dating game requires strength and maturity
I’d known the bouncer a few months by now. He had stopped asking to see my ID. We ran into each other at various midtown watering holes. I’d seen him with his ex-girlfriend. He used to give me sober rides home.
Nevertheless it was a complete and utter shock when he and I were in bed laughing at 6am.
For the first time in several months, arguably years, I had effortlessly connected with someone. For a girl who usually wants a cocktail, an orgasm and an escape route, this was virgin territory.
He played with my hair. We discussed politics, philosophy, religion and music. There was never an awkward silence. He called me beautiful and sexy after he kissed my head goodbye.
If I never saw him again, I would still be elated.
The problem was he was my bouncer, we went to all the same bars and it was inevitable I would see him again.
And that’s when I became the in-between girl.
The in-between girl, or guy, is the person you casually see in between a break-up and reconciliation with an ex. Like dating a married man, it’s never a good position to be in.
The next time the bouncer and I spoke he told me I was “awesome,” which is kind of like being told “great effort” by your gym teacher in elementary school when you’re the first one out in dodge ball. He tried to redeem himself.
“That night was a pleasant surprise and I do want to get to know you better, but I need to know for sure where I stand with her before this can progress.”
For my part, I wanted to prove that I was cool and calm and “awesomely” mature so I agreed to see where a friendship could take us. I was full of bullshit.
Why did I allow myself to be put in a position where I was completely powerless and totally vulnerable?
Things progressed and a few nights later we made out. A couple of nights after that we talked on the phone until 5:30 in the morning. And with each passing interaction it became more difficult for me to tell myself we’re just friends.
So I did what every in-between does, I threatened him.
“I’m too good to be an in-between,” I told him. He agreed.
“If you’re still unsure about your feelings for her then I’m not waiting around.” He understood.
He then did what every in-between fears, he got back with her.
I remained cool and calm and awesomely mature; we were friends. It was bullshit.
It also clearly wasn’t over. He’d watch me intently when I was at the bar. We’d flirt. He would call or text me when he got off work. I had no desire to talk to, let alone sleep with, anyone else. He never changed his Facebook status from single.
And then he told me he was moving. With her.
Seeing as I have watched far too many romantic comedies, I knew I had two weeks to break them up and keep him from going.
And that’s when it hit me. This would be the ultimate prize. What better way to define my own worth then by getting him to give up an over a year long thing with her.
Don’t misunderstand me. He was a prize as well, and I genuinely did (and probably do still) like him. But sometimes we get so caught up in the thrill of the chase that we lose sight of why we’re chasing to begin with. This man chose to be with another woman over the awesomeness that is me. So really, how great is he?
The week before he left he called or texted me every day. We hung out , and I tried not to let go the last time he embraced me. I don’t doubt that he had feelings for me. For him, leaving was more than just she or I. But I’m still the one who got hurt. Being the in-between means it’s your feelings that are marginalized.
The night before he left he admitted his confusion and apprehension. But it was too late. If timing really is everything, an in-between has the worst.
The truth is that we all get involved with people who we know, subconsciously, can’t be with us or aren’t right for us. They will never fulfill the fantasy role we envision for them to play in our lives, and yet we’re too disillusioned to believe anything different.
The bouncer has only been gone about two weeks and while I have refrained from contacting him I still find my mind replaying conversations we’ve had. Our situation was not carved out of spite or retribution. I genuinely felt understood and I think he did too.
While not just following what you feel is a difficult task, the dating game requires more than just puppy dog adoration and bright-eyed innocence. It requires strength to know you’re worth fighting for and the maturity to realize that sometimes the real world presents near insurmountable obstacles.
But I prefer to believe it’s these near misses that make the real deal all the more rewarding.