Expectations & Explanations

Disclaimer: I initially posted this Saturday afternoon. I took it down after continuing developments occurred Saturday night that show that I was hasty in my assessment – again – but I decided to put it back up because it’s still the way I was feeling when I wrote it, and I’m interested in people’s thoughts on the subject.

No woman ever hates a man for being in love with her, but many a woman hates a man for being her friend.
— Alexander Pope

When you know there’s someone out there in the world who digs you, who thinks you’re smart and funny and cute, who wants to be with you, you feel different. You walk taller, smile more, have a little spring in your step. At least I do. It’s a kind of validation, whether you agree with the concept or not, that you’re desirable, and it makes you feel good, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

But what happens when the bottom falls out, when – for no discernible reason – he doesn’t call, and when you call him, he appears to blow you off? You know in your head that it can’t be you, because you haven’t done anything: you’re the same girl you were the night you met him, and the day he arranged to have drinks, and the day he had to cancel and seemed disappointed about it.

I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me, it’s a constant struggle to keep my head up. I feel sad, of course, and disappointed. But I also feel embarrassed to talk about what happened, like I was foolish to ever believe that he would want to be with me and everyone else knew it and didn’t say anything. I know that’s ridiculous, and I thought long and hard about whether embarrassed was really what I felt, and decided that it is.

I could still be wrong about him, I suppose. I could be overanalyzing his last email – terse, not so friendly as the others, very matter-of-fact – telling me he couldn’t meet for drinks Thursday because he was heading out of town for the weekend. But there was no, “Sorry I haven’t been in touch [even though I’m the one who said ‘I hope next week will work’],” no, “Let’s try again next week” like he’s said before.

I assume, then, that I’m supposed to take the hint and understand that he’s done with me, but if that’s the case, I feel cheated. I feel like he owes me an explanation about what changed between last week and this week. I know I’m in the minority on this – more than one person has told me that, although it would be good manners for him to explain, he doesn’t “owe” me anything – and I’m certainly not going to send him an email asking why, but this makes me mad. I trusted the things he said to me, which isn’t easy for me, instead of listening to the little voice in the back of my head that said “Don’t get caught up in this.” And there you go.

You know what the sad thing is, though? This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened to me, and I never seem to learn how not to jump in head first, how not to get my hopes up, how to keep my expectations low. And I probably will not learn anything from this, either, quite frankly. But like my friend says, “It’s going to be wrong a lot, and it’s only going to be right once. Luckily, it only has to be right once.”

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5 thoughts on “Expectations & Explanations

  1. I think it’s really hard not to get caught up in allowing the vision of our own self worth getting tangled with whether or not someone else, usually male, appears to like us. I know it’s hard not to measure our own worth against someone else’s measuring stick. But I think it’s worth the effort.

    Sure it’s more fun to be part of a relationship, and generally people that are in satisfying relationships are happier…but I think it’s also possible to be happy while outside a relationship. And a happy person usually attracts other happy people which may develop over time into satisfying relationships…it’s all circular.

    Mostly I think relationships take time and you never know where one will come from, so don’t give up…don’t jump to conclusions, don’t make snap judgments, and especially enjoy yourself along the way!

  2. I have two thoughts on this, which I will put in two overly-wordy posts. The first: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The “one basket theory” applies two ways. It means, don’t put all your hopes into the one guy you just happened to meet most recently. Don’t make him your one basket.

    It also means, don’t put all your hopes and dreams and self-worth into the “one basket” of romantic relationships. Yes, they are an important part of life, but they are not the only part, and for most people, they are not even the vast majority part. Picture your life as a circle, a pie chart. Unless you are lucky enough to meet the love of your life at 16, and stay happily married for 75 years, you’re going to have lots of other aspects of your life that will fill up the other pieces of that pie chart. The romantic piece is an important piece, but don’t make it the only piece, or even the most important piece, until you actually have the piece in place. Don’t make your pie a big empty hole, waiting for one piece to come and fill it up. That’s putting way too much responsibility on your future partner.

  3. Thought #2. (I’m having a really bad day, so I am trying to be very gentle in saying this, but it might come out harsher than I mean. You know I love you, so please forgive any problems in delivery. I say this with the greatest love.)

    Yes, we know that when you are looking to this guy, or any guy, for validation, you are invalidating your sense of self-worth. But look at it from another perspective. Think about everyone you have encountered in your life with whom you have had a positive relationship: your family, your brother, your teachers, your friends, professors, online cohorts (whether you’ve met them or not), your current boss and any other boss who has respected or admired you, coworkers past or present who have liked you and enjoyed working with you, and once again, your friends. You have lots of people in your life, and have had in the past, who admire and respect and love you.

    When you are letting your worth be determined by whether or not this guy or any guy calls you or wants to see you, you are taking all of this respect and love coming from all of us and saying “sorry, guys. I know you know me better, and I know you know my good qualities and bad qualities, and you love me for all of them, and you think I’m great, but you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.” When you let him determine your self-esteem, you are essentially rejecting the love and admiration offered by all of us, who actually know you and know what you’ve been through in life and what you have accomplished.

    Ideally, you wouldn’t need validation from us, either, and could find your esteem from within, but one step at a time.

    Put it in perspective: a large group of people who don’t know each other, but the only thing they have in common is knowing you. We are all in agreement that you are amazing and wonderful.

    Versus

    A guy you met once or twice, who says he wants to see you again, but says he is busy. Maybe he does want to see you again. Maybe he is blowing you off. Regardless, what does any of it have to do with how awesome YOU are?

    We’re not wrong.

  4. I already told you what I wanted to say via email after the post was deleted, but I want to add that I think it’s cool you put it back up.

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