I thought I had definitely scared him off for good back in October when I hadn’t heard from him after an enthusiastic first missive detailing my background (read all about that here) but he did contact me again and the pattern with Sebastien is one of a very slow burn, a platonic relationship where we talk about what’s going on in our lives in as much detail as possible within the few hours of a date at a restaurant or cafe every month or so.
Our date the other night was no different except that it had been two months since we last met up for a meal in Hampstead. Prior to that we’d gone to see that beautifully heartbreaking film Testament of Youth. We went for a meal after that in Belsize Park when S began telling me his story. His is a search for identity, reconciling the feminine and masculine sides of himself and seeking to change the old ways of inhabiting a relationship. Recognising that he had always sought to rescue the vulnerable, he told me that he began his dating by deliberately looking for a strong woman instead.
He thought he had found her in the form of Isabel who was also a therapist, working with teenagers. He wanted a relationship of equality and sought equality in every aspect of his life – at work, at home and during dates. He described their courtship as at times stormy with himself being enthralled to her as he could glimpse a vulnerability beneath the strength. But then there had been an incident – I’m not sure what actually happened but S told me that he sensed Isabel was trying to engage him in a play for power – which he refused to participate because he still wanted a relationship of equality and felt uncomfortable and disappointed that she was putting him under pressure.
When I saw him the previous night he said he was relieved that the relationship had ended and he realised now that he had mistaken her brutality for strength. I tried to get him to tell me more but he would only say that he felt he was being drawn back into the same power play which had always featured in his previous relationships and that was because he always seemed to be attracted to women who had a needy and dependent side to them. His immature self would crave the attention and drama they brought and mourned the loss which inevitably followed when they withdrew their favours. He said that when Isabel pulled away from him as a form of punishment because he refused to engage in her power play he realised how close he had been to dancing the same tune as before. Knowing how destructive it could have got he felt now that he had achieved a step towards self-recovery by ending the relationship.
I wonder if we are destined to repeat our mistakes because we are always attracted to the same type as we have always. S had deliberately set out to date strong women but ultimately been enticed by the complete opposite. Is it ever possible to change how and who we date?