This blog is an excerpt from the book Business Networking and Sex (not what you think), the book I co-authored with Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker. Enjoy!
Bill asks Candace out on a date. They have a great time. They then start to date regularly.
Six months later, while driving home from their dinner date Candace says, “Do you realize that tonight is our sixth-month anniversary?” For a few seconds, there is silence in the car and to Candace it seems like deafening silence. She thinks to herself, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.
Meanwhile, Bill is thinking, Hmmm, six months.
Candace is percolating away in her head with, But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily forward. Where are we going with this thing, anyway? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Children? An entire lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
At this point Bill is thinking, So that means it was . . . let’s see . . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I’m way overdue for an oil change!
Candace is now at the point where she’s thinking, He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment. Maybe he’s sensed it, even before I did, that I had some reservations. Yes, I’ll bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.
Bill is thinking, Yeah, and I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
Candace is thinking, He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.
Bill is thinking, They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scum.
Candace is thinking, Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, truly do care about, and who seems to truly care about me. And now this person is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.
Bill is thinking, Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and…
“Bill.” Candace says aloud.
“What?” answers Bill, startled.
“Please don’t torture yourself like this.” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears, “Maybe I should never have. . . Oh, I feel so. . .”
She breaks down, sobbing.
“What?” Bill asks, wondering what just happened.
“I’m such a fool.” Candace sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”
“There’s no horse?” says Bill and wonders, What horse?
“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Candace asks in self-blaming tone.
“No!” says Bill, thinking, Why should I?
“It’s just that . . . it’s that I . . . I need some time.” Candace says.
Dead silence again. Bill is trying to find what the right answer is here. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.
“Yes,” he says.
Candace feels so touched that she puts her hand on his.
“Oh, Bill, do you really feel that way?” she says.
“What way?” says Bill, thinking, What are we talking about?
“That way about time?” asks Candace.
“Oh.” says Bill. “Yes. Of course.”
Candace turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.
“Thank you, Bill.” she says, lovingly.
“Thank you.” says Bill, thinking, Whew. Got that one right.
Then he drops her off at her house where she lies and weeps on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, whereas Bill back at his place opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he’s never heard of.
A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he’s pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.
Candace calls her closest friend and they talk about this situation for two hours. They analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it many times, considering every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, and any possible ramifications. They’ll continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe even months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, Bill, as he plays plays racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Candace’s stops before shooting a basket and says, “Steve, did Candace ever own a horse?”
Does this story have just a little ring of truth to it? It seems that often men and women communicate differently and define relationships differently.
Do you agree or disagree? I’d love for you to share an example in the comments section of a situation which has formed your opinion about the ways in which each gender communicates and defines relationships.