After some promising email chat, a lukewarm first date and a decidedly chilly second date, Pop Idolizer had indicated that we would be "Just Friends." In my experience, being Just Friends with someone after having met online and gone on one or two dates does not last - there just hasn't been enough time or shared experience for a friendship bond to form and last. However, despite our lack of success in connecting in the real world, Pop Idolizer and I had built up a lot of shared online/email time together, and our emails did continue back and forth at a similar rate after that.
To be honest, I guess that I was partly keeping in touch in case she changed her mind and wanted to have another try at being "More Than Friends." After two months of friendly emails, that's exactly what happened - I wrote a comment hinting that I'd still be interested in more and she said that she liked that idea too. This was right around the time of my date with Pretty Lady... was this just a coincidence, or was that bit of "competition" just what was needed?
So, back to the racy and suggestive emails (and also phone calls) we went. Our virtual chemistry bounced back to life quickly. However, the question loomed large: would we be able to carry that over into the real world this time? It took another two or three weeks for us to meet up again, but this date (technically our third) was to take place at my house - I guess we were both feeling bold!
Any guesses as to how it went?
Yep - really badly. I met her at the station and as we walked to my house the discomfort was as palpable as the near-silence. Once we got to my house I started feeling more at ease but she just seemed more uneasy. She was withdrawn and subdued just like on our second date. After around ten minutes she said that she just wanted to go, so we walked back to the station and off she went.
Thus was set a pattern which was to continue for several months. We met up perhaps around once a month, which generally precipitated her putting a stop to things, then we would reignite our online connection and build up to meeting up again, which would fail to live up to our cyber-relationship and lead to another ending or at least cooling. She enjoyed having attention from me but was afraid of commitment or of getting hurt. As for me, I enjoyed the good phases between us and I didn't see any harm in continuing our liaisons in the absence of anything else happening in my love life. But was my on-off "relationship" with her making me less likely to find anyone else? I told myself that it wasn't, but looking back I may have been kidding myself.
Ironically, the cycle was to be broken not by one of our tentative face-to-face encounters but by email. Our physical relations had gradually progressed through the starting and stopping and it turned out that another big fear of hers was becoming pregnant. Perhaps this was partly why she was more comfortable interacting with me via telephone and email. A few days after one of our rare face-to-face get-togethers, she emailed me saying that she was worried that she might be pregnant. I emailed back suggesting that it seemed very unlikely, given that we'd used protection, we'd stopped before the point of no return anyway, and it had only been a few days so it would be too early to tell even if there were a chance.
Her concerns did not seem allayed by my email and she replied that she was going to take a pregnancy test straight away. At that point I was out of the office for an hour or so, and returned to find an email from her simply saying "I am pregnant."
My initial thought was: I don't believe her. For all of the reasons I'd stated in my email and more. The timings just wouldn't have made any sense. But what the hell should I write back? It didn't seem right to reply to her email with accusations of lying, just in case there was any chance that she wasn't lying. Her email had arrived half an hour before I got back to my desk, so I felt under pressure to come up with some kind of reply. I'd started to write something about maybe trying a second test when another email arrived from her: "Oh, by the way, I'm not pregnant!" followed by unrelated general chat about how her day was going.
Did that really just happen? Did she really just do that? Why would somebody do that? I let her know that I thought it was a horrible thing to do and asked her why she'd done it. She apologised and admitted to wanting me to feel some of the fear she'd felt while waiting for the test result (she really had taken a test but the result had been negative.) I understood that she was afraid but I still thought she'd gone way too far in response. For the first time in our on-off interactions it was time for me to be the one to say "off."