Read the signs.
Men over 60 think I’m beautiful (men over 60 love redheads for some reason) and some of them stop me in the grocery store to tell me. Boys under five love me and some of them propose. 20-year-olds flirt with me and not always because they want good grades. My favorite gay dudes think I’m the cat’s meow and don’t have any trouble telling me that. But unrequited love has always been a thorn in my side.
For whatever reason, I am an expert when it comes to long time attraction to men who don’t seem to return the sentiment.
I blame my dad.
I’m kind of kidding. Kind of. I take full responsibility for my actions. But I also acknowledge that I have daddy issues. And my daddy issues sometimes manifest in thinking certain individuals are amazing…and will eventually come around to see me as “more than a friend” if I just give them enough time.
It’s always been really hard for me to wrap my brain around the difference between men and women in this way because we ladies are often (but not always) suggestible when it comes to love. Most of my girlfriends who are married were not attracted to their hubbies when they first met, but over time they saw past bald heads and dad bods and weird senses of humor and odd beliefs about dentistry to find the diamonds within.
Meanwhile, I’ve spent a good portion of my life pining away for years over dudes who had me in the friend box.
My first ever crush started in sixth grade…and lasted until I went away to college. The second one started in seventh grade…and lasted til I was 20. I liked lots of boys in college and had a string of men in the grad school years that I was “in love” with but was just waiting on to come to their senses…each for about two years at a time.
I’m a slooooow learner.
See, I’ve always been sort of a guy’s girl but not so much of a guy’s girlfriend girl. A number of men have seen me as the gal they’d like to spend all their free time with and tell all their hopes and dreams to…until they eventually start hashing out plans to get the other women they’re attracted to. There are at least five humans on earth whose brains I’d like to dissect to find out why…but I don’t foresee that happening.
I’m a realist but there’s also part of me that, admittedly, is a bit of a hopeless romantic who has bought into the (stupid) version of love Hollywood hands us. The version that says if a girl just waits long enough, her (male) best friend (or enemy or cool aloof kid that doesn’t give her the time of day) will see past all the others and notice her. He’ll come around. He’ll figure out what all the supporting characters have already realized is going to happen and come to his senses.
You all might remember a book…and then a movie back in 2009 called He’s Just Not That Into You. The first part of that movie that really stuck in my brain long-term was this:
Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up: if a boy punches you he likes you, never try to trim your own bangs, and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we’re told implores us to wait for it: the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we’re so focused on finding our happy ending we don’t learn how to read the signs.
The other part of the movie that stuck was the annoying story line where the guy who tells the girl that he’s just not that into her and that she’s not the exception to the rule (after she goes out on a limb to express her feelings for him) comes back later to declare that he’s changed his mind and that she is now the exception to his rule…which is exactly the opposite of what the movie has been pretending to be about…and exactly the scenario I’ve hoped for more times than I’d like to admit.
But here’s the honest truth…I still want to be the exception to someone’s rule. Most of us do. It’s sort of a human race thing. We want to be seen for who we are. We want to be loved. And sometimes that makes us not so good at reality.
There’s lots of advice that I’d like to give my younger self for all the times I sucked at reading the signs or…more accurately…refused to read the blazing neon shining directly in my face. Here, my dear readers, is a sampling…
If a man hangs out with you all the time and shares all his hopes and dreams and is everything you think you’ve been looking for but doesn’t try to make out with you while you’re a little drunk and he’s a lot drunk and his roommate and your roommate are making out in another room, he’s just not that into you…also, there isn’t anything wrong with you…he’s just gay and he hasn’t told you yet.
If a man hangs out with you all the time and shares all his hopes and dreams and is everything you think you’ve been looking for but gets engaged to another woman…even if you end up spending eight hours together that one day that you get together for lunch so he can tell you that he’s engaged and she at some point tells him that if he wants to break up with her for you it’s okay and he says he has no idea what she’s talking about, he’s just not that into you…he’s going to marry her.
If a man hangs out with you all the time and shares all his hopes and dreams and is everything you think you’ve been looking for and tells you that you just have to move to LA because you’ll be his only LA friend and you move to LA and you keep spending all your time together and have regular pizza and beer nights but then he starts talking incessantly about the cute brunette that he’s not sure he really wants to date, he’s just not that into you…you should have listened to all your friends instead of putting your earmuffs on.
If a man enjoys spending time with you and you grab dinner one night and he is slightly offended by the fact that you’re single…because he thinks you’re pretty awesome…but gets a call from another girl (that he takes) wondering where he is while you’re having a late night conversation in his truck, he’s just not that into you.
If a man enjoys spending time with you but tells you early on that he’s not sure he’s ready to date yet because his divorce isn’t quite final and then says something shitty to you about how you just kissed a married man after he kisses you for the first time, he’s just not that into you.
If a man who’s been flirting with you incessantly…but is super sarcastic when he does it…wants to snuggle you for four hours on his couch (twice) but doesn’t try to make a move…and somehow turns that around on you…and then later tells you that his attraction for you stopped growing at some point before you helped him produce his commercial project, he’s just not that into you.
If a man tells you he had a great time at the end of the date but doesn’t say he’s going to call you, he’s just not that into you.
If a man is totally into going on dates…but only when you make the effort, he’s just not that into you.
If a man thinks you’re wonderful and wants to hang out with you every day and cancels all his plans to be with you and wants to make out in public on a ferris wheel on date two and thinks he should be able to sleep over in your bed on date three and takes you out seven times in three weeks and thinks you should start to cancel all your plans because you need to spend more time with him and is passive aggressive and possessive…he’s totally into you…but you should run away as fast as you can because he’s also crazy.
Don’t ignore the signs. Read them. And then, you know, follow them too.