Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why fool me twice, it's shame on me

In case I needed one more glaring example of why He Is Not Different, I Am Not Special, and People Don't Change, Not Really, here it is: we are right back where we were before. You know, in case that inevitable outcome wasn't already obvious to everyone reading. (Please hold your I-told-you-so's until the end of the presentation.) What surprised me wasn't so much that it happened, but the speed at which it happened. It went straight from morning-after glow to, oh yeah, this again, practically overnight. 

He texts me when he's bored, and only then. At work, he sent me a barrage of messages the other day, indicating his desire to be anywhere else, and suggesting I "kidnap" him. I knew he wasn't serious, and so I replied in kind, jokingly. But when he persisted, I thought, well, maybe... "Could you really do that?" I asked him. "Sure," he replied. "I'll just say I'm going on a site visit." "You're forgetting I don't know where you work," I replied. "You know where I work," he said; "I work at Cronell." "Ok, I'll just walk around Cronell calling your name until I find you," I replied, jokingly. "LOL," he replied with no further detail, and so I knew, again, he wasn't serious. But yet, he kept on persisting, kept texting, gently reeling me in on his line, until I thought again, well maybe... and said to him this time, "Do you want to go for a walk around Beebe Lake with me at 4:00?" But no sooner had I said it, than, "Wish I could," he replied, "but I still have too much work to do here." It seemed to me with that much work to do he would have less time for bullshit texts, but before I could reply he asked, "What are you doing for dinner?" But I knew better this time. It was evasive enough that it could be misconstrued as an invitation, though I knew it probably was not. "Dunno," I replied, and off he went on a textual monologue, musing aloud on the contents of his fridge and what he might possibly have for dinner. I set my phone aside and ignored him. But then, when I didn't respond, "Do you want to go to dinner?" he asked. "I'm thinking Just a Taste." This, finally, seemed to be a direct invitation, and so I replied in kind--directly. "Yes," I said. Then, "What time?" I asked, thinking this to be a fair enough question. But yet again, when approached with a direct question, he hedged. "Um," he replied. And that was it. Um. Twenty minutes later, he modified his response: "I don't know, I have to do laundry... I work too much..." I had reached the end of my rope. I could no longer write his behavior off as merely bumbling or indecisive; it had started to feel overtly aggressive. Again I ignored him. An hour later I was starting to get hungry, and with the possibility of dinner plans being vague at best, I began rummaging through my refrigerator. Again, my phone beeped. "Whatcha doing?" he asked. I sighed, and picked up the phone to call him directly, this time.

"I'm still at work," he complained.

"Mmm hmm," I replied.

"What are you doing?" 

"Just getting ready to eat something," I said. 

"What are you eating?"

"I don't know yet," I said, annoyed.

"Oh, well, what time do you want to go?" he said.

"Oh," I said, confused. "I didn't know if we were doing that."

"Do you want to go to Viva?"

Ah, the old bait-and-switch. To go from tapas to tacos seemed a bit unfair, in my book, and so, "Actually, I've been eating a lot of burritos lately," I replied.

"Ok, so, Just a Taste, then? Meet me there in 15 minutes?"

"Well I could have met you there in 15 minutes if I'd had more warning," I replied as pleasantly as possible.

"Alright, well just meet me there at 7:00, then," he replied. And so I did, but man, all that, just to go to dinner. 

"Oh man, this guy is on thin ice," I texted my friend Eric. Because apparently I can't get enough of the texting. "Going to dinner now, but I'll tell you about it later." "Uh oh..." he responded. Which is why I burst out laughing when I walked into the restaurant several minutes later, and the first face I saw was Eric's, there eating dinner with his Spanish class. I mean, what are the odds? "You get to see him!" I whispered excitedly as we said hello and I pointed discreetly towards the bar.

Joining Luke, now, I pointed out Eric to him, and they shared a brief, if grudging, hello. After a tasty though fairly subdued dinner, we left the restaurant, and Luke walked me to my car. "You wanna come over?" he asked unenthusiastically. "I have to do laundry, but you could hang out with Kevin for a while." 

I laughed. "That's a really tempting and heartfelt invitation," I said, "but I think I'm gonna pass."

"Oh, come on..." he said. "Please?"

"No, you've seemed a bit weird all day today, and you have stuff to do, so I think I'm just going to go home."

"What do you mean?" he asked. "Why have I seemed weird?"

"Oh come on," I said. "Really? You really don't know?" 

"No," he said. "What did I do?" 

"I I really have to explain all this to you? How do you not know?"

"Well I don't often analyze my own behavior," he said. "So, what? Tell me." 

"Well, where do I start?" I said. "I mean, the whole thing about kidnapping you, and then when I offered you turned me down. And then the dinner thing...and you replied with um. I mean, I know you told me you're indecisive, but honestly, if that's the case, if it's actually this bad, then I don't know how you function on a daily basis. I don't know how you have a job," I said, throwing up my arms in genuine bafflement. Here he started laughing, and kept going for a really long time.

"Oh come on," he said, as I crossed my arms and waited for him to finish. "That was funny. Don't you think that was funny?" 

"Well I've been thinking about it for a while, so I guess I've had longer to get over it," I said. "But at least you find it amusing."

"Well, I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know. So you're really not coming over?" 

"No, I'm going to go home."

"So I'm a puppy, and you're punishing me for my bad behavior, huh?" I stayed silent. "Alright. Come over tomorrow, then? I'll make dinner." 

"Ok," I agreed. 

Back at home I called Eric over for a de-briefing. "Ok," he said, "but you're not going to like what I have to say." I braced myself for it, and he began.

"First of all," he said, "you can do better than that guy. Way better. You know you're not a bad looking girl, and this guy... Anyway, besides that, the guy was...well, it's not good. His body language was awful. And then later, I saw you guys from across the street, when you guys were talking and he was leaning against your car? I mean, he couldn't have been leaning further away from you."

"Well," I said, "maybe he was just tired. Sometimes leaning is just leaning, right?" 

"No, no," he said. "Sometimes it is, but he was leaning waaaaaaay back, like this," and here he affected an extremely uncomfortable-looking though fairly representative posture, and I realized it was true. And where had I been during all this? I suddenly realized--right up in there, attentive, eager, leaning into him. "And then at dinner," he continued. "It was just so obvious. He wasn't there because of you. He was there...just to be there." And suddenly I realized that that was true, too. Eric had just put into words the feeling that only a little while earlier I had felt but been unable to articulate. The evening eerily reminiscent of a dinner at the very same restaurant two months earlier. That same feeling that he was bored, that I had to entertain him, put on a show. The feeling that if I didn't carry the conversation we would have just been sitting there. Eating. And so I grew more and more animated as the evening went on in an attempt to elicit a reaction of any kind from him, trying to please him. But despite my best attempts, the only time he smiled all night was when he got a text message from his buddy regarding their 4th of July weekend plans, as he checked his texts at the table. Eric was right, I knew. And he kept hitting way too close to home. "And the thing is?" he said. "The guy's a shlub. And he knows he's a shlub," he continued, starting to sound angry now. "And instead of trying harder, like he should have, he just sat there, being shlubby." I sighed. "What is it you like about this guy, anyway?" he asked.

"There are things..." I murmured dejectedly. 

"I saw his face," Eric said. "I saw his eyes, and he's hiding something. The guy's an asshole, and Rach, it takes one to know one. And I know."

"Ok," I said. "Okay. But...well, so what's the harm, really? As long as I know, and I'm not expecting anything from him, and it's only for a month, then what's the big deal?" 

"Well," he said carefully, "I guess the harm is in how it affects your self-esteem, and what it means you'll put up with from guys in the future. But other than that, I guess there's no harm in it."

God, I hate it when people are right.

[Comments are open, but proceed with caution, please. No helpful advice or armchair analysis necessary. I think we have already established that I am a hopeless case, so no need to rub it in.]  


  1. Eh-you had a good time and got some tapas out of it; as far as life lessons go, this could have been much more painful. And honestly it's probably better than spending years wondering "What if I had given him a second chance?"-you gave it a second chance, didn't work, now you can leave with that chapter closed.

    Also Eric is a shrewd dude-he should evaluate guys on dates more often! Maybe he can start a consulting service, The Guy Gauger or the Shlub Surveyor :)

  2. There is a book called "Enough, Dammit: A Cynic's Guide to Finally Getting What You Want out of Life". And I think you need to read it. Like a lot. Follow that by watching the movie "What the Bleep do we know". And do you have a therapist? Because that has helped me more than my many therapist-esq friends ever could.

    One more thing? I think you should really make a no texting rule. Too much left to interpretation and you are pretty stellar at that. Imagine what would happen if you didn't have to decipher every thing he (whomever the next "he" is) says? Your whole world would change.

    I know you said no advice but I can't help it. It's not that you're a hopeless case - it's that you BELIEVE you are a hopeless case. Which is ridiculous beyond words.


  3. No advice or analysis from me. I just want you to find the man, the right man, who you will be happy with. He's out there. I suspect that he's in DC, waiting for you to get there. Yup, he's there.

  4. you will never find the right guy if you're too busy desperately clinging to whatever current guy is stringing you along.

    it's okay to be 30 and single. in fact, it's even okay to be 40 and single!! being anyone just to feel not-alone doesn't actually make you feel less lonely - as i'm sure you've figured out.

    can i suggest also laying off the pass-agg behavior? i think it probably comes off to guys as shrill and is really off-putting. just be straight-up with these people, and do it immediately - don't let it fester.

    you are pretty, smart and funny - there is absolutely NO reason you won't eventually find someone. but you SERIOUSLY have to stop putting up with second best.

    one last piece of unwanted advice: next time a guys says something like "I', here's the thing. I don't fall for girls, ok? That's just...that's not what I do. But...I fell for you. And now exactly what I was afraid of is happening" RUN FOR THE FUCKING HILLS!! this kind of bullshit corny cliched pseudo romantic melodrama is 100% certain to indicate a major douchebag is hiding behind that cute face.

  5. *being WITH anyone just to feel not alone

  6. Sorry to hear that Rachel. You are very lucky to have Eric as a friend, I am very impressed by his analysis.
    What are you going to do now?

    Congrats on the move to DC by the way, the future is looking bright!

  7. Can't comment without snarky advice, so ... no comment.

    But this Eric knows all.

    When are you moving?


  8. Sorry he turned out to be such a d-bag. Eric's advice is totally spot on. I also really wasn't going to comment and give (more) unsolicited advice, but then I saw Evolutionary Revolutionary's comment and just had to say "hear, hear!" to the texting bit.

    I think texting has gotten to a point where it's just gotten too easy and allows for conversational laziness (on one side, and on the other side, too much room for over-analysis). If you were talking on the phone, it'd be much harder for him to string you along like that. We reveal too much with tone. By not being so available by text, you'd be ratcheting up how easy it is to access you. And with guys who have yet to prove their intentions, less accessible might be a good thing.

    Ok, done with the unwanted advice. Feel free to take it or leave it.

  9. I genuinely like your personality and I think you deserve MUCH, much better. I don't think you're a helpless case or clueless or anything you say about yourself. Don't put yourself down!

    You are open to falling for someone and trusting. Those are beautiful qualities. The fact that you have retained those qualities despite all you have been through is amazing. Be kinder to yourself, you deserve it.

  10. I feel like some people are being kinda unnecessarily harsh, but I hope you can sift through the mean parts and get to the heart of the advice, even though you didn't ask for it... It's just I think we've ALL been there before and it sucks to see someone we like go through the same thing. You need to start demanding more out of guys you see instead of worrying it will turn them off. The guy who is turned off by being made to respect you? He's a shitty guy. You're awesome, but your level of awesomeness can't elevate these dicks!

  11. I, too, think your willingness to give him another chance was a good thing. But you were wise to go in with your eyes open and call him on his crap when you did. Don't kick yourself about this at all. It is totally his loss. There are good things ahead for you in your new home and now you can look forward instead of wondering if you were leaving something behind. You know you aren't.

  12. I totally feel you. I was dating this ass guy when you started dating him. Even though me and this guy didn't get back together (he started dating someone, asshole) I'm still scarred even though I knew what I was getting into. It's bean over 2 months and I still am so angry. Sigh. Anyway. Good luck.

  13. Ugh. Dump him.
    You can do better, and thankfully you were open to hearing what Eric had to say.

    Good luck!

    You provoked a rant for my blog, I'll be writing shortly.


  14. Well at least you are getting better at seeing your situations from the outside! Not much more you can ask out of something like this since it generally just sucks a little bit out of one's life. Good luck with the next one!

  15. I like this Eric fellow! You're lucky to have a true, honest friend like that.

  16. It's really great that you could hear what Eric had to say and see the truth in it. Well done.

  17. What, if any, advice would you have if a friend told you this very story?

    (Jerk better enjoy having you validate him cause once you leave those days are over! And doesn't he know it! Can his indifference be due to the fact that he knows he just isn't worth it?)

  18. I guess I would add that he's a waste of your energy and time. If you were just keeping him around for a booty call until you jet to DC (yay for that, btw), then fine. But the amount of energy you spent on him in just one day/one evening? Over going out to dinner? Not at all equal to what you're getting out of this. Unless he's a lot more fabulous in the bedroom that you're letting on.

    You have a month? Fill your time with moving, specifically moving ON. Pack your stuff, get everything lined up for your new digs, spend time with the people (like your friend Eric, say) who will miss you, and that demonstrate that they'll miss you.

    Luke might miss you when he's gone, but I get the impression it'll be in a "want what I can't have" kind of way, it seems to me.

    I hope this doesn't sound harsh. I'm sure your *really* tired of hearing this, but someday you're going to meet a guy, and it isn't going to be such hard work to be with them. That's how you'll know you've got the right one. I promise.

  19. I love what Erin said. I know that I already commented but I wanted to ditto what Erin wrote.

  20. Hey Rachel,
    Longtime reader, first time commenter, just because the latest has really hit a nerve with me. Don't try so hard!! It wouldn't be this hard if he, or any of the others, were the right one. My sister lives in DC - you'll have guys falling all over you there. The sheer numbers of 'em will leave you with the advantage! Focus on your move, your new job, and as lame as it sounds, focus on you. The rest will come for you when it's supposed to.

  21. Just wanted to say.. your writing is awesome Rachel.
    The way you articulate your feelings. It's so generous of you to share all this.
    I am convinced the right guy is out there for you.. Maybe in DC!! ;)

    Bonne chance en tout cas, tu es une super nana.

  22. I love you and I love your friend Eric, too!
    Haven't commented in a loooong time, but it's funny how your posts are still eerily relatable to my dating life. i mean, almost to a T.

    You ROCK and Eric's right. and you're not hopeless. You're awesome.

    (Also, YAY for DC!)

  23. I was in one of these "relationships" FOR TWO YEARS. How hopeless am I? When it was over, I finally realized what it had done to me. You learned a good lesson at least - everything happens for a reason so somehow I guess you needed this douchebag in your life. Heh. Someone way more awesome is out there for you. (And me too, I hope.)

  24. Men are going to treat you this way as long as you let them - it's not about you as a person or your quality (for lack of a better term) in the eyes of a man as a member of the opposite sex - it's about what you tell them you're worth.

    When you put up with silly bullshit like that, you are telling them that's what you deserve. Fuck that.

    Be alone, or be with someone who treats you the way you want to be treated. No more compromising. You've had the time to figure out what you want and to learn what you needed to learn from relationships.

    When you meet a guy who acts like this nugget, skip it. Squash any warm feelings for him, because they're not for HIM, they're for the fantasy of a great guy who happens to look like him. He's a waste of time. He's distracting you from being able to even meet a great guy.

    And they do exist - you have a lot going for you just because you're educated, intelligent, attractive, never been married and don't have any children. Do you have any idea how hard it is for great men to find women like that?

    Start thinking of yourself that way, and you won't give a dumbass like Luke even 10 minutes of your time.

    You say hopeless case. I say quirky single girl some great guy will one day discover, if she's not wasting her god damned time hanging around with some dumbass who can't even make a solid dinner plan two hours before dinner.

  25. You know what i'm pissed about? How i called this asshole out long ago but no one is commenting on what a brilliant internet friend i am, that's fucking bullshit, go back and read the comments people, maybe then you'll realize that Eric got there second and that was after he met the guy, my fucking clairvoyance had it pegged long ago. In fact i hope to meet Eric and discuss the possibility of having our own show on Spike, sorta like the View or some shit but with guys...

    As for you Charlie Brown, listen to all those people above, they actually dispensed some sage advice, not all but some mind you.

    And for the record, being alone is way under-rated, it's the way i spend most of my days and i happen to like it, then again i'm old, bitter and jaded.

  26. Bwahahaha. Yes, Kono, clearly you have been handed the short end of the stick, here. Poor Kono. *Head pat*

    Yes yes YES, fine, you were right--hear that everyone? Kono was right!

    Anyway, Eric actually called it the first time around, I just didn't write about it then, and it only confirmed his suspicions when he met him. So you both are brilliant and right, ok, god, yes, you were right! And you two should definitely have a show together. The sheer magnitude of your collective rightness would blow up the airwaves.

  27. "It's not that you're a hopeless case - it's that you BELIEVE you are a hopeless case. Which is ridiculous beyond words."

    Yes ma'am! I didn't comment on your last post about this turd because his "I don't fall for girls..." line made me incapable of being kind or polite. You're not hopeless. You're in a tiny town that ain't right for you and hasn't been from the start. You're about to move to a beautiful big city with tons of new people. Sometimes it is all about location. Leave the nozzle in your dust -- and good luck!

  28. you should take Eric on all your dates from now on. even once you move, get a pair of those glasses that have the camera in them and wear a microphone and earpiece, and he can analyze the date while it's happening. And then once he calls it, you can just push back from the table, say "This isn't going to work" and walk away. God, that would be awesome.

    Definitely replace Pete with Eric. Pete provided all kinds of excuses for the guys you were dating. Eric cuts right through their shit and calls it like it is, even if it's not necessarily what you want to hear.

    And yes, very glad you didn't put up with any crap from him this time around, even though it would only be for a month.

  29. Thank you for the head pat.

  30. Gah! I get busy for a week and completely miss this!

    Eric and Kono, excellent judges of character. And I love Nico's post because he just kind of says it like it is, in a honest guy sort of way.

    The reality is I think you think you're less fabulous than you are. It really is about not doing second chances if you get the vibe that the guy is "off" or an ass in the least. Life is too damn short to make putting up with that shit your legacy. Fuck em.

  31. Kate, Nico's a girl and now very depressed about the size of her eyebrow.

    I need a more feminine picture, stat.

  32. A few days/weeks/months from now you can actually laugh at this situation. You'll be having drinks with Eric, remember of this episode, laugh your heart out and feel how precious it is to have such friends, who may sometimes sound brutal, but who are honest and there for you!

    Can someone please explain the non-native-speaker what is a shlub!?

  33. Schlub, from Merriam Webster online dictionary: "a stupid, worthless, or unattractive person."