Oct 2012 10

by Symbol

[Bracket in Heart In Cage]

Life is short: Be respectful. Take healthy risks. You only have one life to live…

I seem to have lived life as a serial monogamist. I’m not sure how, or why, this has happened. Anyone who knew me in my sexually “formative” years, would probably have voted me most likely to be non-committal – a perpetual bachelor.

But the truth of it is, shortly after my explosive “experimental” phase (which is a very polite way of saying “when I stopped being a slut”) I got roped down, tamed and branded into a series of perpetually never-ending longterm relationships; Eight, actually. Eight longterm relationships, two engagements, though I never married. 

I think, for me at least, love strikes when least expected. I can’t actually remember ever thinking, “Okay, today I’m going to go out and find someone to fall in love with.” I mean, sure, we all go out looking, right? But it’s still a surprise when it actually starts to happen.

There’s really nothing sadder to me though, than when you fall in love alone. I have several friends who seem to perpetually carry torches for other people who will, let’s be honest, never return their affections – at least not at a comparable level of intensity.

Keeping yourself in check, at least to some degree, is definitely a skill set that they don’t teach you in high school. When I fall for someone, and that is rare, I fall hard and fast. I fall like someone who thought they were going sky-diving and accidentally packed their laundry instead of a parachute.

Intensity like that can be really scary for someone new and finding matched intensity is always preferable. But chemistry like that doesn’t work or happen for everyone. That’s why we develop phrases and codes that we use to communicate to one another – in part to spare each other’s feelings.

I had a friend recently tell me that she “can’t” say no to guys when they ask her out, she just feels too bad. No matter how disinterested she might be, she is willing to go out (at least for coffee) with anyone brave enough to ask. This kind of boggles me, because I’m far pickier about who I will entertain.

Even though I’ve been a serial monogamist, I’ve had an unreasonably high number of relationships in my lifetime. I think, however, this enables me to really quickly process what I am, and am not, interested in – with reasonably decent accuracy. It also means that when things aren’t right I don’t fuck around, I bail.

I find myself barreling towards the end of the year – rapidly living out the last days of summer, awaiting the oncoming winter and all that that entails. I’m finally in a place where I love my job, I have a reasonably enjoyable life, too many side projects to possibly handle at one time – and a hole.

I’m not a codependent person, far from it. I’ve taken care of my own needs for longer than I haven’t in life, but I think I tend to notice things like my “hole” far more readily when things are good, than when they are bad. When I’m happy, it’s natural for me to want to share that happiness and watch it spread.

When you’re single, it’s a very different dynamic – sharing happiness. You trickle it out, piece by piece, to those who you’re closest too, but never really share it the way you might with someone you truly love. I don’t mean to imply that you can’t love your friends – I just mean it’s a different type of love.

Near the end of the summer I “met someone.” Of course I wasn’t expecting too, I wasn’t prepared – I certainly wasn’t looking. There’s massive chemistry there for me, which is scary; scary because although I know she’s interested – it still feels a little like a one-sided romance.

She’s told me she’s not ready.
 Not ready to me means a variety of different things. They each reflect a different level of ego and/or confidence, I suppose. I won’t go into great detail, I’m sure you can project your own perspective on that phrase – but it leads to a three-way conflict of possible behaviurs, each with their own dangers.

The first choice, the most obvious, is patience. The danger in this option is reflected in the phrase “waiting in vain.” What exactly are you waiting for? Things to suddenly become right? Moons to align? A change in the stars? For them to wake up one morning and go, “Ooooooh. I get it now”?

Waiting may work for some, and if it does, great! But life experience tells me that, for most, the longer you wait the more danger rises – danger of falling into the “friend zone,” danger of either parties meeting someone else, danger of interest shifting and missing out on the chance for something at all.

The second choice, which I really don’t recommend, is to push. By this I mean simply acknowledging that the person isn’t ready, but forging ahead anyway as though they were. I’ve never seen this work. I’ve only ever seen it backfire, and I’ve seen it countless times. Be really careful, consider this a warning.

Sometimes it’s okay to push a little, especially if the intended party isn’t very forthright in communicating whether they’re honestly interested or just keeping you around until something more ideal comes along. But as soon as you get a clear idea of that, it’s best to change to a more respectful strategy.

The third choice, which most of you won’t like, is simply to bail. If you, like me, don’t have time to wait around for someone, or for them to come around to your way of thinking, then it probably wasn’t mean to be in the first place. The best love, the strongest, should burn brightly, from both sides.

Ask yourself one simple question: If the roles were reversed, how would you feel? If your answer is, honestly, “This wouldn’t bother me at all.” So be it. But if you get even remotely squiggly about being treated the way you’re acting towards someone else? It’s time to reconsider your behavior.

For many, a balanced approach of all three is usually what happens. Thought problems arise when people get tired of one and switch to two – or when they can’t seem to accept that maybe it’s time to switch to three.

But in the end, if you really are interested, then you really are going to be waiting. Waiting for trust to grow, waiting for whatever gives them pause to transform – maybe even vanish – waiting for them to realize that they do, in fact, like you as much as you like them. And that that’s okay.

Unless you know, for certain, what their reasons are (and realistically, I’m not sure how you could possibly know that since I’ve never met anyone who was that transparent and open with their feelings, especially to someone new, that they’re interested in) you’re waiting. Patiently or impatiently, is up to you.

So back to me. As I said, I met someone. Boom. Head-shot. Caught me completely unaware. It’s that “brand-spanking-new-want-to-see-them-all-the-time” sensation, butting up firmly against a “whoa-things-are-moving-too-quickly-wall.” At this point I’m just lucky that I’ve met her, and that she likes me.

So I’m waiting, for now. I’m taking the time to fully determine if what I’m feeling is infatuation, or something more. If that bursting sensation, the one I can barely contain sometimes, is something that will fade with time, or if it will consume me. I’m waiting, and hoping, that she’ll realize it’s worth the risk.


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