "You can't lose what never existed" ... but tell your heart that. You say: "I do know that I want to be in a relationship, and she doesn't. That seems like quite the deal-breaker to me. On the other hand, I don't know what our respective definitions of being in a relationship are." (Your's seem defined ... were her's?) ... the "alimony situation" seems irrelevant to two people being together? (even given complex legalities) How very often we have expectations ... but they are not clear ... perhaps unknown (even to our-self) Your writing reveals that you are grasping for an explanation (which is rightly ordered to quote an Irish friend) ... understanding might expedite healing Remedy: "the arms of another woman" definitely not ...

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