Author Topic: Heist on Something....  (Read 1685 times)

Hopalong

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Heist on Something....
« on: November 08, 2017, 02:22:33 AM »
Well now that I've been slinging relationship advice in all directions (like I actually know), ahem. I may be entering another situation where I learn even more about what I don't know.

There's a nice man I met when his daughter sent him my flyer and said, why don't you hire this person to help in your home office, Dad? He's a widower after a long marriage. Five years older. He's politically my opposite. But for some reason, there was a spark the first time we saw each other. He dragged out three transparently ineffective "job interviews" until he finally confessed he'd rather date me instead. (He found a nice lady--married, mother of two--a mile away whose schedule works better for filing assistance, and anyway...he wants to date me instead. Suited me, since his home office work is boring as HECK. And, he lives 30 minutes from me and I wouldn't have enjoyed doing that commute 2-3 days/week.)

Things are progressing. I'm feeling delight AND anxiety. I joked about getting a whiteboard so we can be sure to write down what we have in common because it's not much! He's tall, handsome and athletic. He's a well-off retired businessman, big house on golf course, football watcher, constant golf (ugh). All the stereotypical things I tell myself I couldn't be happy with. We did watch some football. Yup, still hate it. BUT...he's also intelligent, kind to me, very interested, and his wife was politically like myself. (I said, great, you've had practice!) So far, for the whiteboard we've got: dogs, food, some travel ideas, and a few TV shows we both enjoy. NOT much. My dog liked him a lot, though.

I dunno. Way too early to fantasize much, and I'm totally tiptoeing. I really do think we're so very very different it's an Opposites Attract thing. (I reminded him, you know, it's until six months later when the opposites drive you crazy...). Very hard to know whether my judgement's sound after two such drastically bad choices earlier in my life. I hope so. But I don't have full confidence.

Just thought I'd tell y'all. It's maybe a big thing or maybe a last hurrah before I go back in my little house and shut the door for good on those ideas. But if I can slow him down and we talk more (he's way less verbal and perhaps has done less introspecting) ... and we do continue to feel the spark and maybe more ... who the heck knows? We both laid cards on the table right off the bat. He has made clear that he wants a permanent relationship and I said I do too but for me, that's marriage and he said eek, and I said (as a joke because it was early-date talk) if that ever happens you get a prenup. But I meant it. The economic gulf is just too big and I would insist. First, I couldn't bear for any man (or any man's family) to think I'm after his wallet. Second, he's got grandchildren. (If someone I outlived had the resources to leave me a safer than I am now? Sure, I'd hope for that. Right now, I couldn't afford even a modest retirement home if I were too frail to be on my own.) But I have zero interest in big house, new car, fancy clothes, luxury for its own sake. Basic comfort and peace of mind, absolutely. But not luxury--not only do I not crave it but too much turns me off. Haven't downsized and frugalized all these years for nothing. I hate the $truggle but the simplicity side of it has meaning to me. Quite a lot. So that's the economic contrast.

He asked me (early, pre-attachment), why marriage for you? I said, because I want to love someone that much and I want to be loved that much. It's the ultimate commitment. And he responded well. Or, since he's taking me seriously and seems more eager, I guess he got it. (Or who knows.)

BTW, I really really really would not like living out there. It screams gated community isolation, and is a 30-minute drive from everything I love about where I live. So one day (NOT SOON) there would be a major compromise for somebody. And I'm not sure he'd be willing to make it. He's an engineer and very logical (just exactly the person who needs a poet?). And his own lifestyle (except for the lack of a woman) seems to please him fine. I can't visualize him living in a non-golfy-clubby kind of setting. And to be honest, I just loathe those kinds of developments. If we ever get to that level, it'll be a big challenge to find a compromise. (I can't sell my house, it's in trust for my D. But I could rent it out if we made a new home together.)

Anyhow, that's it so far. (House speculations are cart way way before horse...I need to stay present.) My poor T is going to earn his fee! I'm lucky you guys are here too.

love,
Hops

« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 02:41:35 AM by Hopalong »
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Twoapenny

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 03:41:04 AM »
Aw, Hops, this made me smile so much!  I'm so happy that this is happening, whatever and however it becomes :)

As I am getting older, I am realising that different views, opinions, lifestyle preferences don't matter; it's whether each person can respect the other person's views and choices, if discussion can be kept polite and detached, in a way (where things like politics are concerned).  Personally I would find it very difficult to live in someone else's pocket and forever be in agreement with them (would it ever occur?  It seems unlikely to me).  So the idea of two people, happy in their own lives, used to being on their own but enjoying each other's company, being able to acknowledge their differences but to enjoy the things they do have in common and to have a healthy respect - not feeling the need to belittle or demean, as is sometimes the case when people have differing views - oh my days, that sounds so good!

I don't think we can ever know whether or not someone is a good fit for us until the early rush has subsided a bit and some of the annoying habits have surfaced :)  What I do think is probably better in relationships as we get a bit older is that you don't have the demands of young children, a career to develop, elderly parents to take care of and that whole, who am I, what do I want thing.  You can just be yourselves and enjoy your time together.  I'm excited for you!  I think this sounds great :)  Does he know that, if things become more serious, he will be known online as Mr Hops? ;) xx

lighter

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 01:48:38 PM »
I'm smiling ear to ear for you, Hops.

I have little advice outside... just have a good time, and don't think too much. 

Pay attention to how you feel about this guy.  Honor your instincts, and stay busy with all other aspects of your life.  Don't let him take all your energy.  People are interested in people who have things going on besides them, IME.

Eat, drink, and enjoy the companionship, Hops.

Lighter


Hopalong

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 08:09:51 PM »
Tupp, thank you. You mentioned respect twice and that really is the secret I think. And just enjoying each other's company, not stressing over the earlier chapters. I like that advice! Respect is everything.

Lighter, you too, much thanks. Paying attention to how I feel and being sure to maintain independence. Both massive keys to sanity and a wiser life than I've led before when it came to relationships.

I may need these reminders -- and new ones -- again, and let me telegraph I welcome all advice plus reminders of what I'm ignoring! (Repetition's the only thing that stands a chance with this brain.)

Gratefully,
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2017, 09:32:54 AM »
Man, we're all so different, aren't we? (That's a really good thing IMO).

I couldn't ever in a million years start out the gate talking about marriage - except in general terms. Not at this stage of life. The complications of location are a big one - as you've pointed out. Life long bachelors at this stage of life aren't lonely or looking either. So you automatically know, there's "history" with you both.

I don't have a problem with committed relationships that don't involve marriage or even living together all the time. Such things do exist, depending on the people - and the degree of success/satisfaction vary to a great degree. Trust has to be pretty high in those kinds of arrangements, I would guess. I've lived with all my husbands before marriage... and some others where the relationship didn't progress to that point, for one reason or another.

Remember, I've pretty much been a relationship with someone since I was 16. I was just totally hard-wired for that. So the things I miss... are like folding his laundry, ironing his shirts, making a home for someone in conjunction with myself. There has always been someone to "look after". Mike was probably the best at returning the favor - and looking after me too. Once I learned I had to let him. LOL.

I think my only advice for you Hops - is to enjoy yourself, keep your eyes/ears open, and just see what develops. Don't try to make it fit any pre-determined patterns and stay realistic about what you WANT, what is, and whether there's mutuality of give & take... and just have FUN.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 10:47:36 PM »
Thanks, (((Amber))).

I don't have any judgement about living together. It's just that in my perilous old-age situation (if nothing in my life changes) I would be so out of luck if I moved in to a "permanent relationship" with none of the legal protection of marriage...and then the man (or his family) booted me at some point. Thanks, bye now!

I want that ultimate commitment or I'd live with anxiety. It's just the circumstances. I wouldn't want to risk spending my 70s and beyond with someone who didn't demonstrate that depth of reciprocity. I know how great the chances are of me becoming responsible for an older man who's unwell (this man's father, for example, developed Alzheimer's) -- but have to admit I don't have total faith that this sense of responsibility would be reciprocal. It probably would be, if I've chosen well (don't know this man well enough to know--just a hypothetical), but I've seen a lot of abandonment of the old. I HOPE my intuition and brain will gather enough info to assess risks wisely ... but I did that very poorly before.

The other reason is that at this point, I have literally no one else and minimal resources. No relatives to step up for me when I'm too old to step up for myself. So should I get into a committed relationship at this age, I want a marital commitment. It would mean I become family, and don't stay "the girlfriend." It's a way of expressing that I am equally important as the man and am worthy of this. (And it'd be my last chance to get it -- marriage -- right.)

All premature and all hypothetical. But that's how I'm seeing it, to whatever degree I might get to choose my future.

When this man and I talked about marriage it had a lot to do with our age, I think. We both know time is shorter than it used to be. I'm in my late sixties and he in his early seventies. I've had an ex die and he watched his wife die. Mortality is for real (as you know so painfully too) and I guess we were both on the same page about saying right up front, why are we dating. Why are we searching for someone. So we did.

For a woman only a couple notches above poverty, marriage does still offer some greater safety than I can provide myself on my own. I HATE that this is true, but after decades of unequal pay and banging my head on glass ceilings, and then taking on the career cost of elder care with no help from my brother, it just is my reality. If I were in your economic situation, with involved children, I might have no interest in remarrying. Perhaps a well-off man can "take it or leave it" but I have to be honest that for me, security would be part of that choice. Not "gold digging" security, just -- I am a spouse, and I matter. I want to be loved enough that he (He Whoever) would want to give me that feeling. Again, I'm not after a luxurious life. But I want to be loved wholeheartedly. And give Him Whoever the same. If a man suggested, oh I want you to live with me for the rest of my life (because I'm a loyal, affectionate, and very responsible companion) -- I'd feel, gee thanks. And what about the rest of mine?

Or...I'll just wind down my life in this scary path I've been on, however long I can walk it. (I've noticed already that the elder care I do for work is getting harder. My back hurts from heaving walkers in and out of the car and sometimes I wonder, can I do this until age 75? 80? My banker friend tells me she's concerned because my nest egg is so small, and in years to come, my social security won't be enough to keep me afloat if I need to hire any help at all.) A stinking Medicaid nursing home isn't the way I'd like life to end if I'm lucky enough to have another option.

So, for romantic AND self-protective reasons, if I go all in on a long-term relationship, I want a ring on it.  :shock:

Hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Twoapenny

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2017, 01:25:55 AM »
Hops, I hear you, and what you've said is refreshingly honest, not only in terms of how you feel about it but accepting the reality of ageing and the financial side of that very real situation.  We'd all like to think we can go on indefinitely and that if we do need help it will be freely available but it just isn't the way it goes, as you know from your own experiences of caring for others.  Although my situation is different, I know I would only be living with a guy again now if we were married.  Not from a moralistic point of view but because I feel now that if I'm going to make the big adjustment that co-habiting would mean to me then I want a big commitment from him as well.  So I completely understand where you are coming from on that, and you put it so eloquently, as always.

You and your chap will have some fun times, I am sure, and as things progress I know you will be constantly balancing your head with your heart and keeping in mind the (very many, and often painful) lessons you have learnt in life.  We are with you all the way!  And we want regular updates :) xx

sKePTiKal

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2017, 08:49:54 AM »
Thanks Hops. Your thoughts on this topic help me process mine. I get what you're saying and think it's very sensible. I'm also aware that my financial situation can change in a heartbeat, so many of my projects that I'm taking on are forward in time projections... what can I do NOW, that will help me be secure in the future kind of thing.

That side of the relationship equation is something I can think about - and know myself pretty well on - too. It's easier than the smooshy romantic stuff. That's where I flail about... LOL.
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Hopalong

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2017, 07:09:37 AM »
I'm finding the smooshy stuff a challenge too, but it's fun to be "back in the water", so to speak.

Small example: he's quite attractive and that is lovely. But he hugs too tightly. It's just how he hugs. I was startled at first because I thought he was in the grip of emotion, expressing intense feeling. But nope, it's just how he hugs. Picture a very large vise, clamp, etc. So my task is going to be (so silly to write this out but it took a lot of tension to mentally rehearse it) -- telling him this without hurting his feelings.

His moustache is closely trimmed but the hairs are like little redwood logs. Very scrapey.

I can live with the 'stache but I think the too-tight holding I gotta deal with. Almost gave me a "trapped" feeling. I just need to follow the rules I learned a long time back (just haven't had the occasion for a couple DECADES...eeek!). Like, always start with the underlying positive:
--I love being close to you. I feel safe and snuggly. There's something so comforting about your body.
(and then the thing I'd like to ask for)
--Could you hold me a little less tightly? When you pull me toward you so hard I instinctively pull back. It feels nicer for me when we both can move freely.

What I AM liking: He called me the other night just to say he'd been feeling lonely. It was real and I really liked it that he names it and shares it. I wrote him an email the other day to say how much it helped my cold because he'd written to ask if I felt better, that I'd gone back to sleep "with a smile on my face." He responded that me writing that made HIM smile.

Sounds small and silly, but that he can be even that expressive is a relief. We're talking about an engineer, ex Air Force, conservative guy. For his generation and personality type, he does seem in touch with some feelings. He also mentioned having been to a counselor, and also having participated in a bereavement group (in which he tried to help everybody).

We'll see. One date at a time...

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2017, 10:48:17 AM »
Have you had a chance to ask him not to squeeze so tight yet? I'm wondering how that went.

I ask, because I have known guys that would be a tad sensitive about the question at all - taking it as some sort of "performance critique". Yeah, it's kind of ego-based on their part. It's usually followed by an over-lengthy discussion about how they don't know their own strength, and a simple statement of my claustrophic (and very much triggered memory) feelings. Sometimes a joke gets the point across, but doesn't hit their ego tripwire.

"You're squeezing the stuffing (or pee, as the case may be) right out of me!"

Not that I've had occasion to even need to worry about that in a while. Just vicariously walking myself through some "what-ifs" while following your adventure. I'm really not entirely sure I'm brave enough yet to be "available" that way.

ETA: I think I like IDEA of it... but that's as far as I'm willing to venture.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 10:50:49 AM by sKePTiKal »
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Hopalong

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2017, 11:52:12 AM »
Thanks, Amber! I know it seems a silly thing but it's a test of my degree of tact and his of defensiveness. There's no way around it.

Haven't seen him since I got the Huge Cold (still recovering) and though we meet for lunch tomorrow, it'll likely be a week before we...errr... snuggle again.

I do like your phrasing--"Squeezing the stuffing/pee...."

For me it's not just uncomfortable but a tiny bit anxiety inducing. Could this be a sign of dominance? Hmmm. Mutter mutter. I'll find out.

He is a self-confessed perfectionist, which is probably a thing that may look controlling (don't see it so far but I'm hypervigilant for signs) but is actually anxiety based. Or it could be how an engineer operates/sees things. Doesn't matter to me if it's a small issue (like my Dad's near-ocd passion for order, which somehow was never hurtful to anyone else). But if it's a large psychological issue with him in relationships that'd be a concern and it's critical I find out.

All this is why I want to take lots and lots and lots of time, and do dates that open us to different experiences, and see how we each respond in different situations.

Small things do loom big in potential significance so I am working to contain my own anxiety. Two divorces and loss of family don't lend one to feel brave about getting close again! But I would like to if it can be. I carry fear about it because looking back, in my first marriage choice I ignored huge background differences between us, and in my second I ignored psychological red flags. BANNERS.

hugs and thanks for listening to the minutia of my re-entry into this possibility.

Hops

"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2017, 07:38:24 AM »
Minutia is where all the good stuff is, Hops. Heh-heh...

but since you DID notice your reaction, you kinda do need to figure out if it was just you being triggered and questioning... based on past history - or if it really was something you were "reading" from him. Usually, mind-reading isn't a good thing to indulge in (more on that in my thread) but one could look at the range of possibilities, as long as one does follow through: express the concern and the feeling, make the request, and assess the response. Not a good idea to decide on which possibility it was... until you have the direct information.

The possibilities range from the totally innocent (wanting to reassure, convey a sense of security, and pure over-exuberance - and since he's a widower, perhaps conveying this to HIMSELF that you came back) to all the subconscious flags for bad things that we're all experienced amateurs in.

One way to look at the conversation you'll eventually have, is to see how self-aware he is. Being the engineer type in general, doesn't necessarily indicate that he's not aware of his motivations and/or insensitive to other people's responses to him.

All part of the "getting to know you" dance.

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lighter

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2017, 11:52:45 AM »
Hops:

I say lay your feelings and needs out there and see what happens.  Don't even focus on the what ifs of his reaction over the the hug discussion. 

This should be a small thing, and a respectful man who cares should be able to handle it, IME.  (And without drama, for Heaven's sake.)

On the other hand, a controlling, rigid person lacking the capacity to feel empathy or withstand (any) criticism might not handle this small thing very well, IME.

Sometimes I think walking on eggshells is muscle memory.  You shouldn't have to worry about how someone will respond.  You should be able to make a statement and get an adult response that's appropriate. 

If his response isn't in line, then you have important information about who this man is.  Esp since he's pointing his toes in the honeymoon phase of the relationship.  THIS is him on his best behavior, likely. 

I like the idea of using humor, but..... I'm unable to muster much when thinking about this situation.  Likely bc I don't want my lovely friend to waste time on a king baby.

Oh dear.  I realize I'm impatient, and that's my problem, not yours, Hops.  Keep having fun, but remember to believe him when he shows you who he is.

Remember not to make any excuses for bad behavior.

Expect the best from him, but don't close your eyes if he offers something else.

He'd be very lucky to have a family member like you to share his life with, IMO.  51% rule, and all of that.

::Nod::.
Lighter


Hopalong

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2017, 05:16:02 PM »
Thank you so much for the backup! I haven't done this thing in a loooooong time, and successfully very seldom, so the observations and advice really help.

So, lunch was interesting. Felt very happy to see him and he seemed the same. We sat in a booth and talked for two hours. Couple things arose that made me glad I'd seen my T his morning. My main job is to speak up, state needs and wishes, and observe how he responds. I had told my T a while back that I wasn't quite clear on whether B. is dating other people also. Tried asking him once and his answer was confusing. I couldn't tell if he was saying No or changing the subject. So my T asked today, Did you find out if he's still dating? (Not to judge B either way, but that it was something I'd wanted to know. So I gave myself the homework to find out.)

His answer was Yes, I'm still dating but not much. I was surprised but REALLY glad my T had reminded me. Not too upset but it was a warning not to get my fantasy engine going too fast or too far down the line. I am wondering--is he accustomed to being such a decisive businessman that he's "shopping" and the first candidate that fits enough of the qualities he desires, he'd propose asap? I almost think that might be true.

So I said, if you are dating that's healthy, you probably should. And I probably should be too. And mentioned that I'd signed up for a dating website but hadn't checked it in several weeks since I started seeing him. And we left it at that. Hmmm.

So we have a long convo and he mentions again that he's looking for "a wife or a permanent relationship" and that life is getting shorter, and he'd like to find someone as soon as possible. I believe him! I told him I agree about not wasting the "golden years" and that I have the same sense of time passing, but that I also think many conversations and questions and answers are not time wasted. I don't think we were disagreeing, just looking at it from different angles.

One thing is a green flag and its mate a red (or maybe pink) one. He's open and honest, I believe. He's been transparent about his negative side, which is perfectionism. I asked if that was a regret he had for his relationship with his wife and he said yes. Told me an example of how they were painting a room and he allowed her to tape off the floor cloth but not do the painting. "The fun part," I said. He said, "I didn't think she would do it the right way." I said, "Yes, she'd do it the way SHE does it." And we talked about the value of sharing an experience and having fun together, versus having the perfection of the final product. I get the feeling that's why he feels guilt and regret.

I understand some of this. But I do think it's a flag to consider carefully. He may need a meticulous partner who has little of my main weakness (ADD/disorganization) in her character. And, who's a great cook. I'm adequate but no chef, and likely never will be. He mentions it often (cooking and food) and I wonder if, because his wife had been such a great cook, he could ever adapt to being with someone for whom it's a low priority. I'm beginning to think maybe that's a deal breaker. Or perhaps even should be one. It's pretty obvious that it's a big focus of his....and I don't see that as automatically something I must make as important to me as it is to him. He is retired, I am not. I wonder if it's a gender expectation?

The key thing for me is whether his perfectionism is a quirk to learn about and manage lovingly and with humor, or whether his perfectionism expresses itself as a critical spirit. (Which can break the spirit of the one criticized, if it's constant.) I think he's a little obsessive and that maybe a perfectionistic engineer type is not what somebody like me should sign up for.

But it's too soon to know for sure. Quite a challenge to stay steady and continue, but I'd like to.

One other thing I noticed. Today he offered some observations about the warmth in my eyes and how sweet my smile was, and said how now and then something "hard" surfaces that surprises him. He wondered if that has something to do with my past marital experiences or experiences with my daughter (which he asked me to tell him about again today). He actually focused on an insignificant word choice in an email and had a big interpretation about how it showed this "hard" thing. (I went back and looked and that email was full of warm/friendly words as well. I responded, of course I have some sharp points, and they might come out. But I am never abusive. If I were nothing but sweetness I'd be a marshmallow.

I felt uncomfortable telling him about my brother and my daughter, because I thought he was sizing up whether a dysfunctional family should be a deal-breaker. But then again, if he's really evaluating me based on who they are...let it break.

I guess the lunch was both good and bad though I do feel a little deflated. I'm grateful that he's open about his thinking. I do feel myself backing off a bit, and for the first time wary of hurt.

Does this lunch story spark anything for you guys? Anything I'm over-interpreting or missing?

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Twoapenny

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Re: Heist on Something....
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2017, 01:46:09 AM »
Hopsie, I'll throw in my thoughts for what they are worth (and I will add the disclaimer that I've been single for thirteen years so I'm not a relationship expert!).  But.............

The way you are looking at this - both practically and emotionally, acknowledging potential problems whilst recognising what is good - is pretty amazing.  It's so easy to fall into the 'my knight in shining armour has arrived' that I think the cool, yet kind, head you are keeping is fantastic so well done on that (I'm glad you've got your T to talk things through with as well).

I think him being open about the fact he's still dating is a good thing.  He could easily have lied and likely you'd not have known any different any time soon so I think the fact he is honest with you (even when he's telling you something you might not want to hear) is good, in my opinion.  Personally I think 'shopping' for a partner is what we all do and I don't think a businesslike approach to it is necessarily a bad thing.  I remember someone I used to be friends with who was going through the arranged marriage process (Indian family).  At first I was horrified that this smart, confident, well qualified woman was part of this process, but she explained to me that, because marriage is the aim, everyone is very open and matter of fact about it.  Initial contact is a phone call where they discuss main expectations - do you want children, how many?  Will the woman work or stay at home?  Will they live in their own house or with family?  What are your political views?  How do you feel about x, y and z.  And then based on that, they'd decide whether or not to meet and things would go from there.  How much time and heartache does that save?  Clear, concise, open conversations about really important things that often become reasons couples divorce.  I think that's a good thing.  So if he is 'shopping' for a bride, I think that shows he knows what he wants and he doesn't want to waste time waiting for it to come (sign of good self esteem, perhaps?) and to be fair, I think that's what we all do, it's just that most people aren't so upfront about it :)

I see no reason for you not to be dating as well, if you want to.  I think the fact that he didn't react negatively to you saying you were still open to dating is good; he's not got a double standard where he thinks it's okay for him but not for you.

I think the fact you can talk for two hours over lunch is a good sign and yes, you are right, lots of conversations and q and a sessions aren't wasted time, and neither is just enjoying time together and hanging out in different environments.  I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you do together without the end point becoming the sole focus?  Which I know is easier said than done :)

I think his transparency about his negative traits is a good thing.  He's aware that he has faults and is open to talking about them and acknowledging where he went wrong.  It could be that this is only the tip of the fault iceberg - that's true of anyone - but spending time together, as you say, is the only way to find out.  So far is he mostly telling you about his faults rather than doing them around you?  I think him telling you about things he's not great with (rather than just showing you by telling you what to do) is a good sign.  None of us are perfect and recognising that in ourselves is a good thing.

He may need a meticulous partner and a great cook, Hopsie, but what struck me about that was, what do you need?  You are not a wall flower waiting to be asked to dance :)  You are an enormously kind, compassionate, intelligent, emotionally accomplished woman who has so much to offer.  You've overcome some terribly traumatic events in your life without becoming bitter and resentful (a huge achievement, in my opinion).  You've very practically organised your limited finances without doing the damsel in distress thing and just marrying some bloke for his money.  You reinvented yourself repeatedly after losing your job in order to keep working and keep looking after yourself - smart, practical, diligent, wise.  It would be enormously fortunate for him if he happens to have enough qualities that you desire for you to consider him at all!  I think that's the red flag for me, that you aren't focusing on how wonderful you are and how lucky he would be to have you by his side (and I mean that in a kind way, not as a criticism :) ).

I don't think backing off slightly - to give yourself time to think and process how you feel, and work out which way round things are at the moment - is a bad thing.  And, yes, that possibility of getting hurt is tough to handle, I think because there's no way around it?  If we want to have other people in our lives we run that risk of being hurt.  Sometimes we can handle it, sometimes it's too much.  I know for me it's a barrier so I get that completely.  But personally I think that you need to make an ' I Am Bloody Marvelous' wall in your home and write up on big pieces of paper all the amazing things about you, Hops.  You have so many good qualities and you've overcome so much, you blow me away and I truly mean that.  I get the not wanting to get hurt or to find yourself trapped in another unpleasant situation but I think maybe spend the next bit of time really getting into your own mind that he would be really lucky to have you and if he has half a brain he won't let something like having to cook his own dinner get in the way of that.  Maybe take stock, put those reminders on the wall (I'm serious about that, I think you need to have things printed up in giant capital letters so you can't not notice!) but also have a good think about what you want in a man and how many of your boxes he ticks?  He may well be sitting at home now wondering if he's matching up to your expectations :)

I think it's amazing that you're going about this is such an open and honest way; it's very refreshing and brave of you to dip your toe in the water again (I know blokes make all my 'what ifs' bubble up and it's hard).  But I think you're going great guns and I hope the next date is a fun filled one that maybe takes the wobble off everything a bit :)

Love Tup xx xx xx