You know how I wind up falling for men I shouldn’t fall for? They say something sage about my personality and I get all, “Oh, he understands me!” Dammit. The Colombian is making resistance so difficult. I have this very well-established border and he keeps poking his fingers through it.
We were out to dinner last night, and then to drinks afterward, and then to my house for a nightcap. Apparently because I feel a need to project my issue with Jack (it’s indefatigable) onto him, and because of a not-insignificant amount of delicious chardonnay, I wound up bluntly stating – again – that he doesn’t love his girlfriend and just uses her, but this time went a step further and told him she loves him, which I know because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten upset about not being invited to Colombia.
That part was definitely the wine’s fault.
Somehow, this does not make him hate me. To my surprise, instead, he pivoted, and said, “Have you ever had a relationship that you learned nothing from and got nothing out of?” We wound up having a very long conversation about relationships, and he said something that completely shocked me: the last time he truly loved a woman (which he says takes him a while – he doesn’t fall easily) was from 2003 to 2007, and he learned, he says, absolutely nothing from that relationship. He said she had been through a lot of really awful things – “Like, everything bad that you can think of has happened to her” – and he kind of wanted to help her, but the relationship didn’t work out and he took nothing away from it.
So why is that so shocking? Well, besides the fact that I don’t think it’s possible to have a significant relationship and not take something away from it, I was shocked because I think he was referring to the ex-wife he doesn’t admit he has. Unless, somehow, his great, wasted love coincided directly with that marriage, but involved a different woman.
Thankfully, although I am a pushy broad at exactly the wrong times (see: ten minutes prior to this revelation), I managed not to call him out on that particular life event at that moment. He still doesn’t know I know about it, and It seemed unnecessarily cruel to trot that out on top of the mild tongue-lashing I’d given him about Lydia.
So then he said, “Can we talk about you now? Why are you still single?”
Ugh, I hate this question, right? But I didn’t in this context. I said I didn’t know, told him I don’t get asked out much (to which he responded, “I find that hard to believe,” which is, for some reason, everyone’s response), and asked for his perspective. And his answer (and this is one of the things I really like about Javier) was immediate and honest. He said, “Well, I think you can be intimidating to some guys… like, they might say something they think is really cute, but you think it’s stupid. And I think you need someone who will challenge you. And not everyone can do that.”
So, the intimidation thing, that’s not so new, right? I’ve heard that before, though I made the observation to him that it was usually uttered by some married guy friend with no dog in the fight who just wants to know why I’m single. I, of course, took note of the fact that Javi himself is not intimidated by me. But what surprised me was that he said I need someone who will challenge me. While that’s absolutely true, only one person has ever said it, that I’m aware of: my friend Deb’s husband, Arnie, to her, in conversation about me, which she later shared. And I thought it was a brilliant observation, but not one that everyone would put in that way. I think most people would say, less precisely, than I’m difficult, or argumentative, or something about how “tough” I can be. It’s a nuanced word: “challenge.” And here’s a Colombian using it in exactly the right nuanced way to apply to my personality vis-a-vis my relationship status.
Honestly, the consistency with which I find adorable his excellent use of the English language is disturbingly racist, unless one considers the fact that I find most Americans terribly inept at the English language.
The thing is, at least from my perspective (and Arnie’s and Javier’s), setting aside the trust issues that make me a little hard, I’m not really difficult – I just really like debate and discussion. It’s how I get closer to people. The people I feel closest to in my life are the ones with whom I can have a good discussion. And here’s the kicker: it’s what I miss most about Jack. Now, that’s relative, since I try not to think in terms of what I miss about Jack, but when I look back at what I think I lost when that thing imploded, the most aching memory is the way we talked with each other, about all kinds of things, without arguing – just talking. I loved talking with him. And I don’t find that very often with men. Except Javi. In fact, Javier and I can debate things – which makes him think we disagree, and every time he says that, I point out that we actually usually agree, but debate fine points.
I find debate and discussion sexy.
Huh. Wonder if that’s why I like politics so much.
Anyway, he left at 1:45 (“Since I cannot stay here,” he said with an impish smile – and no, he cannot. BORDER POLICY.). And I woke up this morning and immediately felt bad about foisting my thoughts about his relationship with Lydia onto him at the bar. Suddenly it was very clear that, while I don’t particularly care for that relationship’s track on the basis of what it means about him (and I had told him I didn’t want him to be That Guy), the issue is really entirely mine. So I texted him an apology for the ambush and confessed that his relationship is really none of my business.
Because really… I just want him to ditch her and be a good boyfriend for me. Right? Because he’s not intimidated and he knows I need a challenging partner.
Shit. Call in the National Guard.