Loves Labours Lost Part II or How I Fell Victim to the When Harry Met Sally Dilemma

I didn’t mention one pretty major thing in Part I, but I felt, in serving
the story properly, it needed to be discussed here.  One huge portion of my
life has been spent in the dating purgatory (well, the other besides
“She’s One of The Guys”-iosis) known as Are-We-a-Thing-Maybe-We-Are-But-Not-But-Kind-Of which leads to lots of Kind-of-But-Not-Really-But-It-Feels-Like-It Dates.  You’re thinking, oh big surprise, guys with commitment issues.  Imagine that!  It really goes beyond that, though.  These aren’t necessarily guys with commitment issues; these are guys who are so enigmatic for whatever reason (be it chivalry, shyness, or god forbid something else), they never tell you what they’re really thinking or feeling.  These are guys who give you just enough of those stupid “expert-tested” body language cues you read about in Cosmo magazine (believe me, I’ve read like, ALL of those godforsaken articles) to leave you utterly perplexed as to whether they like you or not, but it’s usually not on purpose.  A lot of times, the whole Are-We-Aren’t-We thing goes hand in hand with “She’s One of The Guys”-iosis, but really it goes back to the When Harry Met Sally dilemma: can men and women be just friends?

And you know what?  I don’t think it’s possible.  If you asked me a few years ago, I probably would have answered differently.  But that was before.  That was before I started on the treacherous path of Are-We-Aren’t-We with someone.  It’s one thing for gay men and straight women to be friends, but it’s an entirely different scenario when the man is also straight.  You know why, don’t you?  Because at some point you’re both thinking about sex with the other person; it may not be at the same time, but at one time or another you’ve both at least considered what the other person looks like naked.  Don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about.  With a gay male-straight female relationship, sex is immediately out of the equation, which allows for deep bonding without the worry of giving off signals or developing some sort of sexual attraction.  This is not the case with straight men and women; it doesn’t really matter what you do, there’s always going to be some sort of attraction there, even if it’s for five
seconds.  Until physical action has been taken, the tension can’t and won’t
subside.

I have been embroiled in this situation for over a year and a half, so you can imagine how horrible the tension has become.

For a while, I thought maybe I was making it up.  Initially, I thought perhaps I was exaggerating tiny little details in the hope that he was reciprocating.  We’ve known each other for four years and counting, so our friendship had been steadily building.  I didn’t really start feeling an attraction until about two years into the friendship when he and I started spending more time together and having more in-depth conversations.  As time and our conversations progressed, we became close confidantes, sharing sensitive personal information.  I could feel myself starting to wonder where this was going, especially since I’d had lots of guy friends over the years but none I’d talked to like this (except, naturally, gay friends).  This is where the trouble started.

I’d notice glances in my direction, the touching of knees underneath a table, random text messages, and bits of conversation I’d analyze to pieces.  It’s funny how attuned I became to the minutiae of his movements, speech, and overall interactions with me; it was like I was Daniel Day-Lewis doing some super Method Actor-y observations for a role.  THAT’S how attuned I was.  I’d spend hours talking with friends, trying to dissect him.  Some days, I’d purposely do something to try to coax him into making a move or saying something that would give him away all to no avail.  He’d give some small indication one day, and the next, there’d be none.  Finally I decided to be done with the whole thing.  The mental turmoil just wasn’t worth it.

Ha.  As if I could just give him up that easily.

To quote that fine singer of club songs (I use the term “singer” loosely here), Ke$ha, “Your love is my drug.”

So maybe it wasn’t or isn’t love, but it’s DEFINITELY a drug.  I’ve tried to quit cold turkey, but like the Millennium Falcon caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam (again, sorry), I keep being pulled back.  He has this hold over me, and I’m powerless to stop it.  It’s the Great What-If that keeps pulling me back.  The Great What-If can be a very powerful thing if you let it, and I’ve let it control me for a year and a half, though there have been a few times when I’ve ignored it altogether because I was in one of my I-quit phases.  Somehow though, like Luke Skywalker with a tie fighter on his tail (I really apologize for all these references.  I have Nerd Turretts.), “I can’t shake him!”  I keep coming back to it.  Back to him.

It’s when we’re alone together that slays me.  He says something that burrows itself deep within my soul and subconscious, and I don’t know how to react.  Then he just LOOKS at me for far too long for a normal conversational exchange, and I know that with any normal person, these are opportune moments for a kiss…which still hasn’t come.  It’s some weird, self-imposed barrier that we’re both too afraid to break.

BUT WE HAVE TO BREAK IT OR I’LL GO CHARLIE SHEEN CRAZY.

We’re stuck in a rut, and there has to be a natural progression to this, otherwise this cycle will continue, and he and I will keep coming back to each other, unable to move past this chemistry we never explored.  I keep wondering why we keep coming back.  I wonder why I’m not more upset that I haven’t heard back from a guy I had a little fling with over a month ago.  I wonder why I had such a hard time trying to tell my guy friend about that guy.  I wonder why he seemed a tiny bit jealous about it.  I wonder why he texted ME at 3 am one night from 1500 miles away instead of trying to get lucky with three girls he found cute at the bar he was in.  I wonder why he and I always seem to wind up sitting together at parties and bars and in the park.

My best friend, patient listener that she is, has told me on more than one occasion (including last night) that I have to break this vicious cycle.  I’m well aware of it.  I know I have feelings, I won’t deny that, but I also haven’t figured out what I want to do with them.  I don’t know what I want, and I sure as hell better know if he and I ever talk about the giant LOTR-ish elephant in the room (I think those are actually called Mumakil in Return of the King.  I had to look it up on Wikipedia.).  I know a huge part of me is just curious to see if he and I could work in that way, curious to see if we could work together physically too.  I won’t pretend that I think he also hasn’t considered it before.  He’s not stupid; I know he’s probably at least once noticed what’s going on between us, but he’s never done anything about it.

Well, kiddo, you can’t have it both ways.  Either you’re just a supportive friend or you want to be my boyfriend, but you can’t be jealous when I pay attention to another guy that isn’t you.  If that bothers you, then fucking DO something about it.  I can’t wait on you forever.  I won’t wait on you forever.

One of my favorite moments of When Harry Met Sally is when Harry, after years of are-we-aren’t-we moments, realizes on New Years Eve he loves Sally so he runs through Manhattan and finds her at a party to tell her, even though she is angry with him.  He tells her that “I love that you get cold when it’s seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above you nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.”  It takes her by surprise, and she says “You see, that is just like you Harry. You say things like that and you make it impossible for me to hate you. And I hate you Harry…I really hate you.”  Then, of course, they kiss.

And while I know romantic comedies all have some sort of semi-cliched moment like this, I can’t help thinking that maybe THIS is what I want.  I want someone to know me that well and find all those weird little quirks about me wonderful; I want that sudden realization they can’t do without them.  They can’t do without ME.  And I don’t want them to be afraid to just tell me…even in the middle of an awesome late 1980s New Year’s Eve party.

I don’t know how all this will turn out.  I know I have to do something about this.  I am tired of indecision.  I am tired of being one of the guys.  I am tired of not being taken seriously as a woman.  I am tired of the glances and the missed opportunities and the soulful conversations that make me feel special but never really lead anywhere.  And as tired as I am where I should quit, there he will be to say that he would be lost without me or that I have a way of knowing exactly what he needs to hear and I just understand him better than anyone else.

You see?  That is JUST like you.  You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you.

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