The Only Real Kind of Love?

One of the questions on the OKCupid survey prompted me to think about my ideas on love.

The question is this:

Unrequited love is ________.

a) Foolish
b) Romantic
c) The only real kind of love
d) Not real love

The idea is to give members the opportunity to learn more about potential mates, and the questions range from political and religious beliefs to marriage, child-rearing, sex, money, etc.

My answer was a) foolish.

Yet I still cannot get my mind off this man who I’ve been pining over for months now. Intellectually I know it’s futile but my heart yearns for this man. It started as a harmless attraction that rarely crossed my mind, because when I met him I was engaged and committed to my future husband. After my husband and I split, this man, who had been a sober alcoholic like me, relapsed, and I crossed him off my (very short) list of desired mates. But then he quit drinking again. And he came to me. And he let me know that he’s interested in me. I was not ready for him at that time, having just separated from my husband, so I told him that I’d like to go out with him at a later time. Shortly thereafter this man relapsed again. Then he got sober again. Again, he let me know that he was interested in me. This time was recently, and it’s been over a year since my husband and I split, so the new guy and I made plans to go out on a date, which never happened. This guy just disappeared—he cancelled without rescheduling.

He didn’t just ask me out. We’d had at least three distinct conversations about dating each other–via text, which may not qualify as actual conversations, but words had been exchanged. We agreed that we wanted to be friends before dating or having sex. He confessed that it would be hard for him not to have sex with me right away. At the time that sounded to me like he liked me, but I realize now it could’ve just as easily meant he wanted just sex and nothing more.

By the way, the two aforementioned relapses were not his only relapses, so if you’re noticing a pattern that screams DANGER DANGER, you’re right to feel that way. The man is no good for me. That doesn’t stop me from wondering why. What happened? Why say those things? Why would you be dishonest? And so on and so forth, ad infinitum.

Clearly something happened to cause him to change his mind. He realized something about me that he didn’t know before, something he doesn’t like. He has too much going on in his life that he can’t be in a relationship. He wanted me for sex only. Some other woman he’s more interested in came along. He needs to focus on his sobriety… This last one is my preferred answer, and I imagine that one day in the future, when he’s begging for my love, he’ll tell me that this was the reason. And I’ll ask him why he didn’t just tell me that in the first place—because I’ll give him hell and at first I’ll say no, no way am I ever going out with you, but he’ll beg, plead, and grovel–and he’ll say, Because I was afraid you would’ve talked me out of it, and I’d have gotten into a relationship with you, and you’d have broken my heart, and I’d have relapsed.

Playing out these imaginary scenarios is a waste of my teenage head space but these thoughts infiltrate my mind and breed like STIs at an orgy.

One of my friends told me that if you don’t water it, it won’t grow; don’t invest any more mental energy on this man. This blog may qualify as throwing fertilizer on it. But no one ever talks about this–probably because it’s useless, and they’re grown up, but I’m not, and I’m hoping it will help me to get over it.

Why is it that I’m almost 40 years old and I have a schoolgirl crush on a man that I cannot get over? Just like a teenager. I didn’t know 40-year-olds still got crushes. Clearly he’s no good for me, and this is not love but lust based on an ideal I’ve created of him, because although I’ve seen him and heard him speak at meetings for almost five years now, I haven’t spent any time alone with him, in person. I think I know him but I don’t really.

I need to put this into perspective. When I look back on the guys I liked in high school, college, and after, not a single one of them was what you’d call winning at life—not then or now. Had I married any of them I feel confident that my life would not look or feel as good as it does today. Never have I thought, Man, I sure wish that high school dropout who I brooded over as a teenager was the father of my children today.

Getting rejected by someone who can’t stay sober is a blessing. One thing that is said about people who can’t stay sober is that they have an inability to be completely honest with themselves, so it’s not surprising that this man would tell me he likes me, and then change his mind. He doesn’t know what he wants—or, more accurately, he’s too afraid to go after what he really, truly wants deep down inside. And I can relate to that because I have spent most of my life feeling that way. It’s not a pleasant spot.

As much as I want him to be like John Cusack in the boombox window scene in Say Anything or Ben tearing after Elaine to interrupt her wedding in The Graduate, realistically that won’t happen. The only guys who do those kinds of things are the ones I have no interest in, and they don’t reject me beforehand. When a guy likes a woman, he lets her know. No one rejects you and then comes back later to say they really loved you all along but couldn’t be with you because of some totally valid reason. If they wanted you in the first place no life event would stop them.

So to get over this I have to focus on why it wouldn’t work in the first place. For shallow reasons, his love of football would get on my nerves. The fact that he is a registered Republican I cannot buy into. His social circle of friends consists of people I have no interest in spending time with. His newfound interest in Christianity is just weird to me. And quite honestly, it would be nice if he were about two or three inches taller.

A deeper reason why it would never work with this guy is that he has an inability to be open emotionally. If he could tell me that he was interested but needed time and space to focus on sobriety, we may be able to work together on some kind of relationship in the future. But he’s not at that point yet, and may never be, and I’m not willing to invest in the kind of work it would take to support that. It’s too risky, and I want to spend the second half of my life with someone who is on the same wavelength as I am—not someone who is just figuring it out, or can’t figure it out—“it” being life, sobriety… although I suppose one might just as easily argue that “figuring it out” is exactly what I’m in the process of doing now.

Based on some of the comments he’s made, lack of faith in a higher power is a problem for this man, and one of the qualities I’m looking for in a man is a mutual interest in growing together spiritually. So if he can’t have faith that a higher power exists, I can guess that he’s lost, and just in case he’s looking for a savior, I can’t be that person.

What I really want to know is this: what’s the point of all of this? What lesson is there to be learned? Usually the answer is that it gives me an experience that will be helpful to someone else. I don’t like that answer, especially because I don’t know the solution to this problem. Get over it, that message is clear, but how? All I can think of is how it seems like love is always unbalanced, that one partner always loves the other more, and I cannot stand to be on either side.

Maybe the real question worth considering is this: Why is it that I fall for an emotionally unavailable man? And what would it take for me to fall for a man who is available?

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