Last night Bones got lost in a book and forgot about me.
An hour plus after he was supposed to arrive he finally pulled his nose out of his pages and texted me back, “lol I’ve been studying. Sorry.”
This was after he’d said he’d “try” to make 8:30, but had some reading to do for a job he was gunning for. I’d said ok. At 9:30 I hadn’t heard a peep from him and texted him. I texted again at 9:45, “WTF??”
“Kind of caught up in this book,” was his reply after his little lol text.
“So you just wasted my time, basically” I replied.
And then, “I’ve been waiting around for over an hour and not a peep from you! Not like you and totally not cool Book or no book.”
He apologized, said it was a dick move, etc. We went back and forth, me asserting myself and my anger. “Tonight sucked,” I wrote.
“I was distracted and lost track of time…”
And then he said, “You’re absolutely right. This new job is super important to me and my career. I was heavily focused because of that.”
I told him again it was a dick move and then scoffed. “Hey, don’t do that to me. I had no way of knowing how important studying was to your career – but I’d have been more than understanding if you’d just rescheduled because you needed to focus.”
He admitted that was true. He asked me how he could have made it better when I told him I was going to bed because it was obvious he wasn’t going to try. “Well, the second you realized what you’d done you could have apologized and said you’d be right over with a bottle of wine.” He agreed with that, too. But nothing happened. I’d wasted an entire kid-free night.
I’d spent my precious time on a man whose value of me (and my time) were nil.
Yes, he apologized, yes he admitted it was shitty, but I can’t get that time back. Nor did he offer to reschedule or make it up to me in anyway. An entire evening was lost.
I’ve been impotently raging against this devaluation for years by means of not being disrespectful. I am always available when I say I am, I never forget a commitment, I’m not late or get lost in a project and lose track of time. That has never happened to me in my entire fucking life and therefore I can’t extend any kind of understanding to others. It’s simply unacceptable.
I set alarms on my phone if I’m worried I’ll lose myself in something because I value people’s time. In fact, I don’t do things I’d rather be doing (such as writing) because I’ve made a commitment to someone, someone who hasn’t actually earned a goddamned thing from me — and that’s on me. If there was ever anyone who gave the milk away for free… well, it’d have to be me.
I’m not bashing Bones — he fucked up, big deal, moving on — what this has demonstrated to me are two things: 1) I devalue my own time, and 2) being the “cool girl” only hurts me. Gone Girl, anyone?
I am a single mother; I take Peyton any time my ex travels for work or leisure and I pick my baby up from school every day of the week even on my ex’s custody weeks and stay busy until he’s done with work around 6. The divorce decree says we have 50/50 custody, but we don’t — it’s more 75/25 — therefore my free time is extremely rare and highly valuable and yet I treat it like I have a ton to give.
I have to stop saying yes to every heavy breather with a hardon who asks me out after 5 lines of text; they haven’t earned it.
The last time I was child-free I had 6 dates in 7 days and the accumulation of my efforts was one above-average date where I came under his slamming hand, a dud, road head and an awkward fingerbang, a mis-fire, a drunken chat, and date number two with Mr. Magic Hands. In other words: nothing. I could have been writing, is all I hear when I look back on it.
If I don’t value my time, then why will anyone else? This is somehow connected to my eternal hope for a connection, to never say No because maybe the next guy will be a great connection, a great love. But it’s gone sideways.
I find myself saying yes to complete strangers, men who’ve only met the standard of catching my eye and not offending me. The bar can’t get much lower at this point.
Which brings me to my second realization: Being the Cool Girl doesn’t affect the outcome.
Have you ever tried to fill a bucket with holes with water?? Yeah, that’s the Cool Girl effect: useless.
It’s also the same effect as trying to make someone else happy or to control a situation. The outcome will almost always be that the one who’s trying to make the things better will end up exhausted with no better outcome than had they done nothing. The bucket will remain empty and leaking.
As Gillian Flynn writes, “Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.” I’ve always been afraid to be honest about a man’s bad behavior. Telling Bones he was a shit was monumental. I’m not the Cool Girl anymore; it only exhausts me. I’m leaving the bucket dry.
I can’t make someone respect me or my time, I can only act in a reasonable fashion (don’t misinterpret this as “in a cool way”) to their treatment of me. That doesn’t mean pretending I’m not pissed or disappointed. That takes 10 times as much effort on my part as it does to behave authentically and say, “Hey, man. That was shitty. Fuck that.”
The difficulty for me arises in the foreignness of this behavior. I have never been able to be truthful about my upset with anyone, almost ever. Not my family, not my friends, not my exhusband. Certainly not my boyfriends and definitely not my lovers.
Being that honest and vulnerable equates to emotional death to me: I am wrong, I am unworthy, I am not good because the person I’m sharing this with will say it’s so. I truly am an easy going person — I rarely take things personally — but I’ve taken it too far. I’ve set it up where no one has to work to earn my time and when they disrespect me I act as if I’m unbothered, neither of which are even remotely true. My time is valuable and I am bothered.
So when I told Bones that my night sucked it wasn’t just me pointing out the obvious (that he was a dipshit) it was me saying I’m not going to work so hard to make bad behavior ok anymore; I demand and expect more.
I don’t expect to ever see him again, quite frankly — or 4 of the 5 men from the other week – and even though it bums me out, I can’t honestly feel real loss about it. How can I?? He’s given me no reason to care other than feeling self-conscious about my battered ego.
I have told a couple of other men in my orbit that my time is valuable and I’m not interested in chasing them down and that’s a new approach. Some have ignored my message and others have promised they understand. I’m not holding my breath about any of it; their behavior is irrelevant. It’s about what I do.
Truthfully, I don’t give a fuck anymore. It feels as though the cross-ties have been unhooked and I may walk freely now, do as I please. I am no longer interested in pretending and no dogs are in the fight. Call me, don’t call me, but I’ll figure out some personal line in the sand and when we cross it I’ll do the next thing I need to do.
Haven’t heard from you about our date tonight despite texting to confirm a few hours in advance? Well, I’m just going to find something else to do. You don’t show up when you say you will? I’m leaving. You take 3 days to respond to a question? I’m going to delete our thread and forget about you because that’s how you deal with bad behavior.
I would never put up with a friend doing to me what Bones did last night or what any 100 other men have done to me over the years. No question, absolutely not.
There’s got to be some effort, some benefit to me sharing myself with them beyond just some raw hope that they’ll come around to my side and treat me like I’m valuable. Like, real effort.
I’d like to meet someone who’s put some sweat into getting me there and keeping me there. I don’t even want a fucking relationship, just someone who’s respectful. I had no idea that was nearly as impossible as finding love.
I can’t quite reconcile the amount of positive attention and heartfelt letters I receive almost daily online from Internet men claiming they’d worship me if they only had the chance with the amount of real life men who ignore me in equal measure. The dual reality is almost too much to bear. Which am I? Special or not special??
My only conclusion is that people everywhere – men and women alike – are being overlooked by those nearest them due to some strange proximity phenomenon: we never seem to want what we can have and can’t see what’s right under our noses.
Regardless, I am no longer interested in low standards or seeming cool. The bar is going to be raised up and I’m going to be as uncool as the situation warrants. I expect this to feel at once terrifying and liberating. At the age of 40 you’d think I’d be past this point of resistance, but you’d be wrong. I’m just now breaking it down.