Monday, August 9, 2010

News Flash: I'm At Least 37% Fresh, People

I learned the following very valuable life lesson about a decade later than I would have liked: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and realize that most people don't do either.

I dated a guy who never seemed to have time for me. In our three months of dating, we went on two - yes, two - actual dates. Everything else consisted of hanging out at his house. Why? Because he was "busy" and had a lot of "commitments" and therefore couldn't plan in advance. And he was busy, and he did have a lot of commitments, but it quickly became clear to me that he wasn't that busy, and he didn't have that many commitments, especially since he managed to find time to do a lot of other things.

At various points throughout our dating, I told him that I felt like I didn't matter much to him. In response, he insisted, repeatedly and very earnestly, that I mattered to him a great deal. Every time we had this conversation, I told him that all I wanted was for him to set a little bit of time aside to do something - hell, anything - together. It could be as simple as taking his dog to the park for a couple hours one afternoon, or going to see a movie, or grabbing a burger at freakin' Sonic for goodness sake. All I wanted was for him to set aside time for me and - and this next part was key - to plan it in advance and not just text me at the last minute like I was an afterthought.

I didn't think I was asking for much, especially since he'd started calling me his girlfriend. In fact, he agreed that my expectations were entirely reasonable. And every time we had this conversation, he said he felt bad and would start treating me better. And every time, he failed to follow through. Eventually, I got tired of begging him to act like he cared about me. The pleading was painful for me because I knew deep down that no matter how many claims he made to the contrary, if I had to repeatedly ask him to set aside a couple hours a week for me, then he didn't really care all that much about me to begin with. It just wasn't possible. This confused me for the longest time, because I was choosing to believe what he was saying, rather than what he was doing.

My mom has a saying: "People do what they want to do." I believe this to be fundamentally true about everyone. If I choose laying on the couch watching bad TV over cleaning the kitchen, it is because I want to lay on the couch and watch bad TV more than I want to clean the kitchen, regardless of the excuses I come up with. For whatever reason, there's a bigger payoff for me in doing the former. Similarly, if I choose to bust my ass at work instead of playing around on the internet all day, it's because I want to work really hard because there's some kind of greater payoff over playing around on the internet. And if a guy repeatedly chooses to work late/play video games with his friends/text me at the very last minute every time he wants to hang out, rather than doing the one thing I asked him to do to make me feel like I matter even a little, it's because he wants to do whatever it is he's choosing to do more than he wants to make me feel like I matter. There's a bigger payoff in working late, or kicking his friend's ass at Call of Duty 4, or not tying yourself down to a girl by actually acting like a boyfriend, than there is in spending time with me.

It was painful to realize that I mattered so little to someone, and that doing what seemed like such a little thing for me - scheduling and spending just a couple hours with me - was just too much trouble for him. It made me feel like I wasn't worth it. And frankly, that's exactly what it was: I wasn't worth it to him. In his mind, whether or not he realized it or wanted to admit it, I was worth less than the freedom to watch Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (which got only 36% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, I'll have you know) with his friends whenever he pleased. Apparently, I was worth less than a fifteen-year-old sequel that most critics agreed wasn't very good to begin with. I was less than 36% fresh in his book.

This is a pretty shitty realization. I envisioned myself getting an easel and a flip chart and illustrating it for him. It would go something like this:

Page 1: If this...
Page 2: ...and if this...

Page 3: ...then this. Cue tears.

I thought this graphic presentation would really drive my point home and show him how ridiculous (and wrong) he was. And then I realized the following three things:

1. At best, the flip chart thing was going to make me look like the ridiculous one, and at worst, I'd come off as pretty freakin' insane.

2. I do not want to date someone who requires a flip chart (or a PowerPoint presentation, or any other illustrative tool) to realize that I am worth spending time with and taking on actual dates.

3. I am at least 37% fresh. At least. In fact, I would venture to assert that I am much closer to 70% fresh, seeing as how I have a) a great number of friends who don't just enjoy spending time with me, but actually invite me out and make an effort to see me, and b) many family members who have not yet shunned me (I imagine shunning starts at around 45% fresh).

Which brings me back to my newly learned life lesson: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and realize that most people don't do either.  I learned the third part the hard way with him, so next it was time to put the first two into practice. I told him, "I'm going to give you space to figure your shit out. I'm not going to call you. You call me." I did exactly that: I left and gave him space to decide whether I was worth it, and I didn't call him to see what his decision was. Predictably, he reinforced the third part of the lesson for me again. After nodding his head and saying he'd call, he did just the opposite. 

Thankfully, he did leave me with one other lesson, one I treasure and repeat silently to myself whenever necessary:

That guy was a total fucking idiot.

4 comments:

I Love Baby Quilts! said...

LOL! You made me laugh at work. I love the sardonic look in your photo. Great flip chart.

He just wasn't that into you. Been there, done that, currently wearing the T-shirt again.

Julie said...

That guy was a total fucking idiot. Any man that chooses Ace Ventura over the hotness that is my girl crush is a total douchebag.

Say what you mean and mean what you say is my motto. Which is why my Twitter feed is filled with rants, raves and a healthy dose of the eff bomb.

Your flip chart made me heart you more. Which might be a little weird, but that's the way this gangsta rolls. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. And I say what I mean, so...

Amber said...

I had to come to the same realization myself before with a guy I had dated. He was also a idiot

Caroline said...

You are better off without him. Alone - is not the worst thing, being with a total asshat,who keeps showing you he's an asshat is way worse. Believe me. Kicked to the curb as he should be, his loss. Honestly.

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