I’ve had writers block since June. While this occasionally plagues me, this is one of the longer struggles I’ve had with getting words to leave my brain. Part of the reason is not been able to fully articulate the emotions I experienced over the summer. Part of it’s that the people who’ve most affected and influenced said emotions routinely check this site. But players gonna play, haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate and I’m still gonna pontificate. So…
I met a girl (who messaged me through this website) a few years back. She’s a lovely girl. Smart, beautiful, warm, caring, tender, with an enormous heart just waiting to fully give to anyone who deserves it. The problem is I don’t think I deserve it. The Traveller lives in another country; close enough to make a weekend jaunt every now and then possible, but far enough that it was a costly endeavor. So we saw each other every few months. Since our relationship played out mostly digitally, it was – in many aspects – a very safe way for me to get back in the dating game after the heartbreak of Her.
A main appeal in the detached setup of our relationship was simply that: that I could detach when I felt the need to. Either because everything was feeling overwhelming or because I missed my ex or any other reason that gave me reason for pause. So I’d retreat more often than not while her feelings continued to mount.
A secondary attractor: it was a hypersexual affair. Whether we saw each other in person or online, there weren’t many articles of clothing involved, and given my somewhat insatiable sex drive, that was a huge bonus. But the greatest pleasure became a double-edged sword. I knew that she’d always be willing, either on a screen or in my bed. And it devolved into this digital fantasy, this live-action porn that I could direct, which ultimately overtook the emotional side of things – for me.
I’ve always maintained that I need an emotional connection to be able to have a sexual relationship with someone and this was no different. I did develop feelings for her. Genuine ones. Strong ones. But they weren’t as strong as the ones she developed. The longer we continued on in the vein of basing our exchanges on sex, the worse I ended up feeling about the whole proposition. It’s hard to enjoy something carnal when you know the other person is seriously invested emotionally when you’re not.
I was upfront about seeing the ceiling on our relationship. I routinely told The Traveller I wasn’t comfortable with anything more than the status quo, and even that was too much for me at times. I just felt bad letting this girl spend time, effort and money on me when I couldn’t return the affections to a similar degree.
Subsequently, I flaked on plans to see her, disinvited her after she’d bought airfare here, and told her that I couldn’t keep going. Several times. But she’d keep trying to keep a line of communication open, and I’d occasionally acquiesce and before we knew it, we’d be staring lustfully at each other naked. Rinse and repeat and the whole cycle would begin anew.
As for why I couldn’t match her level of commitment, I’d peg it mostly to the fact that she had a considerable number of red flags, but to call them out individually would be unfair as this medium leaves her no chance of defending them. Collectively, they were demonstrative of the larger issue that I couldn’t see us having the happy ending The Traveller so vividly envisioned. So we stopped.
Now, at the beginning of the summer, a close girl friend of mine had a horrendous break up with a fucktard who cheated on her and lied to her for the entirety of their whirlwind romance. The Friend was a mess and we grew close as she could barely take care of herself while she was going through the grieving process. I stepped in where I could and helped to get her out of the depths of her understandable funk.
The Friend and I had a sexual history. When we met about seven years ago, I (foolishly) fancied myself an aspiring pick-up artist and quickly wooed her into my bed. However, that mindset forces you to consider women as “targets,” “objectives” and “conquests.” Which was something she picked up on and it didn’t take her long to brand me as an asshole and move promptly along. Smart girl. We remained in polite contact because our jobs overlapped, but she likely would’ve shoved me onto a busy highway blindfolded given the chance. My job soon changed and we didn’t speak for two years.
During that time, I dated Her, but we had freshly broken up when The Friend and I reconnected. I was on the mend after an injury and she’d reached out with well wishes. It wasn’t long before the original spark was reignited and we’d started messing around again. But I never saw what was transpiring between us as anything serious. The Friend did. Which led to a profession of love, on her part, and an immediate backpedaling by me. I cited some bullshit reasons why we couldn’t work, and asked to remain friends. It crushed her.
The Friend is an incredible person. We share an absurd number of personality traits - including an affinity for anthropomorphizing inanimate objects – and as a result, her moniker quickly proved itself true. There was a lot of sexual tension, which all of our friends noted, and occasionally after a long night of severe alcoholism, our lips would graze and we’d fall into bed together. That continued for a year or so until she, unknowingly, began dating the ultimate douche. So we moved into a strictly platonic thing while they were together and for a considerable amount of time after.
Slowly, my affection and attraction for her grew. Despite her running on fumes, emotionally and physically, there was something beautiful about her that I hadn’t really seen before. Perhaps because I’d never taken the time to look, perhaps just because she’s a fantastic gal. But my feelings grew and we essentially began dating, without referring to it as such. I was largely responsible for the murkiness surrounding us. I’d routinely tell her that ‘this wasn’t serious’ because I was scared of where it would lead and how it would affect our friendship. But we acted like a bona fide couple, right down to the clichéd handholding and heads-resting-upon-shoulders stuff that nauseates single people/anyone with eyesight.
We’d had a few serious chats about defining things where The Friend expressed the fact that she wasn’t ready for anything serious; a sentiment which didn’t even pause to register in my brain as it went right in one ear and flew out the other. I assumed that she just couldn’t call it something serious due to her fear of being so catastrophically hurt again. Because, for all intents and purposes, it was serious. I wasn’t seeing anyone else. Neither was she. I spent three to four nights a week with The Friend, entwined in each other’s arms on a couch or listening to her snore in bed. After she asked, I’d even told The Traveller about The Friend, and trying to see where things would lead.
The bottom completely fell out about a month ago, with both women. The Traveller came to NYC for a vacation and we met for lunch, since I knew late night drinks would lead to sex. It was a polite yet distant encounter. I could tell she was still hurt, still wanted more and was searching for any opening to try for another go at things. I was standoffish, and withdrawn, partially because I didn’t want to hurt her any more, and I knew that another go around would do precisely that. She asked about The Friend and where things stood. My reply was an honest one: “It’s over.”
I’d finally put all my emotional cards on the table with The Friend, playing what I thought was a decent hand; one which stood a solid shot at taking the whole pot. But it wasn’t enough. The Friend still isn’t ready for anything serious and what we’d been doing was just serving to hurt me. So we called it quits and I haven’t seen her in weeks. I told The Traveller that it had fallen apart and that I was upset and hurt.
The Traveller returned home found The Friend’s blog post about our relationship (something I hadn’t seen), and forwarded it to me asking if it was, in fact, me. But she knew full well that it was, and that silly little lie set me off. In a heated flurry of emails, far more honest and candid than I would’ve been had I been calm, I bluntly pointed out why we would never work romantically and expressed my outrage for her pouring salt over a something I’d already told her was a wound. And I told her I wanted to sever all communication with her, ending a feeble attempt at a friendship we’d had going.
This was about two weeks ago. I have no contact with The Traveller, and I have a laughable attempt at courteous conversation over gchat with The Friend every five or so days. As a result of this, my mind now oscillates between sadness, frustration, and guilt. I’m sad because what I thought was a real relationship with The Friend actually wasn’t. I’m frustrated that I can’t do much about it. And I feel guilty because I know I’ve imparted all of these same shitty emotions, in equal amplification, onto The Traveller.