The BetsyG-Spot

Love, life, and sex in the suburbs
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Wise Up

July 02, 2017 Category: Uncategorized

I have a bad habit, particularly with men (only with men?), of tolerating bad behavior for far longer than I should. And my friends, in turn, have had to tolerate this habit of mine as they watch me cycle through the same results again and again. But God bless my dear friends: they don’t walk away when I suffer the consequences of my stupidity.

I’m just emerging from one of those situations, in which I have behaved so knowingly stupidly that I kept the last go-round from even my least judgmental friends. (I’d started keeping it from my most judgmental friends long before.) I’d like to stop doing stupid things, to understand the wrongness of the situation from the start and then stop, walk away.

In this case, at least, when the inevitable failure did occur, having kept it from my friends meant that they didn’t have to deal with the fallout for once. I had decided that this mistake would impact only me and not drag the caring folks in my life into the latest quagmire.

To bring this issue into focus, I provide this brief rundown of recent events—brief because what happened is less important than my actions.

I met a guy through Facebook—someone who I vaguely knew in the past. We started talking on the phone and had what you’ll have to trust was an insanely good connection. I have never in my 56 years met someone who I could talk with as I did with him, someone whose psyche was instantly familiar. We laughed together. We cried together. I would best describe our interactions as talking to a mirror, which might not sound so good to you but it’s what I’ve been hoping to find my whole life. The comfort of talking with someone who I don’t have to explain myself to was like bathing in a vat of Brigham’s hot fudge sauce.

I say without equivocation that those conversations were among the happiest moments in my life. I am an unsentimental cynic. I don’t believe in God, astrology, fate, or past lives. But I felt I had met my soul mate. I mean, this guy voted for the most repugnant political figure of my lifetime, and I put that aside. That says it all.

Things (first) went south when I made plans to visit him where he lives out of state. For reasons that I won’t get into but that I understand, he freaked out. But even if I can justify his feelings, it’s pretty hard to justify his behavior, in which he daily switched between telling me to cancel (which I did once) and telling me how much he longed for me. On my end, once it was going to cost something to back out, I decided to power through and go, whether or not I’d see him. Worst case, I’d tour the area, catch up on some reading.

What happened, though, was that I went (he had asked me the day I was traveling not to), and once I was there, he wanted to meet me. The punchline? He took one look at me and decided he didn’t find me physically attractive. We talked for a few hours and that was that.

But when I got home we couldn’t seem to stay away from each other. I thought maybe we could be friends, and we tried that a couple of times. But I was too hung up on him the first time, and he couldn’t stop flirting with me the second time. Long, intimate phone calls at night in which he told me how much he loved various parts of me (my brain more than anything) were followed by protestations the next day that he only wanted to be friends—both because he didn’t want a relationship and because he didn’t find me physically attractive (enough). Then there was the 3+ hour phone conversation that was so fun, loving, and intimate that I told him he was not to pull the friendship line the next day, and he agreed.

After that epic conversation, negotiations began for another visit to figure out how we really felt about each other. Surely it was possible he could look past whatever hideous feature of mine had repelled him the first time? (It wasn’t my weight, which I find repellent.) I needed him to tell me he wanted me to come. I needed him to tell me he would keep an open mind. He couldn’t—he could only say, “Come if you want.” So I told him I would not come, and we had what should have been our last conversation, since it was clear we could not be friends.

Surely you can guess that it wasn’t our last conversation. Despite my telling him not to contact me unless he wanted to pursue his feelings for me, he sent me a random chat. And try as I did to resist responding (here’s where I reveal myself to my fed-up friends), in a weak moment I did, and the whole fucking roller coaster ride began again.

Let’s skip the details. I’ll tell you only that after I again made flight reservations (he’d said what I needed to hear) he felt the need to again describe in emphatic terms his lack of physical attraction to me. Apart from the fact that he was reverting to the painful push-pull behavior that had characterized the leadup to my first trip, the word that really pushed me over was “settle.” He wouldn’t settle for anything less than what he really wanted. I’m certain he felt he was talking about himself and his needs. But my brain could not come away with anything other than this: he would be settling if he ended up with me. Appalling, given the compromises I’d be making to be with him, our political differences being only one of several mismatches.

So finally I’ve done what everyone said I should have done after the trip and several times after that: I blocked him. I blocked him on Facebook. I blocked him from calling or texting. I blocked him on Gmail. No, I did more than that. I created a special filter using hidden Gmail features that sends him a message (which I wrote to look like it was system generated) telling him he’s blocked. Just in case he had any doubt.

Since I did all of that, I have been thinking hard about why I gave him so many chances, why I always do this sort of thing. I have long been aware that I am what I call a toxic optimist, meaning I always think things will work out even when that belief is bad for me.

Another thought was that I must have some sort of innate “three strikes” instinct, but in this case the feelings were so strong—on both ends, it should be obvious to you, even if it’s not obvious to him—that he kept fouling off pitches, staying in the batter’s box far longer than he should have.

But a game has to end eventually, right? This one was never going to unless I walked off the mound with the ball, which I did.

I hope to learn something from this, but it’s so hard for me when the heart is involved. The Aimee Mann song, Wise Up, comes to mind. Here’s the first verse:

It’s not what you thought
When you first began it
You got what you want
Now you can hardly stand it, though
By now you know
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

How do you do that? How do you wise up? I desperately want to. I want to stop putting my friends through these trials. I want to stop putting myself through them. I want to be as wise in my love life as I am in the rest of my life.

Easier said than done, but, after this recent debacle, my dear friends, I’m going to try.

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