Occasionally people come into our lives, more often than not when we are not paying attention, and we move right along without a second thought. There’s a brief exchange, you have a great time, but then nothing comes of it. Perhaps because you’re both busy, on different pages, different places in your life, or lack the time required to make it more than just what it was – A great evening.
Small things come up here and there that make you think about that person. You find yourself wondering what they’re up to since you saw each other last, if it’s appropriate to text/call, you over analyze any future contact because maybe it’s been so long it feels strange to reach out.
Perhaps you add each other on your social networks: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. As a way of keeping tabs on that person, admiring from afar but making sure there’s enough distance as not to let your guard down and invite them into your life.
You begin romanticizing what would’ve been. You find yourself down a rabbit hole of fantasies wondering if you have JUST done something differently, how exciting your life could’ve been. Obviously it all would’ve worked out if you had just put in the effort, just done a few little things to keep them on the hook.
You see other people, you date other people, you explore your options – but they’re still in the back of your head. “What if” becomes apart of your vocabulary. You become infatuated with this thought. But still too scared to do anything about it. There’s a reason nothing happened the first time, right? Come back to reality, darling. Stop dreaming.
Then something happens. You take a risk. A small, friendly gesture and reach out – 2 years later.
“Hey, I’m not sure if you remember me or not. We went on a date a few years ago and I was just thinking about you and wanted to know how you were doing. Would you like to catch up sometime?”
“…” <– seeing this light up on your imessages is thrilling yet anxiety-inducing.
What will he say? Did he forget about me? Is he seeing someone now and I just opened the door for something I shouldn’t have? Was that inappropriate? Was it desperate? Shit – why did I do that?
You realize you’ve opened yourself up in a new way to rejection. You fear rejection to your core. It’s why you always play it safe. It’s why you’ve ALWAYS played it safe. Never chase the man, let him chase you. Never appear to interested, or fear that they may lose interest.
Drink some wine, delete the text you sent as not to be upset when you don’t receive a response. Move on and forget about it. You were silly to reach out. Shame on you girl, you know better.
“How could I forget? I’d love to catch up with you. Jak’s this Sunday night? Around 8?”
*squeals* – play it cool, girl. Calm TF down.
“Sounds great, looking forward to it!”
You proceed to pull out all the stops. You go shopping for the perfect dress, blow out your hair, apply your makeup like a pro to camouflage any possibly distracting imperfections. Here’s your chance girl, here’s the start of turning those “what if’s” into your reality.
You let your nerves get the best of you. You’re not paying attention to how many glasses of wine you’ve had. You were so anxious all day you forgot to eat. You make a fool out of yourself. You come across desperate, too interested, and easy.
You feel the only way to capture his attention is through your looks, you use your body to secure yourself into thinking you’re receiving what you want. You’re embarrassing yourself. Why? Get your shit together, girl.
Weeks go by and you can’t seem to connect, find or make time for one another.
You’re sick a few times and he surprises you by stopping by with care packages, but you’re so ashamed of your behavior you resolve to treat the person poorly – keeping them at a distance – never letting that guard down because of YOURSELF.
Contact becomes sporadic at most. The occasional text to solidify dinner plans that ends up falling apart due to schedules. Things just don’t seem to be working. You blame yourself. If you hadn’t appeared so insecure and desperate on that date, you wouldn’t be in this position now. You’ve self sabotaged any chance you may have had.
So you do what you know. You see other people. You see LOTS of other people. You’re using it as a way to inflate your own ego.
Months go by, you make solid plans 2 months ahead of time. What could possibly come up between now and then? You’ve had this on your schedule so far in advance that there’s no way it would be rescheduled.
Then, it happens.
The token millennial move.
You can’t figure out why. You’ve known each other for so long now, it’s never been a serious relationship. You never invested enough for this to happen. You start to think they must have met someone else, but you just can’t let it go.
Maybe he blocked you and he’s not getting your texts, should you reach out in another way? No – that just appears too “stalker-ish.” But your ego and logical brain wants to know what happened, where did it go wrong, why did he think that this was the best way to handle the situation. WHY.
You don’t give up. You send a text maybe once a week, maybe every other week – just to let them know you’re there and you’re confused.
You get drunk and call them. Of course they don’t answer, but you leave a voicemail anyway.
“Hey – it’s me. I’ve been thinking of you, I miss you. It’d be nice to see you. I hope you’re doing well. Give me a call sometime.”
You hang up an instantly regret your moment of weakness.
It’s easy to keep up those walls when the only communication you’ve had is a “hey, what’s up?” or “hope you’re doing well” text that conveys no emotion. But when you break down and call someone, they can hear every catch in your voice as you stumble over the right words to say.
You look at your calendar and see that tonight’s the night you had plans. You never whited them out on your paper calendar that hangs in your office. You never deleted it from your google calendar on your phone. It’s a bold reminder of what once was and is no longer.
“Enjoy the show tonight.”
“…” <– there it is again. The notification that someone is typing you a message via imessenger.
“Ended up so busy, last two weeks has been brutal, gave my tix to clients. How’s it going?”
And so it begins. It starts back up again. So casual.
“It’s okay – just enjoying a glass of wine, Netflix, and Todd cuddled up on my lap. How was Whistler?”
“Leave tomorrow for Whistler, trying to wrap up work stuff but big meetings tomorrow and new dev downtown Bellevue had to be here for, then can go. Miss that Todd, he’s a chill cat.”
“So come see him!”
“I get back Sunday eve, de should. Think he’d want to?”
“definitely, maybe, yes.”
“Cool, will bring cat nip.”
Here’s your chance again. You get to figure out what happened, either get some closure or pick things back up where they left off. Which direction do you choose? I suppose that all depends on how the night goes.
He show’s up – late – but he shows up. You end up eating dessert, drinking some wine, and talking all night.
Then it happens. You word vomit.
“Why did you just ghost me like that? What happened?” — because you’re unafraid of conflict. Especially with this person, who you’ve never had an issue calling out for flaking out on dates or never making solid plans. Someone who you were seeing MAYBE once a month for 4 months.
“Why would I take you seriously? You’ve applied to two different jobs out-of-state since this summer. Dallas, and then Atlanta. Not only that, but the job in Atlanta was to be closer to another guy? You date a hundred different men and you treat me like someone who you don’t take seriously, so why would I take you seriously?”
Something I have always respected and appreciated in others is the way they can nail something, so directly on the head, that stops me in my tracks. It’s not hurtful, it’s right. He’s absolutely right.
When you treat others like they’re insignificant. Unwilling to make time for them, provide the attention and vulnerability that’s required to create and maintain ANY form of relationship – how could you possibly expect them to keep trying?
I suppose that was the wake up call and reality check I needed to get my shit together. If you want something to work, you have to put time, energy, and make certain sacrifices so it can come together. The older I get, the more rigid I become. Living alone has been a blessing and a curse. While I don’t have to worry about sharing my home with a room-mate, I notice I am no longer as flexible with certain things as I once was.
Reaching out, lowering your guard, and being unafraid of the unknown makes it possible to have a genuine connection with someone. This is what I want. I know this is what I want. I have been single for almost 2 years now, searching for someone who would accept me for me – but have no qualms or reservations with confronting me when I have acted inappropriately or have hurt them.
I am apologetic and the mirror is clean and clear now.
Until next time,