I need a man!
That was the mantra circulating in my brain when I first arrived. Maybe not so clearly, maybe not in so many words, but subconsciously, over and over again, “I need a man, I need a man, I need a man!”
I wanted so badly to believe that true love would find me here. That I would finally feel certainty in a relationship and that everything else would just fall into place. My first few days in staff accom, I scouted out every potential suitor, but no one came close to meeting my criteria. I considered settling just to have someone who was bound to me, someone to show me the ropes rather than me having to stake out my own space. The psychics words rang constantly in my ears. It’s spring, where is he!? I wondered, exasperated. I went to every party, every social event hoping he would be there, but no one I met held my interest, yet still I felt like there was someone out there, trying to find me.
After one particularly vexing day I went out to my favourite thinking spot: a small island attached to a nearby beach whose twisted trails lead to a perfect vantage point atop a rocky bluff, overlooking nothing but sparkling sea and crashing whitewash. There I sat and meditated, surrounding myself with positivity and love. I chanelled adoration from friends, family, people I hadn’t even met yet. I told myself that I needed nothing in this world and was already so blessed. As I wandered back home I felt content, like nothing could hurt me and that only good things could happen. That very night I met Dan.
I had planned to meet up with my brother and attend a Cinco di Mayo party in our neighbourhood, but I was considering bailing. I was just about to text him and say that I wouldn’t be making it, but at that moment he texted me, urging me to stop by for some pre-drinks. I decided that I needed to venture out of my comfort zone and meet some new people and told myself that only good things could come from saying “Yes!” to life. I grabbed a bottle of wine, a poncho and headed down the road.
“Come in!” my brother shouted when I knocked. I walked through the door and he was sitting with two guys I’d never seen before. One was blonde, one was brunette, both were cute. I was introduced to the brunette as Dan, my brother’s neighbour, and thought nothing more of it.
As the night grew hazier and more people began to arrive, Dan made a tasteless joke that launched us into a ridiculous discussion. The two of us were laughing hysterically, deep in our own conversation and ignoring everyone else. Eventually we all headed to the party and I lost sight of him. I was feeling pretty awkward and out of place, Dan had resurfaced but was in the midst of what looked like an intense conversation with a good-looking girl. I was just about to leave and start walking home when he struck up another conversation with me.
“Man, I really wanna smoke some weed right now.”
“Me too,” I responded, “I was just thinking about walking to my house and rolling a joint.”
So he joined me and the two of us sat in my room rolling doobies and laughing over some obscure joke.
When we got back to the party everyone had cleared out.
“Shit, I still really wanna some this joint,” I muttered.
“We could go to my house,” he suggested. “Maybe watch a movie?”
At his house we perched awkwardly at either end of the couch.
What am I thinking, coming to this strange man’s house? I wondered
“I should get going, it’s getting late,” I started up.
“I’ll walk you,” he insisted. “Don’t want you to get snatched up by a cougar.”
At my door, I felt overwhelmed by nerves. I was scared he would try to kiss me and I barely even knew him.
“You’re really cool,” I began “let’s hangout sometime.”
We exchanged numbers. Still nervous, I leaned in and gave him a hug. His strong body engulfed mine, it was one of the most sensual hugs I’ve ever received.
I climbed into bed, grinning from ear to ear, heart pounding.
A full day passed and I didn’t hear from him.
I had just convinced myself that I’d imagined the entire encounter when my phone lit up with a text from him. We bantered back and forth and he asked me if I wanted to hangout and blaze again. I was nervous to see him as I was having trouble recalling what he looked like and I prayed my beer goggles weren’t too thick. When he showed up, I breathed a sigh of relief: tall, muscular, tanned and bearded with piercing blue eyes and a winning smile. Stoned shenanigans and movie watching followed and once again he walked me home, but this time we leaned into each other and locked lips. It felt slightly forced and awkward and I retreated into my house feeling disappointed, but hopeful. We made plans for a sober beach day, aka “a real date.”
When I showed up at his house he opened the door and immediately stated, “I have some bad news.”
“I just got back from the doctor’s and I have tonsillitis. I’ll be contagious for the next 48 hours, soooo I can’t kiss you. No matter what.”
We still had our beach day, but he began to look under the weather so we cut it short. I offered to bring him some tylenol from my house and stopped to buy him ice cream. The store only had Haagen-dazs and I forked up the $15 for a pint. He expressed his delight when I dropped it off, but all the way home I felt bad, really bad, incredibly low. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been played for a fool. I enjoy doing nice things for other people, but this time it felt wrong, like he didn’t deserve my kindness and I wasn’t sure why. I was slightly relieved when he sent me a huge thank you text message, but still something didn’t quite feel right.
I asked around about him, but could dig up no dirt. Everyone I talked to simply said he was a good guy.
He texted me to say he was feeling way better and wanted to take me out for lunch. We spent hours talking about anything and everything and barely touched our food. By the end of the day we were in my bed making out and it didn’t feel wrong at all. When he took off his shirt to reveal his Greek God-like body, I practically drooled at the sight. We finally came up for air; it was 9 pm and I was late for a party. We made plans for the following night and I hurried to staff accom in my makeshift toga, lips red and swollen from the night’s activities. At the party, a few friends I’d seen while out on my date complimented me on what a beautiful pair we made. I felt giddy. Could this really be it? Could it really be that easy? Of course, it wasn’t…
The next night we slept together and I stayed over at his house. The sex was outstanding and although I was disappointed by some *ahem* short-comings, the man more than made up for it. I left early for work and fantasized about him all day. Little did I know that would be the first and only time I would sleep in his bed.
We met up again the next day and spent the entire afternoon lying out on his deck, soaking up the sun and smoking weed. We went out for food and then indulged in some afternoon delight. After we finished, he went for a surf, I went home and didn’t see him again for 5 days. In those days we texted back and forth, he invited me to some concert, but I opted out. I was dying to see him again, but tried to remain patient and aloof. When I finally did see him, things weren’t quite right… He immediately began talking about the concert, “You should have been there to protect me,” he began. “This annoying girl latched onto me and wouldn’t go away. Then she made me ride home with her, then she got locked out of her house and begged to crash at my house. I set her up on the couch and she just kept trying to get with me, it was so annoying!”
Ummm… What?! Are you telling me this because you’re being honest or because you fucked some chick and you think it might get back to me? Either option left me feeling uneasy.
Post-coitus, he asked if I wanted to go out for a smoke.
After we did, he put on his shoes, quickly kissed me, said “I’ll be in touch” and left. I’LL BE IN TOUCH?! WTF IS GOING ON?!?!? And so began my descent into over-analytical chaos as I tried (unsuccessfully) to decipher his actions and words.
The next morning I felt like an absolute asshole. I ran for 2 and 1/2 hours to try and clear my head, but it didn’t help. I bitched on the phone to my girlfriends who suggested I chill the fuck out. I drank an entire bottle of wine and cried.
That night marked the beginning of my internal battle. Was Dan the greatest person I’d ever met or was he the worst? Could I keep up a sexual relationship with nothing more or did I need the emotional support as well? Was I crazy about him or just plain crazy? I avoided the “where is this going?” conversation because I didn’t want to know the answer. If he wanted a relationship, I wasn’t ready and if he wanted no strings attached, well, that hurt just as badly. I encouraged myself to stop overthinking it and take it day by day until I could at least sort out my own feelings.
On one particularly sunny day we walked down to the beach. On the way he turned to me and started, “So, you’re roommate has been talking to some of the girls at work” (as my new roommate worked at the some resort as Dan) “and she told them that you and I are seeing each other.”
“I just don’t want them knowing my business, they get so nosey especially when it comes to who I’m dating.”
“It’s not your fault, it’s hers.”
He sounded thoroughly annoyed and I was too shocked to know how to respond. This wasn’t the first time he’d mentioned keeping things discreet, this is a small town after all and he is a “local” or more local than my seasonal self. After the conversation, I couldn’t get his words out of my head. Why would he try to hide me? Why would he be ashamed? When we got back to my house he declined sex because he was “too tired.” I felt the sting of rejection. Later, he texted me to apologize, but the damage was done.
The next day when I woke up I felt mad, irrationally angry and just all round pissed off. I wanted to punch him in the face. I agonized over the situation all day. When my mom got into town that afternoon to visit, I rehashed the issue to her over several glasses of wine.
“I don’t know what to do, he’s just soooo beautiful,” I whined.
“Listen to me,” my mom slurred, “Good looking guys are the BIGGEST assholes, you’re better off without him.”
“Yeah you’re right,” I admitted, but that didn’t stop me from booty-calling him the second I got home.
On the day of my half-marathon I resolved to let fate make my decision for me. I’d talked non-stop over the past couple weeks about my upcoming race, if Dan texted or called at any point during the day to say “Good luck!” or “How’d it go?” that meant he genuinely cared. The day came and went and nothing; radio silence. I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised. That’s when I realized something substantial. Ever since I’d gotten out of my relationship I’d been falling into my old habit of replacing self-love with self-depricating relationships. Rather than following my dreams and reaching my goals, I’d sought out relationships and pushed everything else aside. It was the easy way out. I wasn’t trying to find my own happiness, I was looking for someone, anyone to give it to me. In barely 6 months I’d dated 4 different men! It was as if I was swinging from vine to vine, not quite letting go of the last man until the next one was in my grasp. I knew I had to let not only Dan go, but needed to shift my focus away from dating. I had made up my mind and I stopped responding to his texts of “What’s up good looking? ;)” But still, I felt the mature thing was to talk to him about the situation, let him know that I could only be his friend now. He had left his toque at my house and I texted him to say I wanted to meet up and return it, he thanked me and asked if I wanted to hangout and blaze. I decided that would be a good time to say my peace. We sat out on my deck smoking, my heart was pounding as I tried to decide how to begin, but he got the ball rolling.
“I wanted to talk to you about us,” he began. “Lately I don’t feel like we’ve been connecting the same way.”
My heart pounded faster.
“This has been feeling like its headed towards a relationship and that’s not something I want, I just got out of a relationship and I’m not ready for a new one.” I felt shocked and slightly rejected. I didn’t know how to adjust my perfectly thought out speech. A million things rushed through my head, but all I said was: “I don’t want a relationship either. I think you’re a really cool person and I think it would be best if you and I were just friends.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but actual friends who hangout. You’re a rad girl, we always have fun.”
I nodded in agreement, “Actual friends, who hangout.”
“Give me a a hug.” I didn’t want to hug him, it felt wrong when he wrapped his arms around me. I held on a little too long. After our talk I longed to be alone with my thoughts but he hung around for another hour before finally leaving. “Keep in touch” we both promised. Finally alone, I felt relieved albeit slightly melancholy. I knew I’d made the right decision and I knew things would be okay. I began to reflect on our short-lived time together and realized something else. Never had he given me any indication that he wanted to date me. It was ME who had sought him out at the party and actively pursued him. It was ME who had suggested hanging out and it was ME who made the first cuddle moves on our various movie nights. Never had he shown any indication that he wanted to be more than friends, I was the one pressuring him. I put so much pressure on myself and the situation, I wanted so badly to believe that this was it, that I had found the “one” that I convinced myself it was true. What was simply a casual interaction I made out to be some grand love affair. And really, when it came down to it, what did I really like about him anyway? The fact that he was tall and muscular? The fact we liked the same stupid TV shows and had a similar sense of humour? That was where our connection ended. Everything else I had created in my head. I felt proud that I had escaped the clutch of such self-depricating behaviour and had recognized things for what they were. I felt proud that I had been mature and ended things instead of clinging on and causing drama. I realized that I had come a long way from the girl I once was. I resolved to focus on only myself and let everything else fall into place.