Palm, meet forehead- smack!
This all started with what I realized to be a failed attempt at dating a guy for the…twelfth or so time.
We’ve had the habit of, when both of us are single at the same time, fooling around, catching up, then going our separate ways.
It began as a high school crush- one that, for all I can tell, he didn’t quite reciprocate. I kept trying to get him to commit (as much as someone can commit in high school), but it was never going to happen. Eventually it led to something purely casual.
The most recent of times was this past winter. The Ex (THE) left me right after Christmas and the day after it happened I realized Chris was moving back to town. He’d moved away with his parents and I hadn’t seem him for most of the time I was with The Ex (again…THE).
Crippled with the emotional wreckage, I went crawling to him. After leaving me, The Ex had taken one of the dogs we adopted together. Without means of taking care of her, I was forced to put up my own dog for adoption. Despite finding her a good home with a family, large house, large yard and plenty of kids to play with, I was distraught. Besides the break up, I was then dealing with the loss of my dog, ashamed for allowing myself to bring an animal into my life, loving her, giving her a home, then telling her to “stay” as I closed her new home’s door in her face as she tried to leave with me.
So, what I did with Chris is beyond stupid. I slept with him, hoping it would help me move on, hoping that if I did, I could prove to myself that I wasn’t going to be alone for the rest of my life.
Had we been in a relationship, the sex would have phenomenal. Of course, I was emotionally shitfaced. It was far too soon to even try. I’ll put it this way, Chris himself told me he’s never seen a girl “get dressed so fast.” I practically ran out of the house. And I feel really bad about, it, I do.
After I left I drove to my best friend’s house. Brian and I dated in high school but now we’re purely platonic. Regardless of our past relationship, we remain best friends, and that’s that. I told him I slept with Chris and he told me he had suspected as much, by the way I sounded on the phone.
So I found myself trying all over again. After 6 months, Chris confessed to me that his “patience is wearing thin.” Appreciate my confusion as I hadn’t considered he’d been waiting for me to get over The Ex and date him. I thought I was the only one waiting for what seemed like an endless period to get over him. Sadly, I wouldn’t get over him until the end of July. I studied in London for a little over a month and when I returned home I met up with The Ex.
I’d spent the past 5 weeks in a blissful state of exploring a new country, meeting new people and getting away from my life. I got to know the girl I used to be and dug her out from where she’d been hiding. I did pages and pages of writing in my journal, working it all out. I wrote about The Ex, how cruel I’d been to Chris and how ashamed I was at my ignorance of his intentions.
I knew it wouldn’t work out but I didn’t consider it was because we lack chemistry. I thought about how he actually pursued me, which, frankly, I didn’t care for. Despite my shame and embarrassment over following The Ex around like a puppy, I hated the idea of it being any other way. No, I did not disregard that I threw away my dignity, but there’s my own lack of self-esteem to consider. When a man pursues me, it terrifies me. I cannot believe that a man would actually want to pursue me, and if I can believe it, I’m positive he’s out to take advantage of me somehow.
When I told Chris I still wanted to get back together with The Ex, he was beyond angry. He didn’t speak to me for weeks and we didn’t speak while I was in London. I thought about him just as often as I did The Ex, though, when I wasn’t putting conscious effort into not thinking about either of them, trying to enjoy my trip.
In late July, thank God, I came to my senses. I realized what a terrible relationship The Ex and I had. I realized what a jerk he was, and how emotionally abusive he had been. I can openly admit that he was- once- physically abusive, now that I understand why I have been ashamed of admitting it even to myself. To describe what really happened would make it appear far more obscene than it was, but I can tell you this: it happened once and we broke up shortly after, near the time I made it clear I wouldn’t put up with that shit.
So in late August, Chris and I started speaking again. Because he had just moved back to town, he started attending the same university I am, and we began to hang out often with my best friend, Taylor. Taylor liked how Chris and I got along and she suggested I try to go for it one more time. I was doubtful but it was difficult to see fault in the plan. Chris and I get along wonderfully, most of the time, playing on each others’ humor well, having known one another for quite some time.
He was hesitant at first. He told me that, this past summer, during my oblivious idiocy, I’d really hurt him. One, this was significant because he was telling me about his emotions. Two, this was significant because he was admitting to pain, specifically.
He also told me how, in addition to his trust issues, he was hesitant to even attempt to give me a second chance. What I thought were words of assurance, I explained to him I wasn’t looking for anything serious and I just wanted to test the waters. At this point I still failed to understand the severity of the situation for him.
Despite knowing better, I slept with him again. This time around I wasn’t emotionally shunted but I knew something wasn’t right. The chemistry wasn’t there and I was terrified that it meant that I still couldn’t be with another person, ignoring the more obvious reason- it just wasn’t going to work out, even if I wanted it to.
I really knew we were in trouble when he invited me to go with him and his family on a cruise after Christmas. I was excited about going- who doesn’t want to go on a cruise in a tropical locale during winter? Then I panicked. One, I didn’t have the $950 I would need to go. Two, this was a commitment, although one a couple of months long, that I didn’t want to be in. I was so ashamed of myself. Just then I realized that the tight feeling in my chest and stomach cramps were anxiety over this commitment. Sure, it was fueled by the financial aspect of it, but I knew what was going on. I tried to pretend that it was just the money issue. When Chris went as far as to offer to help me pay, I wanted to die. What should have made me happily able to go instead made me feel nauseous.
I was determined, though. After I broke it to him that I couldn’t go to on the cruise, I could tell how disappointed he was. He’d been working on making it possible for me to go for a few weeks at this point. Again, I felt awful. My determination to make it work or allow us to ease out of the pressure of dating prevailed, amazingly enough.
So, I made it a point to take interest in what he was doing outside of school. We easily spoke about his classes, and at the time he and his best friend were working on a home-made flash video. He’d been mentioning what a pain in the ass the whole thing was turning out to be, and I was genuinely interested. Regardless of being a terrible not-quite-girlfriend, I’m still his friend, dammit.
It was then that I realized I’d never met his best friend. I’d heard about him for years and I started to joke that I didn’t believe he existed.
“Who? Lance? He exists! Really? You two have never met?”
A couple of weeks later Lance was sitting at a table with us at a sushi restaurant nearby school.
I was nervous about meeting him. I was terrified there was a reason I’d never met him during the 8 years I’d known Chris. Maybe he was a jerk or simply socially inept or God knows what.
We hit it off immediately. And by “hit it off,” both Chris and Taylor used those exact words. Chris used them with doubtful hesitation, Taylor with girlish excitement.
I hadn’t considered him an “option,” of course, immediately. Chris’s best friend? No, not allowed. Taylor thought this was ludicrous. “Boys don’t care,” she told me.
After sushi we all went bowling. I had a few too many to drink as soon my motto about bowling was “you bowl better the drunker you are!” (For the record, I won the last game, despite my intoxication.) It was getting late and getting time to go. Chris had an early morning, Taylor and her boyfriend were getting tired, I had to work the next day- but there was no way in hell I could drive. For one, I’d carpooled with Chris over to US Play and left my car at the sushi place. Also, I was piss drunk.
Taylor half-heartedly offered to drive me and somehow Lance’s name got thrown in the hat. I can’t remember if he volunteered, if I asked him or if Taylor did but he said yes, he’d drive me home, spend the night and drive me back. I should have known that it was trouble that I was happy.
On our way to my apartment, Lance was giving me an interrogation, gently asking me about Chris, what our “story” was, my past boyfriends, etc. I was happy to talk talk talk because I was drunk drunk drunk. So I told him all about me and Chris, our many attempts of dating. I told him about me and Brian and how we still remain friends. I even told him how I used to date Taylor’s boyfriend for a short period but that I perfectly happy the two of them were now dating because they were such a great fit.
I jabbered away until we got to my apartment and then I kept talking. Even when I’m drunk and uninhibited, I don’t talk that much. Around strangers, I clam up and I’m quiet, quietly observing, taking notes, figuring out people. With Lance it was just yak yak yak- I’m surprised he didn’t tell me to shut the fuck up.
We changed into PJs (I lent him some sweats and a too big for me shirt) in my closet, and I took that as a good sign. Thank God he wasn’t going to try to get in my pants! It occurred to me that I’d brought a stranger into my home, while drunk, and that he could easily overpower me at any time should he want to. But then I thought, “No, he’s not that guy.”
Despite my Blood-Alcohol-Content, I was still awake. We chatted about past relationships and random stuff until we ended up falling asleep.
During the next week I had a problem. I still believed the famous “bros before hoes” sentiment but Taylor quickly bashed it. She told me what I hadn’t realized I knew: that Lance and I got along really well. That when I was sarcastic and kind of blunt he picked up on it and kept the joke going as opposed to stumbling into it. That he was ridiculously adorable and that I liked him.
A week after sushi and bowling we met up for Italian and bowling. Just me, Taylor and Lance, this meeting was a bit more intimate. He questioned whether I was jealous that Chris might be with another girl at that same moment and I told him “No.” At last week’s dinner, Chris was said a few things off-color about the “kinds of girls” he dates- how did he put it? “Slutty.” Ew.
Things were going well. The three of us had enjoyable conversation and Taylor was trying to work her magic. At this point, I knew I wanted Lance.
I acknowledged that this was wrong. I weighed my options. Physically, I had every reason to want this person. Emotionally, I felt comfortable with him. I was impressed with him as well- he has similar interests as I do, has already graduated, has plans to attend grad school, and studied English in college. (I’m an English major.)
That night he stayed over at my place again. This time there was more intelligent talking on my end (it was his turn to be a little drunk). We cuddled and kissed and I have to say it was nice. I wasn’t stuck in my head and I could just enjoy it. We fooled around a bit but, determined to make this stick, I told him flat out I wasn’t sleeping with him. When he asked, I confessed it was because I didn’t want him to think poorly of me. He was fine with it and we continued keeping it below second base. The next morning I lay in his arms while we watched a movie while still in my bed and then we went out for a quick breakfast before I went to work.
…Haven’t heard back from him since Friday.