by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
After the last chapter, a girl might be thinking about using electronic communication – get to know a guy without worrying about accidentally dragging his sexual feeling into the picture.
The real name of this chapter should be “INTERWEBS IS EVIL!”
My name is Tara. I am nineteen and have never been your average girl when it comes to guys. Yes, they make good buddies, but I could never understand the girls who spent all their time giggling about their latest crushes. I made up my mind from a young age not to waste time or emotion on a guy I couldn’t picture myself marrying. Looking back, I can see I had too much spare time. If I had been busy, I would not have had time to text, text, text.
That’s why you should let your daughters go to college or work outside the home, FYI.
Here’s how it happened.
Matt was the most sensitive guy I had ever met. He wasn’t the kind of man I had pictured myself with, but we seemed to fit together so well. Because I grew up with an insensitive and very emotionally unflappable father, I never thought of sensitivity as a positive character trait for a man to have. But when you become the object of all that emotion and thoughtfulness it is very appealing. Matt always knew how I was feeling and seemed to relate. He was romantic and read poetry. He made me feel like I was the most special and wonderful girl on earth.
I’m not seeing a problem. (I’m not a huge poetry fan, but that’s not a fatal flaw.)
In a way, it made me feel guilty, because I didn’t know how to do the same for him. Like my father, I am rather insensitive, and very realistic. But I tried. Even though I knew I wasn’t being myself, I tried to be emotional and as dependent on him as he was on me. It just felt so good.
What does “dependent” mean? Romantic relationships often bring a closeness over time and deeper trust which is great.
[Steady Guy: Girls just love attention of this sort. It becomes intoxicating, like alcohol, and bends their perception of reality, like a drug.]
So do guys according to Debi. Remember the whole bit about hanging on a guy’severy word?
We had briefly met through mutual friends. We seemed to hit it off. A few months later we started writing, and over the span of about four months he became one of my best friends.
Again, nothing too weird here.
That’s the first red flag – internet “love” is just pie in the sky. It looks great, but it is not a real pie.
Taking the metaphors too seriously, Debi…..
Because I am very self-reliant and guarded individual, I found it amazing how much I opened up to him and trusted him on the internet. The transition from close friends to something more may have been slowly building throughout those four months, but neither of us realized it until he helped me get through some difficult issues. He was extremely honest with me and very sympathetic. I gave him my cell number and we began talking and texting all the time. Looking back, I see that we didn’t have a chance of remaining “just friends”.
This sounds like the beginning of many relationships – friends become closer and become lovers.
When a guy and a girl spent all their time communicating and confiding in each other, they are going to run into trouble eventually.
Citation, please. Oh, wait…Debi’s just making this up as she goes along.
I set myself up without knowing it. I didn’t see it coming, and while I was still trying to figure out my own feelings, he had already moved on to considering himself in love with me.
He probably was in love with Tara. It’s not that crazy.
Knowing that the man I cared about was in love with me was a wonderful feeling, and I felt pressured to return the sentiment. I convinced myself that I loved him, despite the fact that deep inside I knew I was forcing it. I thought love would be amazingly clear, but it seemed so elusive.
Yeah, I’ve done that, too. Life would be easier if you could fall in love by an act of will, but life doesn’t work like that.
Good news: actual love is amazing clear. You want to be with the other person because of who they are.
I pushed the doubtful thoughts from my mind; we were both so shocked and surprised by this development that instead of taking things slow to evaluate whether it was real or not, we plunged ahead, discussing whether or not my family would like him and kind of weddings we’d always dreamed of.
Um…ok. Probably moving a bit fast at 19…..
We also discussed his past and some of the issues he had struggled with for years, and once again I persuaded myself not to let it bother me, for I was his healer. Our relationship was good for him.
Red Flag number 2: You don’t have brains when you’re in love and you can’t “fix” your guy.
Debi and I agree again. No one can fix anyone else. I’d add that if you are with a guy because you “understand” him when “no one else can”, think very carefully about what other people are seeing that you are missing. In my case, I missed severe depression and alcoholism in an ugly relationship.
I convinced myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal, that we could work through it. I was foolish and blind.
On the flip side, there is no need to beat yourself up after a poor relationship choice. We all go through those.
My parents were absolutely shocked when I told them about Matt. It was the last thing they would have expected from me. But because I had never shown much interest in a guy before, they took me seriously and said he could come and meet the family. They made sure to emphasize that he was coming to be approved, not to visit me.
Matt’s on approval, but not visiting. How did they pull that one off?
They had no clue as to how serious we had become through texting and taking on the phone.
I doubt that. My parents could always tell when I was sweet on a guy. I’m betting her parents knew she was falling for Matt.
After talking to my dad on the phone a few times, Matt bought his ticket and finally arrived. It had been eight months since we met – the only time I had ever seen him.
That’s not a great idea. On dating websites, advice to meet people in person quickly is plastered everywhere. There’s nothing particularly wrong about communicating electronically; it’s more important to spend time with a person to get to know them better before getting to serious.
Things were awkward at first, and I started wondering what I’d gotten myself into. I pushed all my doubts and fears aside and pretended to be just as much in love as he was. But slowly, over two or three days, little pieces of his character that I didn’t recognize online began to show and it scared me. When someone writes, the project the person they think (or maybe wish) they are, not the person they really are. It became obvious that he wasn’t the man I had foolishly convinced myself I loved. But still, I told myself it was too late, I can’t back out now. After all we had been through and all our plans, I couldn’t just end everything. He was so sensitive. I could not hurt him.
Ooh…that’s not a good place to be, Tara. Don’t put your needs behind the needs of a boyfriend.
I made up my mind to go through with it, to stop thinking about things so much and make it work. The same day I made that decision, a close friend approached me and said she had to talk to me. She hesitantly told me things that she, herself, had noticed in Matt, things that I convinced myself were okay or “normal”. While she talked, I set my feelings aside and tried to see truth, because I truly wanted God’s will in my life.
Good for her friend! That’s a hard conversation to have. Tara showed more maturity than I had at 19 in her ability to listen to caring concerns about a boyfriend.
Hearing these concerns from someone I loved and trusted was a reality check for me. It hit me that I didn’t really love Matt, and that I didn’t actually want to spend the rest of my life with him. I could see that all we had was a result of modern technology and runaway emotions. It wasn’t real tried and true love. Through her gentle counsel I came to realize that I didn’t want to have to deal with his past problems for the rest of my life, nor did I want my children to start life with a daddy that came with baggage.
It wasn’t easy to admit how wrong I had been, but I was relieved to know I was walking in truth. I went straight to my parents and told them everything. They told me I was doing the right thing. So that night I ended the relationship. Matt took it very hard and tried to change my mind. But I knew I was doing the right thing, and the freedom I felt was remarkable.
Yeah, break-ups suck, but it’s better to break it off early than later.
Life was hard the following weeks, but I deserved it. I had fooled myself into thinking you can know someone from chatting on the internet. I learned that is just not true, and I am thankful I escaped my folly. All of the pain I went through could have been so easily avoided if I hadn’t continued to play my little mind games and convinced myself of lies. I learned the hard way, but I will always remember one thing: lying to yourself doesn’t change the truth. I feel wiser now, so maybe something good came out of my disaster after all, although I know part of me will never be the same.
Look, this is not a major crime. Tara, who was very young and inexperienced, had a relationship that didn’t work out. That’s part of life. The excessive anguish and recriminations isn’t needed or healthy.
Of course, Debi jumps in with additional guilt-tripping.
Tara’s story is a disaster that could have been avoided. Thankfully, when Tara was warned, she listened to counsel and avoided the tragedy that could have been.
Many girls go from disaster to disaster and think they will someday find their Prince Charming and live happily ever after with no complications. It is a sad fact that disasters leave scars, some uglier than others.
Meh. A broken heart isn’t a disaster – it’s part of growing up.
AntiPearl: A healthier way to look at relationship mistakes from pop culture.
These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses, we all got bruises
We all got bruises
Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide