A mother's patience is like a tube of toothpaste---it's never quite gone.

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Jitters? Pay Attention!

Dr. Karin Anderson

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I met my ex-fiancé at a dance club on my thirtieth birthday. Turning thirty can be somewhat traumatic for single women. I tried to keep it in perspective, but hitting that milestone altered my outlook on relationships. Most of my friends were married by then and there I was, facing my thirtieth birthday without a man in sight. I figured I'd better change my approach because obviously whatever I'd been doing hadn't worked so far.

So, when I met Dave I thought, Nice guy. Not really my type, but hey, let's give it a go. I mean, you aren't getting any younger...

And he seemed extremely nice, though certainly not the sort of guy I was usually drawn to. He wasn't the soccer player, surfer, hippie-type I'd normally be checking out from across the room. So when he started chatting me up, my initial response was indifference. Then I reminded myself, Karin, you're trying to switch gears. You're thirty and single. It's time for a new game plan. At that moment, I decided to go with it. For the thirty-something decade, I'd give the "nice guy" a chance. I'd forget about those pretty-boys and the too-good-looking-for-their-own-good types. It was time to let a sweet guy with a kind personality have a crack at it. Besides, I consoled myself, in a couple months, I'll probably fall madly in love with him and think he's a total hottie.

So we started dating and had a ball. It was an easy, comfortable, and entertaining relationship. We got along well, had similar interests, and never fought. We went to museums, offbeat restaurants, and comedy clubs. Dave was a bright, informed guy who was well versed in a lot of areas, but didn't come off as a "know-it-all." And it sure felt good to have a boyfriend again after having been single for so long. He showered me with attention, sent flowers, and bought thoughtful gifts. Always the romantic, Dave would even make up excuses to spoil me. One July he bought me a sapphire ring as a "summer present" since my birthday fell in the winter. Another time he flew me to London to see him when his company sent him abroad for a few months. On my way out of town for a road trip with Holly one spring, I found a teddy bear in the back seat to take care of me in the Grand Canyon.

I loved our uncomplicated rapport and companionship, and I basked in his overt adoration of me and our relationship. We were the best of friends. Everything was going great. Or was it?

From the very beginning of our dating relationship, I remember feeling strangely uncomfortable when people asked about Dave because at some level I recognized my responses fell flat. I'd hear myself and think, This doesn't feel right. Do I sound like a girl in love? It felt forced, as if in telling someone else about how great Dave was, I could convince myself, too. But I wasn't winning the argument. I simply couldn't muster up the gushy, starry-eyed feelings. Dave and I had plenty of platonic chemistry, but we lacked electricity and sparks.

Sure, the chemistry deficiency bugged me from time to time, but when such thoughts tried to surface, I'd push them out of my mind. I didn't want to rock the boat. Dave had so much going for him. We had so much going for us. We were this fantastic couple who complemented each other in so many ways. We were perfect for each other!

But the physical attraction and chemistry failed to materialize. I grew to love, admire, and respect Dave deeply, but I was never weak in the knees for him. I kept waiting for it to kick in, but it never did. Though this certainly troubled me, I couldn't justify letting him go for such trivial reasons. Dave had everything else I'd ever wanted in a guy! Was I really so shallow as to break up with him just because he didn't make my stomach flip and my heart skip a beat? After all, this was grown-up stuff. I wasn't in high school crushing on pop singers and movie stars anymore. What did I expect from a mature, adult relationship?

To reconcile this dissonance, I convinced myself in a hundred different ways the passion and in-love stuff were fleeting and phony -- mostly fodder for Harlequin® romance novels, fairytales, and Hollywood chick flicks. Everyone knows that after years and years of marriage, you're just friends anyway. Right?

For a while I went with that explanation -- that I was making a rational, sound choice. Dave was a wonderful, intelligent, grounded, and sincere man who would make a loyal husband and loving father. Who needs passion when you've got security?

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