Cupid, Pull Back Your Bow

“You got the tits of a 25-yr old.”

“You’re dangerous.”

“I don’t feel like myself when I’m with you.”

“I’m really into you.”

“I want you.”

“I need you.”

“You’re so beautiful.”

“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

A sample. A SMALL sample of the things I’ve heard from men in the past 6 months. Maybe even only 5 months.

Some of you might think this is bragging, a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong-a lot of it has certainly made me reel and blush and consider that maybe I am as desirable as these men make me out to be. Sadly though, on a Valentine’s Day when I’m sharing the couch with a needy, shedding cat, it’s making me take stock of what “love” looks like and what it might say when it REALLY gets here.

After a bad and generally futile habit of being the pursuer, I made a declaration to several friends, most of us single, that this year should be The Year of Being Pursued. Fair, enough, yes? Let the men put the effort in, let them be the dazzlers for a change. I think I’ve lost my dazzle and used up all the tricks up all my sleeves.

When I think back, I’m not sure that I’ve ever really been pursued for anything other than sex (OH and one time for a pyramid scheme.) I have been a single woman awaiting a grand gesture for 3 years now. I’m smart enough to know that maybe for me, there will never be a fairy-tale, movie-moment ending, but at least, I could hope for a grand gesture. I have fantasized about men sitting and waiting for me on my stoop (well, when I lived in the city and had a stoop.) I have waited for flowers, romantic text messages, the crawling back on hands and knees, the phone call that says “How could I have been so stupid? It was you all along.” I have really believed that these could and would happen. So, when a man recently told me that he drove an hour and a half to surprise me at a public place where he knew I would be, I thought that that was the grand gesture that I had been waiting for.

This was just one of many tricks this guy used to practically put me in a trance-like state. I’m not an idiot, but, he was very convincing in his apparent sincerity and had me so confused as to why he had chosen me to be the target of his interest and affection that I just went with it. There were alarm bells and red flags all over the place, and I take full responsiblity for relinquishing. I broke all my newly-made rules and resolutions. At 45-years old, I had become one of the quintessential cliches of what usually happens to much younger people–I was hunted, captured and released.

I have spent WAY too much time trying to analyze this behavior mostly repeating the play-by-play to strong, wonderful female friends who are rendered as confused as I. We always come to the same conclusion–there is no point in EVER trying to understand why men do this sort of thing. We end up angry or teary or empowered. But we don’t fucking get it.

I consulted a sampling of male friends–one gay, one a former lover and one, an old, platonic friend. Former lover was confused, said that it sounded like sociopathic behavior and was eager to hear what happened as the story unfolded. My gay friend put it really simply when he explained that sometimes men just “change their mind.”

And then my friend Ruben came up with an entire nomenclature and said “aahh…you’ve met your first Lothario, all easy-on-the-eyes & honey smiles…trust your gut no matter how fine he is or grand his gestures…there’s no way you could’ve seen such an old hunter coming unless you were acquainted with the type.”

Then Ruben had me do a very interesting exercise and told me to go over my “list” of men in my past and see if in fact, this hadn’t happened before. Well, I pulled out my secret list (come on, we all have one don’t we?”) and put an “L” for “Lothario” next to five total names. 5 out of, well, a bunch. The first one appeared when I was 22 and then came BACK about 10 years later. He too had me all confused and spun around, and my gut said that something was REALLY off, but I went with it anyway. Another one, a much younger guy, cocky and stunning, used me to make a point and was so mean-spirited afterwards that it made me desparate for an answer as to why he had been so fierce in his determination to “get” me. Of course, I never got my answer.

And then, this. I want to say to this guy, listen, if all you wanted was sex you just should’ve asked instead of going through all the machinations and an expensive dinner to convince me. I would’ve done it and it wouldn’t have been so fucking mortifying. I want to conduct an interview with him and find out how many times he’s done this before, what his batting average is, and why he does it.

I guess this is what makes women (and men too, I’m sure) so suspicious and guarded and jaded about love. I don’t want to be one of those people but I don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over again. My best friend, Craig says that he’s always admired the way I’ve been knocked down and get right up again. I don’t know if I have it in me to be bitter and jaded and NOT get up again. However, I think I need to preserve and protect my heart just a little bit more and hope that the next one, or the one after that, walks the walk in a much straighter line.

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11 Comments

  1. But the gay friend also agreed with Ruben"s "Lothario" analysis in this case. However, my overwhelming feeling on why people act the way do is unanswerable; endlessly fascinating to analyze and hypothesize about, but unanswerable

  2. Yes my friend, an open heart that is still protected, that's what I will wish for you. And a real suitor…though he need not be riding a white horse.

  3. "I'm such a work in progress at the moment, it's crazy, and life wants me on edge, I swear to you. But as long as I don't forget the past, I'm cool. One must always be mindful, just like you might forget that old girlfriend who tried to slit your throat, but she's really still hot. If you remember the stitches more than you remember the pussy, you're going to be just fine." — Robert Downey, Jr. (interview in RS, August 2008)

  4. PERFECT quote, Ruben, from one of my favorite actors of all time. Thank you.

  5. Another classic post Gayle. Moving, funny, vulnerable, deeply honest. I feel privileged that you share your pain and struggle with all of us who silently do the same. You WILL find your love. Know it, then give up on it.

  6. I'm not sure what you mean by "Give up on it" because God knows when I find it, I'm going to hold on for dear life! Thanks for the kind words. A VERY funny one is being crafted today (I couldnt let the pyramid scheme reference not get explained.)

  7. I'm just suggesting that things happen when you least expect it. Trust that it will come but embrace your life as it is and accept that it may not. Then when you find it you will not need to "hold on." You will have no choice.

  8. I'd never listened to the lyrics of "Say You Love Me" until today when I heard YOU in them, Gayle. Uncanny. Another 'unrequited love song' …Have mercy, baby, on a poor girl like meYou know I'm falling, falling, falling at your feetI'm tingling right from my head to my toesSo help me, help me, help me make the feeling goCause when the loving starts and the lights go downAnd there's not another living soul aroundThen you woo me up till the sun comes upAnd you say that you love meHave pity, babyJust when I thought it was overNow you got me running, running, running for coverI'm begging you for a little sympathyAnd if you use me again it will be the end of meCause when the loving starts and the lights go downAnd there's not another living soul aroundThen you woo me up till the sun comes upAnd you say that you love meBaby, baby hope you're gonna stay awayCause I'm getting weaker, weaker everydayI guess I'm not as strong as I used to beAnd if you use me again it'll be the end of meCause when the loving starts and the lights go downAnd there's not another living soul aroundThen you woo me up till the sun comes upAnd you say that you love meCause when the loving starts and the lights go downAnd there's not another living soul aroundThen you woo me up till the sun comes upAnd you say that you love meSay that you love meSay that you love meFallin, fallin, fallinFallin, fallin, fallinFallin, fallin, fallinFallin, fallin, fallinFallin, fallin, fallin(Christine McVie, 1975)

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  10. FYI, this is my first blog comment ever. At 35, I am reading my first blog and making my first comment. What does that say about married life??? I am captured too- I wish it was for sex at this point! Being pursued for sex sounds fantastic right now. As I pull up to a light in my minivan staring at the sweaty construction worker who quickly sees me and looks away just as fast…. oh well.

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