Have you ever played a board game with a little kid? It can be rather confusing. There is no rhyme or reason to the rules. If you pass go and collect $200 they just out of the blue decide that actually passing go means you pay them $200. You only get three rolls in yahtzee but if they don’t get the dice they want somehow they get 5 or 6. It means that you carry them around on your shoulders when ever they want, clap and cheer for them when they win or when they lose, and basically do whatever they want. It’s a total guessing game as to what the rules are and somehow they just expect you to know.
I’ve always known that guys are really just little boys in grown up bodies so it shouldn’t surprise me that they play with the same kind of rules but it doesn’t make it any less confusing.
When I first joined the LDS church I thought I understood how dating worked (based of course on the TV shows I had seen and the books I had read.) Basically boy meets girl, they both just somehow know they like each other, they fall in love, things don’t work out quite as planned, they have a tearful but mutual goodbye, hearts are broken and it is sad, you shed a few tears it’s a little romantic and then they get over it and meet someone wonderful who makes up for everything and makes you realize that of course this is how things were meant to be all along. Then you get married and live happily ever after. Those were the rules. Or at least I thought.
My experience has been something more along these lines.
You spend way too long wondering when MR. Wonderful is going to come along, and then you meet someone and they are great, and you wonder, could this be it? But he never says the word date even though you are spending a lot of time together. There is not a magical “knowing” and so you assume that there is nothing there. You continue, thinking you are just friends until one day he gives too much of his heart and you break it without ever realizing that it was on the line. You feel horrible, but move on wondering how you missed the signals, you thought you were following the rules.
So, you meet someone else, he is exhibiting the same behavior, spending lots of time with you, telling you all the things you want to hear, buying you things and becoming your best friend. You recognize that you have seen this behavior before and you think “Ok, I know what this means. Now could I like this guy?”
It feels a little weird to consider it, he feels like just a friend but, hey we don’t want a repeat of last time and you want to be sure. So you give it a shot. And about the time you have put your heart on the line he tells you how beautiful he thinks your room-mate is and asks you if you think he ought to ask her out. Totally confused you get angry and wonder how you missed the signs, how you hadn’t followed the rules yet again. But you adjust move on and figure you learned something for next time.
This time you meet a guy that you can’t keep your eyes off of and you can only cross your fingers and hope. He notices you just enough to keep you guessing, spends just enough time with you to keep you confused, then just when you are about to give up on him as a lost cause he tells you he likes you, spends the next year or more making you feel like your world revolves around him and just at the moment when you can vividly see your future with him as the central character, he tells you he just doesn’t feel it after all.
The hurt that you thought was supposed to last a short time, lingers and months later just the thought of him makes you feel like you swallowed an elephant and it got stuck in your throat. He on the other hand has moved on and is happily engaged to be married to someone he just met.
I don’t know what the rules are anymore, in fact I’m not even sure which game we are playing anymore. Nothing has worked out the way I thought it would. And so when the nicest guy I’ve met comes along and starts spending time with me, I’m not going to assume we are just friends, I am not going to assume he is interested, I am not going to follow the rules I set for myself, in fact I am going to pretend like none of it is happening at all. Because that’s the only option left. I don’t want to love someone right now, I don’t know if I could, or if I would if things had been different. I know I enjoy spending time with him, so as long as he wants to I am going to. I know that he makes me feel comfortable and happy, so I don’t want to hurt him. Maybe he will read this and know where I stand, how I feel, and have a better idea of how to play this game than I do. I believe that he is one of the best men I have met. Beyond that all I know is that I don’t know enough to know what to think.
So, if i’ve managed to confuse you…GOOD. We are even.