Young and Old

Sometimes I feel like a young naive person; then, in the same day, I suddenly felt old and mature.

What had always seemed like confidence on the part of a friend finally spilled over into vanity. Of course everyone’s got it– vanity, I mean– but this being somewhat at my expense I did not appreciate my friend as I once did.

This friend and I like each other, a bit– not just as friends, but in the way boys and girls do. If certain things were different about our circumstances, we’d probably be pursuing that. But things are as they are, so we hang out and enjoy each other’s company on terms we are comfortable with.

But the last time we saw each other– was a date. A capital D-date, with some full-frontal flirting, achingly lovely physical tension, and a quick detour to the beach to watch the sun set, for Christs’ sake. So I had to recover from that. And I told him frankly that I had to recover from it. And he was understandably flattered. So I let him go on talking while I listened (AN EXCELLENT SKILL. Everyone should be able to do this. Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the silence gets, just wait it out, and the other party will talk to fill the silence. This has never not-worked, excepting on the person who was equally as good at it as I was, and then, the conversation was simply over because neither of us gave up.)

I let him reassure me that he wasn’t pursuing me and that he was, in fact, pursuing another person. (This being the part where I felt like a foolish child.)

I told him it wasn’t that I was trying to get him to quit any behaviors or accusing him of breaking our terms (we don’t literally have terms, but I think you know what I mean), I was just managing myself. (And I wanted to know his reaction when I told him.)

And then he did the thing that took me aback: he said it was a family curse, being irresistible and charming. And I know he was only fooling around, but I very nearly stopped in my tracks. He didn’t notice my reaction for some reason; he was probably making it up as he went along. He went on joking about it. But I thought to myself, wow, just wow. He seemed suddenly so young, because I saw him and I was the one looking down this time, and he didn’t even realize it. There it was, the reason I really don’t fully trust this person, the reason I’ve told him more than I probably should about what goes on in my head, the reason I enjoy his company. He is charming me. And the second I noticed it was the second it stopped working.

Charm is what got me married to my ex and kept me there for nearly ten years. It’s how people get more out of me than I intend to give them. I am lonely and trusting, and the prevaricating, flirting, flatterer always gets my guard down. I interpret friendly confidence and a sense of humor as friendship material instead of seeing it for the shallowness it is. And I don’t mean stupid-shallow, because my friend is intelligent. I mean that the easy-going cheery person who gets along with everyone– you know, the Law of Attraction types– I mean they are simply shallow. He didn’t work for my friendship; we just have naturally good chemistry together. He didn’t earn my trust; he simply has a knack for keeping secrets (mainly his own, I sometimes suspect.) He doesn’t know me; he only has a knack for seeming to understand– who knows the actual distance between what I say or feel and how he interprets my words and expressions.

So now I am in the position of pulling myself back into myself. I can easily avoid him; he hasn’t been initiating contact with me much since our Not-A-Date (but he did ask me why he hadn’t heard from me much lately. Odd.) — which makes me think he realizes our mistake more than he lets on.

And that’s the final thing I learned: I finally recognized a lack of honesty in him– a lack of being honest with himself, or me, I’m not sure which. I’ve seen this before in people– I find it difficult to maintain friendships after I see it– and I wonder how I can learn to detect it earlier.

Not that I’m the Crown Princess of Honesty, but I am pretty good at facing ugly truths about myself and the world (see any post I’ve written on losing my faith in god).

And I don’t want to seem like I’m holding a grudge because this guy seems to have gotten over me more quickly than I got over him. I confess that I’m mostly in this for the attention from a tall handsome male; I don’t see how I can hold it against him for hanging out with me: a pretty female who laughs at his jokes. But it does leave me in the interesting position of wondering what this friend is really good for me for. Sorry if it sounds selfish to put it that way, but I really don’t need the angst of suffering attraction for a person outside my current relationship. And I do see the way he looks at me. So maybe…

Oh, it’s so obvious. I know what I’d tell anyone to do if they approached me with this problem asking for advice.

And then I have to laugh, because I think to myself, “She broke up with him already!!”

Ah. Being unmarried is weird.

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