**THIS IS NOT WRITTEN BY ME! A friend of mine needs your ear and your advice. Please read & chime in!**
I have to admit before I get into the meat of this post that I’m embarrassed to even write out what I’m about to share. I often hear that phrase “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” though I never follow its principle. And, while I understand that most of the time people don’t really change, for most of my 32 years I’ve been hopelessly hopeful, and I believe that people do change. I think, the truth is, they can change but, usually, they don’t.
That said, I need some advice. I suppose I need some straight-setting, too. Or, maybe it’s encouragement.
Last March (2009), I broke up with a man–my sweetheart guy (SHG)–whom I’d been dating for just under four months. When we met, I was two months out of a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad four-year relationship. I was surprised by this new person who came into my life, and I was shocked at how easy it was to date him (and, to date in general) after the chaotic mess I’d just left. SHG was chivalrous and generally, the kind of package I was hoping for. It was pretty much the easiest and most exciting dating experience. But, after a while, I felt like something was missing–almost like there was a short in the wiring between us, even though we thoroughly enjoyed being together.
Eventually, I decided to break things off. Prior to breaking up with him, I had asked that we ramp things up, because I was losing interest. He hadn’t been making enough time for me—I’d see him about once a week. To his credit, he was up front that our relationship wasn’t a priority; “But,” he added, “that doesn’t mean it won’t be.” In fact, it was so hard to see him at that time and I was so frustrated not knowing when I’d see him next that when I decided to break it off, I had to do it over e-mail. I felt guilty about that, because I’m a firm believer in braving dirty work face-to-face. In the end, I chalked it all up to us needing and wanting different things, and though it sucked, I was OK with that.
Throughout the following months post-break-up, SHG would contact me in various ways to say hello and briefly catch up; and I might have initiated a friendly hello myself a couple of times. I didn’t see him again until early September, at his urging, for a quick, early dinner and catch-up. I often heard from him how much he enjoyed the time he spent with me, and how terrific, sweet, kind and loving I was. It became a staple of any of our conversations. I usually listened and left the conversation for what it was—just conversation. I realized I had been given a lot of lip service and not a lot of action. And, quite frankly, I’m a girl who likes some action. My philosophy is that you can SAY any sweet ole thing you wanna say; but it’s what you do about it that perks me.
As I sit here typing this now, I feel like I know the answers to my own troubles; like, I’m floatin’ on the river Denial. I’m avoiding the hurt that’s just lurking beyond my heart’s door, and it’s waiting to flood when I accept the fact that the door has gotta come open at some point. Because we all know I can’t stay locked up in my pretend happy-ending world forever. I need to eat, sleep, meditate and …function with a smile.
I got a phone call to have dinner with SHG just over two weeks ago. I agreed, thinking it would be as friendly and platonic as the last one in September. Then the end of the night came. I was inundated with (again) admission of guilt and wrong-doing for the way he acted when we dated. He expressed all the compliments and flattery any girl wants her sweetheart guy to tell her. Most importantly (to me), I heard him admit that he acted like a jerk, that I don’t deserve to be treated that way. My response to that was, direct and to the point: “Yes, you did. And, no, I don’t.” He promised not to do it again. That whole evening, I was inundated with affection, attention and admiration that I’d never seen when we dated. And that was the hook. He hooked me. SHG wanted to talk about it, and he said he would call when he returned the following week from vacation. That night, he was completely different than I’d experienced him before and I patiently (and uncharacteristically) awaited his return.
I feel like he showed up at my door asking for a second chance, throwing at me all his feelings, wrapping me up in romance as comfy as satin, and a soft whirlwind of intrigue, excitement and possibility. (No sex was involved.) Now, I sit here, and it is six days after he’s returned from that trip. I hadn’t had so much as a text message. Not an IM. No e-mail saying, “Hey, I’m home! I’ll call later this week to make plans.” (Or, whatever.) Let alone a phone call. So, I did what I normally would never do: I e-mailed him. I asked how he was, and I let him know that I was surprised to have not heard from him after that grand display–you know, remember that one night two weeks ago? His reply? He’s been exhausted every night after catching up at work; that he will call in a couple days to chat; that he has “been thinking of [me] and wanted to get in touch; but [he] just has felt like a zombie. And still feels like a zombie.” Um, what?
It’s two days later, and I still haven’t received that phone call. I could sit here like one of those girls in He’s Just Not That into You and make a long list of halfway-valid and not-at-all-valid excuses for why it’s OK that he’s a zombie and not feeling like spending two minutes to say hello, why I hadn’t received a phone call. Or an e-mail. Or a text. Or why he hadn’t contacted me in one of 1000 other ways that exist in this new age of technology and information science. But, I won’t.
My philosophy has always been to acknowledge, encourage and respond positively to initiations that men make (if I so dig ’em). Because, really, most men will move mountains to see a girl they dig. All we need to do is respond accordingly–at least, that’s what’s always worked for me in the past (or, has it?). I didn’t want to send my e-mail in the first place, for fear that I’d come off as that girl waving at him, jumping up and down, pony tail swinging side to side, shouting, “Hi! Hi! Remember me!? Yoo-hoo!”, while he’s off in his own little world doing whatever it is he does when he’s not (ever, really) showing me that he’s thinking of me.
I’m not sure what to expect at this point. I’m not sure, anymore, what that star-studded night was about for him. I feel confused and humiliated, sad and a little angry. And, I need some perspective. I feel like I probably know the answer. But, I also feel like I need a big, cushy blanket of honest, powerful women (and maybe men) to shine their light on my situation. In any other situation, I’d pass this up. He meant a lot to me when we dated a year ago, and I was sad to have to end it then; it’s been a year since I left him—the guy I adored who couldn’t show up to the relationship. Can things really change? And, yeah, I’ll be asking him a whole series of questions whenever I see him next. In the meantime, here you all are, and I hope you will pull me from my denial.
Internet, followers of the ever-generous Sizzle, will you please share with me your wisdom? Advice? Experiences? Was I being unreasonable expecting an outreach of hello from him, within a few days back from a sunny vacation filled with the sea and margaritas? Am I drowning myself in denial? Have I turned into a classic case of He’s Just Not That into You, even though he says he is? And, do I give him the benefit of the doubt?