Today sucks and for different, yet related ways.
First, it’s The Neighbor’s 32nd birthday and last year feels like this morning somehow. And second, I was stood up on Saturday by someone I liked and trusted and even today it feels like a raw, stinging slap in the face.
Though I am making strides to distance myself further from TN, it’s still a struggle. Last year we were broken up and his birthday spent together was painful, awkward and titillating, not unlike a red, angry blister on ecstasy.
A couple of months later I ended our friendship and embarked on a TN-free life in pursuit of a man who actually valued me, but clearly I’ve failed in that endeavor. It’s been an interesting 10 months.
That brings us to two days ago when I was treated with no respect and little regard. I don’t have control over others; I thought I’d chosen well enough, but I was very sadly wrong. I feel sucker punched. I have never in my entire 20 years of dating ever stood someone up.
Not a guy I’ve never met before and certainly not someone I had met previously. Clearly everyone doesn’t operate by the same moral and character code as me. They do whatever the fuck they want whenever they want because they can.
He didn’t text me when I asked if he was en route 30 minutes after our agreed upon time, nor did he respond when I texted close to an hour after our date to confirm that we were actually meeting at 8.
I can’t guess what happened, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are only 2 reasons why not texting me back would be acceptable:
- death or serious bodily trauma or;
- a phone is lost or broken.
But this young man turned down the offer of my address because he said he remembered where I lived, so ostensibly he could have shown up if it were #2. And I’ll feel badly if it’s #1, but the odds are slim to none that something tragic befell him. Let’s be real: he was just a dick.
In a world of disposable dating, why do I have to extend any slack in the line??
With TN we fought a lot about his tardiness. I would have dinner timed and he’d call 5 minutes before he was supposed to arrive to say something had come up at work. He thought he was being sensitive. My risotto or fish never agreed.
He demanded my understanding and I his, but we were in a committed relationship so it seemed reasonable. But for a 3rd date? Is it reasonable to extend blind understanding and empathy at the expense of one’s dignity and self-worth?
When I have shared my upset in the past with a man at being treated like this I’ve been called inflexible, told my standards are too high and that I’m seeking “dating perfection.” I’ve also been called old and demanding, as if to infer I don’t know how the kids these days date.
The details of the interactions are immaterial, but what’s important is the overall belief that if I insist on effort I am high maintenance and rigid. But here’s the thing, for a first date, yeah, you better make a fucking effort. In fact all my dates better have some work behind them because I will be working for them, too.
I’ll have cleared my schedule and protected your time slot (I turned town two sets of friends for that date Saturday night), I’ll eat the right things so as not to be gassy or have an upset stomach (yes, I do that), I’ll clean my fucking house, shave my entire fucking body, moisturize and shower, buy various sizes of condoms to accommodate your dick, make my bed, stock my fridge and even put my phone on silent once we’re together.
And yet somehow texting me to let me know that something has changed or come up is too much effort. TN could barely keep me in the loop and I was supposedly a major part of his life.
Well, thanks a fucking lot for that, you fucking dick wad.
In 20 years of dating I have never mistreated another human being in that way.
I’ll admit to being distant and letting things die on the vine, or not returning feelings, but I have never not been where I said I’d be or not done what I said I’d do. It’s counter to who I am: I am a nice fucking person whose word means something.
Dating has become this vicious, self-serving, distant act. We do what we want when we want. We rely on our phones to implant a wall between us and those we’re actually trying to get to know.
We don’t want to seem too eager, too clingy, too insecure, too caring, too into it, too ______. God forbid we show any genuine excitement about anyone lest we reveal ourselves to be drooling, humping idiots with no self control or caché.
I have spent literally hours upon hours of my life dissecting text with and for my friends. What does it mean if he doesn’t text you after a sexual encounter? a first date? Should you send the first text? reply immediately? What happens when punctuation suddenly shows up when text was fast and loose before? Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
I treat a man I’m talking to with the same respect and social courtesy as I would a friend or family member who’s texted me; it removes any thought on my part. It gets tricky when the interactions become dating-specific, like the post-fuck text.
In those instances I err on the side of who I am. What feels natural? To text or not to text, that is the question! There’s no right or wrong answer there considering we’re all our own Litmus test; if he doesn’t like what I’ve texted when I’ve texted it (or didn’t text it) then that’s valuable information moving forward and if it ends there, well, then we clearly weren’t meant to be.
Everyone plays it so cool we forget the message we send is I don’t care about you. Maybe there’s some truth to that, but what if it’s on a scale? Like, I don’t care about you that much, but I still care somewhat? Obviously, there’s no way of knowing the intent since it feels the same on the other end regardless. We all really fucking suck at communicating.
For you Gen Xers out there, like me, do you remember when all we had were landlines? I would come home from work and toss my keys into the bowl next to the answering machine and would be filled with a pleasant rush if I had a flashing number blinking at me. Someone had thought of me!
They’d left a message with real words and the only way for me to let them know I got their message was to pick the phone up and call them back and use my own voice.
Chats took effort and focus; I couldn’t do anything else but think about and talk to the person on the other end. My mother, my friends, the men I’d met. It was a simpler time despite it requiring more effort on everyone’s parts.
Ben is the last man I’ve “chatted” with and one of the only ones over the last several years. I’d like to think it sets him apart in some ways. But I could be wrong; I seem to be wrong regularly.
My Saturday night date was a sweet young man — or so I thought — and it doesn’t help that other men I care about have been infuriatingly silent for far too many days on end, as well. Nor does it help that today is TN’s birthday and all the memories of him are kicked up.
I’m worn out and down and frustrated and lonely.
I have extinguished the frantic pace with which I was devouring men and all but ground to a halt. I have been picky, patient, and persistent and yet it has not yielded what I’d hoped: a shield against bullshit.
The truth is, dating sucks no matter how you do it. Whether you’re a man-eater or cautiously optimistic and highly selective. There’s nothing I can do to protect myself: dating is dangerous, period.
My feelings are hurt from Saturday and I’m left scratching my head at how I could have been so wrong about him; I never would have thought he’d do something like that. And I am bereft — still — at the absence of The Neighbor. Yes, even now.
The other irons I have in the fire don’t seem to be panning out and so it’s back to the drawing board. I’ve spent my entire weekend basically on my couch or poolside doing literally nothing of any interest. I’m not proud of that. I fear loneliness is slipping between my ribs and weaving its way towards my heart. I feel frozen in time.
I don’t remember the last time I felt this way, adrift and aimless. Sad.
Treating a person with disregard, a person whom you ostensibly want to get close enough to lay with, is an odd cross of messages. I want to penetrate your body, but I refuse to acknowledge your humanness. It makes no sense and no wonder we all act like crazy people in this random, ridiculous march to coupling.
Had he only texted, “Hey Hy, got super drunk with friends earlier today. Can’t make it tonight,” I’d have been pissed, but grateful for the note. As it stands his continuous silence is humiliating and embarrassing. Not only was my judgement off, but he clearly doesn’t think I’m worth even the littlest amount of effort to be treated with kindness.
TN’s continuous stalking is humiliating in its own strange way: he wants to keep tabs on me, but not in a meaningful way.
I look forward to the end of July. This has never been my favorite month. It’s TN’s birthday, the anniversary of my father’s death and my friend Sara’s suicide. My grandmother’s birthday falls on Sara’s death and I can’t think of her without thinking of the pain my friend felt. I put my cat down after 15 years of togetherness on the 6th. The anniversaries are on the 4th, 6th, 8th, and 9th. It’s a brutal time of year for me.
I always try to be kind to myself at this time; there’s nothing worse than self annihilation when you’re hurting. Unfortunately, I don’t feel all that successful. I’ve been glued to the couch and my computer and have been pumping my veins full of wine.
I guess the hurt will pass, as will all the memorable days, and I’ll get back to normal me. Quiet, lonely, normal me.