Anonymous commented on my last post, "[...]Ask yourself what kind of relationship message you are putting out? You are afraid of getting hurt and so often keep men at arms length. That message comes out that YOU are afraid of commitment as well. That YOU aren't capable of being close to another person, because of your fear."
In an instant I recognized this as truth. The timing of the comment was perfect, because its message was actually something that I have been thinking about a lot over the last couple days. In one of the most surprisingly helpful conversations I have ever had with Pete, he led me to this fairly life-changing idea: If you're not getting what you want, why don't you try asking for it? Ask for what you want.
My gut reaction was immediate and visceral: No way! With his well-duh question of "Why not?", suddenly, in a flash, I finally saw myself from the outside, saw every relationship and pseudo-relationship of the last few years, and their freakily similar demises: boy meets girl. Girl hopes against hope that boy will fall madly in love with her and give her everything she's ever wanted, all the while pretending she could care less. When inevitably he doesn't give her what she had hoped for in the time frame she would have desired, girl writes off boy forever. He gets vilified as a jerk for not giving her everything she wanted, when the fact is, she never asked for anything in the first place.
The fact is, the past four and a half years I have been so afraid of not getting what I want that I've been afraid to admit that I want anything at all. I've been so afraid of getting told 'no' that it seemed easier to never ask a question at all. This whole time I've been waiting for "The One," he who would fall madly and deeply in love with me and prove this with overwhelming displays of his passion and also long-term commitment, only after which would I finally feel safe and secure enough to begrudgingly admit that I returned his affections. If this plot sounds familiar it's because it's at the root of every single rom-com ever made, but in real life? PEOPLE DON'T DO THIS. Any kind of relationship is a mutual endeavor and requires effort and encouragement from both parties; it's not supposed to be some big pass/fail test that the guy doesn't even know he is taking. ("YOU FAILED!" "Wait, but...what was the question?" "Didn't you know you were supposed to read my mind? You lose, get out!")
Pete's advice was surprisingly pragmatic. So, I am upset that the Moroccan doesn't seem to want to spend more time with me. Have I asked him to spend more time with me? Well, no, he should just want to! I am upset that he still has his online dating profile up or that he has not Facebook friended me, but have I asked him what he thinks about taking down his profile? Have I sent him a Facebook friend request? Well no, but... "But what?" Pete says. I don't want to be that girl, I think, and then just as quickly I think, wait, what girl? The girl who has a boyfriend? Suddenly it occurred to me that all these married women I see everywhere probably didn't just sit around twiddling their thumbs until someone asked them to marry him, and when he did they probably didn't respond by saying, "Oh, gosh, wow! Honestly I had never even thought about it before, but now that you ask, well, okay!" But, in a way, that's what I've been doing for years. I've been so afraid of scaring guys off that I wait around hoping he'll give me something, and when he does I say, "Well, ok, if that's what you want!" But I have never once even hinted at what I want.
It seems so revolutionary, and at the same time so astonishingly simple: Ask for what you want. ASK for what you want! It's a new way of life, it's a new way of dating, maybe a whole new me.
Of course, the downside of "ask for what you want" is that you could be told no. But, as Pete put it, at least then you know where you stand, and you know it a lot sooner than if you keep dragging things out indefinitely as some people (ahem) are wont to do.
I should mention after my last post that the Moroccan is not a jerk, and he is not just like every other guy. I was disappointed that things weren't progressing as I wanted (even though I had never told him what I wanted), and I wrote that post under the influence of some pretty serious hormonal fluctuation. I am not saying that things are all good, but they might not be as hopeless as they seem (although they also might be).
Stay tuned for part 2 of the "Ask for what you want" saga, otherwise known as, "But you might not like the answer..."