Obama's Ex-Girlfriend on Their Relationship

A woman he dated in the early 1980s gives intimate emotional details in a new book.

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Time

At this point it's hard to picture President Obama with anyone besides his wife of 19 years and first lady, Michelle. Except, that is, if you know firsthand what it was like to date him back when he was a "guarded," "controlled" and "reserved" 20-something.

The journals of Genevieve Cook, who met Obama at a Christmas party in 1983 when he was just out of Columbia University, were obtained by David Maraniss of the Washington Post and used in the biography Barack Obama: The Story (out next month by Simon & Schuster). They tell the story of their relationship and Cook's observations of the future president, complete with accountings of certain personality traits that seem to have translated smoothly from young love to national leadership. An excerpt from the book was posted on Vanity Fair's website on Wednesday.

The Washington Post reports:

An early girlfriend of President Obama’s chronicled a relationship of more than a year in which she struggled to pierce his now famous reserve, which she termed “a bit of a wall -- the veil,” according to journals reproduced in a new biography. .  .

“The sexual warmth is definitely there -- but the rest of it has sharp edges, and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all,” Ms. Cook wrote in one entry in February 1984. “I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness -- and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.” ...

Mr. Obama made reference to Ms. Cook in his own memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” without naming her, describing her as a white woman he had met in New York ...

When Mr. Obama met Ms. Cook, Mr. Maraniss wrote, she “engaged him in the deepest romantic relationship of his young life.” Her journal entries described a long effort to understand Mr. Obama that eventually failed when they broke up.

“How is he so old already, at the age of 22?” she wrote. “I have to recognize (despite play of wry and mocking smile on lips) that I find his thereness very threatening.” She added, “Distance, distance, distance, and wariness.”

In another entry, Cook describes Obama as "guarded, controlled," and speculates that he is "balancing the tendency to be always the observer" with "how to effect change." Sound familiar?

Read more at the Washington Post.