Realising that he's just not that into you
So Here's The Thing
For as long as I can remember, I've had one simple dating rule: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to convince someone to date you, spare yourself the heartache and get the hell outta there. Stat.
This has nothing to do with my ego or trying to avoid rejection — it's just that nine times out of 10, it never ends well.
A few years ago, I met Ethan* and we bonded over the tell-it-like-it-is advice of Mark Manson. One particular article kept us talking till 3am — "F**k Yes or No". To summarise Manson, there are no ifs or buts or half-f**ks when it comes to the laws of attraction. And when you meet someone that you only feel lukewarm about, then it's probably just that; it's never going to be more — he could be the nicest guy in the world, but he still won't be the right one for you.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you have to be completely in lust/love with someone at first sight in order for a relationship to blossom. I think that Manson's theory applies to pretty much a lot of things in life — be it dating, friendships, or even a career choice. It's not about being shallow, just practical: If you're not excited about something to begin with, the other shoe won't be dropping anytime soon.
"There are no ifs or buts or half-f**ks when it comes to the laws of attraction. So when you meet someone that you only feel lukewarm about, then it's probably just that — it's never going to be more"
So fast forward to 2017. I'm in my mid-30s and back to dating men within my age bracket. You'd think that at this age, guys should know what they want in life or in a partner. Surely I'm done with all the half-f**k attitudes displayed by the younger men I've dated. Well, was I in for a rude awakening.
See, I had come out of a rather heart-wrenching breakup about a year ago. One that made me rethink my approach towards dating and had me keeping men I met at arms-length; constantly comparing them to the ex-boyfriend. I had even sworn off dating after the rather disastrous episode with Dan*, which if I was honest, was a poor attempt on my part to move on from the ex via a rebound.
Still, there's a part of me that was open to falling in love again. After a year of mourning a lost love, I was ready to let down my walls and meet someone new. And, along came James*.
Oh James, where do I begin? He was incredibly intelligent and could keep up with my banter, loved his job and family, a gentleman who didn't just want to get into my pants, and my dog actually adored him (I sometimes suspected that my dog preferred James to me). James ticked every box from the get go and we got on like a house on fire, even during the quiet moments — in fact, those were the best times because I didn't feel the anxious need to fill our silences with inane chatter.
While dating over the course of a few weeks, James never pressed me to sleep with him — we broached the subject a couple of times, but he always assured me that he didn't want me to think he was using me for sex and was happy to wait until I was ready. Despite the lack of physical intimacy, the way we behaved in public — not by being all over each other, but how we always sat touching, how he brushed my hair away from my face tenderly, how he kissed me and held me like it was the most natural thing to do — anyone would have thought we were a bonafide couple.
"The way things were going, I could see myself falling hard and fast for James. I wanted a future with him because despite all my reservations about rushing into love — it felt right, we fit."
The way things were going, I could see myself falling hard and fast for James. I wanted a future with him because despite all my reservations about rushing into love — it felt right, we fit. And unlike my ex who wasn't quite ready to settle down, James was — he told me this several times. Except, in the end, it wasn't with me. And this, I had to learn the hard way.
So here's the thing: James, as it turns out, was just not that into me.
His Prince Charming façade was, just that — a façade. For everything that James was, he was also a thinker, bordering on brooder. Times when we spoke about being in a relationship, he kept asking me how I was so sure that we were going to work. In the beginning, I thought he needed some assurance because it's been awhile since his last relationship. But I soon realised that he was asking me to pull out my crystal ball, look into the future, and tell him if we were meant to be together. Sorry dude, my gypsy days are well and truly over.
Before long, we started to have long drawn out conversations that often turned into arguments. On one side, weighing in at 50kg and with more than 15 years of dating experience under her belt, there's Ava armed with her "let's just do it" gung-ho attitude. And on the other, there's James, standing tall at six feet but tackling relationships with a careful and analytical approach to love.
Needless to say, I grew increasingly frustrated with James and his half-f**k attitude towards our future as a couple — all that talk and overthinking about whether we should take our relationship further was leading us nowhere. After one such conversation that left me in tears, I decided to take a step back and give us some space. By no means was I pressuring James to be in a relationship with me, but my take was simple: We like each other so let's give it a go. There's no way to know what the future holds for us unless we take a step towards trying. Talk is cheap. Who is 100% sure about anything these days?
By then, my dating rule had resurfaced and was taunting me. Every time James and I spoke about the subject, I felt like I was trying so hard to convince him to give things a shot that the idea of us together had started to lose its sheen. In fact, I've never tried so hard to convince anyone of anything; well, at least not since secondary school when I was caught cheating on a chemistry test and was desperately trying to convince my teacher to not flunk me.
"A part of me wanted to believe that if I gave James enough time, he would come around. But I think a bigger part of me also knew that it was a relationship that was doomed from the beginning."
A part of me wanted to believe that if I gave James enough time, he would come around. But I think a bigger part of me also knew that it was a relationship that was doomed from the beginning — if he didn't see it happening from the get-go, even the glibbest of tongues wouldn't help.
And so came the day when James texted me over Whatsapp and, as I'd suspected and dreaded, delivered the final blow: "There's so much to like, but..." Even though I knew it was coming, it still winded me. He went on to 'mansplain' why we weren't right for each other and how he was doing the right thing by being gracious. My reply to his lengthy reasoning was a simple "OK."
Now that I think of it, my reaction was due to not knowing how to feel about his definitive change of heart. I was also annoyed that, after delivering the blow, he also saw fit to tell me what I actually wanted and suggested I should be grateful for him "sparing a thought for my feelings". Ultimately, I was most annoyed at myself. I had gone against my one dating rule and was now bearing the consequences.
At the end of the day, I don't like living with regrets. But I also knew that if I had heeded my own advice in the first place, I would have spared myself a lot of tears and the loss of my self-respect — all in the futile pursuit of trying to make someone like me.
I can't say for sure how something that had seemed so promising could quickly turn into something opposite. But one thing I know for sure (now, more than ever) is that you just can't force things to happen — no matter how right it feels at the time.
I think it all boils down to self-worth. If a guy, or anyone for that matter, makes you question your worth or whether you're worthy of love, then it's not someone you should be with. That James, for all his knight-in-shining-armour appeal, is still a boy that doesn't know what he wants. And I, knowing better, shouldn't have taken it upon myself to steer him in my direction. Because, as cliché as it sounds: What's meant to be, will be.
*Names have been changed.
Read more entries from our dating column, So Here's The Thing.