Me and my foolish heart

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UnderEli - 41-45 years old - male

Posted by UnderEli
on June 23rd, 2010 at 2:30 AM

I took a chance today.  I'd been fond of a woman I met recently in a career enhancement class.  I did the typical male thing of taking an interest in her early on, instead of being patient.  I asked her for coffee one day, which she accepted with a bit of what I took to be healthy insecurity.  We got along very well in class after that, talking a lot and working side-by-side on a group project.  She phoned me one night over her nervousness of going for a job interview, and I reassured her it would be okay.  A few days later she began phoning me on a regular basis, once every evening, just to visit.  She knew I liked her.  I paid a fair amount of attention to her, which she took in stride and sometimes seemed flattered over.  In one of our conversations, we shared our thoughts about relationships.  She said that she felt the need to spend a long time in allowing one to develop, which I happen to think is a good idea too, and agreed with her.  I think a week or so after this, she admitted to me that she had a boyfriend back in China, where she's originally from.  She said they kept in touch via e-mail, but I was left with the impression that she was having to let him go, as they now lived a world apart and were unable to make a commitment.  At least, that's how I thought she explained it, but she struggles with her English, and I can't speak Mandarin at all.  I now suspect that I just heard what I wanted to hear.  She said she had a boyfriend.  She said they wrote.  She did not say that it was over.

Well, our phone calls continued.  They were good, lively discussions.  She always seemed happy to talk to me.  Jade was a good, honest, open friend.  I wondered sometimes if my affections for her were only infatuation, or was it really love?  We’d only known one another for a short time, after all, about one month – meaning we didn’t really know one another.  We didn’t have any of those incredible talks that last all night or anything.  Although she never said so, I wondered if she had similar feelings for me but was too shy to say them out loud.  She turned down a couple of my subsequent requests for coffee, which she explained it as not wanting to talk about personal issues in public.  Did that mean she knew I wanted to tell her how much I liked her, but didn’t want me to do so in such an open environment?  This is going to sound stupid and unfair, but if she had worn a T-shirt that said, “No thank-you.  I’m spoken for.” it would have saved me the trouble. 

Even today I was torn between telling Jade how I felt or keeping it to myself.  Was it really that important that she know?  Or was it more fair to myself that I be honest about it with her?  Maybe these feelings weren’t really what I thought they were?  Then why was I spending so much time in comfortable daydream thinking about her?  Infatuation?  And what words do I use to explain this to her?  As literate as I am, my tongue steps all over itself in situations like this.

So when it came time to tell her, I “ummed” and “awwed” a lot, and almost gave up at one point, saying “never mind.”  She wanted me to go on, so I reached into my guts and tried to be gentlemanly and sensitive as I said what I wanted:  how my feelings for her had become a lot stronger over the last few days, followed by a lot of incoherent gibberish about how I wanted to respect her boundaries and choices and so on.  She told me that she had some good friendships with men, and explained in no uncertain terms that she and her boyfriend were still “together,” even as they were apart.  She may have felt bad having to tell me these things, maybe embarrassed, or whatever, but she was also firm and honest –setting me straight once and for all.  We were/are friends, and that’s all.  I wonder if women intuitively know when they’re going to have to do this to a guy?

The results for me, of course, are feelings of embarrassment for having done this to us – like I betrayed the trust of a friend, you know?  I feel silly and stupid for wondering if we could actually have felt the same affection for each other.  Why didn’t I see clearly that it wasn’t meant to be?  Why didn’t I spot all the sign-posts that said “Whoa!” amidst all the other signals which whispered, like a gently persistent breeze “This could be possible?”  I feel ashamed for letting myself sow these feelings to begin with.  I know I’m being hard on myself over something that is normal and which everyone experiences.  But if I would just lock up my heart and throw away the key, tell Cupid to take a hike, and give my hormones a sabbatical, I wouldn’t end up with this happening.  I mean, Jade probably feels bad now too . . . maybe.  I’d gathered all my tools in preparation of building a bridge to her.  But my blueprint was incompatible with her’s. 

How can I face her next time, with both of us knowing what I did – how I betrayed the trust we’d built?  I’m going to be hard on myself then too.  I half suspect I will short-circuit any cordial attempts between her and I with my own self-loathing . . . and incredulity over my incompetence around meeting someone who could be a girlfriend, to say nothing of how I feel undeserving of romantic love.

Time for me to pick myself up, brush off the debris, and to keep going – at least until the next freakin’ time I let this happen to myself.  I’m such a fool, and quite the objectionable human specimen as well.

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