Thanks for all the comments on that last post. It’s made me feel better about taking a couple of days off to write some mediocre fiction and conference with several dozen bewildered composition students.
In sum: I will concede that there are many elusive traits that make men attractive–mystery, confidence, large biceps–but I stand by the fact that, in order to feel attracted, I need a man who is not completely and totally a hundred percent nice. Sorry, I wish it weren’t, but it’s true.
Anyway, moving on. I’ve been asked to weigh in on altogether different topic: that of “pseudo boyfriends.”
I should have realized immediately that this subject does not fall into my arena of expertise: I had to ask what it meant. According to this reader (and the Urban Dictionary–I just googled) , a “pseudo boyfriend” is someone with whom you sometimes act like you are in a relationship with, but don’t label things as such. A guy you date/sleep/hang out with but do not call your boyfriend.
Before getting the definition, I assured said reader that–no matter what it meant–I was sure to be able to come up with a story. After learning it, however, I wasn’t so sure.
I racked my brain: surely, at some point in all my years of misguided dating escapades, I must have found myself in a comparable situation. Reader, I couldn’t think of one.
I mean, let’s be honest: the last time I was with someone who I could really truly refer to as my “boyfriend” without any hesitation at all was four years ago. Since then things have rarely, if ever gone beyond the “guy I’m dating” phase, linguistically speaking. But that’s just a combination of bad judgment, bad timing and bad luck: not, generally, cases of extended non-commitalness.
The explanation for this became clear during a conversation yesterday with a new-ish friend about various dating pitfalls. She confessed to a serial habit of dating men with commitment-phobia.
“I always think I can change them!” she said. We both laughed, regretfully. And then she said, “I wish I was one of those people who could handle things being ambiguous! But I’m just not.”
At which point I realized: I’m just not either. The reason that I don’t have experience with pseudo boyfriends is that I am not, personally, capable of having them. Like this friend, I wish that I was okay with occupying an in-between space with a guy, hanging back and letting things go and not worrying about where they might be headed. But I’m not.
I think, as one of my NY best friends pointed out, that I have found myself in a couple of situations recently with guys who live in different cities who have wanted something like a “pseudo” relationship: acting like we’re together when we’re in the same place, and keeping things casual the rest of the time–communicating intermittently, etc.
These situations have not gone well. As I eventually wrote in an email to one of these guys, the one in Washington who I wrote about a while back and may or may not ever hear from again, it’s hard for me to get just a little bit attached.
Maybe I’m too emotional. Or too neurotic. Certainly, I think too much. Whatever it is, it’s the same reason that I find it difficult/impossible to date more than one guy at a time: being into one person takes basically all the mental energy I’ve got.
In my mind, if I’m into someone and they’re into me–whatever the circumstances–it’s either worth pursuing or it isn’t.
The friend I talked with yesterday went so far as to quote Jack Johnson: “Not to be cynical,” she said. “But I think he might be right: maybe pretty much does always mean no.”
I’m not sure about all that. I think that often we do meet people who things could work out with if only the timing or the geography or the emotional landscape of our lives was different. In these situations, I completely understand the impulse to get involved in a “pseudo” sort of way: seeing each other when convenient, but without expectations.
I can understand it, but still: I don’t think I can do it.