Men, Help Me Understand

I just got off the phone with the Shill.  On the one hand, I’m totally gloating because I’ve been saying since 1994 that this dude we went to college with was madly in love with her.  On the other hand, he hasn’t talked to her in ten years.  Why would he email her out of the blue to confess his love and his sadness that he’d heard she’d gotten married?


Menfolk, this is what I need help understanding.  What are you thinking when you tell a woman, long after it’s too late to do anything about it, that you used to love her and still morn that you never got together?  Do you think we’ll find this flattering?  Do you think we’ll suddenly be all like “Well, praise Jesus, I just happen to have some divorce papers right here.  Let me sign them and run away with you!”


Don’t get me wrong.  I can understand the whole “We run in the same social circles and sometimes there’s some weird awkwardness and part of that is because I used to really like you and even though I’m over that, I still get wistful” conversation.  It’s unpleasant, but we know each other; we’re actively friends; so sometimes you just have to say that shit so that you can acknowledge it and move the fuck on.


I mean the whole “I haven’t spoken to you in years, but I’m going to take my one chance to admit my feelings, even though nothing can come of it.”  What do you think is going to come from that?


Do women do that?  I used to have a huge crush on Andy Kulak in college.  I pined for him epically.  I never told him, which was stupid.  But I haven’t spoken to him in ten years. I’m not going to look him up on the internet and drop him a line just so I can tell him I used to love him.  I have no desire to do that.  I hope he’s fine and happy and has a good life.


I’m not a part of it.  I don’t feel bad about that.  I don’t wish things were different.  I don’t think about him often, except when I’m talking about college with the Shill.  If we ran into each other in Starbucks and recognized each other, that might be cool.  But I have no desire to search him out and contact him.


So, I don’t really get the motivations of people who do.


Obviously, the Shill doesn’t either, so she’s asked me to ask y’all: What the fuck?

Advertisements

38 thoughts on “Men, Help Me Understand

  1. I don’t know about other women, but I have yet to double back on a missed opportunity. There’s a virtue to keeping one’s mouth shut and letting things go with a warm handshake.I have had two men in my life, however, write very carefully composed confessions of their intense feelings for me years after the opportune moment. Maybe they feel that they need to say something so that they can move on. Or maybe they have a streak of wishful thinking where they feel that if they just take their shot, perhaps that much-hoped-for thing will come to pass. Or that’s their way of honoring this temple of hope they’ve built — to let you know that you were loved by a good man once and that all their silent yearning had to be given voice or die with them unacknowledged. If they are of a bookish turn, maybe they fancy themselves a modern-day Petrarch.In the instances where I’ve been on the receiving end, however, it really wasn’t about actually expecting reciprocity. It was more like a benediction.

  2. I had this happen to me once. It pissed me off. He said all the things I wanted to hear him say years before. At the same time, it was very sweet and to this day, he and I have a huge amount of affection for each other. Probably cause I was the only one he never had.As great a guy as he was/is, he’s kinda fond of the ladies and I don’t do so good in sharing my toys. We kinda threw the idea around of hanging out/hooking up (this was while I was divorced) but really, I think his purpose of re-entry, as brief as it was, was to let me know that there was nothing wrong with me.

  3. Dude’s a coward and a schmuck. She needs to ignore him as he did her. He is a poor representative for the rest of the ‘keepers of the Y chromasome’.

  4. I’d like to clarify one point — I did not like this guy in college. He dated one of our suitemates. The suitemate, we’ll call her The Singing Tattoo, apparently was quite jealous of this guy’s affections for me. And I was unaware anything was amiss. I was oblivious, busy pining away for another. I don’t get it — never once in college did he hit on me (and we saw each other drunk a lot) and 10 years later he surfaces with a plan whereby we get hitched in Vegas. Strange.

  5. Yes, exactly. I would say that Smiff’s anecdote falls under the perfectly acceptable "We’re in the same social circle and some things need explaining" umbrella.It’s the practically drive-by expressions of love that piss me off. The Shill’s brother-in-law pulled that on me at her wedding. "I adored you. Why didn’t we ever get together?" "Because you dated my roommate?"

  6. That first sentence seems harsh — I did like him, but as a friend. I wasn’t secretly in love with him and I never once got the idea he was secretly in love with me – he was just one of the people in our larger circle.

  7. I was however, secretly in love with one of my professors. Perhaps I should look him up?

  8. Sometimes you just have to get shit off your chest.And there’s no need to fear rejection like there would be in a typical situation. He knows he’s going to get rejected, and he can tell himself it isn’t personal because she is already married.

  9. Hmm, the hitched in Vegas part turns my diagnosis from wistful to delusional. This sounds like his meds needs adjustment. Or maybe just got adjusted (and combined with some vodka). Or something. The take-away on this topic thus far would be that women generally are not flattered by the retrospective declaration of passion lingering from your greener years. Regrets, we’ve all had a few. Suck it up and don’t mention it unless we ask about the awkward look on your face when our husbands go off to refresh their drinks. Will anyone ‘fess up to having done this? If all the women so far have had one of these experiences, that suggests that it’s fairly common among this self-selected group. Anyone? Bueller? What was the story?

  10. I think it’s one thing to do that if you know the person isn’t married or in a relationship, say, you are still part of her circle and hear she’s wookin’ pa nub. But to wait until she’s happily with someone and then tell her? You are a pussy.

  11. I’ll keep you all posted on the reaction to "not only happily married, but 10 weeks shy of giving birth."

  12. You know what? My instantaneous reaction to the ‘you are a pussy’ crack from Recovering Baptist was the kind of comment that would get me into a lot of trouble with Auntie.But then again, using the word pussy as an insult can get you into a lot of trouble with Auntie as well. :-)

  13. Since Brigett was asking…. I’ve never made that kind of confession because it seems pretty useless. I can see why it would happen though.

  14. I got the "I’ve always loved you" confession out of the blue once. He even listed all the times he had helped me out or been there for me over the years. I was clueless. I was in a committed relationship and told him so, and we ended with him saying "well, I think I’m going to marry so and so." Weird. Later when they got divorced, his wife called me up and told me, she thought he substituted her for me. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him/them for over 10 years. It was really weird.

  15. If she’s married, he likely presumes he is safe. Many guys who pull this do so BECAUSE it is too late. I think it is usually wise to consider one’s motivation. Is "guy" looking for a little on the side without having to worry about actually committing? Best,Ryan

  16. I’m with W’s first comment. Sometimes you just gotta get things off your chest. I think there is a sweetness to this kind of situation that, sure, creates an uncomfortable moment, but at least it’s a moment of truth, no matter how belated. Admitting your feelings is always a gutsy move, even for people who do it far too late.Now — is it necessary or advisable to do so? You just never know ’til you get it out there in the open.

  17. I should note that my comments above really only apply to sentiments that probably would have been welcomed by the recipient. Yet another variable to consider.

  18. Nah, women do this too, like at a graduation party, or the day after you’ve just introduced an old crush to your new GF. It is the stuff of soap operas and bad melodramas and corny RomComs. In those situations, the fictional ones, it usually works, or at least gets some attention and sympathy and throws a monkey wrench into the new millieu, which I think is at the heart of such death bed declarations that happen in the real world. I seriously challenge you dismissers and nay sayers to say you haven’t had, at least once, that fantasy. I think we’re all (except jaded hard hearts like me) capable of it, especially when your reality is not satisfying. That they think "nothing can come of it" doesn’t matter (though I don’t think they really believe that nothing can come of it)

  19. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  20. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  21. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  22. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  23. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  24. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  25. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  26. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  27. Am I the only cynic who sees this as a ploy to get a little sumthin’?You find out a chick’s married, roll up on her with some cheesy line, maybe in her flattered married-ness she’ll give it up. Then she’ll go on back to her husband and you’re off the hook.I dunno, I think every dude’s an asshole, so don’t listen to me.

  28. I never like explanations, personal or political, that depend on the "bad guy" being some kind of malicious/subhuman creature. So leaving aside the real possibility that this guy is being intentionally hurtful, I wonder what justification would make sense to him.I guess the first question is, how much did he know about your situation before he spilled his guts, and how much do you know about his?The comment that rings very true above is saraclark’s. When people are enterring into serious commitments, they may get cold feet or compare their partner to the idealized version of everyone they ever dated or wanted. The wanted are probably more idealized as there is no reality to intrude on the memory.His comments then would make more sense to me if he was in a relationship and on the verge of making it more serious. The imperfect reality of his current relationship might make him ask if she (whoever she is) is the "right" person, or if that cute roommate of his old girlfriend wasn’t really the one he always wanted. So he may say to himself that he’d never be able to commit to his current relationship while wondering about "the one that got away."Notice all of this would only make sense in terms of his idealized memories. It has nothing to do with the current reality of his desired woman, and analyzing things in terms of her life would make no sense. If he wants to abandon his life and its pressures then surely (maybe?) she could want the same… thus her current life is irrelevant.The fact that he never revealed his feelings when you knew each other makes me think this is possible. It indicates either fear of rejection or greater respect for decorum than for what he wanted at the time. That kind of mindset would be consistent with someone who might not feel in control of their emotional life, and thus might try to gain control through dramatic (ill-advised) gestures.What else? Alternately, if he knew you were nearing childbirth, he might assume that you would be more emotionally available/vulnerable. My wife often says of new mothers (friends) that she wants to do something for them, because so often everything is about the kids and the emotional/physical needs of the mothers get neglected. I’m not inclined to think this is the case here, though, as it implies a focus more on her than him… if this were the case I’d expect something more subtle.Finally some personal experience, since the question was raised. Two stories:One old friend and I had feelings for each other, but I didn’t know she was interested, and though she wanted to get involved she never said anything. While she was away for several months, I wrote her a letter talking about "us" and that became the trigger for us to start dating. We had been in regular contact, though, and had dated once briefly in high school.Second story: A friend of mine in a dorm in England dated a lovely girl. We all hung out, and I liked her, but she was taken and before long so was I. A couple years later I wrote her a friendly letter and she wrote back mentioning she was engaged to a guy and was going to Russia on vacation. I wrote back jokingly that I didn’t like the sound of him (not knowing him from Adam) and that she should come to Alabama instead.She flew in a few weeks later and we’ve been happily married for 9 years.Moral: It’s not surprising when people roll the dice on those who caught their eye when the time was wrong. This guy, though, sounds like he’s rolling them big time, desperately, which makes me think the explanation has more to do with what he’s running from.

  29. I’m not totally down with the theory that EVERY guy is an asshole, but we "Y’ types do have a lot of the dog in us. I’m going with door number 2 which is S&F’s first theory. Occam’s Razor; go with the simplest theory. Not all men are assholes all the time,but men are dogs a lot of the time.

  30. Dang-it y’all! I’m jealous! This has never happened to me! I’m still young, so maybe I’ll get mine later…but still!

  31. Okay people, your explanations are all assuming too much intelligence or too much sensitivity on the part of the guy. I think when guys do this it is just pure ego. They can’t stand the idea that the object of their (former) affection isnt thinking of them or pining over missed chances like they are. So they write a quick letter (or have a conversation) to make themselves important in the eyes of the other person. There’s no long involved plan or anything. They’d take sex if it was offered but they arent expecting it. But its all about the need to see themselves as the center of the universe.Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone is the center of their own universe. Mostly women are more able to be realistic in this situation and if they make a play for the spotlight it is in more subtle ways. That’s because most women have more empathy and a more subtle understanding of social dynamics than most men.

  32. So Vive, is the ‘more subtle way’ to denigrate the guy in question in front of his wife/girlfriend until she questions her decision to be with him then decides to dump him?Cause frankly it doesn’t matter how subtle you are in that situation. Any action is lousy no matter how subtle.And, for the record, I wasn’t making any assumptions about the male intellect. I’m quite familiar with the male intellect.

  33. W., this is kind of off-topic, but sometimes I get this idea that you think I’m this hard-ass, smart, yet funny feminist who has her shit together and expects the same of everyone else.That just flatters the shit out of me.As for the men in question, I don’t know. I do think it’s an ego thing, but I think it’s an ego thing in a complex way. I think they really thought we were the shit back then and were intimidated by how wonderful they thought we were–hence the reason they couldn’t come out then and say ‘Wow, I think you’re awesome. Want to catch a movie?’ But now they’ve grown up, had some successes, and become braver and more self-assured. Now they’re kind of feeling like ‘hey, I’m the shit, too.’ So, I think that they feel secure in where they are enough to think you’ll think it’s flattering that, even though they’re all grown up, they still think about you and remember you as being so damn awesome.I sincerely think they think it’s a compliment.

Comments are closed.