It’s A Funny Old World: Self-help guru Caroline Buchanan
‘I’m beginning to think it might be quite nice to have the odd gentleman caller’
Just the other day I bumped into a man I’d had a crush on for years. I was unhappily married at the time, but the crush went on for quite a while after my marriage ended. Nothing had ever happened between us. We’d had lunch together a few times but that was it. We’ve never even kissed, bar a friendly peck on the cheek, let alone had a steamy clinch.
Then recently, after a quick catch up, he said those three magic words: ‘Fancy a lunch?’
The funny thing is, he was much smaller than I remembered. His height hadn’t changed a bit, but in my head he was diminished. He wasn’t the superman I had created in my imagination. He was an ordinary man. Nothing wrong with that, but I realised that my past longings to find true love had painted an idealistic picture of a person who had so much of what I was looking for.
When my ex-husband and I broke up five years ago I was determined not to rush into another relationship. If I’m honest, I’d always been a bad picker of men, which is ironic bearing in mind that as a trained couples counsellor and agony aunt, I was quite good at helping others with their relationship problems! A couple of times in the very dim and distant past I struck lucky with boyfriends, but the two long-term relationships I’ve had since were far from wise. One of the leaflets I offered through my agony column was called ‘How to Spot a Rotter’, and yet I couldn’t see one right in front of my own eyes!
Now, after a five-year period of learning to live happily without a man, I’m only just beginning to think it might be quite nice to have the odd gentleman caller. I don’t need a partner to make me happy now, which hopefully means I’m in a much stronger position to make a better choice. If a nice one comes along, that would be the icing on the cake – but it wouldn’t be the main ingredient of a fulfilling, happy life by any means.
So, for anyone thinking of braving the dating scene again, I’d say make sure you’re truly happy within yourself before you do. Most important, beware of projecting your deepest longings on to someone else. Just because you ache for someone who is loving, kind, trustworthy, bright and funny, it doesn’t automatically mean that the man of the moment is all those things. Just because he turns up on time for your first date does not make him someone who is always reliable! Just because he says you’re the person he’s been waiting for since the year dot, it doesn’t mean for certain you’re the first woman to hear those words!
By the way, my former crush said the other day that he always thinks of me when he passes the restaurant where we used to lunch. He said it’s changed hands now, but he suggested we try it out.
But you know what? That was two weeks ago and I haven’t heard a word from him since. Do I mind? Not in the slightest. He’s a man who has perhaps always given mixed messages... So could it be a lucky escape, perhaps?
This week’s columnist: Author and counsellor Caroline Buchanan
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