Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Imaginary (donkey of) love

Chomping on a tuna sandwich and reading Love Letters on my lunch break, I got sucked into a sidebar conversation thread titled "Facebook nonsense".  It began on August 23, with a a post from:
-- A woman who friends an artist whose creative work she admires and feels mirrors her own;  she visits and commented on his FB page. He responds and comments on her comments.

-- The two begin flirtatiously texting/e-mailing relationship; they don't live in the same city so they don't meet, but they soon have a phone call that leads to (the woman's) enormous hopes.

--  He drops off the face.

-- She's convinced she's screwed up something good, big-time, and apologizes. He says she has nothing to apologize for and wants to remain friends.

-- But their friendship has changed and seems, now, not destined for anything greater. She's, in her words, "bereft" over what could have been:
"You know, prolly wishful thinking on my part, but last week I really felt that this man and I could pull something together. I can't think of what I could possibly have said to have turned him off. But I won't bug him, I won't nudge him..."
If you've read this blog at all before today, you of course know this type of What Did I Do WRONG?!!!!! thinking has had its place here on too many occasions.  Which is why I cringed viscerally at the resemblance to situations of past. Cringed reading through the 90 subsequent posts on the thread after her above self-admonition ("I won't nudge him...") stretching until yesterday. Even as other commenters advised her to move on, she continued stating admiration for her artist, the reasons why she thought she still wanted to be with him, and berating herself for holding out hope.

It took until today for her to say, "OK. I blocked his profile. Gotta let it go." But it took 3 weeks.

Not chastising this woman at all. Just understanding it (after all, it took me 9 months...) and marveling, again, how we humans get into draining situations that we can't see don't benefit us and, really, have no desire to get out of.

Somewhere on the thread, the woman posted a link to the British advice blog Baggage Reclaim, specifically to a 2009 column on "Letting Go Of A Relationship That Doesn't Exist":
"There are two big questions hovering in the comments recently that pretty much amount to the same thing:

How do I let go of the guy that didn’t reciprocate my feelings?

How do I let go of the guy that I didn’t actually have a relationship with?

In essence, how do you let go of a one-sided attraction which in your mind has created a relationship out of…your feelings?"
The blog author, Natalie Lue, is a prolific tough-love talker. In fact, she's written 2 books on the topic (one titled Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl) in addition to this blog that has been ongoing since 2005).  Her thoughts on "Letting Go Of A Relationship That Doesn't Exist" are countless, but these lines specifically spoke to me:
"For a start, you can’t ‘break up’ when there is nothing to break up from. The only person you have to break up with is you and your rather overactive imagination and feelings ....

"The thing is, from the moment that you recognise that you 1) are not having your feelings reciprocated and/or 2) that you’re not in a relationship with them, major warning signals should be going to your brain that there is something seriously wrong if you are still trying to get them to reciprocate and obsessing about them over an extended period of time ....

"Whilst I recognise that in some instances, we can be misled by a guy to believe that he feels more than he does, I tend to find that women who are in this situation are invariably in it because they decided that they were crazy about someone and don’t want to let that, and the fantasy go ....

"You’ve decided that you want him, love him, and to hell with it, you’ll find a way to show him that he should notice and love you too. You’re gonna ride this imaginary donkey of love till it collapses."
Wow.  Can't think of a better way to describe making an ass of one's self and self-esteem.  :-) 

(Good to remember the next time, if ever, I get another gander at C-2.)


Heathen said...

It's so much easier to recognize it in someone else than to see it in yourself! But, in defense of all the ladies who hold out hope in the face of clear evidence that there's nothing to hold on to, I think it also comes from men's inability to say, "You're great, but I don't think we're meant for each other." Which would save us so much time, energy and pain.

Heidi said...

I think I'd rather have a million mostly-imaginary relationships than be unable to open myself up to someone in order to have a real one! Although I suppose neither situation is ideal. Good post! :)

Anonymous said...

I think these imaginary donkeys also tend to be ridden by women who won't admit to their own narcissism and embrace the philosophy: "he's just not that into you." T
Those of us who have spent our lives being ignored by men but have managed to find and marry one who loves us know the hard truth: if he wants to be with you, he will be with you! It is very simple. No muss, no fuss, no games.