By: Julie Marlene
“So, what should we do for our next date?”the sweet, sweet man sitting across the table from me repeats as I stare blankly into space, daydreaming about someone else.
He has everything you’re supposed to want…a great job, athletic, handsome, his own place blah blah blah..and, it’s boring. It bores me to the point that I break out into random fits of frustration with myself. What is wrong with me? I’ve been here before, I’ve been here a lot, too much. Pursued by men that other women pursue, that they would kill to be with. But, here I sit, across the table from yet another one and all I can think about is “him”.
“He” and I have known each other for over a decade. I met him when he was too young to take seriously. I was 5 years older and he was still technically a teenager. So, we became friends. Hanging out here and there. I didn’t see him as anything other than my cute, younger guy friend. It stayed this way for years. Then one night, we crossed a boundary. We were hanging out, watching a movie in his room and he kissed me. It caught me off guard, but not so much so that I didn’t protest when clothes started to come off and it escalated, fast.
It wasn’t weird after. We didn’t even talk about it. We carried on like 2 close friends that happened to get naked. And, occasionally did it again and again and again…
It was a nice set up actually. I got to spend time with my best guy friend (who, by the way, resembles some sort of demigod and makes me, at 5’10” feel feminine and petite…not an easy task), have the benefits of a relationship while maintaining my usual cold emotional detachment, and have sex without the risk of someone falling in love. Or, so I thought.
This carried on over the next few years. Pausing for any respective relationships we were in. “He” was always there for me and is a solid, brutally honest man with all of his shit together. And, he’s not safe. No office job, 2 tours on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, quiet and level-headed with a surprisingly explosive temper, strips on the weekends sometimes for extra money and so much confidence it puts me, with my usually dominating personality, in check.
And, then fuck…it happened. I fell in love with him, and I freaked out. I don’t do emotions. I’m closed off, distant and usually piss men off with my detachment and anti-sleepover rules. I didn’t know how to handle it. So, I didn’t. I seethed in it for months…MONTHS. Until, one night we were lying together, talking and I jumped out of bed…as in, actually physically jumped out of the bed and blurted out, “I can’t do this anymore”. He had no idea what I meant. His eyes were wide and he froze like I was some kind of wild animal that would attack with any sudden movement.
“I have feelings. Real feelings for you.”
Except, it wasn’t as eloquent as my punctuation would suggest. It sounded more like one giant, frantic word. He suggested we have dinner and talk about it soon. It was midnight after all. Then, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and asked me to text him when I got home safely. All normal stuff, followed by a solid 2 weeks of dead air.
Nothing. I finally broke the silence and we made a plan.He’d pick me up, he’d pay…all his suggestion. Seems good, right? I thought so. Then, came the grenade… “I feel the same way…” followed by what felt like a million tiny “buts”, “I may re-enlist”, “I don’t want to lose you if it doesn’t work”, “I don’t want to disrespect you with the stripping”. I wasn’t hungry anymore. This was the first time in my adult life that I had put myself out there and I got rejected.
So, here I am a few months later (we didn’t start speaking again until a month ago, mostly because of my pride), after trying to convince myself and almost successfully I might add, that I was over him, that all I needed was to hear “no”, still in the same place. Back to constantly thinking about him and aching over him. A completely new feeling for me. Finally, at 33 years old ready to be in love.
And, in a cruel twist of fate, feeling everything that I most likely put those unsuspecting, attentive, sweet men through again and again and again…