You meet in a city where neither of you lives, at a convention or a wedding. The calls and e-mails are making the phone lines sweat; two months later he's begging you to visit. You tell the woman next to you on the plane that after years of searching you think you've met The One, and the two of you giggle with anticipation all the way to baggage claim. Thirty minutes later, when the carousel stops going around, she looks at you with deep pity and asks if she can give you a ride somewhere. That's the moment to go straight back to the ticket counter.
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At first, he'll get a little short with a waiter who flirts with you. Then he'll be exasperated by how long you and the postmaster discuss the rising price of stamps. When he points out that you and your brother hug too long to be appropriate, or that your gynecologist is a lesbian and obviously has the hots for you, it's time to give him his walking papers. However flattering his jealousies may seem in the first five minutes of your relationship, they'll get old and confining more quickly than you can imagine, and when you do finally break up with him, he will hang the scarves you left behind on your trees like nooses and follow you and the next man you date all over town.
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This is the man who sits you down, grabs your arm, pulls your hair, or pokes your chest. While most of us know better than to let ourselves get socked in the mouth the way Ralph Kramden was always threatening to do to Alice (but even then never following through), there's a whole universe of more "minor" infractions in the violence department that should disqualify your new beau instantaneously (but all too often does not).
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For the first time since you've been dating, he's too sick to make a date. You try to ignore the fact that it happens to be your birthday, and you assemble the ingredients for your famous chicken soup. You drop it off inside his door. Two days later, he's still sick, but you've been invited over. You ask if you can heat up some soup for him, and he says, in a small, congested voice, "That would be wonderful." You pour the soup from the Tupperware into the pot, and you see that there are mushrooms in it. Your famous chicken soup doesn't contain mushrooms. Conclude that this man has another source of soup and will continue to cheat on you for as long as you give him the chance.
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The "Liberated" Man
I used to have a friend who said, "I seem to have a very liberating effect on whatever man I'm dating. We go on three dates, and the next thing I know he's moved in with me, he's quit his job, and his car is up on blocks in my yard." Certain men are more prone to this type of liberation than others, I have found: Carpenters, river guides, and flamenco guitarists all fall into the category of men who are perfectly willing to hand themselves over to the care of a good woman, as well as visual artists, stage performers, and racers (ski, bike, boat) of all kinds.
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I seem to have dated an inordinate number of men who have just been left by a woman for a woman. In general, these men are angry beyond all reason, no matter to what lengths they may go to disguise it, and if you date one, be ready to give up all your girlfriends, or you will be accused of being a lesbian, too.
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