We’re supposed to love the one we’re with and believe the grass isn’t greener on the other side. We should wait for the one we can’t live without, not just the one we can live with. If at first we don’t succeed, we try and try (and try) again. We should never forget that life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. And yes, one day, our prince, will surely come.
I’m not sure how they can make many more adages meant to illustrate that love and all of its blunders and fascinating experiences are worth every bump and victory – but if I actually believe in any of them, it’d be the question that rings loudly in my mind often:
Why can’t we make the one we like, fall for us, and how do we get the guy who we don’t like…to go away?
We’ve all met that guy and we’ve all dated him longer than we should have (and would have preferred). There isn’t anything wrong with him, but he is completely, utterly, totally, opposite of what we want, need, or desire. Still, for whatever reason, we keep him around, not because he’s filling in a gap like Mr. Temporary, but because he’s just so into us. And if only, that one guy that we really do like, would treat us the way he does, then everything would be right in the world.
I mean, he brings us presents, he cooks us dinner, he is all-so-accommodating, he is at least a decent-kisser (or suitable in bed), and well, he’s attractive – so the eye candy isn’t bad. Not to mention, he boosts our ego and pets our pride. And so, we agree with those voices in our head that say “well, it’s better than being alone, right?” until one day we wake up and realize, as Vince Vaughn did in Wedding Crashers: we’ve managed to attract a stage-5 clinger. Luckily for me, the one I effortlessly hooked; wasn’t a virgin as well, but Mr. Smother was everything I never wanted.
Our romance (if one can call it such a thing) was incredibly short-lived, probably just shy of a month, but it happened to be around a time where I was rather happy, yet superbly bored. To expedite the college experience and move to NYC faster, I was taking summer classes, running and playing tennis almost daily, and drinking sangrias with my friends into all hours of the night (perhaps that’s why I made my only ‘C’ in college that semester in biology? Nah, probably because it was biology). My life was moving at a sweet North Carolina summer pace, and one day as I was “working” in the library and went to pick up pages I printed, I stumbled right into blue-eyed Mr. Smother.
He was studying for his MBA and literally printing out one of his books, instead of buying it at our bookstore. He claimed it was a cheaper alternative, and being the balls-to-wall gal I am, I accused him of hogging the printer, when all I needed to print was a measly four-page report on human skin cells. He cleverly asked why I wasn’t taking anatomy, to which I rolled my eyes, but gave him an encouraging smile anyways. After he finished printing, but before the printer overheated – I gave him my business cards (yes, had those even in college), and hoped he would call.
A week later, when he hadn’t, and with nothing left to do but indulge in my love-addict commissaries (or study for class?) – I decided he just “wasn’t that into me” and I’d probably never run into him again, so what did it matter?
Well – ironically, exactly a week later, at the same printer, at the same spot in the library, there he was, printing away something again. Full of sass (and having decided it must be fate), I marched up to him and we had a witty rapport that ended in him inviting me to a karaoke night with his friends. With other plans, I graciously declined and we engaged in Facebook messaging until, finally, he asked me to go hiking with him. Even though I was raised in the South, that doesn’t mean Mother Nature and I are fond of one another – I’m not sure she appreciates me aerating the ground with my heels, and I don’t enjoy her scary woods and mud she creates. However – because it was a guided trail, and the mountains are lovely (and so was he) – I agreed.
The drive to the parkway was very nice and our conversation flowed as easily as the winding country road– though I recognized some pretty apparent warning signs of my disinterest: he was studying accounting…and loved it, wasn’t really interested in New York…and had already read every article he could find that I wrote online. At first, I was a tad creeped out, but decided maybe it just showed he was supportive of my career. Then again, at the time, I didn’t realize how Google-able I was.
As the date and our climb ascended, I gathered that I probably wouldn’t be too interested in a relationship with him, but I did enjoy his company. He was easy to be around and if anything, maybe he’d be a new male friend – that’s always been something I didn’t have much of. Once we reached the top and took in the view, we sat to rest on a rather large rock (with creepy looking moss, I might add) – and he blurted out a sentence that should have been my reason to run all the way back to my apartment from the top of that mountain:
“So, Lindsay, I have a girlfriend.”
Caught completely off guard, I replied, “Oh. That’s cool…um…someone you just met?” To which he quickly admitted, “No, more like, we’ve dated for four years. But it isn’t going well.” Well, damn. I suppose that makes it easier to break it to him that I wasn’t quite into him, I thought. But then again, now he’s seemingly unavailable – did he just become a little more attractive? Oh no…
We talked more about their issues, kind of similar to Mr. Unavailable, and had a friendly ride back to campus. I didn’t expect to hear more from him, until he asked if he cook me dinner – and for whatever reason, I decided it would be a good idea. Our conversation was light, and when I finally worked up the nerve to ask him how things were going with his girlfriend, he widely-smiled and declared that because of me, he knew he could find much better things, and he broke up with her. Then he kissed my forehead.
At this point, I was equal parts freaked out and flattered. Maybe I was just the catalyst he needed to get out of a toxic relationship that lasted entirely too long. Maybe I was just meant to come into his life, shoo him away from Ms. Wrong-for-Him, and show him there is better love to be had and to find. Or maybe, he had his eye out for me, not as his rebound, but as his next girlfriend of several years.
The next week, he wanted to spend every single second of every single day with me and texted more frequently than I could keep up with (and that’s saying a lot). He started asking if I wanted to visit his family in his hometown for a barbeque and invited me to his company’s summer cook-out. He even asked if I would bake cookies for it. On the side, he was a bouncer at one of our local pubs, and he asked if he could just sneak into my apartment to fall asleep with me because he missed me…after not seeing me for two days. Again, apparently off-my-knocker, I allowed him to. He tiptoed into my one-bedroom at 3 a.m., crawled up next to me and in a baby voice that still makes me shudder as I type, asked: “Can I borrow some of your toothpaste so I can brush my wittle toothers?” In the middle of the night, the last thing I want to discuss or see on a man – are his “toothers.”
Once he left in the morning, I made a very cruel decision to start ignoring him. He would call, leave messages, send texts, and eventually resorted to Facebook. For about ten days, I wrote him off until something in me felt really guilty for putting him off (as so many guys had done to me in the past), and invited him to my apartment for a movie he mentioned he wanted to see. Truth be told, I wanted to “test how I felt” with him. We talked, he avoided the fact I abandoned him, and I held back the need to instruct him on how to speak like a grown-up, and we made out on my futon. At some point between him rubbing the side of my face and nearly gagging me with his tongue, and then telling me how much he had fallen for me – I realized I was going to hurt him so badly.
And so, right before he left, I simply said: “You know, I think you’re great and I think you’ll find someone who is perfect for you. Maybe it wasn’t your ex-girlfriend…but it also isn’t me. I would love to be friends, if you’re up for it, but I understand if you’re not.” He flashed me a smile, hopped up in his Jeep Cherokee, and I never heard from him again.
What I learned is that though we can’t always have the man we most desire or for reasons we’ll never understand, the love we feel isn’t always reciprocated – allowing someone to leech onto us, simply because they’re there, doesn’t give us a nice next round with Karma. It may be better to love and lose, then to never love at all – but seeing someone lose their heart because you wanted to up your pride, doesn’t give anyone love.
And after being the one who was smothered, I realized that when I start to be really into someone… taking a deep breath, and brushing my teeth before I get to their apartment, is probably the best tactic to keep a could-be relationship, plaque free.