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Courtship advice second time round.

(72 Posts)
DeanMartinx Tue 18-Dec-12 12:41:31

I am a Male seeking the female perspective.
I came here by a very circuitous route.

Originally, I posted on the Dating thread. There are some very nice people there, but tbh, that thread is focussed totally on the vagaries of On-Line Dating, and my story is only remotely connected to OD.

As briefly as I can:

I lost my wife three years ago, to too short an illness.
Up to early Summer this year, I operated basically as a automaton, keeping up the facade of normality.

My daughters are grown up, one married in the other side of the world, and the other, unmarried here. I am 59, nearly 60.

During the two and a half period, while I was in a fug, I had what was the equivalent of a wet, heavy, grey concrete block lodged in my chest acting as a block to my normal way of operating with the world. Inherited from my father, I am of a very lighthearted disposition and I am blessed with his ready wit. But the "concrete block" just blocked all that.

Bad golfer that I am, I had a flukey hole-in-one while on a trip with a bunch of mates in early Summer. They made the usual fuss, but they did not realise that my wife and I had a running joke for years about a hole-in-one. The whole thing just caught me, and right there on the green, I literally broke down. I convulsed to such an extent that they thought I was having some kind of stroke. Could not continue the round.

But that night, for the first time since my wife, I drank pint for pint with the best of them. The following morning, I woke a little seedy - but, the "concrete block" was gone. Kaput. Vanished.

Since then, I miss my wife every day, miss all the little things and most of all, the laughs - because that was our lingua franca. But, my wit and drollery are back, despite the hole in my life.

In September, I went on holiday to Italy. Day 2, I decided to go on a full-day excursion to a number of tourist sites. Completely fortuitously, I sat next to a lady, at whom I hardly even glanced. A few desultory words grew into an easy conversation, to the extent that neither of us noticed when we had arrived at out first stop, two hours later.

It transpired that the lady had lost her husband four years ago, after a very long illness.

She was travelling with her Daughter, Niece and Pal of the niece. They were all in the their late 20's and great fun and really nice. Widow (to give her that name) lived back on her own back in the UK and was, best guess, 6/7 years younger than me. We all clicked immediately and we had really great fun all day. Throughout the day, Widow and I had great conversations - everything very easy and natural. We swapped experiences about being bereaved etc., hugged and had a tear or two, but mostly it was laughs and banter all the way.

At some point, she asked if I had ever tried OD. She told me about some of the ways she was messed about in that jungle - frankly, I thought she had to be exaggerating. At the time, I had no awareness of the crassness of some of the people inhabiting the OD world.

On the way back, and as they were in a villa an hour up the coast from me, I suggested to her, that I would take them for Dinner the following evening and asked for her number. She demurred, saying something to the effect that she did not give out her number anymore. She said "lets not spoil it", pecked me on the cheek and said I was a "charming man" and wished me "a lovely life". I told her that "charming" to me denoted a bit of a chancer and when I pressed her a little, she said that if I was genuine, that I would find her.

Earlier that day, I had given my number to Daughter. Niece was having no luck in getting interviews to get into a particular sector in which she wanted to work. I happened to have senior contacts in that sector in U.S. and promised I would make some calls - but not to tell Niece until I come up with something concrete.

Overnight, I got the promise of an interview for Niece.

Next morning, armed with the knowledge that they had not yet "hit the shops" in the resort town near where they were staying - I set out ready to "stalk my prey". As it happened, Widow rang from her Daughter's phone. Daughter had berated her for the way we had parted the previous evening. Told her I had some good news for Niece and they all came and joined me.

We spent the next four days talking and laughing and generally taking the piss, interspersed with long conversations about my wife and about her husband. Even though, we hung around as a group, the younger lot used to take off and leave us to our own devices.

Conscious that I was monopolising her time with her Daughter and the others, I said I would get out of their hair and took off on a three day trek. I was out of phone reception for a while and when I got back to base, I found a text from Daughter saying that they had had a change of plan. A friend of her Dad's had arrived with his "boat" and that he taken them off to Elba (there is a family connection) - thanking me for everything and hoping we would all meet again, etc., etc..

It was only then that I realised that I had not got Widow's number - when she had called me on the second day, it was from her Daughter's phone. So I was back to square one.

I did not know whether to be just sad, aggrieved or perplexed. But,I was devastated.


I actually managed to get three interviews for Niece, from which she got two job offers. She was extremely grateful and emailed me with progress steps all the way. She is a smashing girl.

Daughter has emailed me four times with bright, breezy messages and is talking about a career change, bouncing ideas off me. I have a very easy relationship with her - and the correspondence has all the hallmarks of continuing into the future.

From the Widow - not a word.
I sometimes feel that she could easily get my contact information from her Daughter. They are very close.
While Widow is very vivacious and great fun, there is a reserve about her.

After two months of failing to get her out of my mind, I called Daughter ostensibly to speak to her about her career plans. Mentioned that I had no number for her Mom. Daughter said it may not be a good idea if she gave me the number, but that she had a load of photographs from the holiday which she would circulate and that way, by default,I would get her Mom's email address.

By probing obliquely, I discovered that the guy with the "boat" was a co-executor of her Dad's will and that her Mom (who is not business-oriented) was a bit dependent on him. Despite being sick for many years, her Dad had remained a major shareholder in his business and that the business had been sold around the time her Dad had died. Together with some other companies, the company was being sued in relation to some contract and the sale proceeds had been frozen by the Court, pending the outcome of the case. In the meantime, Widow is reliant on this guy making claims for ongoing release of monies from the Court.

(Independently, I have since found out that this guy is a bit of a Flash Harry and is not, at all, the man of substance the Daughter described to me. He is divorced and unattached and when I asked Daughter if he and her Mom were a bit of an item, she no, but that "he used her" as a partner for some functions and stuff.)

The photographs were circulated to us. Daughter was cute and used the header "Guess who does all the talking in our family?". All the photographs were of Widow (talking) and a big number of them feature just the two of us. There was a bit of ribbing by the girls about me - Widow joined in the banter but never referenced me in any way.

Daughter had told me two things: "Mom is the straightest person I know - maybe too straight" - and - "Mom still carries a big torch for Dad".

So I emailed Widow. Very lighthearted in tone, I gave her an update on lots of stuff we had spoken about. Had been given advice in RL, to get the message across that I was not going to be hassling her - and to that end, I rather exaggerated how much time I was going to be away for over the next few months. I put in three "hooks" which should give her the opportunity to reply in a non-agenda kind of way. No kisses, no hugs, no flirty comments, no over-familiarity and no smileys. But, I felt the tone was nice and warm and easy.

That was six days ago.
No reponse.
Am I completely wasting my time?
I know she would not want to lead me on - but, I am very deflated in the sense that I thought her innate good manners and courteousness would have ensured a reply of some sort.

I know this is a total contradiction in terms - but, this is where I miss my wife the most. That is why I am looking for the female perspective.

I would be grateful for any insights. Instinct tells me that I have messed up somewhere. I might be the classic "no fool like an old fool" - but, I am no teenager either, and I can recognise when there is genuine rapport and spark as there was in this case. Maybe I am fooling myself!!!!!!!.

DeanMartinx Wed 19-Dec-12 14:39:21

Cogito - not that it matters now, but I am sorry that I used that phrase in my post, because it only acted as a diversion from the rest of the post. I can only assure you that there isn't a tincture of you are implying in my makeup.

Again, not that it matters -but I did not engage in the "ribbing and banter". And she did join in on the email banter about the photos, in a light way,although she could easily have blocked me out. My contribution was "I'm glad to see you are all as noisy as ever".

And, to use your term, I did not hit on her. She initiated the original chat which grew into a lovely conversation. But when we arrived at our first stop, I told her I really enjoyed our conversation and went about my business. It was later she sought me out and introduced her family. It was only at the end of the day, when I suddenly realised that we were not all going to be getting off together, that I said "Jeepers, I'm going to lose touch with these people". I wasn't actively planning all day to get her number - I am very comfortable talking to women without any ulterior motive. The attraction from my side only came to fore as the day moved on.

Anyway, I don't think it matters now.

DeanMartinx Wed 19-Dec-12 15:08:16

OhLittleTownWW - you might be right about the Christmas thing. She spoke about a particular Christmas which was very hard for all of them. That is probably very much in her mind at this stage.

Somehow, I managed to stave off thoughts of Christmas until yesterday evening when I suddenly realised it was on top of me. My wife would have invented Christmas if it hadn't existed - and now I am finding triggers everywhere all of a sudden. I got my tree this morning - and it just evoked so many memories. So I am just going to concentrate on immediate stuff.

Tamoo - I meant to say that all identifying details are well and truly changed.

minmooch - thanks for your post. We did have a lovely time and, despite everything, I am glad that I met her and them. Everything was nice about them and I don't feel in any way entitled. Nearly everything in my life has been great and it would have been a bit much to expect, that after being so steeped with the soul mate I had, that as soon as I recovered from my bereavement that I would walk on a coach and sit down next to another potential soul mate.

LessMissAbs - I presume your first point is a joke?

On your second point, she may not have fancied me, but I doubt if she found me overbearing. Her daughter said "I don't think I've heard Mom laugh like that since I was fifteen".

Your third point: I don't really think so - in fact, I would be very clear on that.

Your fourth point: May well be right. I thought I was going to have plenty more days for both of us to get to know each other - when suddenly, our time was cut short.

Anyway, thanks for taking the trouble to respond.

imtheonlyone Wed 19-Dec-12 16:37:11

Op - sorry you feel like you've had a rough time here - personally I think you sound really nice and genuine - MN can be a harsh place sometimes and people take what you write in different ways.
I think perhaps she's decided she's not ready to take the friendship any further. It's true, people can act differently when on holiday ....
I would definitely leave it for now and see what happens. But I don't see the need to stop the contact with daughter and niece if they continue to contact you.
Also, my mum is widowed and has been alone for far too long ..... Where are you cos I could give you her number winkwink

DeanMartinx Thu 20-Dec-12 12:03:04

imtheonlyone - thanks for your kind words.

I was quite taken aback by the interpretation of some people.
What really annoyed me was the insinuation that there was something untoward about helping her niece.

Many years ago, when I had made a complete horlicks of a young business I had started, and had run out of miracles, desperation led me to the door of a very powerful businessman, who I only knew through some mutual acquaintances. He had nothing to gain. Having listened to my plight, he said "You are too good to go down" and immediately gave me sufficient funds to survive for the next few weeks. He sent in one of his people to organise a proper Banking facility for us, using his clout.

He gave me the funds without even a receipt and no mention of interest or any other conditions attaching to it. A year later, I went back to him to repay the sum and asked him how I could reward his generosity. He said his reward was seeing that we survived, he said he had written the money off, he said "that money has done it's job - now pass it on".

It was a fabulous lesson. Many times since, I have been assisted where there was never a question of gain or reward. And when the occasion arises, I try to remember to "pass it on".

And that is exactly what happened in this case. I knew from my first conversation with my Widow friend that life had dealt her niece with a really hard set of cards. As the day progressed, I got to know her as a most impressive young lady. And when I found that I, happily, had the means to help her, it would have been unforgivable not to give the helping hand required. To avoid giving her false hope, I quietly gave the daughter, my number to follow up with me later.

And there is nothing unique about any of this. A lot of business people, when they reach a certain stage, where most of their battles have been fought are very pleased to just give a helping hand, when the occasion arises.

And you are right about people acting differently when on holiday. Just a bit surprised at the friendship level - whatever about anything else. There is certainly nothing else I can do about it now. Thanks again.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Thu 20-Dec-12 12:07:59

Understand what you're saying about giving people a helping hand in business but you do appreciate that some people will try to ingratiate themselves with a potential partner by cultivating popularity with their children? And that, if you happen to be that potential partner, that can set up a sense of obligation that isn't always very comfortable?

DeanMartinx Thu 20-Dec-12 14:37:30

Fair enough - but I think you are still being very heavy on me.

It was a very long day. It was not until we were actually on our way back that I suddenly realised I didn't want to lose contact with my widow friend.

At lunch time, Widow and the other girl decided to go off shopping and Daughter and Niece sat around and had some lunch. The conversation was about careers etc.. Niece had had a series of rejections just before coming on holiday. I knew immediately that my contacts (who are actually really good friends, not just contacts) might be able to help. If I could tell you this girl's particular set of difficulties, you would understand immediately. I told only the daughter and to keep it to herself, in case there was no joy.
I didn't think that there would be any feedback for maybe a week or so.

As far as I was concerned, there was absolutely no link between this and my later growing attraction to the widow.

I would be very disappointed if somebody felt that I would ingratiate myself in such a way. Widow is an intelligent lady, very straight with absolute integrity about herself. She would not have spent the next few days enjoying my company and sharing quite a lot of her inner self with me, if there was the slightest hint of the ingratiate about me. She would spot me a mile off - seriously. Whatever happened, it certainly was not that.

The concept of "pass it on" is based on there being no gain or advantage accruing to the passer. What you are suggesting is not only the opposite - but something quite slimy.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Thu 20-Dec-12 14:50:44

So you're not even going to entertain the idea that the widow may have felt even slightly obliged to keep seeing you after you'd done something nice for the niece? I'm sure there was no link in your mind but can't you even accept that she may have been thinking that she couldn't just drop you like a hot potato in case you changed your mind about the job thing?

DeanMartinx Thu 20-Dec-12 16:29:47

Ah now!!!!!

Now you are impugning the lady's integrity - and that's not allowed, at all.

I do know the point you are making - but, seriously, I don't think it applies here.

We would have spoken lightly about it in a philosophical kind of way - the good karma kind of thing that threw the niece a lifeline. I was merely an agent - and there was never a sense of what a great guy are you.

People with strong integrity and good personal esteem are able to accept the good stuff as well as the bad - and would never debase themselves by acting in a two faced way.

In fact, she would have been more than two-faced (triple-faced??) if she operated like that - not only debasing herself, but would have to have considered me a jerk who would (might) change my mind about helping the niece. Because, it would have taken a jerk to do that.

And, if that was the case, I should be thanking my stars to have had such a lucky escape.

I know I messed up in some way (or, maybe it is something other than me), but I haven't lost my marbles completely. I'm not trying to win an argument here, but I seriously don't think this was the reason.

Thanks anyway.

dontyouwantmebaby Thu 20-Dec-12 16:46:12

No matter how sincere you are in your intentions towards this woman (including helping her niece with career contacts and so on), I think you should forget about her and her family for that matter, and move on.

Of course, its easier said than done - especially when you think you have met the first person you 'click' with after a previous marriage/relationship.

If a woman wanted you to be romantically interested in her, you'd know about it without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn't sound like she wants this with you otherwise it would have happened by now and she would have reciprocated early on by giving your her number/email address and so on.

dontyouwantmebaby Thu 20-Dec-12 16:48:22

oh dear, last para doesn't read well I meant if a woman appreciates your romantic interest in her - she'd let you know. There'd be no doubt.

Not being drawn into subsequent correspondence/emails/photos discussion and not providing a number means a polite no thank you.

mammadiggingdeep Thu 20-Dec-12 17:40:53

For what it's worth, I think the op has had a bit of a harsh response from some of you. He may have been overly keen on a woman who didn't feel the same way but being described as 'creepy' etc is really unhelpful. Crikey- surely we've all been smitten with somebody who isn't interested before....and maybe it's taken us a while to realise/accept it.

Op- I think it's prob the case that she enjoyed her time with you bit isn't interested in a relationship with you. It could be that she doesn't like you in a romantic way or perhaps she doesn't want/need a relationship at this moment in time.

Good luck in the future

LessMissAbs Thu 20-Dec-12 18:41:34

No, my first point was not meant as a joke (that the woman in question could have thought you were interested in her daughter and niece). While it may be abhorent to you, is is not unknown in general, and it is one possibility that she may think this. I think though it is telling that because you do not consider it a possibility, you do not consider it a possiblity that she might be thinking it.

At any rate, something has put her off you. She does not sound keen. You seem equally reluctant to accept that she could not possibly be interested in you, but there are many reasons why someone may not be interested in another. There may be one or more things putting her off you, which you are unaware of. You appear to think that because your character is so outstanding, she is in some way acting inexpliably in not encouraging your interest. It is really rather arrogant.

I would say that you appear to overly analytical and over-thinking, and it might come across as a rather annoying trait to her. The involvement with the niece, which, though you have reminded us several times, is extremely laudable on your part, may make her feel you have invited yourself into her life via this contact.

In general, I think you expect everyone to feel, think and behave in the same or similar manner as yourself, and lack empathy with individual's preferences and right to choose.

TheSecondComing Thu 20-Dec-12 18:45:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ClippedPhoenix Thu 20-Dec-12 18:46:39


imtheonlyone Thu 20-Dec-12 23:33:31

Omg - give the guy a break here - was he not merely asking for a woman's perspective? I do think some of you are being a tad harsh - men have feelings too you know!!
OP run away from MN - these women are too harsh and cynical for you - wish you all the best for your future.

janey1234 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:13:48

Agreed with you imtheonlyone in that OP is having a ridiculously hard time. Can he not do anything nice without people being overly cynical? Hate it if that's the world we live in.

minmooch Fri 21-Dec-12 07:09:50

I too think the OP has been given a very harsh time.

He was asking for advice, not a character assassination!

Op you sound very nice to me. I love the idea of 'paying it forward' and wish there were more people like that about. I wish you luck in meeting good friends who appreciate you for who you are.

DeanMartinx Fri 21-Dec-12 12:24:29

LessMissAbs - I'm sorry if you thought I was being dismissive of your first point. I genuinely thought you just threw it in as a joke. As for the lady thinking that way, I just can't see it. She is a strong, intelligent woman who has come through the life-defining experience of her husband's long illness. I don't think she wouldn't tolerate any such behaviour from me for a minute (and rightly so).

I must have explained myself very badly. Not for a moment would I expect anybody to be attracted to me, nor for a moment would I feel in any the ways you have suggested.

And I don't know from where you get the concept of I trying to present myself as some kind of "perfect character" - far from that, I have had to spell out things like having natural respect for women, refute insinuations about my relationship with the niece etc., and having to spell out now that I utterly respect the decision of any woman to make up her mind in whatever way she chooses. Bloody Hell!!!!!! - far from having to spell these things out, I would regard them as a given.

I can understand you saying that I may be overly analytical and over-thinking. That is just here on paper. I think I have made a mistake by trying to respond to every contributor - it appears as if I am like a dog with a bone. I am only trying to be courteous to people who have gone to the trouble to respond.

Some very nice people back along have made suggestions - mostly about moving on, and I have agreed with them. I think it is in responding to everybody that I have increased the impression of the dog with a bone.

Anyway, thanks for responding.

DeanMartinx Fri 21-Dec-12 12:44:02


Thank you all for your responses.
Collectively, your message is to move on - which is what I am doing.
I have absolutely no difficulty in accepting my Widow friend not wishing to continue the friendship - there was just something very odd in the way it happened.
And the oddness was compounded by the younger lot continuing to correspond.

I'm going to be scared the next time I find myself sitting next to a lady on a coach or a plane. (That's a joke - feel I need to explain everything around here).

Anyway, many thanks for taking time to respond.

janey1234 Fri 21-Dec-12 12:53:37

No worries smile

FWIW I hope I'm wrong and that she replies in the new year and you both live happily ever after... I just think move on as I think it's relatively unlikely, and I'm sure there's another wonderful person waiting to meet you somewhere around the corner....

dontyouwantmebaby Fri 21-Dec-12 13:10:15

agree with janey, there's another wonderful person waiting to meet you around the corner...very best of luck for the future OP, you sound like a very decent person.

(also think that comments look harsher online rather than if they'd been said IRL, am sure that the mumsnetters who took time to reply did with the kindest of intentions to help the OP make the best choice)

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 21-Dec-12 15:51:14

If you're really not sure, why not be bold and send her one last very direct email about your good intentions. If she doesn't respond you will DEFINITELY have your answer and you can then walk away.

(FWIW - It just beggars belief how some people on here can be so rude and insensitive - seems they just can't resist kicking a dog when it's down).

I hope all goes well for you and that you find some very lucky lady very soon :-)) x

antonym Fri 21-Dec-12 16:37:08

Mmmm it's rare in this depressingly cynical age to come across such a shining example of self-certified, unselfish selflessness.

I liked the box room gag though.

DeanMartinx Sun 30-Dec-12 12:27:55

Out of the blue, on Friday, I got a response to my email from my widow friend. It caught me completely off guard and it took me a while to process my thoughts.

Basically, it said that she had only just found my email, really sorry etc. that she hadn't found it earlier. It is like a holding memo and I think she is saying that she will be writing later.

Christmas had been a bit more of a roller coaster than we had expected. My daughter and myself decided to have Christmas in our house for the first time since her Mom had passed away. We wanted to return Christmas hospitality of the last few years and we invited four of my in-laws to stay and two more for Christmas Dinner. Our plan was to fill the space with people and talk. But what we did not bargain for was for my daughter's boyfriend of over two years standing to do a runner on the Friday before Christmas. She never saw it coming and was devastated. It was not so much the split itself, or the awful timing but the sheer crudity with which he did it. I was never a fan, but even I was astounded by the cold blooded manner in which he acted.

She wanted privacy on the matter and she did not share it with her pals or with our guests over Christmas. Only for my other daughter, who is on the other side of the world, I may not have heard it either. In any event, it was a huge relief when our guests departed on Thursday morning, because both my daughter and myself were exhausted.

By now, my daughter had reached the stage of berating herself for her lack of judgement in investing so much of herself in her ex-boyfriend. In a vague hope of ameliorating her hurt I gave her an abridged version of how I met my widow friend. I presented it in bitter enough terms that just basic good manners would have sufficed. I just wanted her to feel that she was not the only person to make faulty judgement calls.

So when the email plopped into my Inbox the next day, I nearly regarded it as an intrusion. Because of the way my daughter was hurting over the Christmas, my wife's absence was more palpable than ever - and a sense of maintaining solidarity with my daughter prevented any feeling of elation in hearing from my friend. As my daughter's friends began to hear her news, they began to congregate and "rescue" her - and I faded into the background. As things began to return to normal, I began to feel very good about the email.

It is short and breezy. It is not immediately clear why she only found my email now - she refers to "this address", which maybe suggests that it is some kind of secondary address. Says she was looking for a recipe which her sister was supposed to have sent to her - says I "could have been there until next Easter". Goes on to say why she is rushing about and finishes "When I get rid of all that stuff, I must sit down and read all your news properly. I have some bits and pieces going on as well but they wont be as entertaining as yours. You still have the gift of the gab. Really have to fly. W".

Now that my head is cleared, I am really delighted to have heard from her. I am assuming from her last bit, that she plans to write later and I will just wait to see if she will follow through.

MsArsebiscuit Sun 30-Dec-12 12:44:12

I first read your posts on the dating thread, Dean, I just want to say that I'm pleased that the Widow has replied to you, you sound like a courteous, old-school gentleman and I wish you a new year full of happiness and even more pleasant surprises.

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