Friday, May 11, 2007

The Arabian Knight

So I met a nice boy on a dating website a few weeks ago. I say "boy" because he's about 9 years younger than I am. Let's call him "the Arabian Knight"; his parents are Iraqi Jews, and he is very chivalrous, gentlemanly, and romantic. The Knight wrote me:

I like your profile and think you have a very beautiful neshama. What do you like to do for fun? What does ur pic look like?

(My photo is password-protected; I've found that cuts down on the number of indecent proposals I get.) I was intrigued but wary, especially after my encounter with the Very Young Guy, which was anything but positive.

I'm so pleased to hear that you like my neshama, but aren't you a little young for me?

He wasn't fazed.

Maybe, but maybe a younger guy knows how to treat a lady better and keep her happy always.

Can't argue with that. So we emailed back and forth a little more, then started IMing, and finally spoke on the phone. The Knight seemed sweet, smart, and stable, but he was always busy. He could never make plans to go out, but would ask to get together with me spontaneously. "How about I come over to your apartment tonight and make you dinner?" was one example.

My spider-sense began to tingle. If the Knight didn't take me on an official date, I was certain that the odds of him looking for tachlis were very slim. That's what happened with Scumbag, whom I also met on the same website.

I told the Knight it was much to soon to even consider letting him into my apartment, and I didn't think we should IM or speak on the phone much more until we actually met in person. That was a risky move, because I didn't know if he'd find my attitude too off-putting and give up on me, but I figured I had little to lose. If he was put off, he wasn't respectful or strong enough to be my man.

And it worked. Today we met for brunch. He just moved to NYC in February and is doing a lot of substitute teaching and tutoring while he tries to find a job in his field. He had the day free, just needed to go to the bookstore for a book for one of his students. So he came in from the outer boroughs to have bagels with me.

I was nervous. He kept calling me "beautiful" in IMs, but pictures are pictures and real life is something else entirely. But I'm pretty sure he wasn't disappointed, because he kept giving me these intense looks. The Arabian Knight has big, dark, soulful bedroom eyes that he loves to use to dramatic effect. I knew that if I leaned in, he'd kiss me -- so I didn't. I didn't need to -- knowing he wanted to kiss me was enough.

The Knight told me that he's been shomer negia since moving to the city, and I said I thought that was a good thing. And I meant it. Every relationship I've ever been in has been confounded by excessive or premature physical contact. I thought it might be a nice change of pace to take the physical completely off the table and develop an uncorrupted emotional connection. It's a little like George on "Seinfeld" deciding to do the opposite of everything he'd normally do, and ending up with a great job and a hot girl. My previous dating patterns have not worked, so I'm trying the opposite: no physical contact until we really know each other well.

Somewhat inconsistently, the Knight has offered me a number of hugs, when I said I was sad, or backrubs, when I said I was stressed out and very tense. Over IM, so there's little danger of me taking him up on his offers; but when my internship was falling in pieces around me, he tried to be supportive and said that if he were there, he'd give me a big hug. He also said he wasn't shomer negia back home, although he is a virgin, which made me feel a little strange, since I am not. That doesn't seem to bother him, though.

It's almost been fun, working harder than he to maintain proper boundaries and delay physical affection. Usually I want to meld into the guy almost as soon as we meet, and that's probably part of the reason why I'm still single. I kind of like this holding back and not rushing in, taking my time to feel comfortable with him and get to know him.

After brunch we went to the bookstore, then sat in Riverside Park and talked, watching the water ripple in the fresh spring breeze. I became intensely thirsty (I've noticed a dramatic change in my thirst since upping the lithium dosage), so we got some juice and I walked him to the subway. He stared at me intensely as we said goodbye, and I knew he wanted to kiss me.

And that was enough. I didn't need to kiss him. I wished him a good Shabbos and said I hoped I'd see him again soon. After I got home, he IMed me again and called me "beautiful." I was glad to know he still thought so after meeting me.

I've also got a date next week with a 40-year-old accountant. He was very funny in email, not so funny on the phone. I'll have to see how he does in person.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. I'd offer a word of caution about this situation. I don't know the guy, but I have heard things about Sepharadi and Middle Eastern guys too often. They can be very smooth, very slick, and after they achieve their objective, they change. Chicago Girl's (whom I dated) ex was Tunisian; nasty and manipulative. I have heard other stories as well. Not saying that that's what is likely to happen here-- he could just be a nice, very intense guy-- but he seems to already be turning on that intensity and treating you as a challenge. You are wise to keep the physicality to a minimum. Don't capitulate to his advances until and unless you feel emotionally safe with him.

    And speaking of physicality, while I do think that, based on my own experience as well, it is better to defer physicality as much as possible until the relationship has gotten fully "off the ground", at the same time I wonder about the causal relationship between negiah and the viability of a relationship. On the one hand, I do believe that introducing physicality into a relationship may either accelerate (or delay) its deterioration, depending on the dynamics of the two people involved. Getting touchy/sexual too early may make one realize, as it did with me and one girl, that there was little else there; or, it can artificially keep things going because of the physical excitement.

    On the other hand, it is unrealistic to expect that in today's modern world, especially among older and divorced individuals ( who presumably have had relationship and life experiences), that physical involvement will not eventually occur. You can put it off for a while, but people are human. In my own current relationship there has been some physicality, but less (with certain specific omissions) than in other situations. But-- will that make things any less painful should the relatonship end? I have had relationships with more physicality end less painfully (almost painlessly) than those where there was less physicality. Perhaps you can devise a sociological study or survey of some kind.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think that in today's relationships (outside the Yeshivish ones where dating through marriage takes three month tops) physicality is bound to happen to some degree. And while I think it is wise to delay it as much as possible, so as to broaden and solidify the other aspects of the relatioship first, I don't think getting physical really affects IF a relationship is going to end, but rather WHEN it will end.

    [end long-winded post!]

  2. Old High School Buddy5/17/2007 7:21 PM

    I'll ditto Nice Jewish Guys warning about middle eastern men. Not just from my own experience, but that of many women I have met who are divorced. It means you are starting off with fundamentally different gender roles in mind. Tread carefully, emotionally as well as physically.