This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: After making love with me most of the night, Billy leaves in the morning to see another woman. Check “Recent Posts” on right side of page to read past installments or to start with Part One.

Billy drops by before leaving Boulder to return to his home in Lone Tree. When he hugs me, I don’t respond. “What’s going on?” he asks. I tell him how it felt when he jumped out of my bed at 9 a.m. to go meet Sally.


“I’m not asking for a life commitment. Just that…if we’re going to explore where things might go with us, you don’t explore the same thing with other people.”

Billy nods. “Sally is saying the same thing. Pick one and be with her. Do one at a time.”

Part of me feels threatened, hearing about Sally, and part of me can’t believe Billy would prefer other women to me. As my hair stylist, Katie, had said that morning when I’d told her about the situation, “You’ve got bragging rights. You’re pretty special, and if he doesn’t see that…he’s an asshole.”

I ask Billy, “Did Sally tell you how she knows me?”

He says Sally hasn’t met me yet. She was telling Billy about a conference she was planning and said she hoped to hire me as the keynote speaker. “I was shocked,” Billy says. “I told her you were one of the women I was dating.”

What was her response?

“She said, ‘You must really like strong women.’”

I remember, now, receiving an email from Sally and googling her to see if I wanted to be involved in her conference. Her bio said she’d contracted polio as a child and her legs had never fully recovered, but at 50, she resolved to run a marathon – a regular one, not for people with special needs – and came in third in her age group. She was now doing endurance races and giving motivational talks. I emailed her back, but she was just leaving for Australia and we never connected.

“This must be great for your ego,” I tell Billy, “dating three quality women. It’s like getting a tray filled with delicious treats and being told to pick one.”

“I’d still prefer to have one deep love than to sample all the goodies,” he says.

“What’s holding you back?”

“With you… we’ve had so much trouble getting started… I’m not certain things would work out.”

We never know that, I say. “It’s like buying a horse. You have a hunch it’ll be good, you ride it a few times, then you take it home, get to know each other and sometimes it’s magic and sometimes you move on to another horse.”

He considers this.

“What do you want to do?” I ask.

He smiles. “Date all three of you. You’re all busy, and I have time enough to serve all three of you.”

“Nice try.”

We laugh but I make it clear we will not revisit the bedroom until this gets sorted out.

That night, while I’m working at the computer, the phone rings. I check caller ID: it’s Billy. I pick up. “Hello.”

“Can I please speak to Sally?”

“Sally! You’ve called Sara.”

“I know. Just joking.”

“That’s not funny.”

“Hey, ease up. I dialed your number because I want to talk to you.”

“Okay, Jon.”

“Jon? Who’s that?”

“This other guy I met on match.”

“Should I be jealous?”

“Absolutely. He’s a stand-up comic, makes me laugh constantly.”

When I hang up, the pain is back. I don’t like this game. I can’t concentrate now and it takes hours to get back on track. I quit work around 2 a.m. and in the shower – where I often get inspiration and clarity – it comes to me. When Billy is with me, he’s charming, funny, sexy, and I figure, OK, this is too good to pass up. Then he talks and makes jokes about the other women and it hurts. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be at the mercy of his whims any longer, wondering, when will he decide – in a week, a month? I’m taking my power back.

I sleep well and the next morning when he calls, I ask, “How do you feel about the situation? You’ve had a chance to to sleep on it.



“I… don’t know.”

“Then I’m going to make a decision. I don’t want to play this kind of dating roulette. You’re free to get to know the others, take ‘em all to bed if you like. If things don’t work out, you can get back in touch, but who knows where I’ll be by then.”

“Yeah, I know,” Billy says.

“I want to be with someone who really wants to be with me. And you’re not there. So I’m bowing out.”

It’s painful, but it also feels right. Not happy, but right.

Late that day, when I’ve finished working, I look up the email Sally Burton sent me months before. I write a reply: “Well, Sally, it seems we have Billy Stors in common. If you’d like to talk, give me a call.”


Please leave a COMMENT. Why do you think I contacted Sally? What would you have done in Billy’s place?

This blog is based on a true story, but names and identifying details have been changed to protect privacy.



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28 thoughts on “PART 14 – DATING ROULETTE

  1. Daria

    Contacting Sally is the first healthy thing you've done in this story. Thank heavens! Knowledge is power. Solidarity is power. Men who are afraid of women (players), love it when women compete against each other for them. They love being in the middle; being fought over. They play on your uncertainty and lack of information as to what's really happening. Comparing notes with other women instead of fearing them takes all the power from the players.

  2. Debbie

    Good for you,Sara! I completely agree with Daria – since Billy kept bringing up Sally's name over and over (hinting that he was the “prize” in the supposed-competition between the women he was “dating”), you have every right to call Sally to find out her take on the situation. Isn't there a movie about a group of women who band together to seek “revenge” on a guy who is stringing them all along?? If not, there should be!

    You go, girl!

  3. Sara Davidson

    Thanks, Daria and Debbie, you're both spot on. The story gets even juicier after this. I'll be curious to hear what the men say – about women getting together to compare notes.

    Guys? Tell us what you think. Do you ever do the reverse – talk to other men about the women you have in common?

  4. Angelique

    Hi Sara,

    I guess I don't understand the point in contacting Sally. If you're bowing out, bow out altogether. By contacting Sally, you're still in the mix. She knows about you – let her figure out what she needs to do to take care of herself. I wouldn't even want to give Billy the satisfaction of even knowing the two of you are discussing him – particularly if you've already told him you were bowing out.

  5. Arielle

    Dear fabulous, talented, incredible Sara,
    As a long-time fan of yours I am holding the space for you to manifest the love of your life. The man who totally gets you and will cherish, worship and adore you. You deserve this and more.
    Love you,

  6. Sunnymay

    Competition makes what you have in a game seem special. It's not OK to be seconds or thirds, because you're wondering about firsts. You can be first when you move past the obstacles and hurdles, otherwise you're coming from behind and seeing a lot of dust and dirt. Sharing is a hard concept for infants and toddlers. Maybe it's just a stage to go through to have more helpings on your plate than what you can eat.

  7. Anonymous

    Billy must be in hog heaven having three strong (?) women vying for his attention.
    He's playing you gals like a violin.
    I'm glad you have finally withdrawn from this c.f.
    Even if you get into a supposedly monogamous relationship with this dude. You could never trust him.

  8. Rick the Celestial Cowboy Poet

    fantasy, fantasy, all is fantasy!
    When sara told billy she was taking back her power, i could just see the shades clicking. billy was gone, he knew it, and so did she.
    i once dated a gorgeous blonde flight attendant who was born in poland. she flew for the polish airlines, and had been a spy for the polish and russian governments. she didn't believe in love, she told me as she wrote down her phone number. just sex, italian chocolates and a good glass of wine made from organically-grown grapes. i accepted her terms and we had a most unusual and wonderful relationship that lasted a couple of years. she flew delta's route from ft. lauderdale to san francisco and to europe. when she would get back from one of her flights, i would come to her apartment in cooper city which she shared with six cats, and she would regale me with her tales about oversexed but underperforming airline pilots, millionaire first class passengers whose checks kept bouncing, and beautiful women who kept trying to sedduce her in cosmopolitan san francisco. i would in turn make her laugh with stories about my being a journalist, an interviewer of the rich and famous and many more stories. i always told her, 80 per cent of what i said was true; she accepted that and said, SAME WITH ME. i find myself wishing we would be back together.
    sara, let billy live his fantasy. enjoy his company.
    make love.
    drink wine.

    rick lanning
    the celestial cowboy

  9. Betsy

    Angelique: Billy needn't know who anyone talks to; it's none of his business. Let me explain why information is necessary: During my marriage, my ex took a call inviting us to a party. He told me that only he had been invited. He went to the party and told the hosts that I hadn't wanted to come and hadn't wanted him to come, either. He told them, “But I really like you guys and I told her I was coming anyway.” Later, they see us on the street, greet him warmly and snub me, confirming to me that they hadn't wanted me in the first place. After my divorce, I slowly learned how competitive he is and how dirty he plays. Some men can't get an erection unless they are lying. They call it intrigue. Knowledge is power.

  10. Lynn in Wisconsin

    I'm mixed about your contacting Sally but I was going to scream “run Sarah, run!” before your epiphany. He's bad news all around. I don't like the idea of Billy knowing you and Sally connected, that will be a big ego boost for him. Guys like him are like cigarettes are for us former puffers: they taste so good, they make you feel good, but they are expensive and can kill you. I don't dare try even just one!

    You deserve better, Sarah, much better.

  11. Anonymous

    I will never understand the female's NEED to punish. He is who he IS. You are who you ARE. It's called incompatibility! So let it go! But why make him a villian? You won't get anywhere on your next journey by making him wrong just so you can be right. And all these women that cheer you are aren't doing you any favors either, 'cause it keeps you in the head space of being so very special. That princess thing is really boring too and doens't serve you.
    I tell you this as a woman who spent a lifetime trying to change the men in my life, and where did it get me? Well, I got the material for my own book, but I write it the same way I eat and sleep….alone. Wise up and choose self-respect not just for you but for him as well.

  12. Bluekelpie

    Well done, Sara, sort of. Did you call Sally in order to get all the facts so you could have closure? Did you call her in order to keep the tie with Billy going? Seems that calling Sally could only add fuel to the fire you supposedly wanted to put out. Confused here. Wondering if it is possible to move away from someone and get on with your life as you reach out to strangers simply because they are connected to the person you want to move away from. Respect and Blessings, Joey

  13. Sara Davidson

    Bluekelpie, of course you're right. I had many motives, competing with each other. I wasn't free, I was still hooked. But most of all, I wanted info.

  14. Kimberly

    If you want to play the game, play the game. If not, bow out–but bow out without contacting anyone. I agree with Angelique's comment.

    I am a woman who is more like Billy in this story because I am not too terribly strong on commitment. I know if someone bowed out and then moved on, ignoring me, refusing to play my game, it would drive me crazy.

  15. Barbara

    Personally, I would just walk away. Life is too short to play silly games that go nowhere. There are plenty of other people to date out there in the world without letting this guy jerk you around. As someone else said, even if he “chose” you, how could you trust him? He's just not that into you. Find someone else.

  16. Sora

    Hmm. . .here's the thing:
    Betsy was married to the guy, so she needed to unearth what was going on. But Sara, in a new relationship without commitment or respect, needed to drop him. In her case, I agree it was going nowhere and was a waste of time.

  17. JoAnn

    No Steve…..Sarah contacted Sally because she needed to compare notes with her and see what the hell Billie was saying to her! It was to confirm what her insides were telling her, he's rotten cotten! Trust me on this one as it happened to me and guess what….my insides were right! This guy was playing both of us with the same lines and after meeting with the other women, I was overwhelmingly convinced I was DONE with his butt! And, it gave me the upper hand, even if it hurt and I felt more in charge of my life than I ever did before!

  18. Lissa

    I knew it was only a matter of time until my ex's 2nd wife came to me to ask certain questions. She had started by believing his lies and hating me. Eventually, she realized that he wasn't what he'd pretended to be. By talking to me, she saved herself years more of being strung along by a player: years that I had lost during my time with him.
    Why do so many of you preach the “don't ask don't tell” policy when dealing with a narcissist? I say, life's too short to be led along because each woman is in her own little cubicle believing whatever the guy says, and suspicious of those who could set the record straight in 5 minutes!

  19. Anonymous

    I think you contacted Sally because curiousity got the best of you and in fact, tho you say you bowed out, you had not let go yet. I don't think you should have called her. It seems like you may have been hoping (even subconsciously) to stir her up and have you both bow out. Then you would be the one in control and not him. Everyone involved is playing his game.

  20. Angelique, again

    Please don't get me wrong – I'm all for women supporting each other and sticking together but….
    am I missing something here?! It seems to me that Sara has all the information she needs because Billy is actually telling her he is dating 3 women — and is happy to continue doing so until he decides who gets to be the lucky one he chooses. So, what else does she need Sally to tell her?

  21. Sean

    It seems to me that Billy acts more like a kid in a candy store, rather than a responsible adult. In the candy store, there is always another tempting treat, however if we treat the woman in our life as simply one of many, there is little chance to win fair maiden's hand in the long run. I believe Billy is definitely commitment phobic, and resorts to sequential bedroom gymnastics to gratify his ego, rather than to promote depth and understanding within the context of a complete relationship. I believe that were you to act in a similar fashion, as in, “Sorry Billy, but you have to leave because “John” is coming over now”, Billy would be incapable of dealing with that. Many men love to think they are the “only one” in your life, but then become insecure and distraught if they discover there is another in the running. I say drop him, and deny him if he later comes back saying you're the one. This fellow isn't trustworthy, and you are too incredible to put up with his games.

  22. Bluekelpie

    Well said, Sean.
    It seems to me that Billy lives vicariously through these strong women. He appears to be in control while juggling them. He gets to be charming and sexy and cool. He never gets to be sad or lonely or distraught. The women give up their power to Billy, who feeds on it. He gets control of their emotions in a way, but he isn't really in control of his own. It must be exhausting for him! He never actually makes the committment to one woman. He never developes the closeness with a woman that will actually let him feel safe and loved and able to show his shadow side without fear. He's holding all the cards and eventually, they will come falling down. I wonder what will happen when Billy is forced to face his own shadow. Maybe, Sara, he is a teacher for you. You claimed to want to take your power back.Did you see how Billy views all 3 women? He said he had time to “serve” you all. He sees himself as a stud, not a friend. Weird! Were those his choice of words? He, it seems, will avoid committment as long as you let him. You wouldn't want to be in relationship with him anyway. He doesn't seem capable of traversing different realms of consciousness with you in order to grow. he doesn't seem to want to grow with you. At least, that is how it appears to me. I am actually feeling sorry for Billy. But, Sean is right on many accounts. Billy cannot be trusted. I will be interested in discovering how my favorite author reclaimed her power! Respect and Blessings, Joey

  23. Slohabob

    Sara, I'm not against having sex for the pure enjoyment of sex, and, from what I can tell, that's what you did with Billy. Hey, so did some other women, and Ol' Billy Boy is as happy as a hog in slop. Now, after getting up off of some booty, it appears that you and Sally think you have the power and the right to make demands of him. It's easy to want to paint Billy as the bad guy, and I must admit, I think he's a jerk, but what makes you and Sally think you can unilaterally change the rules to the game that you freely and willingly decided to play? Aloha, Bob

  24. Lora

    Sara- Do you have collegues: professors, editors, TV writers, journalists, environmentalists, historians, my gosh, so many males beyond these slick cowboy types, who can ring your chimes? You're fishing out of the wrong pond. It's a pond good for playing and sexual scintillation, but after you've played, you want what a mature female wants, and these fish don't do anything but play. Find another kind of pond to fish in!!

  25. renee missel

    I agree with Angelique that contacting Sally illustrates that you have not let go of this man.

    Dis-connect is what I would hopefully have done.

  26. Joe Ketcher

    I'm really late to this thread, but it struck a chord in me. I have always thought it amazingly rude to evaluate more one prospective partner at a time. I have felt very alone in this. My policy has been to evaluate a potential long-term partner, and when it is over, leave a respectful buffer zone before evaluating another prospective partner. To me, this is obvious, intuitive, etiquette. I would never put the pressure on a prospective partner of wondering where I am on the nights we are not together, even if we are in the early stages of dating. This is so clear to me that this is the proper, considerate thing to do. Earlier in my life (I am in my 50s), I really tried to do what others did, which was to have multiple partners at once. I felt so inadequate that I couldn't begin make this work for me. I finally faced that I had to follow my own instincts to give individual attention, one at a time, and that was not necessarily wrong. To me, to do otherwise is like answering the phone and texting and watching TV while having a conversation with someone – not OK…even brutally rude. Perhaps there have been cultures in the past that have shared my sensibilities…?

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