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I told my dates upfront: I’m never getting married. I’m never having kids

She just looked at me and said, “We are not having sex.”
She just looked at me and said, “We are not having sex.”
(Barry Falls / For The Times)

I’m never getting married. I’m never having kids!

That was my dating mantra.

I always knew I was destined to be the perpetual, quintessential bachelor, and I made no apologies for it. My house — complete with arcade-style pinball machines and video games, a Jacuzzi and a fully stocked bar — screamed: I’m single and plan to stay that way. I was a young, successful attorney, and my bachelor pad in Anaheim was a revolving door of women, parties and excess.

I saw my two older brothers, married, with children. And I chose my freedom.

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I was always upfront with the women in my life. On every first date, I revealed that I was dating multiple women, that I had no intention of settling down and that I loved my single life. It was inevitable that they thought I would change or they could change me. But they always realized sooner or later that trying to change me was an exercise in futility.

Still, many tried. In particular, friends’ wives were always trying to set me up with someone they knew. (Probably so I’d be a better influence on their husbands.)

A friend’s wife offered to introduce me to Janet, saying she’d be perfect for me. I told her I’d pass. I was too busy partying with the women I already knew; who needed to be bothered with going on a blind date?

Then a few years later, a friend called me to refer a client who needed help with a legal matter. It turned out it was a man who had become engaged to Janet in the years since our would-be date. Always eager to take on a new client, I set up the consultation and, since it was a referral from a friend, I offered to make a house call. The door opened. As I laid eyes on Janet for the first time, I thought back to the day I passed on the opportunity to meet her, and I was instantly filled with regret. She was stunning. A tingling sensation started at my feet and was making its way up to my heart.

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I shook it off and introduced myself, and proceeded to meet her fiancé, who, after all, was my new client.

Six months into the case, I got an emergency call about Janet’s fiancé. He had died suddenly of a heart attack while playing basketball. After an appropriate period of time, I reached out to Janet and offered my condolences. I apologized for bothering her, and told her I would need a death certificate once all affairs were settled.

Several weeks later, Janet called to set an appointment to bring the death certificate, which I needed to supply to the court so my client’s case could be properly dealt with. We met at TGI Fridays in Torrance. What was meant to be a quick meet and exchange of documents, turned into a three-hour conversation unlike any I had had before.

I felt such a strange connection to her. Inside, I was telling myself to stop. This woman had just lost her fiancé two months ago. But on the drive home, I could not get her out of my head. Over the next several months we talked regularly and formed a platonic friendship, something that had been completely foreign to me when it came to women.

I even invited her to my grandmother’s 90th birthday bash.

And that’s when I blew it. I got drunk and professed my love for her and apparently said, “I love you, I want to marry you and I want to have kids with you.”

Now, I must confess that I have no memory of that blackout-drunk moment, but many witnessed it, so I know it happened. The very next day, Janet and I had plans for lunch. She didn’t show. She didn’t return my phone calls. She cut me off. I deserved it.

I also had no idea why I would say I wanted to get married. Must have been the alcohol.

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It was nearly three years later that I was driving home on the 5 Freeway and passed the building where Janet worked in the City of Commerce. On a whim, I called her and the next thing I knew we were talking again. She was dating someone, I was dating several people, and we struck up a nice friendship. My bachelor ways continued and included my annual Halloween costume party. I invited Janet. That year I was Wolverine, and she came as one of Charlie’s Angels.

And she also came alone.

She no longer had a boyfriend.

I can’t say we started dating because in my mind a date meant there would be sex or at least some fooling around. We hung out together, had dinner and saw movies, but there was absolutely no touching, kissing or anything of the sort. Around Valentine’s Day, I decided to make a grand gesture and invited her to dinner at my home. When she arrived, rose petals led the way to a living room with more than 100 candles illuminating a gourmet dinner that which had just been prepared by the gourmet chef I’d hired.

She just looked at me and said, “We are not having sex.”

I protested that I just wanted to do something romantic for her. However, I was still dating several other women, which Janet knew about it. But I told her she was special: No matter what I was doing or who I was doing it with, if she wanted to go out, I would drop everything. She put this to the test. One night while I was out with another woman, Janet called and said she was getting off work early and wanted to have dinner.

I apologized to my date and jammed out of there to meet Janet.

This went on for several weeks.

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Finally, Janet gave it to me straight: “I feel like you can be the man for me, the one I want to be with for the rest of my life.” I froze. “I know you have always said you never wanted to get married and have kids, but I do. If you don’t, then I need to walk away from you right now and move on with my life.”

In the past, when faced with this conversation, my canned response was: “I completely understand. Have a nice life. Goodbye.”

As I tried to release those words from my mouth, I just couldn’t. Something would not let me. Instead I said, “Can you please give me some time to think about this?”

I will admit: The next seven days were filled with debauchery.

And when it was over, I’d come to the realization that I wanted more out of life then just an endless party and string of sexual encounters, and Janet was the woman who opened my eyes to the possibility. I think the kicker was the close knit relationship she has with her her enormous Filipino family, which paralleled the relationship I have with my Jewish family.

One week later, I met her for dinner at Tony’s on the Pier in Redondo Beach. We didn’t touch our food as we talked. I told her a truth about myself: As a young, wild attorney, I made a lot of money but spent even more. I confessed I had only $200 in the bank, not enough to buy a proper engagement ring. She was OK with that as long as I was seeing her exclusively.

A week later, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, I popped the question exactly at sunset. She said yes and we shared our first kiss.

That’s correct. You read that right: Our first kiss was after I proposed.

Janet and I have been happily married for 15 years and have three children, Jonah, 14, Mason, 10, and Julianne, 6.

What made me finally give up my partying ways and stop drinking altogether? And why Janet? Those are questions I will never be able to answer.

But what I do know is that, apparently, I wanted to get married and I wanted to have kids.

The author is an attorney with Pot Brothers at Law & co-host of the FM radio show, Cannabis Talk 101.

Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find subscription guidelines here.


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