What is that element that sets a romance in motion, that often undefinable sizzle that quickens the pulse, widens the eyes and slams a brand-new relationship into high gear? Is it looks? Power? Confidence? Sex appeal? Ingredient X?
Whatever it is, said Glen, a 32-year-old engineer from Anaheim, the women he meets seem to want it right now . If her knees haven't gotten weak by the time the entree arrives, writes Glen, it's a good bet she'll have crossed him off her A list by dessert.
"My only explanation," he wrote, "is that too many women are waiting to see if the man in question can set off 'fireworks' before lowering their guard enough to feel anything. . . . It's more the impatience I see on the part of many women that I have dated, that I need to sweep them off their feet and deliver them to 'happily ever after' by the third date or they're going to look for greener pastures."
The third date in some cases can almost be a luxury if the woman is in a hurry, Glen explained.
"Some people," he wrote, "will fall back on the 'four-minute rule': If you don't feel sparks within the first four minutes, it will never happen."
The last woman he dated, he said, "was a perfect example of this. We had three great dates, each six hours of varied activities, and had a fourth set up. Next thing I know, she's on the phone telling me that 'we really have a lot of common interests, and I really enjoy your company, but it's not there romantically for me' (though she still wanted to get together for our fourth outing). Maybe I was brought up with an alien value system, but what I'm looking for in a mate is someone who shares a lot of common interests, and whose company I enjoy."
It's as if many of the women he meets are impatient and from Missouri. They want to be shown and they want to be shown right away. Glen speculated in a telephone interview that the "four-minute rule," originally applied exclusively in job interviews, has found its way into the world of dating--"The One-Minute Manager" spawning "The Four-Minute Romance."
"I definitely don't subscribe to that point of view," Glen said. "I've seen too many instances when that wasn't the case." He referred to his letter, in which he wrote that "the second-best relationship I have had in my years of singlehood was with a lady who was not even my first choice for a date. I had the opportunity to talk to her several times (we met through a singles group) and get to know her well enough so that by the time she offered me a home-cooked meal (our second date), the fireworks were starting to go off. However, if it had not been for the opportunity to get to know each other a bit first, it would never have happened."
That woman, Glen said, actually was his "second choice" among the women in the singles group. He initially had his eye on "a woman who had immediately impressed me more."
"But the other woman, I'd see her at events and I'd sidle up and chat for a while and she responded a little by seeking me out at certain functions. I don't know who asked who out first, but it sort of started out real loosely. The first couple of times I saw her, I thought she was nice, but I was still thinking of the other person."
Time and encouragement from his "second choice" eventually convinced him that he had been wise to be patient.
There is even greater wisdom when that patience is applied in matters sexual, he said, although he added that he is often surprised to find that the women he dates aren't willing to exercise that patience to the same degree.
"Even before the AIDS crisis reached the current level of hysteria," he wrote, "I was scaling down my (sexual) activities. For me, giving totally of myself physically demands an equal commitment psychologically. I couldn't feel tremendously good about myself without feeling that I really knew the person I was with.
"However, I have used the (singles) classified ads at times, and even as late as last year I was meeting people who appeared to be out to rush me under the covers as quickly as possible."
The one time in the past two years that he did have sex, Glen said, he insisted on using a condom, "but she was resistant to the idea."
That perplexed him.
"That struck me as very strange, particularly with the AIDS scare," Glen said. I needed to know much more about (those women) and needed to know there was a possibility of the relationship going somewhere. For me to engage in the sex act is a very giving thing on my part. I don't want to ring up notches on the belt. I was never that way and I'm much less that way now. I want to know that the other person is going to be around for some time."
Consequently, he said, he is patient and mostly celibate while many women he has met apparently are not. Still, he added, he continues to occasionally meet women for whom patience is still a virtue.