Bad language count: l
I seem to march through the dating world. Canter, prance, gallop. I don’t know. It’s a controlled chaotic if you will:
I shoot down a lot of guys….
Truly. A man who comes after me isn’t good enough until proven otherwise. It might sound harsh but I’m not the least bit sorry. A man has to be all kinds of good to turn my head. I have high standards and they have served me well.
Unfortunately that sometimes makes me… intimidating. I know what I want and I know what I don’t want. Two of my friends have recently said to me “MM, Your flirting style is different. You don’t have to act cute, you just draw men to you by being confident and sassy.”
I laughed at the absurdity. I do NOT draw men to me. In fact I’m pretty sure I repel them. But then I started thinking about it more. It pains me to say it, but they are right. I don’t act cute. I don’t play dumb. I don’t use men. I don’t ask favors. In fact, if I’m out with friends and a guy comes on to me my attitude is “Damn right you’d flirt with me. You’d be lucky to date me.”
I promise I’ve never said that to a man while he’s flirting, I just have this air about me that says that.
This may sound shocking and I really am a pretty humble person. I am also a highly intuitive person and can spot a bad idea/ undertone a mile away. When it comes to flirting I’ve never really had to go out of my way to dangle a little interest to spark a man’s courage. I’m pretty personable so a quick comment and a little wit goes a long way when someone is hitting on you.
But that also has its drawbacks. I might be good for a lot of people but that doesn’t mean they are good for me. This also means, some men who have turned my head have indeed decided they aren’t good enough for me and gave up before trying.
A few months ago I woke up to a message from someone we’ll call “The Thinker” bright and early on a Sunday morning. Now, I’m a night owl, and that means I am NOT a morning person, ESPECIALLY on the weekends!! Let me sleep. I like my sleep. I daydream about sleeping while I’m at my job. Let me enjoy my days to sleep. Please.
Back to The Thinker. I’ve volunteered with him on a few occasions over the last couple years. He’s a nice guy. A little older than me but not too much. We’ve had a few good times– and by a few I mean I can count them on one hand. We’ve got chemistry. It’s one of those situations where you can’t explain it but it’s there. We’ve run into each other at sporting and local theatre events since the volunteering season ended in the summer. I haven’t bothered to make a move because he’s a bit further back in my line and at the time I was seeing someone else.
*ding!* My phone pinged at MUCH too early (630am) that Sunday morning. I generally have friends in crisis who need my attention. If it’s that early in the morning it’s usually an emergency. I rolled over and with blurry eyes read the first few words in the message to make sure no one was in a complex breakdown. “MM, you’re a wonderful woman and I’d like nothing more than to take you out to…” It’s tone wasn’t that of panic so I put my phone down and rolled over. Non-emergency. They can wait. Zzzz.
I felt my body settle into that perfect position to fall right back asleep and I let myself sink into total relaxation once again.
Once it did my eyes flew open. Wait, who said what?!
I wish I could have seen my face. I rolled over and felt inner, tired me angrily roll over too, accepting that I was now awake for the day. Inner me was not happy to be up and was reminding me in a small voice that sleep was so,so precious.
I grabbed my phone and stared at the message until my eyes could adjust. What I read was so bizarre that I laughed and couldn’t believe my eyes. I read it over and over again until I could believe it. This message started out with a point and a goal but derailed soon after the first few sentences and ended up somewhere south of Sense. It started out with a declaration of me being “A wonderful woman and a great friend.” (which I’ve been getting quite a lot lately). The Thinker went on to say that they thought they owed me an explanation. (We’re barely at the level of friendship, buddy… We don’t owe each other anything.) He confesses that he “uses alcohol 2-3x each week.” He told me he knew I was far above that but he’s a “drunkard”. “I’d love to ask you to hang out and go to plays and musicals and things but I already know I’d hurt both our families… We both have an image to maintain and I know how to maintain mine so I’m going my way and you’re going yours… but I’d like to ensure we keep working together in the future..” and he goes on to tell me he’s the only one in his family with this problem and that time will probably heal this issue for him.
Need a minute to take all that in? Go ahead take your time. I’m still confused.
I replied back, “I have several questions.”
And I did! I STILL have questions. Rereading it I’m still knitting my eyebrows together so hard I’m giving myself a headache!
I asked him if sending that message was one of the times alcohol was involved. (Obviously. But I had to ask.)
He said yes and that he wanted me to understand that he wasn’t a good guy. A nice guy, but not a good guy.
Which now means I need to put my counselor’s hat on for this next bit. I even dragged myself out of bed and splashed some cold water in my face to snap me into that mode. It’s 630 in the morning on a Sunday and he’s still a tad tipsy. We’ve got some issues to handle.
I asked if he wanted to ask me out on a date but was too afraid of all the attention it would bring us. (Yay for high profile families.)
Seriously though, he’s pretty well connected through his job and family, much like mine. And no, I don’t mean like the Secretary of Defense’s cell number saved in your contacts, but in a three county radius- if we got together- if you didn’t know of my family, you’d know of his. It’d definitely make a splash. Again. Yay.
I asked him several questions and found that it appeared he held himself to a higher standard and was falling short and not handling it well. He was mixing what God expects and what he expects and a standard some men of history supposedly held themselves to and creating this unattainable standard. He had this idea stuck in his head that good men don’t touch alcohol. Say what you want about that fire water/ demon liquor, but friends, I don’t care if you drink. All things in moderation, my brethren. I myself have allowed the nectar of Satan pass my lips, and I’m pretty sure I’m still saved. (Lighten up, Francis. I’m cracking fun at the old phrases, ok?) He’s tossing out sayings about great men of history who surely didn’t drink and he’s quoting Proverbs and Lamentations and Ecclesiastes to me and my head is spinning and by now it’s 8am and I still just want sleep and the cold water just made me angry and and and GAH!
I had a lot of ideology to strip down.
We dove further into some issues and he’s throwing Old Testament scripture at me proving that he’s not a good guy and on and on. At this point I don’t care if he’s dateable, he’s proven he doesn’t think he’s worthy. That’s something clearly I’ll take his word on. I could have said “Boy, BYE” but come on. He’s dumping some pretty deep stuff I doubt he’s told anyone else. I have to at least leave him better than I found him.
We resolved a couple things. I reminded him that while we have the law (standard) to follow in the Old Testament, the New Testament was where he needed to go now for the healing when we fail. That’s why God sent Jesus. The Law itself did not create a union between God and his people to save them from their sin. While I didn’t want The Thinker sacrificing a spotless lamb in place of his sins, I certainly wanted him to remember why Christ died for us, for goodness sake.
He expressed feeling too far gone but I reminded him that sin is sin, and that if there were different levels of it, Christ dying on the cross once wouldn’t have been enough.
Honestly it was so deep I impressed even myself.
The discussion continued and it was evident that the legalistic ideology had further piled on shame and isolation. The Thinker is exactly that, someone who’s always coming up with new theories and ideas about society and ridiculous conspiracies. Hearing these desperate utterances of isolation and failure was heartbreaking. To look at him you’d only see a happy-go-lucky guy who loves his job, and a man who has big ideas and studies human behavior just becasue he can.
At the very end when we seemed to have pulled him up out of his embarrassment and shame he asked me what he should do next. He said he didn’t want to let our families down. (At this point I laughed aloud, The Thinker needed to do what was right for him, not for the sake of his family. There will always be people who don’t understand what you’re going through. Sometimes those people are your family.) I told him I’d love to get to know him better but I couldn’t say if I wanted to date him yet since he’s got some things to work on. I also suggested AA if after a long hard look he was worried about the drinking. (Honestly, it was so hard to differentiate if he thought drinking was what he found so abhorrent with himself or if he indeed drank to get drunk and was ashamed of that.) **In my book, if it’s irresponsible, its a sin. There are lots of opinions out there on this but that’s mine.**
He then delivered a sentence that should alarm you every time. Remember this because you want it to shoot red flares through your mind, set off sirens and warning lights and maybe even the sound of a helicopter thundering and mortars whistling overhead.
He said, “I’ll work on me. For you and for me.”
Nope. Don’t need that. If ANYONE says that, run. Or at least take a few extra steps back. Never change or better yourself FOR someone else. What if you two break up and they sink right back into this battle? They’ll blame you and you’ll feel guilty. It’s a codependent relationship and you do not need that. Get out. Get out while you can.
I made sure to tell him he shouldn’t do it for me. (Because I can already tell I wouldn’t be worth that investment. Best case scenario, I break his heart when I don’t see us meshing together as well as he’d hope.)
All this culminates to one final point. Being confident can be a lonely road. Not everyone respects a woman who knows what she’s worth and sometimes a man realizes too late that to be equal to a woman like that he has to step up his game. While lonely, it’s rewards are worth it. Be confident. Let men see, let them be scared. That doesn’t make you bad, it puts you in a new league. Love that league, because sometimes you’ll get confessions from men who know they don’t measure up but wish they did. Don’t confuse a big talker with a good man. Learn to know the difference.
Truthfully, who’s to say The Thinker won’t become an incredible man? He just might. But for now, we have to let those men in our lives build themselves up to a place where they can deserve and care for a confident woman they’d be lucky to have.
The Mild Millennial