I was just having a lengthy conversation with a Jewish friend of mine in which she analogized a recent dating failure in my life to the excitement of Christmas throughout all of December, followed by the reality that Christmas has come and gone, and all you have left is a bunch of toys whose brilliance and luster fade every day. Yes, she is Jewish, but I think she clearly knows about Christmas.
And yes, in this analogy, Christmas was the excitement of someone else meeting me for the first time. Sigh.
We bantered back and forth about these sorts of things, coming to the conclusion that I may have misread a situation, but I also may have read it completely correctly, and there was no way to know now. It reminded me of a little tidbit I learned one time while getting dumped.
I now say that, even if we’re all using English, some people text and chat in a different language than others. The last young lady I fell into whatever-emotion-it-is-that’s-not-love-because-I-am-a-robot with started out strong right out of the gate, because we were texting, I made a fairly dubious reference, and she latched on right away. We spoke the same language, and everything was easy and fun (until it wasn’t).
All the way on the other end of the spectrum, I was once dumped because a text joke I made was not read as a text joke, but instead as snark, which lead to awkwardness. When I finally explained myself, and what the joke was, and how we were both being silly, she told me this: “Even if that’s true, look how confusing the whole thing was. It shouldn’t be this hard so early on.”
Stung like all hell, but she was right.
So I started thinking about some of the things I have learned over the last couple of years of dating, breaking up and getting dumped. And while much of this might seem trite, or obvious, its the difference between lessons learned and lessons earned.
These were lessons earned, each a permanent mark upon my sleeve.
- No matter how much you believe someone is The One, the sheer fact that they do not believe the same makes it true: they are not The One.
- It does not matter how shitty someone is being to you. Even if they fully acknowledge how shitty they are being to you. You do not get to put words into their mouth as to why.
- Waning interest is in fact the surest sign that you are not actually interested at all. Sometimes you need to take the old dog out behind the barn.
- The Fadeaway is a tried-and-true method for ending a relationship – just stop contacting them, and maybe they’ll take the hint. It is a terrible way to treat another human being, a coward’s way out. It is probably the most commonly used method of all.
- Your bullshit is your own bullshit and no one knows what it is unless you tell them. You don’t get to decide how someone else is going to react to it, and you deprive them of any real chance of being anything other than what you predicted by not letting them see it all.
- It is incredibly easy to take a seemingly innocuous thing that someone did, turn it into a big deal, and use it as grounds for dumping them. Especially if you were already going to dump them and were looking for the right way to explain how you actually felt.
- Do not drink and text. No one wins.
- Some people are looking for someone special. Other people are just looking to play. Each group is not particularly sensitive to the needs and desires of the other.
- Sometimes the thrill of the chase is significantly more fun than the reality of how messy another person actually is.
- When you go on a first date with someone, you’re not just going on a date with them: you’re going on a date with everyone they’ve ever dated, and everyone you’ve ever dated, and probably your parents as well. Its only fair to expect people to be human.
Its tough out there. Rejection at 34 feels exactly like rejection at 17, and years of accomplishments and tough life lessons in between do nothing to make the hurt any lessened. And sometimes, you don’t even realize that you’re the one doing the hurting. You’re the one rejecting someone else. And its not an enviable place to be either.
One friend, coaching me through the first time I had to break up with someone in my life (yes, in my 30’s and yes, I felt pathetic) explained that, in an absolute truth, when you go out on a date with someone, unless they are actually the one with whom you’ll spend the rest of your life, someone is going to get hurt. Maybe they like you and you don’t like them. Maybe you date for 3 weeks and then meet someone new. Maybe you date for 3 months and then they decide this isn’t going anywhere. Maybe you date for 3 years and then you cheat on them. Point is, at some point, at least one of you is getting hurt. And you have to know this if you want to date, to find someone you can stand long enough to let them learn to stand you.
Its a dark view on dating. But I believe it is true. That which doesn’t kill us, and all that.
But I choose to look at it from a more positive perspective, which is to say this: even with all the hurt going around, even with the odds so stacked against me, even with the times where it feels a little bit like I don’t want to play anymore … I keep trying. Which means that I still believe in … I dunno? Fucking magic? Did Sisyphus ever get the boulder up the hill?
I do these things, and I learn from my failures and from my mistakes. And I am a better person for every lesson learned. The saddest day of all is the one when I decide I no longer wish to try to be a part of life, no longer think the risk is worth the reward.
But that’s not me. That which doesn’t kill me, and all that. And maybe I do still believe in magic.