An email from a reader prompted me to write about the time I told someone I loved them and didn’t mean it. I know that’s pretty high up there on the list of “Shitty Things One Human Can Do to Another” but I give myself credit for acknowledging that fact and a small pass ‘cause I was kinda on drugs. See, my then-boyfriend has ADD and I was unemployed and bored and mourning the loss of what I was sure was the height of my life—college—so, I asked him for Adderall with the honest to God intent of coming up with great lies for my resume(s).
Instead, I told this guy I loved him (yes, I blame the Addy), which put the cherry on top of the accidental sundae I’d been making for four months. ‘Cause I hardly liked him. It was just nice having someone to talk to in the beginning. It was nice to call someone and know they were going to answer. Then, I graduated to drunk dialing him and it was the best because he didn’t hang up. He never hung up. Then there were dates, kissing in the park and hand holding. There was him knowing my favorite candy and sneaking king sized bars into the movie theater. There were many late nights on Skype—sometimes naked, but we never had sex. So, yea, there was him wanting me for more than my body and all that. There were love letters and picnics and poetry and everything else girls like but it was all wasted on me. I’d tripped, played it off with a little jog and ended up Forrest Gump-ing it across America—well, across his heart.
I thought, “This is why I don’t have a boyfriend”. I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m unwilling to compromise. Unwilling to go without two or three things on my “list”. Unwilling to let love grow—to let it surprise me. Unwilling to give someone a chance. So, I tried to make it work. Who wouldn’t want someone who is kind and generous and adores them so much that no other word but “adore” could describe it? I thought this is why all of the weird chicks with suspenders and velvet capes have boyfriends. They found something that worked and didn’t rock the boat. Because at the end of the day, it’s about who is willing to put in the work—who thinks you’re worth it. When you find that someone, you’re supposed to hold on, right?
But there’s fine print in relationships. It reads: It is possible to get everything you want and still be unhappy. It is possible to meet someone who is perfect on paper but doesn’t make your heart skip. These are the facts of life.
Tumblr is a send-off!
I didn’t understand then-boyfriend, ya know? He’d make jokes and I genuinely couldn’t see what was funny. I was a shitty version of myself with him—never spontaneous, hardly up for new things. I wanted fun and adventure just not with him. And it’s crazy because I wanted to want it so bad that I ended up hurting him. I let the relationship go on for months, making excuses for how I felt and lying to people when they’d ask about us. Things were great. I had nothing to complain about and the one thing I could complain about wasn’t easily articulated. “It’s just a feeling, you know? There’s something missing, but I’m not sure what.”
I accepted a lunch “date” with a friend of a friend, which proved to be the end of then-boyfriend and I. From the second I sat down with The Boy (yes, the same The Boy from previous writing who makes me cry a few times later in the story but we forgive him) I wanted nothing but to be next to him…all of the time. We talked about nothing and everything and my heart beat outside my chest and I felt safe with him and I loved the way he smelled and I cackled at his terribly cheesy jokes, feeling all at once what I had not felt with then-boyfriend. I broke up with him two days later. It sucked. I sucked. My only consolation was that people had hurt me in love and life is one big wheel. It was my turn to be the asshole and his turn to cry and wonder what went wrong.
Recently, in the Age of Confusion with The Boy and I, I went on a few dates with a guy we’ll call MAWM (Middle-Aged White Man). And we’re not calling him MAWM because he was actually a middle-aged white man but because he was a 22 year old black guy who enjoyed acting like he had a mortgage and grandkids. In addition to not liking Supreme Tombstone pizzas (what?!) and chewing gum, he also wore lots of white because “[you] can bleach all [your] clothes” and didn’t understand how that made him sound like a serial killer. He was just burdened with all these make believe worries and things twenty-somethings don’t concern themselves with because no one expects us to. If that weren’t enough, his jokes weren’t even jokes. I don’t know that he told a single joke throughout the six dates we went on. It was more so just awkward laughter after every few declarative statements.
He got six dates outta me, though. I tried because he was a nice guy with a real job and a real car and when he told me I was beautiful I believed he meant it and that’s always nice. He took me to frozen yogurt on our first date, like, how cute. But I had to cut it short. I couldn’t bear the thought of another Forrest Gump relationship.
What I’m saying is not every guy that’s nice to you is meant for you. Questions in your mind can be resolved over time (those are the relationships that just need a little watering) but questions in your heart require a change. Stay true to what you feel. Don’t continue on in something if you feel it isn’t right. You’re wasting your time and risking someone’s feelings. Don’t be the asshole!
The lesson: You can have all the criteria in the world for your “perfect guy”, find him and still be disappointed. It all hinges on a feeling and that’s the craziest part about love.