In Lieu

Posted on May 24, 2010


I posted my first online dating profile in July 2009, and went on my first date in October.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read the OKCupid profile or Craigslist ad of every man who’s used either site in the last year. Cursed by my freakish memory, I can ID the ones who appear in multiple places, or who post two slightly differing ads in the same week. Or who post slightly different versions of the same ad, week after week for months. Or who reply to my ad multiple times from different email addresses. The million ways there are for people to be weird and creepy in the online medium are exhausting but never surprising.

The point is, it was easy to spot my ex’s Craigslist posting when it appeared today. It’s not his best work, frankly; the exposition is weak and the punctuation and capitalization could be tightened up. But then, he “doesn’t have time” or “emotional energy” to date right now. He’s “taking himself out of the game entirely” until August, when his life settles down. So you can see that he couldn’t give his posting the attention it deserved, since he doesn’t have time for that sort of thing.

I’m writing this in lieu of replying. I need to tell someone what I never told him: I think I’m in love with him.

I know, oh do I ever know, how cliche it is to believe the bullshit reasons people give you when they break up with you, and to be offended when those reasons turn out to have been, well, bullshit. The bottom line is always, always, that if someone wants to be with you, they will. They will find the time, and make the effort, and the obstacles that crop up between you will be viewed as puzzles to be solved and not immovable objects that must be accepted with the fatalism of an Irish-Catholic spinster aunt.

It’s a testament to my own romanticism and naivete, I suppose, that I hoped my own desires would triumph in this instance. (And for the record, I broke up with him. It was a ploy, however, and when I tried to rescind it he stuck.) He is not a good person for me to be dating at this point in my life; I need someone who, among many other attributes, is unambiguously in favor of having kids. He is emotionally damaged by a grueling and recent divorce. He’s probably clinically depressed. He has other things he’s trying to figure out so he can become whoever he is meant to be.

And yet, when he reached across the table and took my hand on our first date I felt something I haven’t felt for years. When he kissed me, my heart leapt like a schoolgirl’s. My feelings for him were cellular; it’s as though my genes recognized him. I was–am–intensely interested in what he ate for lunch and what shirt he’s wearing. I think everything he says is brilliant. The sound of his voice makes my knees feel fuzzy. I think the things about him that are fucked up are actually fascinating, and I want to hear all about them, and push all the boundaries and rub his back and pack his lunch. I love him, and he doesn’t love me.

My therapist says allowing him to treat me casually is a way of being unkind to myself, and that seeking that out is masochistic (and not in a fun sexy way.) My sister says I only want him so much because I know I can’t have him. I say love is mysterious, and my heart knows what it knows.

I’ve also been saying lately that women were granted emotional intelligence, and men were granted the ability to open jars, and that to women that seems like a rotten division, until we really want pickles. (See that double entendre? It’s almost perfect.)

I would give up the pickles, though. I’d take love in lieu of their crunchy kosher goodness. And anyone who knows me knows that I really, really like pickles.