I wanted to like him back. I tried for a while, but I think that almost made it worse. I went on dates with him and I tried to force myself to feel a modicum of what he felt toward me. But, I found myself distracted. He would look at me and smile in that way that says “I am entranced by you” and I would look away. I blushed, not because I was embarrassed or felt the same, but because I knew no matter how much I tried I was never going to feel the same. Everything about him in theory should have worked for me. He was attractive, he did nice things for me, he offered concrete reassurance that after each date there would be another and yet I still left him in the dust of unrequited feelings. I’ve been on the other end of this and it hurts. So, I wanted to change things. But, I realized that perhaps we can only do so much before a relationship just feel likes forcing ourself to feel something we don’t.
I’ve wanted people to force their feelings before. I’ve drunkenly demanded they stop being so wishy-washy. I’ve stayed with someone despite knowing they don’t truly care. It’s nothing I would recommend to anyone. Yet, here I was performing the same cruelty to this guy by going out on dates with him when I knew deep down I didn’t feel the same.
I think the problem is different in every situation, but I think the root of many of these is the sheer lack of mystery. I knew I had him before I even had to try for it. After not being able to go on our first date because of weather, he was bummed and called to let me know. He tried to plan for coffee with me, but I was in my hookup of two months strong’s bed and chose morning sex over coffee with a new beau. But, as I stood at work that morning, guess who waltzes in with a coffee and a small box of assorted chocolates from a local chocolate shop! That’s right, I was shocked at this grandiose display of affection which even my boyfriend of three months whom I dated during Christmas never showed. Hell, we didn’t even exchange gifts! Then, on our next date, he brought me flowers. I was appalled initially as all of these gifts are so simple and cliche which is something I pride myself on not being. They were simultaneously thoughtful in the “wow he did this for me and no guy ever does I feel so romanced” but thoughtless in that “any guy could go out and buy a girl chocolates and flowers” sort of way.
Date after date I tried, but something was off for me and maybe it was from the start. It wasn’t until the last time we went out with another “couple” that shit really hit the fan. We were all standing at this bar and all of a sudden I notice the preschool teacher I’ve been going on dates with. I raise my glass and coyly smile his way. Meanwhile the nice guy is trying to no avail to get me to kiss him or show him some sort of affection, some sign that I care even marginally. It seemed he had forgotten that the last time we were together I told him I wanted to keep things casual or maybe he just never understood what I meant by that. Then, the preschool teacher approached and they shared an awkward bro handshake and I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. He didn’t have a preschool teacher or a desire to. But, here I was, despite having a really nice guy who liked me standing in front of me, distancing myself so that I didn’t make preschool teacher think I had a boyfriend.
In the past, when I’ve been on the receiving end of these situations, it’s been hard to pinpoint what brought on the end of it all. I felt confused and angry. I hadn’t known the person for long, but my feelings were intense and I not only wanted but needed things to work. In the Nice Guy’s case, the main thing that wasn’t working is there was not a single trace of mystery from the start. His actions and words screamed “it doesn’t matter who you are or how you are. I’m yours” before we had even gone on a date.
I wanted to like him and I knew it upset him that I didn’t but I couldn’t force my feelings. As a self-proclaimed “heartbreaker” I’d say, despite my constant boy juggling, I’m usually the one in his shoes. But, here I was, doling out the rejection. I’m willing to give anyone a chance, so I gave him one, too. But, he shot himself in the foot from the start.
It was apparent from his actions that he isn’t happy with just himself. He needs someone. So, he latched on and held on hoping I could be her. But, I don’t want or need to be someone’s “someone” because at the end of the day I already have me.
Like me many times in my dating history, he found himself yet again not being quite good enough for someone and couldn’t figure out why. I spent years being upset with guys for not wanting me back, because I didn’t like me enough to want to be alone with myself too long. He can’t see it now, but one day he will see that I did him a favor by backing away. Because, who wants to be with someone who is just okay with them? Who wants to stay with someone that just wants to keep things casual when that’s not what they want? Someday he will see that I tried to explain it to him, but he couldn’t get the explanation until he changed. That no amount of explaining or talking will change how I feel. That it wasn’t like a switch being flipped, because the switch was off for me from the start.