Last week, I met a guy so beautiful he could give Michelangelo’s David an inferiority complex. Not only was he incredibly handsome, but he was also sweet and Australian (a knockout combination).
We spent the night together, in each other’s arms. I didn’t sleep well, but it didn’t matter because looking at him was better than dreaming. By the time he left the next morning, I was infatuated. We had a date set for the next Friday, but that was eight whole days away, and felt like eons.
I couldn’t resist texting him later that day, the next day, and the next. He was immediately responsive all of those occasions, until Saturday, when I said I wanted to see him that weekend. Radio silence. As the hours passed, I became increasingly morose and decided the only way to remedy the situation was to turn off my phone for 36 hours, sure that when I returned to the world of the living, he’d have surfaced. Not so.
It reminded me of my friend who was dating a younger man and relied on me for guidance before every text she sent. Somehow, I was deft at handling her communication, but when it came to my own, I was a failure.
What I realized, in hindsight of course, was that I should have played it cooler. I tend to run the other direction when someone is overly enthusiastic or aggressive in their pursuit of me. Before texting him, I even skimmed through my old handbook, The Art of Seduction, for insight on how to play this game.
Ultimately though, I ignored the lessons of Marquis de Sade and let my giddiness get the better of me, writing what I felt. Up to that point, I had the upper hand. I knew he liked me, we already had another date in place, but I played my cards too early.
When it comes to our own issues and problems, we never seem to see them clearly. Either we think we’re the exception, or we lack the perspective to make the right decision, clouded either by emotions, fears, or excitement in the moment.
Trying to get my mind off of the disappearing beautiful man, I had dinner with a friend in crisis. She feels directionless, anxiety-ridden and unable to do anything to change her circumstance. While she dug into her truffle fries, I heaped a side of self-help on her that I’ve picked up from a smattering of philosophy books and my own life experiences. The solution to her problems was so obvious to me — she needed to get a job, any job, and rejoin society rather than close herself off the world and pretend that yoga and surfing were the answers to her problems. All of her issues have the same root cause — that she is unmoored, drifting into an abyss with nothing to ground her.
She was not happy about the advice I gave her. She wanted change but did not want to actively participate in change. She wanted a job, a husband, and happiness to fall from the sky.
In her circumstance, I see hints of my own demons. I have been in a place of hopelessness where all the tough advice felt like abuse; those dishing it out were unsympathetic dealers of one-size-fits-all pseudo-remedies that ran counter to my own core values.
Were I to awake tomorrow to find myself in her place, panicked about money and unsure what to do, I would suffer the same anxiety. Rather than pick myself up and do what I so readily pontificated, I’d fall into the same despair. What it comes down to is that we are always ready with some judgment or answer when it comes to someone else’s life, but lack clarity in our own.
In the case of dating, and certainly in a relationship’s nascent stages, every word, punctuation and emoji in a text are analyzed and agonized over before zooming off into the unknown psyche of the recipient. Show me the girl trying to compose a text to a new crush that doesn’t turn to her friends, who often have no better clue than her, about whether or not she should send a smiley or a wink face, end a phrase with a period or an exclamation mark.
We don’t want to take responsibility for our own actions in case we mess up. If he doesn’t reply the way you wanted, then it was your friend that gave you bad advice, and you can be mad at her instead of yourself.
It’s time we recognize that no one has the answers. Life is uncertain and what works for you might not work for another. The only truth is the one we feel in our hearts, so next time you think about asking your friend for advice, sit in silence and listen to yourself. If at the end of this the handsome Australian was scared off by my eager confession, so be it, he’s not the one.