I am a terrible, selfish person.
Ugh. I was afraid of this.
The lead-up: a guy that I dated a year and a half ago, who remained basically out of the game since we broke up, is now dating someone. And it’s bothering me.
Wait, no, don’t click off. I’m not going to cry or anything. I know this is incredibly dumb. We liked each other plenty, but he bailed without a word. I was quite surprised by the disappearing act. A month later, he sent me an email (that’s how it goes these days) offering a heartfelt apology that included words like “I was a cosmic idiot” – no, really, he said that – and asking for another chance.
I did require an in-person conversation, which did happen, but ultimately I like to give people second chances, so I did. (Admittedly, sometimes this is less about the virtue of understanding someone’s struggles as it is about me being a total sucker.)
In record time (read: four days), he bailed again. I saw him one night, and then I went to work the next morning, and then a snowstorm hit, and then I was stuck at work, an hour away, in a friggin’ blizzard, schlepping on-foot to a hotel for three days instead of driving home because Eisenhower’s highway system was a shambles, and Bob doesn’t so much as call to make sure I haven’t been buried in a snowbank by a plow. (My car, yes. Me, no.) I did worry for a night that he had been buried in a snowbank by a plow, because even when you think of 15 possible reasons for someone to give you the cold shoulder and you finally decide they’re just being jerks, you then find out there was a 16th reason you hadn’t thought of and then you’re the jerk. But I figured the odds were against that.
Now, before you get the wrong impression, Bob is not a jerk. Quite the opposite. Bob’s thing is that he has nearly zero self-esteem and a lot of leftover angst from his divorce from a woman who was really not very nice to him. He has a very hard time with the winter holidays because they’re so family-oriented and he has no family, and this was all happening right before Christmas. Life and love are hurtful things sometimes, and I understood where he was coming from. But after the second bailing, even though he was sorry and self-loathing about it all over again, I basically decided we would be friends, and that was it. In a totally non-angry way (because I wasn’t angry), I told him he obviously didn’t really want that second chance anyway, and it was okay. He said he really did want it, but…
That was it. “But…” Just, you know, hanging there.
So we’re friends, albeit the kind that hasn’t seen each other since The Bailing, but we keep in touch and keep up with each other’s lives, and it’s really nice. I’ve had a boyfriend since, and a few other dates. He’s had a few dates that didn’t go well. Not terribly long ago, after telling me about a woman he’d been out with maybe three times who suddenly shared that he was not her type at all and she couldn’t see any reason to go out with him again (ouch!), he asked if he could see me. I thought lunch would be really nice, but I actually said no because I was a little concerned that his natural self-loathing and his regrets about how things had ended with me would lead to a little awkwardness. I didn’t want to date him again; he’s a great person, but I had realized that we handle life’s craziness differently enough that it would cause tension, and he really doesn’t (or didn’t) like himself very much, and that’s a turn-off for me.
But now, I’ve learned from that ever-present announcer of things, Facebook, that he’s seeing someone. I didn’t go all creepy and try to find this out on my own: Bob and I are candid enough that we can ask each other if there’s anyone new on the scene. He asked me other things about my last boyfriend, which I refused to answer. It’s that kind of friendship. But he hadn’t mentioned Kate, and suddenly there’s a photo. It’s after the Boston Marathon (which they both ran), and he looks very relaxed and happy, which is kind of unusual, so I commented on how nice it was to see him smiling. He sent me a message telling me that she makes him smile. Aha! C’est l’amour! Another brief exchange revealed that they’ve been dating for about three months. And I’m happy for him. I really am. He has seemed more positive lately, more “up,” and that’s a much better way to feel, and I’m glad he’s in that place.
But there’s this little tiny voice in my head that says, “Oh. So… you’re not pining over me anymore?”
Total. Selfish. Bee-atch.
But here’s the thing, I think: I sort of want to know what Bob is like when he’s happy and feeling secure. He never got there with me, despite my efforts to support and encourage him without making him feel like that’s what I was trying to do. I can’t help but be curious, and I can’t help but wonder if we would have been better together if he had been happier with himself. Ah, but he wasn’t, and that’s that.