I wrote a few days ago about how a woman I know contacted me about a girlfriend that I ought to call. I was very flattered she thought the two of us might hit it off.
When I inquired about this woman, who, for the rest of the article I’ll call Shirley Hemphill (from What’s Happening!!), because I used to watch that show and was always impressed with her jokes. Plus, her hair was amazing.
I told Elizabeth (the woman that was setting this up) that I was really not ready to date. I mentioned that while I’m still healing from the divorce, the idea of meeting somebody wonderful and developing a friendship first is definitely interesting to me.
However, I nearly killed it before it began.
Elizabeth had told me there were two things I ought to know about Shirley Hemphill. One is that she is forty-one years old. The second is that she has a five year-old daughter.
As soon as I heard that, the immature part of me came to the surface, and I immediately reacted with a strong negative judgment. Not a judgment against Shirley Hemphill, but against my willingness to know her. In my mind, even though I has said I only wanted friendship, the truth was these two qualities were weighed in my mind against a potential romantic relationship. And my immature mind said, “Nope!”
A woman at that age with a child seemed like a bad fit for me. I was thinking too far ahead, like, “Well, what if really hit it off as friends, and then we start having feelings, and develop a relationship? I can’t be in a relationship with a woman who has a child and is forty-one!” Now, mind you, I have never dated a woman of that age, nor one with a child. But still I had a strong feeling that it couldn’t work.
This is how crazy I am.
Luckily, I’m crazy but not stupid. I realized this was an old pattern of judgment based around my own preconceived ideas of what I think I’m going to like. I often find out I’m wrong.
So, I asked myself the tough questions which were, “So, what’s wrong with a woman who’s that age with a child? She’s not worth your friendship? And even if romance develops, so what?”
I had to admit that I was judging solely on preconception, and not on personal experience.
I worked through my judgments and processed those immature feelings. I was all set to talk with Shirley Hemphill, and excited about the prospect of making a new friend.
She called the first time when I was in Walgreen’s picking up a prescription. She asked if I was sick, and I told her that I was trying a new medication to help with my ADD. I joked that these were my “crazy pills” and we had a nice chat. She asked more about me, and I told her that the night before I went to see my doctor. He said that I almost have a tiny little bit of autism/bipolar effect with certain things. I thought this was so interesting, because I know that I am clearly not bipolar or have autism.
But he thought this particular medicine (which is used to treat epilepsy – another thing I don’t have) will actually help fix the ADD without the use of stimulants (how doctors normally treat ADD).
I didn’t think anything of telling her this, one, because she asked, and two, because I think it’s sort of interesting. Plus, I know how to talk about these things and make them funny. We only chatted for ten minutes because I had band practice. She was laughing and seemed really interested in continuing the conversation.
She promised to call the next night, and she did. What was shocking was the first thing she said, literally after I said, “Hello!”
“Yeah, you know I’ve been thinking and this isn’t going to work.”
“What’s not going to work?”
“This. I don’t think this is a good fit for me.”
“What’s not a good fit for you?” (I was thoroughly confused)
“Well, for one, you have to understand that I’m in my forties, and you’re only thirty five. That’s a big difference. Two, you just got divorced, and I’ve been divorced for four years now. Three, I’m looking for a partner. I would like to have another child, and I have limited time biologically to do that.”
“See, I don’t think you’d be a good partner for me. You have autism and bipolar and depression and ADD.”
“Well, I actually don’t have…”
“And I wouldn’t want my next child to be born with those issues.”
“But… this is only our first conversation, and what if we just became friends?”
“Yeah, I guess we could, but if I don’t see a future there, I mean, what’s the point?”
I became extremely angry and saddened at the same time. Here I was, feeling rejected by a woman who didn’t even want to become friends with me. She also clearly did not want to date me because I might genetically pass on autism and bipolar disorder. Which, by the way, even though I don’t have, I didn’t see as a reason not to date someone.
Now, I’m probably being unfair. I don’t think Shirley Hemphill is crazy. She is just extremely focused on finding a partner, and in her mind, she doesn’t want to waste her time with a bozo who might screw up her next kid. I spent the next thirty minutes trying to convince her that maybe we could just start with a friendship and see what happened.
The rest of the conversation went fine, and I really have no idea if she’ll ever call again.
But what was most interesting is that this started out as a rejection from me – I had to process all these immature thoughts and feelings, and get to a place where I just saw her as a woman that I might want to get to know. And then she rejected me for the same sort of reasons. I didn’t fit on her checklist with what she was looking for, and therefore not worth her time.
Again, I’m not trying to poke fun at her or make her seem silly. She is most definitely not. But it did feel weird to get rejected by someone before I could even show them who I was as a person. It was a good lesson to remind me that when I have a strong judgment to ask myself, “Do I have any personal experience to back this up?”
Most of the time, the answer is, “No.”