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Last night was date number three with Max. Last night was also the final date with Max. Poor Max. I feel kind of badly, but it was a copacetic conclusion.

Max is a really nice guy. He’s smart and he’s kind. He is easy to talk to and our conversations were free-flowing and un-labored, for the most part. Now for some negatives… Max doesn’t know how to flirt. Max also lives and works for a kibbutz. What does this mean? This means that although he is very idealistic, he lives commune-style with a group of other people. They share everything. Max has not seen a paycheck in many years, but he also hasn’t paid rent or utilities in many years as well.

Date one was nice and easy. Coffee. We met, we talked, we sat, we drank coffee. We talked about our families, making aliyah, Israel, work, his kibbutz, etc. All the usual topics. At the of end the date, I thought it had gone really well until the very end when he abruptly ordered the check, walked me to the corner, air-kissed me goodnight and left. He didn’t try to walk me home nor did he try to kiss me. “He’s just being a gentleman and not rushing you,” said my mom. “Maybe he really likes you and he’s freaked out about scaring you off,” said my sister. “Maybe he’s just not into me,” I said.

Then came date two. We met, on a different street corner (despite my insinuation that he should pick me up at my place), got pizza and went to the American bar for drinks. I paid for my own pizza. I paid for my own portion of the drink bill. Again the conversation was easy and flowing, although I noticed that the majority of the subject matter revolved around his kibbutz. Now as interesting as it is to me that someone who seems to be smart would voluntarily live that way, it’s not good or sexy or flirty dating conversation. The night went on and the flirting seemed to be at a minimal. No touching, no teasing, no witty remarks meant to make someone smile or blush. Weird. I even took note of the fact that he sat across from me at a square table rather than sitting to my right or left, closing the gap between us. Then, just as I was pro/conning being in the friend-zone in my head, his friend (who is a married woman) showed up…

Now, believe me when I tell you that I could write an entire blog-post here just about this woman I met… but, I won’t. But hear me when I say that she was a piece of work.

Back to Max. Why would he invite a friend on our date? It’s true that I am somewhat acquainted with this woman’s husband. It’s also true that maybe he thought they would both come and it would be a double date. Basically, though, who invites friends out on your second date with someone you barely know?? It just didn’t make sense to me. Even if he thought they were both coming, isn’t a second date a little too early for the double date scene? Anyway, when his friend showed up and monopolized his attention, I thought to myself “this is a sign that we are just meant to be friends. He must have invited this girl as an exit strategy.”

Sooner or later, the bar filled up with taglit-ers (very young Americans on their free trip to Israel), and we three promptly left the bar. After saying goodbye to his friend, Max walked me to the bus stop. At the bus stop, he stopped, looked at me and said, “Well, Joan, it’s been really fun getting to know you…” “Here it comes!” I thought. “This is the ‘I-don’t-think-it’s-gonna-work-out conversation I’ve been expecting all night…” “…And I think we should keep getting to know each other and see where it goes!”

What?! Curve-ball.

Caught off guard, and completely shocked that he felt this way, I defaulted to “Ummm..yeah. That sounds good..” and then, he kissed me. It was nice. It was sweet. There was nothing really fireworks-y or passionate or earth-shattering about it, but it was a sweet kiss. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while..” Max said with a grin. “Have you?” I thought to myself, “You sure have a funny way of showing it..” Some thoughts are better left in your head, so that’s where mine stayed that night. Soon, the bus came, I hopped on and left.

Then, the barrage of text messages followed in the next couple days. Granted, I had already decided that there were “no violins” to quote Ben, so the constant texting just silenced the would-be fiddlers in my head even more.

Date three was last night. We met on, you guessed it, yet another street corner. We walked, we talking about nothing, Eventually we landed at a coffee place near my apartment. Then, I broached the subject. I asked him where he saw us going and how quickly he saw us getting there. I warned him that I am typically your “one day at a time, play it by ear” sort of girl, but in this case I would like the next relationship I get into to be a serious one. I also told him that I wasn’t really feeling him, but that I think it’s because I’m fresh out of a situation that I didn’t realize was going to have such a residual sting. And that is the truth. I really didn’t see it coming.

So, I’ve decided to take a small break from the dating game. A hiatus to gather my thoughts, mourn the loss of whatever Ben and I had (that seemed so easy while we were doing it, but in retrospect must have been a complex balance of lover/friend to feel so easy yet leave such a hole in its absence), and space to breathe while I move forward.

Max understood. He told me that he wasn’t ready to put us in “the freezer” but we could “back-burner” it and stay in touch until I feel ready to start dating again. He’s a nice guy; he’s just not for me.