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Winona proved to be incapable of intimacy on any level.By most evenings she was tucked into bed with her prescription pain pills, a glass of wine, the remote, and a dog or two.(He holds the record for sheer unavailability in someone I was pursuing.) I called J. and I continued to go out on practice dates until the night he whispered, “I love you.” This past fall we celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary. Before long we were exchanging daily phone calls and text messages peppered with hearts and flowers.

An hour and thirty-seven minutes after our agreed-upon meeting time, I received a text: “Where are you? She claimed she’d gotten stuck in traffic and sent several pleading texts. Dena later called and offered a generic apology, like a child who had been scolded by a parent. A month or two after that, I met another woman online, Maxine, who is one of my closest friends to this day. Michael often sat across from me in his own blue chair.

Hurt and bewildered, I finally realized that, in my obsessive need to be loved, I had let myself be taken advantage of by a classic narcissist. Name Withheld for a semester abroad in Morocco, I prepared myself for a romantic dry spell.

The prospects of my meeting someone in a conservative, Muslim-majority country seemed slim at best.

For ten years after graduation I pursued what any sane person could see were unavailable men: The college professor I slept with the summer of my sophomore year, who told me up front, “This won’t last, you know.” My good friend from graduate school, who would have been perfect for me were it not for the inconvenient fact that he was gay.

A grad student I met at a party, who had just split up with his previous girlfriend and went back to her after a few weeks.

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