Monday, February 28, 2011

The lunch date

Our first date happened almost seven years ago and I wasn’t attracted to him then. I was young, bored and I liked the way he complimented me with a serious expression, refusing any protests, feeble or otherwise. I let him take me out, I let him kiss me, and I let him buy me things to the point of being ridiculous.

But eventually I got tired of trying to like him “that way”, of letting him touch me when I didn’t really want him to, and stopped returning his calls. I found someone else and conveniently forgot about him, until his name would show up randomly on my phone or I ran into him in town.

Most of the time I ignored his texts and calls, saying only the bare minimum to be polite. I would wave and hurry away when I saw him out. But every now and then, he would catch me in a rough patch. Whether it was due to boredom, loneliness or deflated ego, he’d happily step in and boost me back up. And with an attitude that said I was clearly doing him a favor, I’d let him.

When I didn’t need him, he irritated me. I hated that he always seemed to show up everywhere I went. I felt like he was stalking me at times, but really, if I’m going to be honest (and this is all going to be brutally honest), he wasn’t doing anything that I didn’t allow him to. I never would have admitted it to myself, or anyone else, back then...but I wanted him on the back burner, just in case. Telling him off might have meant alienating him completely. And too, he was so fucking nice that I just couldn’t bring myself to really be mean to him.

Except now I realize that I was cruel to him all along. I knew he was crazy about me, possibly even in love with me. And instead of calling time of death, I let him repeatedly shock our relationship back to life. Let him hopefully watch a bunch of feeble lines on a monitor and wait for them to get bigger, all the while knowing what he didn’t – my heart would never work properly for him.

Seven months ago I made a stab at behaving like a decent human being. I had feelings for someone and, no matter how at odds their words and actions sometimes were, I knew they didn’t feel quite the same way about me. Because they never came right out and said “I don’t want you”, I kept thinking “it could happen”. But it didn’t, it won’t, and I knew there was a distinct possibility they were doing to me what I’d done to him, whether they realized it or not.

So when I received a message asking me to hang out and, as usual, telling me how wonderful I was...I finally said what should have been said ages ago. I told him that he wanted to be more than friends, he always had, and I didn’t. I told him that I couldn’t hang out with him unless he was prepared to accept that. I was proud of myself for not dicking around, for saying it in what I thought was a decent, but clear way. He responded that he was sorry for making me uncomfortable, which made me feel like an ass, and then he promptly disappeared.

I thought about him for awhile after that. I wondered how he was doing and if he would come back around and try to be my friend, or if maybe that was something he’d never be able to do. I crawled even farther up my own ass, and wondered how long it would take him to get over me. How much time was I worth? But after a few months without a word or a glimpse of him, I forgot to wonder.

Then a few weeks ago I was driving home. I’d had one of the toughest, most emotionally charged days of my life. I don’t cry that often, but when I do it’s...volatile. I’d been blubbering for most of the hour it takes me to drive home when my phone went off. It was a message from him. He’d passed me, seen what a spectacle I was, and wanted to make sure I was alright.

Of course that set me off more, but I replied that I was okay. Then he said, after seven months of silence, “I always hoped it would work out between us. I’m still crazy about you.” Etcetera, I’m gorgeous, etcetera, he misses me.

And instead of saying “don’t” or “I’m sorry”, I latched onto those words like a life raft. I said “thank you” and sent a smiley face, knowing it wasn’t a good idea.

“Why didn’t it work out?”, he asked.

“I don’t know”, I said, all the while hating myself. I was feeling rotten and I wanted someone to make me feel better and I knew that, with a few noncommittal responses, he’d do just that.

He comforted me, asked me out to lunch, and I accepted. I was back on the vicious cycle, attempting to justify my behavior like I always had before – by telling myself that maybe this was it for me, maybe I was supposed to be with someone that loved me more than I loved them. He was a great guy, with a lot of qualities just screaming “settling down material”. Maybe I’d read too many romance novels and was overlooking what was supposed to be my chance, while I waited for a passion that didn’t exist. But I knew better – even though I was stepping back into the ring, this time I was completely aware of what I was doing. I was going to sucker punch him, and apparently no amount of self-loathing was going to change that. If I was cruel before, I was downright sadistic now.

Two days ago he showed up right on time for our lunch date. Everyone else was gone when I let him in the front door and he followed me back to my office. I was nervous, but it wasn’t the fluttery nervousness of a normal date. It was a nervousness born of knowing I was doing something wrong, and wondering if he’d call me out.

“You look nice”, he said.

I was surprised by how relaxed and casual he was and I forced myself to calm down too. He didn’t reach for my hand or my arm as we walked to the café, like I thought he would. He didn’t touch me at all.

I’d made jokes about getting a free lunch out of him, because that’s what I do...make terrible jokes. But when we arrived I waved away his protests and paid. I couldn’t have that on my conscious too. And apparently, buying him a club sandwich was supposed to make me feel better.

We sat down at a table by the window and we talked – about our kids, our jobs, and all manner of things we’d missed out on in the months we hadn’t spoken. I found myself laughing with him and feeling comfortable. He didn’t question me or compliment me, he didn’t look at me like he wanted to peel my skin off and wear it like a wetsuit. It felt normal – like two friends having lunch.

On the walk back I looked at his face, relaxed and confident, and I wondered if he knew. I wondered if he thought he was “wearing me down” or if, like me, he simply couldn’t stop himself from gravitating to what he knew would never work, out of some unfulfilled need.

In the lobby of my building he hugged me goodbye and kissed me on the cheek. “That was nice”, he said. And I agreed, smiling and waving as he walked out the double doors and into the parking garage.

But my smile didn’t stick around very long. I’d no sooner sat down at my desk when I thought, “Wait...what just happened? Is he over me? He’s never that casual. What was wrong with him?” I knew I was being an egotistical asshole, but I couldn’t help wondering why he didn’t fawn all over me like he normally would.

Two hours later I received a text message that said, “Thanks for lunch, had a great time. You looked stunning, as always.”

That was more like what I’d come to expect. And because my vanity knows no bounds, I grinned like a Cheshire cat.

I’d be willing to wager that I’ll hear from him again soon, and I’m not really sure what will happen. After exploring every unflattering angle of my behavior, and branding myself with labels I hate, yet completely deserve (like needy and cruel), I know something has to give. I know that, no matter how many times I may try to pretend or convince myself otherwise, he isn’t what I’m looking for. Now I just have to figure out if I’m the kind of person that needs something so badly, they take what isn’t rightfully theirs. I hope not. I hope I can find the courage to push him away for good and learn how to be truly alone, because maybe that’s all fate, God, or whatever decides these matters, is waiting for.


erin said...

I love living vicariously through you.

I look forward to it. haha.


Mollie said...

Was it a good club sammich at least? God. I read the whole thing and that's what I ask about? Eff.

BugginWord said...

Did the sandwhich come with a pickle? And sadly I don't mean that in a euphemism-for-a-fat-dick kind of way. I mean that in the for-the-love of-god-why-do-I-want-pickles kind of way. Though while we're at it, is there any chance that if you boned his brains out there might be more chemistry there than you think? Also, my friends are now begging me to stop shouting "what what in the but" when their cell phones ring.

Anthony Hodgson said...

In the end we all need to be feel loved and wanted. Yes it's probably cruel hanging onto him to make yourself feel better but if he knows how you feel and wants to be friends only then what's wrong with that? Enjoy it I say.

Not the Hero said...

I am curious as to the fact you think he's changed. You say he seemed more relaxed and confident. You enjoyed his company. You say you don't feel attracted to him yet you say he seemed different. Why did you agree to lunch with him? If it was just a validation of your ego then why were you so upset that he may have been over you, and why did you grin like an idiot when he complimented you?

amandam38 said...

I totally get this. I have been there for sure. At least you recognize what you're doing wrong and what your feelings ar einstead of continuing to string him along and keeping yourself in denial. That's something.

Meowlissa said...

I so love reading you.

And we're human. I have to applaud you for owning when we need/want/have our egos fed with a tiny barbie sized spoon. It happens to all of us. Some won't admit it. Some are in denial. I've been there.

Either way, I hope, no matter what happens, there will be peace with your sitch :)

cakeologist said...

I could have written this post only mine would have ended with: one day, after many years, he finally had enough and told me to f@#$ off and I never heard from him again.

Princessa said...

I don't think I've ever commented here before, but I've always connected to your posts big time. :) This one though... takes the cake. This is just another push in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. Hope I get there this time.

PS: I hope you don't mind me linking this post on my blog.

Pretty Young Thing said...

This may be my first time commenting on your here we go...

...I've been here, practically am currently here at the moment with someone although its a different level...we dont hang out because I dont want to lead him on and while I can completely cut him off and have asked him to stop contacting me knowing full well he won't listen for the day or so he stays quiet a part of me almost misses the wonderful compliments and praises he sings me.

I would say, double check with this guy about his expectations...if he is 100% crystal clear on what you said and you seem to know him well enough to know whether or not its BS then there is a chance he'd rather have you in his life in this capacity then not at all. And continuing to pay you compliments is just an old habit that will never die. Perhaps he really enjoys making you feel good. There is nothing wrong with that for either of you :)

But if you have a shred of doubt that he's just holding out hope that he can one day change your mind and he's just playing the friend card to bide his time then I would say to buck up and cut him off. I think you would both be really hurt in the end of thats the case.

Baglady said...

I love this post. It captures that mix of emotions so well - of how we want something and when we can't get it we settle for something else because we just need to feel wanted and desired. And we've all been on both sides, I think.

Of course I hope he understands what he's getting into but that's up to him. You've been honest and if he had to choose between seeing you even though you're not interested or not seeing you at all I think I know what he'd choose.

Sierra said...

I've been in this exact situation... with the guy that I'm currently with and now, engaged too. I wondered the same things to myself, and have done the same things that you did to this guy... all I can say is that I may not have loved him at the very, very beginning, but something kept drawing me to him... and I never knew why. I'm the HAPPIEST I have ever been in my life, and I've been with some real "winners" so this guy seemed a lil' "too good to be true" but he's everything he seemed to be and so much more...

Just because he's not "right" for you right now, doesn't mean he's not the one for you... sometimes you LEARN to love someone.

I love Joe more than anything, and I'm so grateful that my heart kept telling me to hang out, go out with him again, because it was the best decision of my life. I have the life I've always dreamed of with him... and I thank my lucky stars every day that I never gave up on him... He's my everything :)

Hope this helps...

Anonymous said...

Your story has really hit home with me, as it has with many others. Love your writing and brutally honest account within your situations. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only evil woman sacraficing hearts. There's a whole crew of us raping and pillaging the lesser sex. I think they like least I'm telling myself that so I can live with myself! LOL

Ed said...

You ass.

Sounds like some shit I would do.

Big Daddy Cool said...

Well, fuck. Now I feel bad about encouraging you to get him to buy you expensive shit. Tell you what would make you feel better. Convince him to buy ME expensive shit, I have no problem being the dick in this situation...

Jenny DB said...

Wow - I could've written this about my 4 year on again off again boyfriend in college (how terrible I let it get to that point and let it drag on for 4 years) except I couldn't have WRITTEN IT like you... incredible.
My favorite: "And instead of calling time of death, I let him repeatedly shock our relationship back to life. Let him hopefully watch a bunch of feeble lines on a monitor and wait for them to get bigger, all the while knowing what he didn’t – my heart would never work properly for him."

Nari said...

I completely understand your bbehavior. It was a huge part of my single life, but unlike you, I never really felt guilty about it. I was young, selfish and powerful and they were weak and stupid.

In other words I was a cruel bitch and I wouldn't be surprised if I found myself on the hit list of a crazy gunman.

I did reform my ways when I fell in love with my Hubby. I've always said he was the one who had held my heart all that time and now I finally have it back.

Shruthi said...

I'm living one version of this story. Only this time, I've cut him off completely. Because he's a lunatic who spends so much time crying to my friends about me that I want to kill him. He's a pathetic excuse for a person. I don't like him, and I hope never to have anything more to do with him.

I truly hope, because you're awesome like that, that this guy turns out to be someone worth the trouble :). Maybe not a romance-novel, but a good friend is never a bad thing, right?

Helle Kristine Tumbridge said...

When it comes to matters of the heart, my mother always gives the worst advice. One of my favourite quotes of hers is "Don't worry, love will come". She'd tell you how you will eventually learn to love, and how you should give the settling-down-material-man a chance, because he'll probably be a good provider, or something. But you can have fireworks *and* something lasting, you can have it all. The trouble is that in order to do so, you have to risk winding up with nothing. Just depends on which lottery you want to play. But then, you already know this.

Clare Dunn said...

Each person in our lives is there for a reason...we accept them in our lives sometimes never knowing what that reason is.

Accept...with gentle honesty.

How many of us can afford to lose a friend?

xoxoxo, cd

Lou said...

And from stories like this comes the saying "Nice guys finish last."

On behalf of all nice guys everywhere, let me say how very disappointing this is.

The Nerd said...

Having been the type of guy you describe him as, you need to make it very clear to him again how things are between you two. You have to be delicate about it or it could end up scarring him or making him jaded.

I don't think you're a bad person, because I have been through much worse with some women. But if you don't stop this on again off again thing he's going to end up hating you. If you want him around as a friend, stop letting him treat you like you're his girlfriend.

Don't string him along any more, it only hurts more the longer it goes on. I know you are smart enough to know that. Your issues with yourself shouldn't concern or consume him. You may not be able to fix yourself right now, but don't contribute to breaking him.

If you do care about him as a friend, then be his friend. Try setting him up with a friend that you think would like him.

That's just my two cents. Love your blog.

Sally-Sal said...

I think it's the worst when we find what we should want, but we don't want it.

Then, you try to make yourself want it, but it never really works out. You wonder why they're so close, but not quite right. You wonder why you can't just close your eyes and love them anyway.

I know that the real thing is out there for you, Aly. Not the 8.5 you've found, but the 10. And you'll be happy you never settled.

Mr London Street said...

I liked this a lot. Your brash posts are always good value, don't get me wrong, but you are at your best when you're at your bravest - and that means the sort of honesty you've displayed here. This was beautifully done, and I came away from it with sympathy for both you and him, which is no mean feat in a piece of writing.

Jas said...

I kind of felt as though I were reading about myself. In the past, I have been so guilty of stringing people along for the sake of my own boredom or vanity. It stung a little.

I love the honesty in this post! Great and engaging writing.

mymisfortunes said...

I have to say I have been reading your blog for a few months now and I think you a great writer! Keep up the good work...happy face wink..

hawkin47 said...

I've been reading your blog off and on for quite a while now, and I've gone through most of your archives. I've also googled you, found your real name, and have looked at your house with google earth. Your backyard is lovely!
< <

> >
I'm totally lying. I swear! I am not, however, lying about having read most of your shit. And I've loved it. Related to it, felt all kinds of egotistical about how much I love it BECAUSE I relate to it...
But this post, this I relate to the most. I think most people who read it will relate to some part of it.
I've been on both sides of that particular story, and both sides suck almost equally. Because both sides remind us of how weak we are. Of how cruel we can be, and of how truly needy we are.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you'll do the right thing in this case. The right thing involves minimizing the pain you inflict in this world on good people. However that works, whatever we need to do, doesn't matter. Just try and minimize his pain. And your own while you're at it. ;)

caterpillar said...

There's this thing I read's better to be with someone who loves you than be with someone you love. i don't know if that's the truth, but I hope things work out for both of you...

Maryx said...

I know the feeling.. it's shitty.

I did exactly the same thing to my ex. We actually dated 3 years ago and we loved each other. I still love him. But just not enough. (I just used the scariest words there is to me.. on someone else. Shit.)

He tried and tried. He came back to me. He wanted me. I couldn't give in because he just wasn't the one for me. And I knew it.

But finally, I let him go. It kind of just happened though. He's now in a very happy relationship and very much in love. And he deserves to be.

Me? Alone. Guess it's my own fault. Urgh.

Eric said...

Well I'll be effed!

Is Angelina ok that Brad is going out to lunch with you now?