December 6, 2010 by Kat Richter
You can’t break up with someone you were never with in the first place, but if you could, I’d be breaking up with Date #17. It all started with the Martini Bar Soiree (leave it me to pick the one bachelor in all of Philadelphia who’s “too busy” to spend black Friday drinking martinis). In his defense, he had to work on Black Friday but in my defense, I’ve never dated anyone who works in finance before. How was I supposed to know that if the stock market’s open, the office is open too?
Also in my defense, I was totally rational about it (he did, after all, have a legitimate excuse) and although I’ve spent the past month bemoaning Date #17’s busy schedule online, I’ve been nothing but supportive in the flesh (“You ran the half marathon in less than two hours? That’s great! Good for you!” “You scored a six-something-or-other on your GMATs? That’s great! Good for you!”). Considering that I spend the better part of my day congratulating four year olds on tying their shoes, I’m pretty good at cheerleading… which is why, I suppose, Date #17 thought it was perfectly acceptable to ask if I’d like to go out Saturday night with nary an explanation for his MIA tendencies.
“I’m not gonna just sit around all day waiting for him to call!” I griped all the way to work on Monday. My older (and therefore wiser) co-worker offered the requisite commiseration before advising me to move on.
Not finding myself terribly thrilled with her advice, I turned to my friend in Lyon on Tuesday. “He can’t just ignore me and then expect me to go out with him at the drop of the hat!” I declared. She too commiserated, and then gently told me that Date #17 was starting to sound a lot like her last beau (and seeing as I waged a three month campaign to convince her to dump the unfortunate fellow, this was not good news).
Finally I turned to my brother. “I don’t understand him! One minute he’s all flowers and chocolates and concert tickets and the next he’s MIA. I know he’s busy but he’s not the only one. I’m teaching nine classes right now and trying to revise a 90,000 word manuscript and he has the gall to tell me I don’t know what it’s like to come home at night too exhausted to pick up the phone or write an email??? Of course I know what it’s like! But if you want to be with someone, you’ve got to suck it up!”
“Kat?” my brother interrupted. “Why are you having this conversation with me? You should be having it with him.”
Well now. That seemed logical enough.
And so it was that I sent Date #17 a text on Tuesday night and asking him if we could have a “quick little chat.”
The chat lasted nearly two hours but did little to resolve the myriad of issues that have been keeping Date #17 and I apart over the past two weeks (or, for that matter, the past two months). I had prepared all sorts of verbal smackdowns (calmly and collectedly of course) but I lost all resolve and found myself practically squealing with delight when Date #17 inquired, “What’s your schedule like on Saturday night?”
“Free! Totally free!” I exclaimed. “And I can’t wait to see you! In fact, I have an outfit already picked out and I was thinking we could go to Rittenhouse Square to see the Christmas tree and afterwards we could try that new place with the…”
Or rather, that’s what I exclaimed on the inside, right before a little voice in my head said, “Stop being such a doormat, Kat!” On the outside, I said, “I should be free in the evening but I think we both need to think about everything we’ve discussed tonight, and you need to decide whether or not you want to continue seeing me because right now I feel like I’m just sitting around waiting for you to call.”
Continuing in my little Zen-like trance, I concluded, “I’ll keep Saturday night free, so take a few days to think and if you conclude that you would like to see me again, give me a call.”
I was so proud of myself after hanging up the phone. I stood my ground. I told him how his actions (or rather inactions) were affecting me, and I did it calmly and rationally without getting emotional or clingy.
But then Wednesday became Thursday, Thursday became Friday, and—surprise, surprise— I found myself waiting for him to call once again.
How did this happen? I wondered. Didn’t I just finish telling to stop doing this? Didn’t I— Oh wait. That’s right: I said, “Take a few days to think and then give me a call,” thereby essentially giving Date #17 permission to keep dangling me along.
To his credit, he did eventually call, but I was teaching at the time so I was left with nothing more than a longwinded voicemail.
“Crap,” I thought, as I listened to his rather convoluted message. “That didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped.”
But then I listened to his message again, and I had a completely different read on it the second time. And the third time. And the fourth time. And by “different” I mean, “OMG! He really does care about me! We’re going to be okay!”
As such, I still don’t understand how it was that I somehow found myself making mint chocolate Christmas trees on Saturday night (alone, in my kitchen, on what should have been a perfectly good date night), smashing candy canes with a hammer, murmuring obscenities under my breath as I envisioned Date #17’s head on the cutting board and wondering, “Did I miss something here?”