While eating dinner with a single male friend of mine, I was reminded again how important timing is in relationships. There's no way around it. We either manage the situation or the situation manages us. After we both pitched in the obligatory small talk, the conversation turned to the inevitable subject of dating and his recent experiences.

Earlier that day on the phone, he had spoken in vague disgruntled outbursts like "I cannot believe it.” and “I should have known!” After I asked “Believe what? Known what?” he was silent a moment, then he said, “Denise.”

“The woman you’ve been seeing? The one you like?”
“Yes. Was seeing. Liked.”
“The ad girl with the…”
“So what happened? What did you do?”
“Maybe you can tell me. Let me buy you dinner.”

We sat outside. It was a clear, cool October evening. Everything looked good, except for the grey cloud of disappointment sitting in front of me. It didn’t take long for him to open up.

“Well…everything was great and then…” He trailed off.
“Then? ” He put down his fork and looked right at me.
“…and I swear to God, I don’t know how it happened so fast. It wasn’t me. I was just tooling along, enjoying myself, thinking ‘Hey, maybe this could be good.’ And then suddenly she had to turn into all the others.”
“Okay. All the others. Be more specific.”
“You know! Once they get their talons into you, they start taking over. Immediately! God, I’m so disappointed.”
I shook my head. I felt for him. But I wanted more.
“So how did she start taking over?”
“She started talking like we were already an item. I thought we were sharing a good, realistic pace. But I blinked and she lapped me. Then the all the plans. Let’s go here. Let’s do this. It’s that integration thing.”
“Integration? She’s a different race?”
“No, Einstein. She started trying to integrate me, us, into her life. Too much too soon.”
“Sounds like she was just excited about you. You being too picky?” I always ask that just to make sure they’ve thought about it. He looked up at me and squinted.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s just you asking that question. It’s like George Bush asking someone if they’re being too Republican. You’re the pickiest woman I know.”
I had to laugh. He continued.
“Here I was looking for something, anything that would make me want a second date with a woman. Then I meet Denise and I’m thinking differently, like life might be a friend of mine.”

About that time, I got distracted.
“Gross!” I’m almost shouting. “I asked for unsweetened tea. Where is the freakin server? I don’t like sweet.”

“I know that. You’ve told me a hundred times.”
“Sorry. Let me take care of this. EXCUSE ME! This has sugar in it…”

The server returned and with many apologies set the drink down. I was thirsty and grabbed the straw.
“So, go on…oh, dammit, this is diet coke. All right, forget about it. Go on with your story.”
“So she wanted us to take a trip to visit her brother and his wife in South Carolina. Just don’t know how we went from getting to know each other to traveling together as a couple in six weeks. When I didn’t jump up and down for joy, she got her feelings hurt and then it was an hour of trying to dodge that bullet without hurting her feelings even more. After a while, it just wasn’t worth it anymore. And that’s when I lost the attraction. Just dropped out of me like the floor of the gallows, and I just hung there like a dead man.”

“Yeah, big mistake. The thought probably felt right to her.”
“Yeah, well, I can tell you what it felt like to me. It was déjà vu all over again.”
“Hey, let me ask you a question: How long have you been having sex with her?”
“I don’t know. A month.”
“Was it good? For her, I mean?”
“Yeah, she acted like it was. She acted like it was the best sex she ever had.”
“How about for you?”
“Sure, it was good. You know, any sex is good. But she was better than average.”
Immediately I understood. She had made the classic mistake of thinking he was feeling the same way she felt. Things were going well, she was having great sex and bonding like crazy so she naturally assumed he was feeling the same way. When she acted on those feelings and he didn’t respond, she was genuinely surprised.
At that point, he grumbled around about how stupid women are. I tried taking up for my gender and correcting his bad attitude, but the damage was done. And I was having a hard time giving it my best shot because I had to admit: It was kind of stupid.

So goes the sad story of another promising relationship cut short before its time. Here’s the moral: In the early stages of a relationship, no matter what you’re feeling, never assume the man is feeling the same way. Smart women know it takes men longer to bond. Smart women are willing to give men the time they need to become hopelessly addicted.

Author's Bio: 

Pamela Turley has been a freelance writer for fifteen years. In addition, she has owned a theater, created and produced a radio show performed in front of a live audience, and written scripts for the public service division of Atlanta’s PBS station.

But perhaps most important, for ten years she has done enthusiastic research on the mysterious and extraordinary world of men. She found she had a talent for it. Out of her experiences, and those of others, came this book.

Her other interests include nutrition, quantum physics, singing, anthropology, holistic medicine, education, mysticism, Mad Men and deviled eggs. She lives in Atlanta with her youngest daughter who recently became a teenaged novelist.