Dating: Navigating Good Intentions

I dated a girl for a couple months a few years ago.  We shall call her Mia.  She was lots of fun to hang out with and a very cool person, but was hung up on a few things.  I tried to encourage her to open up, hoping that she would feel more comfortable around me but it just wasn’t happening.  At one point, she offered to volunteer with her friends for a big event I was hosting.  She ended up having to go out of town for work and couldn’t make it.  She assured me her friends would still be there.  None of her friends showed up.  At an event where I was supposed to be socializing and enjoying myself, I was a full time janitor.  The event was a big success, but I wasn’t happy about how things went between her and I.  I told her that I was frustrated with what had happened.  She didn’t bother to reply.  After a few weeks of radio silence, I asked her if that was it.  She said something to the effect of the sex was good, but we didn’t really have much in common and it wasn’t worth pursuing.  I walked away and didn’t look back.

3 months ago, Facebook reminded me that it was her birthday so I sent her a cake emoji.  She crossed my mind from time to time, always in a positive light.  The girls I date seem to be into me for a variety of reasons… but I think it usually has to do with being a good person, driven, career minded, with a good group of friends.. that kinda stuff.  Connecting with my nerdier side happened happened much less often.  She was the exception.  Anime, cosplay, reddit, video games.. all that fun stuff was something we had in common.  These days, I really like that side of me, and it would be nice to be able to share that with someone.  Maybe that’s why when that cake emoji turned into a conversation, I was optimistic.

We made plans to go see a movie, but the day before, she went radio silent.  I don’t remember what her reason was.. maybe something about work.  So we rescheduled.  And she did it again.  I was disappointed, but never mad.  I tried to figure out what was going on and she replied with ‘why did you want to reconnect?’  Considering that our relationship before was mostly physical, I thought it was a fair question.  I wish she had asked that question before she ghosted on me twice, but these are her defense mechanisms so I did my best to be understanding.  I told her why I wanted to reconnect, that it had to do with the chemistry between us that we never had a chance to explore, the things we had in common, and just being in a place where I might be ready to take that step with someone.  I think she was happy to hear that, said she really wanted to hang out, and teased herself realizing it was a bit circle back to a date.  I was optimistic.

We made plans again, she got scarce the day before and the day of.  Something something, work ran late.  Something something, I’m really sorry.

*deep breath* 

I saw progress though, so I was willing to keep at it.  Then it happened again.  Pretty much the exact same thing.  And again, she was really sorry, acknowledged that she had issues around these things, reaffirmed that she absolutely wanted to see me, so we rescheduled again.  I was 0/4 over the course of 2 months.  I recognized that a younger me would’ve stoned-walled her after the first or second disappearing act as a function of my pride, or a need to protect my ego.. but that’s not who I am these days.  These days, I’m big on self respect, but small on ego and pride… if nothing else, this was a proving ground for that perspective.  My priority was understanding the situation for what it was, not using assumptions to protect myself from being hurt.  She continued to open up to me about things over text, saying that she missed me, that I was the only guy she was even talking to, that she really did want to spend time with me, and all the other things you would expect to hear from someone who you think wanted to go on a date with you.  And I don’t think she was lying.  I think she was very well intentioned.

After the fourth time she stood me up, I actually shared this blog with her as I had written about her earlier.  It was a window into my mind, to give her everything that she needed to know to make the best decision for her.  There was nothing more that I could do than be honest, transparent, and communicate my intentions.  She responded well, saying that she didn’t realize how much I had going on in my head and that it gave her a new appreciation for who I was.  Progress.  She seemed more motivated than ever to see me.  Progress.  So we rescheduled again.  This time she said that she would take the initiative, plan something out, take the lead.  I was cautiously optimistic.

The night before, I actually had a dream that she ghosted again.  I sent her a message that morning saying that.  I heard nothing back.  She ghosted again.  0/5.

FML.

I sent her a message saying that there’s a difference between someone who is good and someone who is nice.  Someone who is nice tells people what they want to hear and sometimes, they even mean it.  But when it comes to doing something inconvenient or difficult, they choose the easy path at the expense of others.  Someone who is good tells people what they need to hear, even when they don’t want to hear it.  And when it comes to making the hard decisions, they do what’s best, not what’s easiest.  I was fully ready to walk away at this point and was leaving her this message hoping she would reflect on it and not put someone else through this nonsense.

She responded saying that she had read more of my blog than just the most recent article about her.  She read my posts about a previous girlfriend (Max) where I had put her on a pedestal.. I think I even called her my north star.  The truth is I had a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for what I had learned from our relationship and was letting it inspire me to be a better person.  Perhaps I should’ve also written a follow up post about the whatsapp conversation that I had with Max where I realized that she no longer understood me the way I had remembered, and that our connection was no longer there.  Mia had read those entries, and had a very real concern that I was using her to fill the void that Max had left.  Even though Max and I hadn’t dated in a few years and she was on the other side of the planet with no plans of coming back, I understood that concern.  Truth is, I had that same concern when things were starting up with Mia.  But the more I connected with Mia, the less I thought about Max.  Max became an ill-fitting memory while Mia represented an interesting path forward.  But she didn’t know that.  We talked about it over text, and even had our first phone conversation since reconnecting.  I got stood up, but there was progress.

There was a wide disconnect between Mia’s actions and her texts.  Her texts showed someone who was making a very real connection with someone who she was genuinely interested in and wanted to explore a relationship with.  They showed that she was growing, overcoming her issues, and opening up in a way that she never had with me.  Her actions were of someone who was willing to lead me on who would then look for every excuse to not actually have to show up.  I never assumed that her finding these excuses was a reflection of her interest in me, but I also had to be real about her not being honest or open about what was really going on.  She knew that my love language was action, but it didn’t seem to matter.  But I saw progress, and growth, someone who did want to spend time with me, and someone who I still really wanted to connect with.  I told her that if I walked away now, I wouldn’t feel good about it.  I asked her what she thought we should do.  She still really wanted to see me… so we rescheduled.

That was last week.  Again, she was a bit scarce during the day.  I had seen this pattern before.  There was nothing to indicate that she was taking the initiative like she said that she would.  But then a glimmer of hope.. she texted back and said that she was still on for tonight and thought that she would wrap up work around 5-6.  I was never confident that it would happen, but I was optimistic.  Then she sent me a message saying that things were running behind schedule.  I was a little frustrated, but kept that to myself, doing my best to make sure that when we saw each other, it wasn’t dragged down by all the baggage of what it took to get here.  According to the texts, she was delayed because she was doing the tear down at a convention and her team had basically bailed, leaving her to do it all herself.  Had she asked, I would’ve been more than happy to help her out.. I like being productive and helpful, and it would’ve been an excuse to spend time together.  Instead, she said that she would probably be done closer to 9.  I said no worries, a late dinner it is.  9 came and went, still nothing.  In an act of optimism and committing to making this happen, I even drove downtown to make sure to when she was ready, I wasn’t wasting what precious minutes we had left on the road.  She messaged me closer to 10 saying that she had a couple things left to wrap up, I asked jokingly if that meant midnight.  She joked back and said no, hopefully not.  I should’ve known.

At 11, I told her that I still hadn’t eaten, most restaurants were closed, and we both had work in the morning.  I was done.  I had no interest in rescheduling again.  No interest in going through the motions anymore.  No interest in going above and beyond, when she wouldn’t do the same.  I told her that I would stay downtown (sitting in my car) until midnight, and she had until then to make something happen.  She was sorry.  It was a work thing.  She didn’t expect it would be like this.  She really wanted to see me.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

I told her that her words were hollow.  All that she had said showed me that she cared, that she was into me, that she wasn’t leading me on, and was genuinely interested in exploring a relationship with me.  Everything she did showed the complete opposite.  If someone was only able to see her actions, you would see someone who lacked integrity, who was self-centered, and incapable of being respectful towards others.  I don’t think that’s her.  I think she’s very well intentioned, but doesn’t understand that there is a wide gap between intentions and actions.  Most abusive relationships are between people with good intentions.  When a man beats his wife, he says that he does it out of love.  But he still beats her.  I don’t think she understands this.

I told her that I had gone above and beyond for her to get us to the point where we could spend time with one another, but that I had no interest in being in an unbalanced relationship.  This was her opportunity to go above and beyond for me, to show me how much this mattered to her.  To restore some balance.  She said that she had some ideas, but nothing that she could do within the hour.  The truth is, all I needed was to see her make the effort.. to see her in person.  Whether that meant staying up late after a long day of work, or taking a bus to my house at 2am.. if she was willing to make an effort to see me, I would’ve been good.  But she didn’t.  Instead, she told me that I was a priority, that she wasn’t leading me on, that she had opened up and communicated with me, and complained that work was getting in the way.  I disagree.  I’ve worked a more demanding work schedule than anyone I know, and that is an excuse.  If she wanted to see me, she would’ve found a way or made a way.  But she lacked the motivation.

My last two messages to her were:

“No matter what you’ve said, it’s always amounted to the same thing.  We make plans, and you bail.  Literally 6 times in a row.  Had I been in your shoes tonight.. I would’ve done everything I could to see you tonight.. even now.  It’s even why I asked you where you were.. but I can’t help but think that on some level.. you’re relieved to not have to”

“… I guess I’m heading home now”

She never replied back.

Had the situations been reversed, I would’ve made the effort.  I would’ve said fuck sleeping tonight, I need to see her because this is worth saving.  I would’ve driven, taxied, or bused or walked to her house.  Even if it was only for a moment.. to show I was willing to make the effort.  Even if she didn’t come outside, I would’ve taken a picture and sent a text showing that even if she was gone, I made the effort.  Maybe that’s why I stayed awake for an hour after I got home, looking over at my phone every 10 minutes.

Nothing.. And I’m done.

My most honest understanding of the situation is that she cares about me, wants to explore this relationship, and is genuinely positive about where it could go.  She’s well intentioned.  But intentions are only worth so much to a person unable to act on them.  A man who intends to love his wife but beats her instead is still a wife beater.  A woman who intends to be loyal to her husband but cheats on him is still cheater.  A girl who keeps telling a guy that she wants to spend time with him but bails every time.. is leading him on.  I don’t know if she truly appreciates that dynamic.  Maybe she’s not used to facing the consequences of her actions.  Maybe I enabled this by letting it go as long as I did.  Maybe she’ll think that it’s her job that held her back but if she does, she’s overlooking all the things that led up to this.  Had that happened once or twice, we would probably be in an awesome relationship right now.. but it didn’t happen once or twice.  It happened 6 times.  It was literally 3 months of texting with 6 attempted dates, and her finding a way out of all of them.  At some point, I hope she appreciates that.

Where things go from here… I’m not sure.  It would be easy to say fuck her for wasting my time.  Fuck her for every day that I spent excited to see her, and every night that I spent on my couch feeling shitty for being stood up.  Fuck her for making me think I was a priority and fuck her for making me think that there was something here.  But I don’t do easy.  The truth is those emotions barely register… it’s just not me anymore.  Instead, my mind is always open to the possibilities of the future and if anything, I’m compassionate to the struggles she has with being open, honest, and communicating when things get tough.  But the reality is that I’m no longer motivated to pursue this.  It’s not because I don’t think we have great chemistry.. or that there’s the potential for a great relationship.. but because I’m not capable of helping us get there.  That’s not something I can do on my own.. it takes both people to get there, and as far as I can tell, she’s just not capable.  Whether that’s a function of her job.. her communication issues.. her social anxiety.. maybe all of the above.. I don’t know.  What I do know is that I would’ve been happy to support her in figuring that stuff out, but she needed to make the effort and never did.

I mentioned the situation to a friend this morning, a friend who knew what had happened leading up to this.  The first thing out of her mouth was you gotta get away from that girl.  From any outsiders perspective, especially without scrolling through the hundreds of texts over the last few months.. it’s clearly an unhealthy relationship.  But with context, probably much less so.  I wouldn’t have put myself through this had I not been capable of doing it without taking damage.  I showed my friend her last couple text messages from last night and asked if I was missing anything.  She said that if work was such an issue, dictating whether or not she can have a social life at the drop of a hat, why is she working for these people?  A valid question, but with good jobs hard to come by these days.. not always a fair question.

This is when my friend echoed where I think my head is truly at.  I’m done investing time and effort into making something happen and if she disappears because of it, that’s unfortunate, but ok.  But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be open to her changing my mind.  Just because she’s demonstrated that she’s incapable of making me a priority, doesn’t mean that she’ll always be incapable.  The problem though, is that the list of things that she could say or do to change my mind is shrinking quickly.  At this point, it would probably have to be an action.  A big one.  My friend joked and said showing up to my office with flowers.  Why not.  The truth is I don’t really care what the action is… I just need it to show me that she’s capable of stepping outside her comfort zone and capable of having her actions reflect her intentions.

The ironic thing about writing this blog post is that there’s a chance she’ll read it.  I write things like this first and foremost as a therapeutic way of flushing out my thoughts on a subject.  It forces me to be honest with the situation and honest with myself, while putting an honest experience out there that others might resonate with.  That said, I knew as soon as I started writing it that she’d probably see it.  Whether she sees this and decides to return to her comfort zone, or sees this and finds motivation to finally have her actions reflect her intentions… that I do not know.  But I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope it was the latter.

 

Max just texted.  She’s in town for the week and would ‘love’ to see me.  Well then…

 

Struggling with Isolation

I was in bed at 11 and have been up since 3am.  Dove into reddit for a bit.  Then some clash of clans.  Can’t sleep.  Thought about going for a run.. but I hate running.  I’m struggling here.  Grabbed my laptop thinking maybe I would work one out and de-stress.  Ended up here instead.

I grew up surrounded by friends.  Whether it was me and a best friend adventuring around the city as kids, or me and the crew hanging out at my place on a Friday night playing video games over beers.  Not so much these days.

Normally I’m good with alone time.  But this has been different.  I separated my shoulder a couple months ago so I haven’t been able to play sports.  For the most part, basketball twice a week was the only time I would still see the crew.  The cost of living has kept them living with their parents, and me on the outskirts of town.  Even eating out is too expensive these days.  I miss those guys.  Those guys understood me through and through, never held anything against me, or I against them.  I could always be myself with them and not have to stress about it.  Times have changed.

Earlier this year, one of my closest friends (I was the best man at his wedding) decided that I had pissed him off enough to stop talking to me.  Never even told me why.  Just stopped texting me back or taking my calls.  The last interaction we had was when I had invited him and his wife over for dinner.  He called me a couple hours before hand and said he and the wife didn’t feel like driving out to my house and suggested that I bring the supplies over to their house and cook for them there.  I laughed it off and said that I wasn’t a personal chef and that we could reschedule for another time.  Eventually, I told him that my business was starting the process of hiring a new GM, a role which I had lined him up for since the beginning – and that if he still wanted to be involved, he and I needed to sort our shit out.  He responded quick enough, but basically said that I had pissed him off by disrespecting him and his wife (who’s also a close friend).  He started to make it sound like she had been upset about something and he was upset that she was upset.  I racked my brain so hard to figure out what it was that I had done, and the best that I could come up with is that they were upset that I declined to drive to their house and cook for them when they declined to drive to my house to let me cook for them.  We’ve since hung out a few times and things are mostly back to normal.. but we still haven’t tackled that topic.

Being injured and not being able to play sports and then having one of my closest friends pull that shit was tough.  It made me feel isolated.  I had also reached out to an ex-girlfriend back in December which didn’t go all that well.  I was excited to show her the ways in which I had grown since we dated last, as she was part of what inspired that growth.  She was working on her MBA in Singapore and kept saying that she would love to chat in real-time and catch up.  I kept saying sure, that would be great.  She kept not getting back to me after that.  In the process, she made it clear that she had assumed I hadn’t changed, and wasn’t all that interested in changing her perception or reconnecting in any way.  Fuuuuck me.

This is all along the backdrop of work, where I’m dealing with two founders who are under a level of stress that they’re not dealing with very well.  One founder snapped at me for not letting him proof read an email to an investor.  He’s never proofed my anything to anyone, nor would he have even understood the subject matter of the email even if he did.  Not to mention I told him specifically what would be in that email a few hours earlier at our weekly meeting.  He’s bugging out for other reasons, but this is how it’s showing up.  Then you have his wife, the other co-founder who, at times, almost looks for reasons to be upset with me.  With her, I can’t help but think that I carry all the tribal markers of someone she’s learned to feel threatened by… straight white male with a background in corporate finance who drives an SUV.  I’ve probably experienced more prejudice in this relationship than any other I’ve experienced.  Ironic, because she’s very far left.  Or maybe that’s not so ironic these days.  Both are good, decent people who with a clear and positive state of mind are very, very good to me.  But those moments can be the exception when they’re under the stress and pressure of a company which is growing beyond their ability to run.  Fortunately, that’s why they brought me in, but now they’re struggling to give up that control.

I find myself craving to be understood and accepted.  And connected.  I’ve always been understood and accepted by the crew, but they’re not around so much anymore.  I had that with my buddy, until he decided that whatever I did was enough to cut me out of his life for a few months but not enough to talk to me about what had happened.  Initially, I had that with the co-founders who had brought me into their start-up, until they started to let their stress levels get the best of them.  I had a deep sense of acceptance and being understood with the ex-girlfriend, but since we had dated and then stopped talking, she seemed to have lost all interest in showing it.  My dad would’ve been my go-to in these situations.. would’ve gone to his place for dinner.. told him what I was going through and he’d feed me, give me some advice, and send me on my way.  I miss him.  Don’t have that relationship with my mom.. siblings are in another country..

*deep breath*

When I see this happening around me, the first pattern I notice is that I’m the common factor.  It must be me.  It probably is.  I often joke around that I’m an ass, but I know I’m a good person who treats others well, even in the worst of conditions.  The harder life gets, the more I focus on not letting it affect how I treat others.  If anything, I let it motivate me to treat others better.  Asking the cashier how her day has been, striking up a conversation with the disabled guy who handles the shopping carts at my local grocery store, or hitting the pedestrian crossing for a car stuck at a flashing green light.  If life is going to be shitty to me, at least I can still brighten up someone else’s day.

The other pattern that I’ve noticed is that the people are running from the ideas that challenge their reality, and I do that often.  I know the value of having your reality challenged, it keeps you accountable to the truth and helps you avoid the bullshit in your life.  But it can be uncomfortable.  It can make you feel shitty when it happens, even if it’s what you need.  I’m all about delayed gratification so I’m all about embracing the shit.  But I’m starting to sense that I’m one of very few who’s interested in taking that approach.  As the world has become more challenging and confusing, I can’t help but think that people are retreating to their comfort zones and someone like me is not welcome there.  I live perpetually outside of my comfort zone and I embrace the challenges and growth that come with it.  Do I keep encouraging others to venture outside of their comfort zone?  Or do I allow them to be complacent within their belief system?

A few weeks ago, I reached out to a girl I had dated briefly a few years ago to wish her a happy birthday.  We started texting a bit and with us both big into super hero movies, I asked if she wanted to go see the new Black Panther.  She was pumped.  Until she ghosted.  She apologized, something about her schedule.  So we rescheduled, and she ghosted again.  When we dated the first time, she did something similar with a big event and I wasn’t having it.  My pride let me walk away from that in a hurry.  This time around, I was frustrated, but wanted to understand what was happening more than I wanted to punish her for wasting my time.  We spoke about it more candidly.  She asked why I had messaged her beyond the happy birthday and I was honest.  I had done a lot of growing up, but it left me feeling more awkward and misunderstood than ever.  Life was a lot easier when I was set on being the person that everyone wanted me to be.  Turns out being me was not so easy.  As beautiful as she was, she was no stranger to being awkward and misunderstood, and I thought maybe we could be awkward and misunderstood together.  I figured it was at least worth a date.  Had it happened, it would’ve been my first time being anywhere near a woman in more than a year.

She liked the idea, said that she understood and had decided that she really did want to spend some time with me.  So we scheduled another date.  This time she was feeling under the weather.  Fair enough, so let’s reschedule for a few days out?  Yes please, until she cancelled again for still being sick and heading out for a work trip in the morning.  0/4.  Fuuuuuck me.  Trying to be understanding.  Trying to be considerate.  Asked her what was going on, and not from a place of anger.  I told her that it sucked, being excited to see her and spend time with her, only for her to cancel over, and over, and over.  I told her I don’t think I can keep this up.  She assured me that she was very, very interested in seeing me and spending time with me.  If someone were to read our text conversations, you’d be optimistic this would go somewhere.  But it hasn’t.  She had some reservations, and some social anxiety… things I wanted to support her though.  She wanted me to support her though them as well.  But maybe I’m missing something.

She took off for her work trip Thursday morning, and we’ve texted a bunch since.  But as she got closer to coming back, the texts dried up.  Pretty much nothing on Saturday, she was driving back for most of Sunday, and yesterday was a quick text in the morning and nothing all day.  Even typing this, I feel like it comes off as needy but there’s more to it than that.  There are patterns hidden within styles of communication.  This is not the pattern of communication of someone who wants to spend time with me.  Or maybe I’m jumping the gun.  This is remarkably frustrating and confusing.

I know she has some social anxiety issues, I know she was super awkward around me when we dated before and while I adored her anyways, it’s still on her mind.  I know that she’s a good person with good intentions, but I don’t know if she’s capable of actually making this happen.  After she asked to reschedule date number 4, I did my best to help us figure things out.  I gave her every out, and she was still 100% determined to try and make this happen, and appreciated my understanding.  I told her that I still don’t know what that means.  It could mean what I hope it means, but it could also mean that as much as she’d like this to happen, she’s just not ready.

If I was in her shoes, and really wanted to see me, I would’ve tried to put something in the calendar for as soon as I was back.  She’s barely texted me at all in the last few days.  Normally, I wouldn’t overthink this but the messages she stopped responding after are not the types of messages that you leave hanging.  It’s probably the biggest reason why I couldn’t sleep tonight.  I told her I was under a fair bit of stress right now and while I was probably handling it well, it was tough.  Later in the evening, I sent her a video game meme.. still nothing.  In an age where people check their phones more often than they look at the time, seeing those messages and not responding is a message in itself isn’t it?  It was a pattern of reduced communication the closer we got to seeing each other… It’s a big part of why I couldn’t sleep tonight.  I wanted to send her a text that would basically say…. I don’t know what it would say.  Something to the effect of this sucks for me.  I keep putting myself out there and you keep running away.  I don’t want to keep doing this.  But I weigh that against being understanding of what she’s going through, and the possibility that if we could just get within physical distance of each other, the dynamic would shift and it might be everything we wanted it to.

I avoided sending anything her way, especially out of a state of frustration.  Maybe she lost/broke her phone, maybe she’s playing catch up with work, maybe.. maybe.. maybe. It doesn’t make sense to assume I know what’s going on here, but what’s my breaking point?  I know I’m not compromising who I am, nor am I allowing myself to be played.  I’m very aware of the situation and the younger me would’ve let his pride dictate my actions.  It’s exactly why she and I stopped dating before.  But had I allowed my pride to dictate my behavior this time around, I would’ve saved myself a lot of grief.

I often hope that my tendency to put myself through these things, and my ability to survive them will leave me a more balanced, humble, and appreciative person for when things do go well.  But my patience is being tested.. perhaps now more than ever.  My entire life seems to have been an effort of delayed gratification.  It’s not easy.  Down right shitty when I have to go through it alone.  But I refuse to let the situation define me.  Instead, I choose to define my situation.  It is not her who is standing me up, but me who understands and appreciates the challenges she is going through, and me who chooses to be patient with how she’s working through this.  But even so, at a certain point, I need to start respecting the impact this has on my emotional state and accept that she’s just not ready.  I’m right up against that edge right now and I guess the next 24 will reveal the rest.

 

 

I made a point of not putting this entry up when I wrote it.  It was an incomplete thought being pressured by my emotional state.  I didn’t have enough information to understand the situation at the time and I’m happy I waited.  She texted me back the next day, saying that things at work had become quite challenging and that she had been ignoring her phone almost entirely as a result.  We’re heading out for that date today.. probably some Ready Player One and some homemade sushi.  I’m cautiously optimistic it might actually happen.