I have a little crush on someone I shouldn’t. As in, the circumstances are such that we really shouldn’t be together … he dated someone close to me and it just wouldn’t be cool unless we got serious. But how is one supposed to know that before something has even started? It’s the classic it-would-really-suck-for-a-whole-lot-of-people-if-we-didn’t-work-out thing … so let’s not even admit that we want to.
Except that while we were hanging out the other day he pressed the issue. So we actually talked about it openly for the first time, and I immediately began to enumerate all the (many) reasons we shouldn’t be together.
Then, somewhere along the way, while he was sighing his discontent and I was trying to understand why I was feeling inexplicably sad at the prospect that he would actually agree with me, I realized something:
I didn’t want him to agree with me.
It wasn’t that I wanted to convince him that these were dealbreakers, that we shouldn’t actually be together. No, I became aware that I was actually listing all my objections because I wanted him to convince me we should.
I don’t think I’m the only woman who does this. I think a lot of women think things through when it comes to relationships a whole lot more than a whole lot of men. We think about the consequences in terms of ourselves, our friends, our families, our coworkers – even our neighbors. We consider things from a bunch of different angles and then we get nervous about all the reasons why it could potentially be disastrous – especially if the relationship itself ended up not working.
We say things like:
• “You’re too old for me.” (You’d be mad old when the kids were just going to college… and then what?)
• “You’re too young for me.” (I’d look substantially older and not as pretty as the women in your age group in 15 years… and then what?)
• “We don’t have the same background.” (My Jewish / WASP / Indian / Chinese / Pakistani / Cambodian mother would kill me.)
• “We work in the same department.” (… and I like my department. I like my job. I don’t want to lose it cause HR freaks out when they realize we’re doing it in the stairwell during our lunch breaks.)
Mazel tov. You got her to do her get-your-
tuchus-back-on J-date,-you-little-whore face.
• “I dated your ex.” (Only applicable if you’re bi or gay, but still.)
• “You dated my sister.” (Seriously. What the hell am I going to tell her!?)
• “I’m your boss.” (What am I gonna do, fire you so we can be together? You’re a good employee and besides, I don’t wanna date someone who just got fired…)
• “We live across the country from each other.” (Can I really trust you not to cheat on me? Can I trust myself not to cheat on you? It would be so easy.)
• “We live halfway across the world from each other.” (This would be so incredibly expensive.)
Men, on the other hand, appear to have a simpler evaluation system. When it comes to whether to have sex, date, or get into a relationship, it’s usually some variable of the following:
1. Is she hot?
2. Do I want to be around her?
In other words, men live more in the moment. They get as far as, Do I really really really want to kiss her? Do we get along? and then assume that the rest will work itself out.
Men are totally the bottom one, right guys?
Now, most of the time, the issues women like myself have are legitimate. In fact, all of the ones on that previous list are the real deal. I’m not saying they’re not. I was just surprised when it occurred to me that while I wanted him to take all the things I was saying seriously, I wanted something else, too.
I wanted him to tell me why I was wrong.
I wanted him to listen closely and hear me out, then trump all of it with, “I like you. You like me. We’ll figure the rest out. Together.”
So, guys: the next time a woman is telling you all the reasons why the two of you shouldn’t date, consider that she may not be telling you only that. She may be telling you that what she really wants you to do is step up and keep believing in the two of you even when she hasn’t gotten there yet.
In other words, with what she’s not saying, she may actually be saying the following:
I like you. I don’t know how to do this. I’m scared.
But I like you.