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Monday, April 28, 2008

History of My Love Life, Episode 3: Like Me, But Not in Love With Me

You never quite know when you're going to find love, and that's why it's paramount to always be honest in your dealings with people.


I hooked up with Like Me, But Not in Love With Me following my graduation from the University of Utah in May 2005. I was planning to finally make my escape from the Beehive State at the end of Summer -- the plan was to pull up stakes at the end of August and drive across the country to seek new adventures and a new permanent residence in Boston. But in the meantime, I was eager to set aside the shy girl who used to stalk her crushes at the University campus, and instead try to find a nice Summer fling to have fun with before I left.

I didn't have to look far. My roommate LaNae had been having a minor fling with a boy at the time, and when he was over at our apartment one night, he told me that I reminded him of one of his roommates, and asked me whether I'd want to be set up with him. Sure! I said. So I told him to give his roommate my number and have him call me.

Turns out his roommate, Like Me, was just about as shy as I was, and so the call I received a day or so later to set up a date was not actually from Like Me, but from another roommate pretending to be him. We set up the date for the following night, and I agreed to drive down to Draper to meet Like Me at his apartment, and from there we'd go down to Provo for his friend's birthday party.

I knocked on the apartment door and was greeted by a boyish face matured by the Abraham Lincoln scruff on his chin. We introduced ourselves and then headed out to the party. "If you'd like, we could take your car," Like Me said, "Mine's a Jeep and it gets pretty windy on the freeway with the roof off." No way, I thought, I drove all the way to Draper from Salt Lake, YOU can drive us to Provo! "That's alright," I said, "I don't mind the wind." When we got to Provo, after having my hair whipped around my face for half an hour, I said, "Good thing I'm sporting the messy hair look these days!" We had a nice time getting to know each other at the party and then finished off the night with a game of Boggle back at Like Me's apartment. I appreciate a guy who appreciates word games. And that was the beginning of my relationship with Like Me.

As an aside, I'm choosing to call this guy Like Me for the purposes of this story for a couple of reasons. First, he was, as his roommate had claimed, very much like me -- it was almost startling how similar we were. Our friends seemed to think so too, calling us perfect for each other. But secondly, although he did end up liking me, he didn't end up loving me. At least not how I loved him.

After about a month into our relationship, I made the decision to cancel my plans to move to Boston so that I could stay in Salt Lake and see where this relationship with Like Me would go. "That makes me very happy," Like Me said to me one night in June, when I told him that I had decided to stay.

But I had already doomed our relationship to failure before this night. Before I had decided to take this relationship seriously -- in other words, before I had fallen in love with Like Me -- I made a couple serious errors that I believe were the cause of our relationship's downfall. The first is that I rushed the physical aspect of the relationship, which is normally not a problem for guys, but it was for Like Me. He wasn't ready to take things to that level so soon, although that didn't stop him from participating. Still, I think it colored his view of our physical intimacy from that point on.

The second is that I misrepresented (or lied about, depending on your point of view) an important element of my past in order to make him feel more comfortable with moving forward quickly. Keep in mind that when I jumped into this relationship, I was only looking for some post-collegiate and pre-escape-from-Utah fun. I didn't count on finding Like Me to be so like me. I didn't count on falling in love with him. So I didn't see that there was a problem with taking liberties when relating my past.

Normally, I'm a staunch advocate for honesty. To me, life is more rewarding and respectable when you are honest with other people, and especially when you are honest with yourself. It's just a mode of living that I prefer. But even the most honest person lies once in a while. Usually they are the little-white kind, "No, those pants don't make you look fat!" But sometimes they are the protect-your-privacy kind -- the kind where telling the truth reveals something about you that you'd rather keep to yourself, but refusing to answer basically confirms the truth, so your best option is to conceal the truth by misdirection, misrepresentation, deception -- in short, by lying. But this type of lie is a matter of self-protection, and therefore it has its justifiable uses.

Whether my use of such a lie was justifiable is a matter of opinion. I believe that it falls more on the justifiable end of the spectrum than on the unjustifiable end. But that's easy to say when you're the one protecting your own privacy. When you're on the receiving end of the deception, the justifiability of a lie seems irrelevant.

I could have stuck to my story and kept the truth of the matter to myself. There was no reason the truth ever had to be revealed, even though I had felt bad about being deceptive once I had fallen in love with Like Me. But one night I was having dinner with Like Me at a restaurant in Provo and he told me something that prompted me to come clean. He told me about a couple he knew who were engaged to be married, and he knew that the girl had kept a secret from the guy -- something the guy ought to know. (I believe that couples don't need to tell each other everything, and sometimes it's better not to, but there are some things that partners in a relationship deserve to know, and this particular secret was one of them.) Listening to Like Me describe how much he valued honesty and how much it would bother him if he were that guy made me realize that in order to not be a hypocrite, I was morally obligated to divulge my secret.

Like Me could tell something was wrong after he had finishing telling that story, and so he asked me if something was up. "Just made me think of something," I said, "I'll tell you about it a little later, ok?"

Back at his apartment after dinner, Like Me embraced me and kissed me in an uncharacteristically passionate fashion. I think he had finally gotten to the point where he liked me enough that he didn't have to force physical intimacy. We took our make-out session into his bedroom, where I stopped him before things could go any further, "Look, I have to tell you something," I said, lying next to him on the bed. "Uh oh," he said, "It's going to be bad isn't it?" He was reading my demeanor. "It's not very good, but it's not as bad as it could be," I tried to reassure him. And that was true, things could always be worse.

I said that something I had told him before wasn't exactly true, but that I believed I had good reasons for lying. I rationalized aloud, saying that I didn't think we'd be in a position where we were trying to have an actual maybe-stay-together-forever type of relationship. I didn't think he'd ever have to know and so I didn't think about the consequences of lying. But after hearing his story that night, I wanted him to know the truth. And so I told him.

He was not pleased. How can you feel pleased when you've just found out you've been lied to by someone you trusted, even if the lie isn't a huge deal? It was such a justifiable lie in my mind, and I thought our love was strong enough to get past this revelation. But watching his reaction, the disappointment on his face, I thought that night might be the end of us. I went home, giving him space to process everything, but hoping that he'd give me another chance.

A day or so later, he did give me that chance. He said he understood the reasons that I lied, and he forgave me. But things were never the same after that. He had lost whatever respect he had had for me, and that's not exactly something you can get back. Maybe he knew that I was a very honest person, and that the deception was a one-time thing that would never happen again. But there's always the "what if?" It happened once, so how can you ever trust that it won't happen again? I knew it wouldn't happen again, but he could never again trust me without that doubt in the back of his mind.

That incident happened two months into our four-month relationship, and in retrospect, I saw that that was the effective end of it. He grew more and more emotionally and physically distant after that, but I was so in love with him that I didn't think anything was wrong until one day in possibly late August or early September I started to cry while we were making love. It finally sunk in to me that there was a great imbalance in the dynamic of our relationship. I loved him deeply, wanted him passionately, but he didn't love me that same way. It was tangible. Girls can fake orgasm all the time, and guys never know the difference, but if a guy tries to fake affection and love, a girl eventually catches on, because that is basically the crux of what a girl needs.

And that was the beginning of the painful end. A week later, we had our break up talk in the coffee shop.

I had many regrets, yes. I regretted lying. I regretted not leaving to Boston and thereby saving my heart from the pain of knowing that I destroyed something that I had thought was special. I regretted losing my fairytale image of love -- the illusion that true love transcends all, that there is nothing that can bring it down. That's simply not true. True love takes respect, honesty, reciprocity, sacrifice, communication, and trust. I failed on at least three of these items, possibly four, and that was enough to break the love. But I don't regret coming clean, and I don't regret the experience as a whole. It was a valuable life lesson. I learned never to lie like that again, and the next time I started a fresh relationship, I was upfront about the truth of the matter when the time was right.

As for Like Me, I can only wish him the best and thank him for providing the inspiration for the first song I ever wrote for the guitar. I was going to leave you with an early recording of me singing and playing this song, but I listened to the three cuts I have, and decided they were all crap. So I'm leaving you with just the lyrics. Not as interesting without the music, but oh well. Maybe I'll do a better recording someday and put that up, but for now, this is all you get:

Me Over You

I'm having trouble
letting go of you
even when it's obvious
that there's something missing
between the two of us

It's just hard to know
you know sometimes
how to be alone again
So please forgive my desperation
I'm not letting go yet

Do you think that this is over?
Well I'd like to think you mean to
try to figure out a way through all of this
No one said it would be easy
but I'd like to think it's worth it
cause with you and I there must be more than this
don't you think?

I can remember that day when
you and I tried just being friends
and it broke my heart
Because being with you
always made it flutter and I
don't know how to change that fact
I can't hide myself from you

Do you think we could start over?
or I'd like us to agree to
at least try to take things one step at a time
After all that we have been through
I would think it's worth the trouble
taking time to find out where it all went wrong
don't you think?

The days grow short
and the nights grow long and I'm
wondering how long it's been
and how much longer I can take this time apart

It's just hard to know
you know sometimes
how to get me over you
And I don't want to face the fact that
I must let you go now

Well I guess it's really over
and I told you I have closure
but I'm missing you more every single day
Letting go is never easy
but I know it will be worth it
when I finally find there's something more than you
don't you think?


Me Over You lyrics (c) 2005 Sra



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3 comments:

The Over-Thinker said...

I, too, have "come clean" with someone and it was probably the hardest thing I've done. But, like you, I do not regret it.

I hope you post the track. The lyrics are beautiful.

Sra said...

Coming clean is hard, but I think it's pretty admirable. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty god-damned honest person, and if a person like me can tell such a lie, then you know practically everyone out there has done something comparable at one point or another. Whether moment of weakness or stupidity or whatever. But to admit your wrongdoing takes an awful lot of guts. Maybe people would be more willing to forgive if they could only see how hard it is to step up, integrity-wise.

Thank you for liking my lyrics. I was hesitant about putting them, because I think the song really makes more sense with the music. I do plan to make a better recording sometime, but I've so rusty with singing and playing right now, so it will take a lot of practice.

Sra said...

Coming clean is hard, but I think it's pretty admirable. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty god-damned honest person, and if a person like me can tell such a lie, then you know practically everyone out there has done something comparable at one point or another. Whether moment of weakness or stupidity or whatever. But to admit your wrongdoing takes an awful lot of guts. Maybe people would be more willing to forgive if they could only see how hard it is to step up, integrity-wise.

Thank you for liking my lyrics. I was hesitant about putting them, because I think the song really makes more sense with the music. I do plan to make a better recording sometime, but I've so rusty with singing and playing right now, so it will take a lot of practice.

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