*Names, initials and places have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty.
There are more than 9 million Google results for this title: He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s the title of a 2009 RomCom that is described as “[a] movie of interconnected story arcs [that] deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.” I’ve actually never seen the movie, but I’ve read the phrase in tens of memes and “inspirational posts.” Okay, it’s not a phrase that inspires, but it speaks volumes. Truth is sometimes hard to hear, but it can also unknot feelings, clear up a cluttered mind and feel very empowering. I’m curious how many bloggers have written on this topic and I wonder if I’ll say anything more insightful than the others. The difference in this post may be that this is an open letter to the person who just isn’t that into me. Keep reading. This isn’t a plea or persuasion. It’s perspective and clarity. It’s juicy and heartfelt. It’s raw and ripe with desire. It’s intuition and self-realization.
You know what? I’m not sorry. I’ve spent the last five days fighting with you in my dreams. I’ve spent the last five days suppressing my need to explain myself. I’ve cried and cried feeling so guilty for crossing your boundaries when that wasn’t my intention at all. And I felt confused about how I had “made advances.” I wrote friends to ask “how can I cry this much over someone with whom I haven’t even had a relationship?” On Sunday I thought I’d started to breathe again and feel better. I planned to walk right up to you on Monday and tell you that I’d fought with you in my dreams. That I felt your reaction to two texts was unfair. You shut me down and out when I wanted to explain myself. That’s why I called you: nuance, humor and intent are often lost in text. (On a side note, do you know how Instagram works? Everyone can see what you like. I’m not a see-er. That is said with complete sincerity, not bitchiness. Glad to give you a tutorial.) But Monday came and I chickened out. I tried to be brave and casual and opened myself up for conversation and you did not engage. You treated me like I was just another mom on the playground. But we both know I’m not. I don’t mean we needed to hash it out right there. I wouldn’t do that. But I expected genuine conversation. Genuine interest. Genuine engagement. And Tuesday brought the same amount of (dis)engagement.
Meanwhile life goes on. And I participated in life fully over the weekend after crying myself to sleep Friday night, but with a nagging, restless feeling that woke me several times. A weird weak and tingly feeling pulsed through my body. A heaviness in my chest that took my breath away. And a confused mushiness in my head. Feeling rejected by you and wanted by so many more. I went on two Tinder dates. I sang in my choir concert and was so pleased to have 3 good friends in the audience who were so gracious and happy to have come. I went to one of my favorite restaurants and out dancing with M. Sunday night, I had another incredible dinner at one of my favorite farm to table restaurants with one of my favorite people, D! I sexted two people to sleep and declined two others. Clearly, my sexting abilities are a gift! (Jeez, that’s a gift I never could have predicted or dreamed up and not even sure I want. I do enjoy making people feel good.) But when I close my own eyes and go to that place of fantasy in my head, I see you.
My favorite literature professor in college, Pat Taylor, loved to lecture about “intense physical passion” between characters in a novel or play. Her description and anecdotes about her own experiences left an imprint on me. She would always say to us (I had 5 classes with her!) you are young and free, don’t deny yourself intense physical passion. Enjoy it. Feel it. Embrace it. You can’t turn it off or shut it out. This idea has always stayed with me. And naming it in this way is so much more expressive and resonant than calling it lust or infatuation. Actually, I think it is different. The words lust and infatuation conjure one-sidedness. Intense physical passion depicts two people drawn to each other by physical magnetism that eclipses all other factors. Intense physical passion is what drew us together. It’s bigger than us. I’m not saying it means that we’re not in charge or responsible for our how we act on it, just that it’s to be recognized.
Wednesday came. What a day. I was still reeling with guilt. Guilt for being too much, saying too much and wanting too much. I awoke with an ache. Although I knew we were not going to see music together on Friday, it hurt so much to finalize it. G and I had a marriage counseling (that I’m now calling co-parenting) appointment and I did not want to go. I was so emotional, so tired. The tears unexpectedly flowed. There was so much more going on in my head than I could share during our appointment. And once the faucet was turned on, I couldn’t stop them. I sat in my car crying for an hour. Self-loathing. Aching. Feeling guilty and misunderstood and unheard and irritated that I hadn’t been given a chance to verbalize my side. And I felt like I was, once again, being treated like a child and being told what to express, what not to express. This is so embarrassing to admit, but I was also deeply hurting because I knew you were intentionally not “liking” or commenting on any of my IG posts in an effort to disengage. Was I to assume you were just watching from afar or completely avoiding? No matter which, it was hurtful because it is the one way, if no other way, I felt we could connect authentically. It’s a platform where I feel I can be truly seen, appreciated and understood. And I feel that you, of all people, “get it.”
I decided I couldn’t join a walking field trip because I could not stop crying. And then I saw you 5x that day and you didn’t see me at all (Short little aside here: Seeing you, whether I tell you about it or not, i.e. me opening my blinds the first thing in the morning and looking out my window to see you sitting in your truck in traffic; is not making advances. It’s time and space putting you in front of me. For what reason I don’t know. At the time, it just felt like torture.) I’ve not been eating well and not been getting any real work done, so I went across the street to eat a salad and work. You came in, you went out. (And, damn, you looked so fucking good!!) Then I went into school to pick up and saw you in both directions. I had to pee really badly and would usually use the bathroom near you, but my eyes were puddles and I knew it would be obvious, so I had a teacher unlock the bathroom near the office. It was a busy day that never stopped moving despite all of my tears. I, too, had my own therapy appointment. As I pulled out of the driveway I had a sense that you were leaving school (I told you this stuff happens to me all the time!) But my practical mind said, thank goodness he’ll be walking up the hill and you won’t have to see him again. But no, you had different plans, I drove right past you walking with someone. There you were in the sunshine with a smile and ease and engaged in conversation and clearly a spring in your step (okay, you kind of always have a spring in your step.) But you looked really happy. Not so unlike the way you looked when we walked to the corner last week. Welcome back waterworks! And thank goodness for therapists!!
Wasted is an understatement. By the end of the day yesterday, I was raw. Therapy helped. Texting with friends helped. On Sunday D asked me, why does it hurt? I had to think about it for a minute and then I said, because I want to be known and to know him. And I cannot do that unless I am myself, unless I am authentic. If over the next few paragraphs I get contradictory, I apologize. As we both know, humans are extraordinarily complicated. And despite my best effort to look inside myself and dissect my feelings and understand my relationships, sometimes there are still contradictions. For the rest of the evening I wallowed. And then at midnight I reread every single message, every exchange, every shared post. It only took me about 45 minutes to do that (insert- wtf, it’s not like I’d been writing novels or texting 20x a day). And I replayed in my head the 6 hours or so of conversation we’ve had in the past month. And the first 5 hours happened all in the first 8 days. I wanted to see me the way you see me. I wanted to understand what I had done. I wanted to interpret every word from your angle (as best I could without being you). I know, I know, sounds like a crazy place to go. After reading everything and looking at all the posts I suddenly had clarity: This isn’t about me at all! It never is!
In those lines of text, which were mostly mine, I read lines from a person who is open, honest, vulnerable and 100% me all the time. I read dozens of questions that remain unanswered written to a person who is not open and not willing or able to be vulnerable. I read a person who does not want to be known and does not want to know me. And then it hit me, He’s Just Not That Into You. You’d think that this revelation is more heartbreaking than thinking you’re into me and just have a lot of “rules” about how I’m supposed to interact with you. Nope. It’s absolutely freeing and feels so much better. In replaying those conversations with you I remembered when I asked you why me? You said you’re not used to being pursued so hard. It took me awhile to ponder this and retrace all the steps, but I still don’t see it. I’m not arguing what it felt to you. But I’m not buying that my pursuit (I wouldn’t even call it pursuit) is how we ended up at a bar talking (you asked to have a face to face) and in my car having an incredible make out session (you said, i think it’s time to kiss) that left me wanting so much more. More passion. More kissing. More body worshipping. I really don’t want a long term relationship right now. (Here’s where I sound contradictory.) I want to physically enjoy someone that I’m really attracted to on a physical and intellectual level. I want to be made to feel like a goddess. And I want to make someone feel like a god. I don’t need you. And you don’t need me. I desire you. And I desire not only your physical being, but your authentic self. In one of our conversations you said something about if the circumstances were different we could get together. And I said that we wouldn’t be getting together because proximity is what brought us to this point in the first place. Time and space. Attraction comes from both the physical attraction and the curiosity of the person we both see: the girl playing ukulele in the garden, the girl with the IG of flowers and plants who shows her soul in a public forum, the girl who has curly hair and a big smile and loves people and looks kinda fun, the guy who has an amazing smile, a spring in his step, is eternally patient and kind (in front of all of us:), the Italian who has amazing hair and hazel eyes (right?! they were glowing in the sun on that walk last week and absolutely gorgeous), the guy who believes in and practices what he teaches, the guy who is a world traveler, an adventurer, the guy who remembers and uses people’s names (so fucking sexy) and for both of us: the specialness of getting to quietly admire each other from afar, sometimes daily. Proximity. It’s what communities are made of and what brings people together. I don’t know if we would would have been a Tinder match. Probably, maybe?
But what it all comes down to is you’re Just Not That Into Me. My theory is that the Universe placed me in front of you and you were drawn in for a brief second and then almost simoultaneously the Universe placed someone equally as alluring right in front of you. I had the same thing happen to me a year ago. I know what it’s like. I had butterflies in my stomach for a man in my past and they literally flew away the moment another man, who I’d had a super hot one-night-stand with (years and years ago), appeared. My interest quickly waned and I cut communication with that first for quite awhile because I Just Wasn’t That Into Him. (An aside: I absolutely love the one I ignored for awhile and we have undeniable physical chemistry, but that’s another story.) If you stood the two of us (me and the other lovely lady I’ve conjured) in front of you, it’s obvious that you’d choose the one who is less dangerous, perhaps less vulnerable, more restrained, less messy, but most definitely the one you are more attracted to. I’m fully committed to the idea that intense physical passion eclipses all other circumstances standing in it’s way. The body wants what it wants. I want your body. You want someone else’s. What a unique story. I could be wrong, but my intuition is pretty good.
But it’s okay. From my line of suitors I have no doubt that I’ll eventually feel excited and attracted to someone out there. In the meantime, I have my shibori. But one thing is certain, I am not ever going to apologize for being myself again. When we met up for the second conversation you (maybe mistakenly) said you wanted to forge a friendship with me, get to know [me] slowly. That’s when I said fuck friendship (and took it back, but you don’t remember me saying it anyway). But getting to know me involves all of me. I’m sexual, irreverent, honest, vulnerable, authentic, passionate, creative, wordy, emotional, compassionate, empathetic, intuitive, unique, sexy, a chronic friend maker, adventurous, curious and funny. I can be serious, but not if it feels unauthentic. I have issues with impulse control and boundaries. And, oh holy shit, my nickname is a reference to being slow, but not because I fail to quickly present all of me. I’m a slow walker, hiker, sewer and reader. I’m a lot. No doubt about that. And when I meet someone new, especially someone with whom I have a physical and intellectual attraction, I’m excited to get to know them. And, yes, I am, absolutely physically attracted to you. I said I couldn’t turn that off. And, although this may no longer be true, during our 2nd conversation you said, this is not rejection. You said were were very attracted to me and curious and fascinated by me. Writing this has been cathartic. It’s also been eye-opening. The truth is : He’s Just Not That Into You.
P.S. I don’t know if it was, but looking back, talking on the phone to me feels like it was a pity conversation and that feels really yucky.
Wow. That felt really fucking good. I feel so much better. No more tears. No more guilt. I have always hated, with a passion, the rules of romantic relationships. The restraint, the holding back feelings, the dance of trying to understand the other person without directly asking them and telling them. Who made up these ridiculous rules? It’s never been my way.