So there I was, standing in the baking aisle of the grocery store, cell phone dinging to alert me to a new message, trying not to cry but failing miserably. As a few silent tears rolled out of the corners of my eyes, I stared intently, through increasingly blurred vision, at my food coloring options, trying to remember the recipe for red velvet cake for my roommate’s birthday and not raise the suspicions of the helpful clerk who kept asking if I needed help finding anything.
The tears were irrational, illogical, and incredibly poorly timed. Yet here I was, crying over the loss of something I never had, and never really wanted, making the little old ladies trying to complete their mid-day shopping very uncomfortable.
I should probably back up again. The other end of the text conversation during this weak moment was Luke. Luke was a summer hook-up that came along at a perfect moment in my life. I had, for the briefest of moments, had an opportunity to pursue a real, (dare I say monogamous?) relationship with someone I really liked. But barely were we past the “I like you, you like me” moment that my commitment phobic, over-analytic, self-destructive brain took over. Let’s just say, I was immature, I made it awkward and, I’m certain, ruined my chances. And then I met Luke.
Luke, like me, was not good at commitment. At the time he was struggling with finding a new apartment, a project that is significantly more difficult when you just can’t decide what you want. Luke and I had absolutely nothing in common except for our mutual fear of actual functional relationships and a shared enjoyment of late night pegging. (Google it, just not while you’re at work). Over the next few months we met a number of times, exclusively after 1 am. We occasionally gchatted at work, but it was usually about how much fun we during at our most recent rendezvous, or about a new workout one of us was trying. Perfect HSP (Which, as I’ve said, is my go-to dah member). There was zero expectation of anything more. Occasionally, he used terms of endearment as I shooed him out the door at 3:00, whispering that my roommates would be home any minute and he had to go. He would kiss me and say, “bye babe” with an inflection that made me question if there was something else to this, but then our contact would lag for a few weeks and I’d forget all about it.
Which brings us to the grocery store. It had been over a month since our last encounter. We had both been traveling so much that neither of us were in the city at the same time. We chatted once or twice, but that was it. After a bit of flirting I suggested that, since my roommates would be out that night, if he wanted to stop by I wouldn’t say no. And then the response came. “I’m sort of in a difficult situation.” Which is code for “I have a girlfriend.” He explained that they hadn’t discussed where they stand and he didn’t want to fuck it up, blah blah blah. We’ve all said or heard this before. Not that it isn’t true, it’s just not unique.
I asked what happened to his swearing off of commitment and he told me this girl was different. Cue the tears. I told him I was glad he told me and that I would stop inviting him over just to be rejected and embarrassing myself by doing so. He said he felt like an ass and that he wasn’t rejecting me. I told him it was ok, don’t worry, it’s my problem. And it was. I wasn’t crying over him, and he had not done anything wrong. In fact he had been a decent, honest guy. I didn’t want anything more from him than he had already given me. But I, totally unfairly, wanted him to want more from me. It was insane. I was crying over losing a race I wasn’t even in.
And in that moment with a jar of nutmeg in one hand and wiping away tears with the other I thought “that thought” we all have thought. (That was an awkward sentence). Images of my dah full of HSPs flew by and I thought, maybe it’s not that I can’t commit…maybe it’s just that no one wants to commit to me. Maybe I am fooling myself with all my sex-positive independence, and it’s just that I’m simply not worth it. I mean, isn’t that always the rom-com lesson? The promiscuous friend is always just hiding her insecurity with a slew of partners? And so I cried in the grocery store. I kept shopping, but was adrift in a sea of self-doubt and self-loathing, all because some guy I didn’t want had rejected me.
Luke’s next text was quite possibly the very best that could have come at that moment. He said, “I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out ” to which I responded without a moment’s hesitation, “Dude, I am no one’s consolation prize.” And that was that. Suddenly, I felt better. He kept insisting that wasn’t what he meant, and while I believe he didn’t consciously intend to insinuate that I was somehow second best, the truth is, that’s how he’s sees me. And that’s fine. I can’t expect to be everyone’s number one priority in life. I mean, I’m awesome, but I’m not that awesome.
So I told Luke one of my most important rules for having a fun, sex-positive, independent life and still maintaining my self-respect. (It’s taken me longer than I’m proud of to come up with these rules). I will not be the girl you fuck because things with the girl you prefer don’t work out. I’m better than that. And I am. Luke and I started hooking up because I couldn’t commit to someone in even the hypothetical sense. Luke was my second choice and I was his. To expect anything more from a such a beginning would be naïve.
One thing I learned from this whole ordeal, is that if, if, I ever figure myself out enough to want to commit, to not get a stomach ache and a desire to bang my way through our nation’s capital at the very thought of “forever”, it will not be a consolation prize.
Thanks Ron Bennetts for the image
Susan Bi Anthony writes about all things gay, straight, in-between, and outside of the box. You can follow her @SusanBiAnthony for snarky witticisms and updates on her adventures in non-monogamy.
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