How To Outsmart Your Heart (Or, The ‘Not-A-Consolation’ Treaty)

Flickr / Sophia Louise
Flickr / Sophia Louise

So you’ve fallen in love. Or you know you’re leaning heavily in that direction as you automatically spend the first and last moments of each day thinking about that person, and you’re just irrationally excited to see them again. However, sometimes when you fall for someone, you know right from the beginning one very simple and obvious truth: You are completely fucked.

Reasons you know it’s a horrendous mistake (by the time you’re in the middle of it…):

  1. This person is a good friend, maybe a childhood friend, maybe your best friend, and this is what you stand to lose.
  2. This person is the ex-partner of a good friend. Whether you subscribe to the Bro Code or the Girl Code, there seems to be at least this rule in common: you don’t have sex with your mate’s ex.
  3. This person is a friend of your long-term ex-partner. Open to interpretation, but if your ex-partner was the decent sort, and you still remain friends or exchange pleasantries, you can be sure that “the conversation” would be hurtful and damaging to all relationships in play.
  4. This person is your married professor. Doesn’t have to be your professor, doesn’t have to be married. Does have to be taken and/or inappropriate.

However, it’s the following reason, singly or in conjunction with those listed above, that means you are most definitely, without fail, somewhere along the road, going to be experiencing some soul-crushing, wine-swilling, sobbing-on-the-floor heartbreak.

  1. This person makes it clear that s/he’s only ever going to be “casually” interested in you. This, of course, doesn’t stop them from “exploring the possibilities,” which in turn leads you to believe that their feelings for you might develop as your relationship becomes more intimate.

And the joke is, you knew better. Right from the start, back when it was simply platonic and your heart hadn’t completely overrun the good sense of your head yet, you knew this one would be messy. But when you fall for someone, not quickly and impulsively, but slowly over a long time, you’re in the middle of it before you can argue yourself out. Suddenly you feel that this is the special one. This is the real thing – the history’s there, the friendship and trust was built, and before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that this would be worth the trouble, that – to quote the great Barney Stinson“with you, the trouble doesn’t seem so troubling”. And you’re in, over your head, swept off the ground, logic goes right out the window and your heart calls all the (wrong) shots. There is always hope that one day s/he’ll see it too.

But, s/he didn’t.

You take the plunge, only to receive the “Hey, listen, you’re great…” speech.

Now, at this point, I must stress that this is the moment that you get out. Run. Run to be free. Run to find someone that genuinely thinks you’re great, or at least run so that you have your self-respect intact – of knowing that it’s better to be in your own awesome company than with someone who really doesn’t see you as anything other than ordinary.

But you didn’t come here for that. You want to have your cake and eat it too. You came here for the Not-A-Consolation Treaty. You took the plunge and were rejected, but maybe they just need more time. Maybe you can’t face the idea of not having them in your life at all. Maybe this person says to you that they don’t want to lose you as a friend, despite screwing you around completely. “Some friend” comment aside, here’s how you do it.

The ‘Not-A-Consolation’ Treaty outlines an agreement between the two parties whereby behaviour is regulated and therefore cannot be misinterpreted. This agreement allows for the continuing relationship between two people, redirected in a platonic trajectory after a foray into a sexual affair. All the positive attributes of the relationship (e.g. the fun times, the friendship, the private jokes) are maintained, whilst the negative attributes (e.g. unreciprocated feelings, seeing “signals,” attempts to initiate relations) are prohibited. Both parties must agree to this for it to be in effect.


The ‘Not-A-Consolation’ Treaty

Article 1: No kissing (incl. hand, cheek, forehead and neck)

Article 2: No hand-holding

Article 3: No prolonged skin-on-skin contact

Article 4: Sleeping arrangements: Sleeping on the same bed or sofa is prohibited. Sleeping on the floor next to each other is allowed, though neither party will undertake to spoon, stroke, caress or in any way touch the other whilst sleeping. The resting surface must allow significant space for these rules to be kept, otherwise one of the undersigned shall move to a different area.

Article 5: The act of “hanging out” can most definitely occur spontaneously, and at night, but all plans to hang out at night one-on-one must be made at least an afternoon in advance.

5.a. If others are present, this rule does not apply.

Article 6: Regarding hugging: bear hugs, hello and goodbye hugs are allowed. Sleepy hugs and lonely hugs and the act of either pulling one into, or initiating, intimate hugs are prohibited. The double-pat release method is preferable as it allows for minimum contact and awkwardness, although duration of friendship between the undersigned allows for heartfelt hugs if it seems appropriate to the hug-participants, but these can last no more than approximately 3 seconds.
6.a. The resting of one’s head on the other’s shoulder is allowed, but it may not remain there after 3 seconds. The resting of one’s head on the other’s chest is prohibited.

Article 7: All comments to and from the undersigned by any medium must be within “normal-friendship” parameters, i.e. if you’re straight and you wouldn’t say it to a friend of the same sex, you shouldn’t say it to each other.

Article 8: On the occasion of a prolonged absence: The above stipulations are guidelines for day-to-day interactions, and when a prolonged absence of 5 months or more occurs, there can be some leniency with Articles 5 and 6. However, as a subset of that rule, the leniency only extends to the first reunion meeting, no matter the length of said reunion, and then the stipulations resume with full force.

8.a. There are also grounds for leniency if there is psychological, emotional trauma from one of the undersigned (i.e. a family member/friend dies or is in a coma, one of the undersigned is badly hurt in some way, or with reason just desperately needs some support – situation open for negotiation) but this most definitely does not include a pet death, a break-up, or the cancellation of one of the party’s favourite TV shows.

Article 9: Drunk calls or texts are prohibited.

I, the undersigned of sound mind and judgement, hereby agree to all Articles and Subsets stated above and agree to adhere to the Not-A-Consolation Treaty, which sets the appropriate parameters for the friendship of the undersigned, and will be put into effect forthwith.

Print………………….. Signed………………… Date…………….
Print………………….. Signed………………… Date…………….


And there you have it. Present this to your… whatever you want to call them now, and maybe you can outsmart your heart. With this, you can avoid all those “signs” you used to think meant more when there was no not-quite-legally binding document dictating your interpretation of their behaviour. That way, if ever this person does change their mind (or more aptly, their heart), they know to tell you directly. They know that flirting is against the terms of the agreement, and that you need a good old fashioned face-to-face that they’re not fucking around with you anymore.

On the flip side, this is what it looks like if they don’t change their mind. They have you in their life for the odd boring moment late at night on Facebook, they have an audience to hear their ideas, or they have a member of the opposite sex to get advice from when it comes to courting someone else, and “now it won’t be weird.” And in return, you have a friend who won’t lead you on anymore. You have the amusement and humour they brought to your life, without the complication. You don’t have to lie to everyone else anymore about what you two used to get up to in the shadows. It’s an easier life, a simpler life. You are not a consolation prize to this person anymore, you’re on equal footing. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

Congratulations! With this treaty in place, you’ve made your life much simpler! You’ve loved and lost, and now you can move on, without ever having to lose someone who became so important to you!* TC mark

*In terms of full disclosure, the author would like to mention that this is utter bullshit. She did write the Not-A-Consolation Treaty, the other party did agree to it. The author then realised that no matter what document was in place, she would continue to be in love with the other party anyway. She did the only thing left to do, as she had thoroughly and desperately exhausted all other options (as evidenced by this desperate attempt), and cut him out of her life to save herself. She did not escape the heartbreak, she just prolonged it. The author would like her final note to be: you can’t outsmart your heart.

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