Last night I had a date with Evan. We sat at the counter at the tapas bar I favor. “So what do you do?” I asked.
“I’m a psychotherapist,” he said.
Oh, God! “No kidding,” I said weakly, thinking, Don’t say anything crazy!
He smiled wryly, “That’s what every woman I’ve dated says: ‘No kidding.’ And then they all tell me about their therapists, and what medications they’re on.”
“Ha,” I said. “Well, I’d like to preserve some mystery, so I’ll save that for later.” I take a lot of meds. I didn’t want to scare him off.
Funny, for a psychotherapist he didn’t seem like the most well adjusted of dates; he seemed sort of glum and expecting the worst. Not with me, but with dating in general. We had the usual discussion about Internet dates – how long have you been doing it, what’s your worst date, etc. And then he said, “How many times have you had this meta date discussion?”
“Oh,” I said, surprised, “Well, I guess on most dates.”
We discussed what I guess I’ll term dating theory. I think the problem with dating in general is that we go into each date expecting that we should meet the person of our dreams; alternatively, we expect it to be awful. Either way, we’re setting ourselves up. “I hate the idea of a soul mate,” I said, but at the same time I was thinking about Jeremy. Not that he’s my soul mate, but that he could have been one of them, only he didn’t seem to think so, and how had I managed to be that misled... “I think we have this idea that there’s one perfect person out there for us, and dating strangers you meet online kind of encourages this idea of destiny, because they’re people you’ll never otherwise meet.
“My friend says don’t be cool,” Evan said, apropos of our discussion of proper self-presentation on dates. “She says you shouldn’t try to be cool – like you’re not interested, like it doesn’t matter.”
“I agree!” I said. “It takes a certain kind of strength to be willing to appear vulnerable, and that is strength, to admit to liking someone…”
Then I said I liked beta males.
“So I’m a beta male?” said Evan. He sounded depressed at the idea.
“Well, yeah, I never date alpha males,” I said. It’s true. I far prefer shy, nice, mild-mannered men.
We were at the same place I went to on my second date with Jeremy—clearly I was determined to mine my misery for all it was worth, but unlike that time, Evan and I did not start making out at the subway station on the escalator down to the platform. Instead we walked along the platform, and when my train came we embraced very awkwardly and I planted a close mouthed kiss on the corner of my mouth. Very smooth. Not. He stammered, “Well, I’d like to see-see you again… you could email me.”
“Or you could email me,” I said encouragingly.
We waved and I got on the train. I had had two glasses of wine and was feeling OK. I hoped there would be an email for me from Jeremy at home, although I was feeling relaxed enough to not even need to check my email! Oh, if only I could still feel that way when I got home...
But eventually I got home, and I immediately turned on the computer. Please God, I said, just in case anyone was listening, Just let him have emailed me, that’s all I’m asking for now, OK? He hadn’t emailed me. I started to cry.
I don’t think I’ve cried like that in some time. Maybe not since 2003 when I was hysterical about Jonas. I lay down on my bed and sobbed; I pounded my fists into my pillow; I howled, softly.
It was just the cruelty of it: he couldn’t even put my mind at rest. This was how much Jeremy thinks of me: he couldn’t even be bothered to respond to my email. My pathetic, polite, gentle email that asked only if he was dropping me. Because this was it. If he couldn’t bring himself to respond to my email quickly, he wasn’t going to do it. I know it now and I knew it last night, which was why I spent so much time yesterday evening checking my phone for messages and worrying about my email. Maybe Jeremy had originally planned on emailing me, but probably by the time he saw my email, was surprised I was still hanging around, and quickly deleted the whole thing, so he could safely forget about me.
This made me so angry. That was what I meant to him – not even enough to warrant a polite fuck off. I wailed. My room was steaming hot, it was almost midnight and I hadn’t wept like this in years. I was so angry and so hurt and it was like I had gone back in time, and once again I was this incredibly unlucky girl who could never get a break, romantically. For those minutes, it was like the more recent past year hadn’t happened, and I was the doomed loveless girl I was a few years ago. I was the same moron who’d fantasized about Jonas; who’d thought—falsely—that she was attractive, who was stupid to think that someone cool and smart and nice could possibly love her, or at least like and respect her enough to respond to her goddamned email.
Anyway that was last night. This morning, there was a nice email from Evan. Asking if I’d like to get together again. I said sure. There was, of course, no email at all from Jeremy. How could I have not have realized that he was the kind of person who wouldn’t respond to my email? How did I miss that fact? I guess the fear is that in reality Jeremy is not a guy to behave so badly, but I’m so awful that he simply can’t bear the thought of any further contact with me.
And then I started thinking about where I’d gone wrong: what if I hadn’t told Jeremy I wasn’t monogamous? What if two or three weeks ago I’d told him I would date him exclusively? Or what if I hadn’t said, “I like you tons,” drunkenly, on that night after he returned from Florida? On that first night I stayed at his place he said, “I kind of wish you were five years older…” did he change his mind so quickly? I guess that was something he said and forgot, while I took it to heart. Maybe he’s completely forgotten that conversation. Perhaps for him the most meaningful moment we ever had was when we discovered a mutual love of The Cars and compared our favorite songs (me: “Magic”; him: “You Might Think”). In a way it’s more flattering to think that if only I had let him know I was really interested earlier, this could have all been OK. But that’s not the case, really. I mean, his behavior suggests that sometime around Christmas he decided he didn’t really care what happened, but by that time, it was too late for me.
Anyway, there’s nothing to do about it now, except hope that soon I’ll stop compulsively checking my email and hoping against hope for him to get in touch. Unfortunately it will probably take a while. Apparently the formula is supposed to be that it takes you half the time of the relationship to get over it. For me, this is usually reversed: it usually takes me twice as long as the relationship lasted to recover, particularly if it’s a fairly short one. I saw Jeremy for about six weeks, not counting these last two weeks. So I should probably be sufficiently recovered in about three months. This strikes me as ridiculous. But that’s me. Totally, stupidly, terminally ridiculous.