Mimi was all excited. She was getting ready for a first date with Jordan. She was looking forward to the date because she had heard such glowing reports about him from all his references: He was smart, likable, and a great earner.

Jordan was punctual, a good quality. He smiled very pleasantly at Mimi as she opened the door. Jordan took Mimi to a coffee shop inside a hotel lobby not terribly far away. He was very proper; he did the polite things like opening doors for her but he also held himself back a little, too.

When there were those awkward silences over coffee, Jordan didn’t seem to need to rush in to fill the silence or smile with embarrassment. He simply sipped his coffee slowly and carefully and waited patiently until one of them would think of something to say.

Mimi, herself felt somewhat uncomfortable with those moments and Jordan didn’t rush in to salvage her from them.

It felt to Mimi, in a strange sort of way, good: He was giving her space to be who she was, awkward and all. She would look up and be the one with the nervous smile.

At the end of the date Mimi honestly didn’t know whether she had impressed this boy favorably or not. That was unusual; generally, they made it clear that they found her interesting and attractive. Instead of enjoying all that admiration, it would unsettle Mimi; if a boy needed her, then whom did she lean on?

But Jordan was different; he held himself back and this was another example of it. As a result, she found herself thinking about him over the next few days. She felt so relieved when, nearly a week later, Jordan called for a second date. That second date didn’t go significantly different from the first one; it was pleasant and a bit awkward. Jordan was reserved but polite.

Once again, Mimi found herself wondering “how she did.” That annoyed her: “It’s not a test,” she told herself. In fact, she reminded herself that she could do what she had done with numerous other dates: decide not to continue.

But she didn’t. There was some kind of draw that kept her in the game.

As the dates continued, Jordan did open up somewhat. The two of them found themselves talking about their families, their hopes for the future, and themselves. They laughed a bit, too. There was never a moment when Mimi became bored with this boy who, although quiet, held himself with dignity.

It seemed that part of the attraction was that Jordan never made her feel smothered with too much attention. After all, she wanted to look up to a boy. If he needed her too badly, then that wouldn’t be a good sign at all.

Finally, the big day came. Jordan spoke softly to Mimi and told her he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life together. He told her that she was special and he would always take care of her. He told her how beautiful she was and how smart. Mimi was captivated and overjoyed. She said, “Yes.”

Let’s fast forward. It’s the next morning after the wedding. Mimi wakes up, turns to her side, smiling, when she is jolted by the plain fact that Jordan is not there.

She gets out of bed and searches through the house. He is not anywhere there. She is shocked, but goes back to her room, washes, dresses, calls his cell, gets a machine, and waits. Two hours go by, then three. No Jordan.

Finally, Mimi starts to cry. Somewhere in the middle of her tears, she hears the door open and jumps up. “What’s the matter?” Jordan walks in and asks, taken aback.

“Where were you?” Mimi asks accusingly.

“I went to work. Where else would I go?” Jordan is truly perplexed.

“But we just got married!” Mimi points out. “Shouldn’t you be with me, making me happy instead of leaving me alone?”

Now it’s Jordan’s turn to be disturbed. “You know I have to work,” he said with an edge to his voice. “We have a great week of half-days for our honeymoon. Why not enjoy it? I was only gone a few hours. I cut back my schedule enormously. I’m really surprised at you!”

Instead of receiving comfort and assurance as Mimi wanted, she got chided like a child.

As the months rolled by, there was only more of the same. The tender caring that Mimi anticipated never came.

But, from Jordan’s standpoint, he did exactly what he had promised her on the day they became engaged: He was taking care of her. He appreciated her for just being there. And he was becoming less appreciative as he learned that she wanted more of his attention and less of his calling the shots.

Jordan started to feel angry. Here he was, doing everything in his capacity to create a good home and he wasn’t being appreciated. What’s more, it seemed that his working didn’t mean to Mimi what he thought it should. Little by little, his tenderness made way for irritation. If Mimi felt neglected at the outset, she only felt more so as time went on.

How did this happen? Were there signs that Mimi overlooked? Was there something in herself that she should have looked at more closely?

Mimi had admitted to herself while dating that she wanted a boy who, in essence, played hard to get. She was afraid of too much admiration by a boy; his would dampen hers. That’s not right. In healthy relationships, each person’s interest is a sign of a growing bond.

Then, as she and Jordan were dating, what was it that attracted her?

Was it his good qualities? Well, he was polite and punctual, but that is all she knew about him. She knew very little about him even after he opened up. What she did experience was a feeling of interest simply because he didn’t show admiration!

Mimi needed to take a hard look at herself from her earliest dating experiences and see what was behind her lack of attraction to boys who seemed to find her wonderful and her opposite reaction to the one boy who didn’t.

Sometimes a person lacks self-esteem in spite of her prettiness and smartness. After all, self-esteem doesn’t come from external truths but from the messages one has received in earliest years.

Mimi was just such a girl. And to cope with her low self-esteem, she learned to overcompensate: She told herself she was absolutely wonderful, the best. She knew, deep down, however, that any boy who saw it the same way had to be the wrong one because she wasn’t wonderful or the best.

The only boy who would be a fit match would see her as she was in her own eyes. Far from fawning over her, he would “know” that she was sorely lacking.

The key to unlocking this scary closet is how she felt about the boys who admired her. She needed to use this information as the starting point of a journey into herself. It is only with healthy self-esteem that a person can be a fit marriage partner.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this story.

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