Hopes and desires for what? A proper relationship. Commitment. A real man, someone willing to and able to commit. Someone with the capacity to know me. Someone who wants me. Someone whose desire for me is so strong that he'd let nothing stand in his way; someone who would remove all obstacles on the road to getting to know me; someone who knows, someone who is sure, someone who wants me as much as I want him. All these implies this: someone reliable, stable, trustworthy, honest, strong.
What did I think he was? I thought he was strong and stable. I thought he was reliable. I thought we were on the same page. I thought, because he overlooked the message that I sent him when I was drunk, that he'd wanted me as much as I'd wanted him, too. I thought, surely that was telling of his character, his depth of interest; surely it was significant that he didn't cut me loose after that text message. Surely, too, it had meant that he'd absorbed my long email and taken in the points that I made about my perception of our incompatibility if he'd responded saying that he was hoping for a chance to try again.
For what? I knew a month ago the facts on which he'd decided to end things with me today. I knew it then. I spent two days painstakingly detailing and explaining to him why I thought that we were incompatible. I sent this in an email so that I didn't leave anything out, so that I could have the time to sit and think, re-read, make sure that I could stand by everything that I said. I sent it only when I was sure that I could stand by everything that I said. Nothing in that email was said unthinkingly, or casually, or flippantly, or imprecisely. I don't even write my PhD with that degree of precision of thought.
And then what? He read it. Or he 'read' it. He 'read' it and responded with, 'I was hoping for a chance to try again. I really liked you and I wanted to continue with this. Never did you think that my pace in relation to our dating was not a reflection of my personality, but my attempt to not suffocate you. When I truly like someone, I don't want to smother the initial budding shoots of a relationship. I am honestly upset by all this because I absolutely liked you - so much. Your finality is painful but necessary.'
What did that lead me to believe? That he'd digested, understood and taken seriously my email and my concerns. That he'd disagreed with my conclusions and my reasoning. That he'd 'absolutely liked me, so much' that, despite my ending things with him in a text message while drunk, he was wanting to try again.
What perception did that create in my mind? That he really liked me, so much that he was above the ordinary man who would tell me to sod off after receiving that drunken text message from me. That he was constant and unwavering in his desire for me. That he was reliable and stable.
How did this give rise to such a strong impression in my mind of the person that he is? How did this impression not give way in the face of competing evidence to the contrary, such as his consistent failure to communicate properly - in other words, the very reason I ended things with him the second time? His consistent failure, that is, to take steps to blunt the effect that his sparse texting style might have on me, to say precisely what he means in his text messages instead of something vague whose precise meaning I was supposed to magically know, as if I were capable of reading his mind? What had precipitated my getting dumped by yet another non-committal loser was precisely - PRECISELY - the things that led me to end things with him the first two times: his lack of replying, his lack of telling me that he couldn't reply, his failure to manage my expectations by communicating important information, such as 'I'm on call tonight and might not make it back in Cambridge by 9pm like I said I would, so there's a chance we may not meet'. I texted him at 12.45pm yesterday, asking if he wanted to come over to mine that night. No response until 6pm - and the response was, 'I'm driving home now.' In which universe would that have been a reply to my question? I asked again, and again - 'Are we meeting tonight?' When I finally got a response at 9.15pm, he said, 'I'm home. :)'
Was he emotionally obtuse or simply indifferent? We spoke briefly on the phone after I said that I was upset, but he refused to engage with the substantive issues (just like the Court of Appeal in Lim Meng Suang v Attorney-General) and said he'd prefer to talk in person tomorrow - which is today. I texted him at 11.30am after my tennis, asking where he was, as he'd said the night before that he was going to be in town in the morning. At home, he said. He'd woken up feeling ill. Can we still meet? I asked. I can go over. No, he said, I'll get up; it's good to get some air. Okay, I said. I will be free at around 2. No response for 50 minutes. Running low on patience, I said, 'What time is good for you? Is 2pm ok?' 8 minutes later, I said again, 'Thomas, can you please let me know if we are meeting today?' It had felt like I was trying to draw blood from stone, as if last night's conversation had never happened, as if he was wilfully or deliberately blind to the very thing that had caused every single hiccup in our 'relationship' so far - or as if he was simply unaware that he was doing it again, the very same thing that caused me to cry into the bloody phone the night before and which had apparently given him a bad feeling.
Again, I ask the question: was he emotionally obtuse or simply indifferent? He'd known from as early as 1 March the things that concerned me, all the reasons I concluded that we were incompatible. Did he think that I was laughing when I wrote that drunken text message? Did he think that I wrote it with glee? Did he think that I was joking? NOW he gets a bad feeling about the way I react to his communication style? Where the hell was this bad feeling when he'd read the email that I painstakingly wrote, just so he would understand where I was coming from and get rid of his mistaken idea that I dumped him simply because he didn't reply to a text message? I pointed this out when we were ending things. He said, 'It's different when I'm seeing it in person.'
I invested all my hopes and desires in this? This stand-offish humanoid who couldn't even afford me the courtesy of a pat on the shoulder when I was crying my eyes out, who couldn't understand the strength and passion of my reaction when he'd started to say that he had a bad feeling, that this wouldn't work out, that he'd finally realised all the things that I told him a month ago - that we were incompatible? He seemed to like that I am a passionate person, but all he'd wanted was the benefit of my feelings for him, presumably because it made him feel good that someone like me would feel so strongly about/for him. That was all he'd wanted; but he failed to realise that the flip side of an intense high is an intense low, and I am as passionate about my positive feelings for him as I am about my negative ones - that he's as capable of making me feel like the happiest person in the world, as well as the saddest. He'd wanted all of the benefits and none of the burdens.
How did I invest all my hopes and desires in this? Did he not read any of my messages and emails? Why was he even surprised at how upset I was? How could I not have been upset if the person whom I'd thought was my checklist personified was proving me utterly wrong by being like everyone else and telling me that he was leaving because the way that I am? He knew all the reasons I liked him - and I know that he knew because I spelled it all out for him, in clear, black and white words, so there was zero chance of any misunderstanding. If he had known, how was he still surprised at the passion of my reaction? There was nothing equivocal in what I wrote to him about how strongly I had felt about him. Since he's more than capable of reading, and since he'd claimed to have read my messages and emails, I can only conclude one thing: he never took any of it seriously.
He had failed, so miserably, to take seriously the seriousness with which I had taken this. He had failed to take my words seriously. He had failed to take my concerns seriously. He had failed to take my feelings seriously. I told him so explicitly - there was no other way I could have been any clearer - the person that I am, the expectations that I have, the manner in which I handle new relationships, the intensity that I feel when I like someone. I told him all of this. He claimed to have read it. And now it's suddenly an issue? Now he realises that I was right? He was the strong, silent sort, I thought. Quietly thoughtful. Was I on drugs when I thought this? What a fantastic ruse. Say nothing, right? Saying nothing gives the impression of thoughtfulness, of strength; but maybe there's simply nothing going on in there. I'd spent two bloody days of my life that I would never get back writing that email to a man who didn't have the depth to understand what I was saying, who had simply reacted to a carefully thought-out email with a message that he didn't think through, a message that I subsequently relied on as the basis of my judgement of his character and his (non-existent) feelings for me. I am pissed off because - he knew, he bloody knew, he knew what I am like because I told him and he didn't take me seriously. He took none of it seriously. If he had taken me seriously, if he had actually digested what I'd written instead of glancing at my words, he would have reached the same conclusion that I did. In the alternative, if he had taken me seriously and if he had been serious about his alleged feelings for me (or liking me or whatever), he would have behaved differently.
I, on the other hand, was spending all this time and effort taking him at his word, trusting that he'd meant them, and adjusting, as much as I could, my expectations and reactions to him based on his word. Believing him when he said that he never deliberately ignored my messages, and that when he did have free time to spend with someone, he spent it with me - and so I adjusted, as much as I could, my expectations and reactions to him. All this time when I was trying to change my behaviour so that this could work, what was he doing? What was he doing with me? Apparently, we weren't really dating. Whatever it was that we did, whatever it was that I had thought I was doing when I went out with him and cared enough to fight for him when he'd wanted to stop dating earlier this week, apparently, all this wasn't dating. If it wasn't dating, then what was it? Were we friends? What did he think I'd wanted from seeing him - just some transient companionship that disappears into the night and resurfaces a few days later for a few hours at a time, never forming any sort of real connection? At which point was it unclear how seriously I was taking it - my first or second 4,000-word email? Why did it not occur to him that perhaps I was mistaken about his interpretation of 'whatever we are doing'? Why was it never apparent at any point that he should have clarified the delusion under which I laboured - namely, that we were actually dating? In the end, I ended up putting in all this effort for someone who wasn't even in the same universe as me, let alone on the same page; someone who never had the capacity to meet me halfway, let alone know me.
Perhaps it was due to his unique interpretation of what we were doing that he couldn't fathom why I was crying. My reaction wasn't warranted by the event, he said. Apart from how my experiences are singularly mine and there is no right or wrong reaction to a given situation, let alone the obvious fact that the event has to be considered in context and not in isolation, having thought about this, hindsight tells me that I was upset because I knew in my gut that this was it. I knew that I had embarked on a course of action that would lead to the end of Thomas and me - but there was no way I could have done anything differently. It was the only course of action that was open to me given the intensity of the low that he'd put me in. I knew the consequences of telling him how he was making me feel (his predictability is so disappointing), but I couldn't have acted in any other way. It wasn't just Saturday; it was Friday too. It was how he'd said 'let's do something on Friday' when he dropped me off on Wednesday evening, then completely did not mention a wedding dinner that he might have had until I suggested at about 10pm on Thursday that we did dinner on Friday. He had to check with the guy at work, he said the next morning at about 7.30, then went on to leave me hanging all the way until 4pm when I was already getting frustrated. He got a pass for that because he was at work and therefore busy; but why didn't he mention earlier, before I asked him about dinner at 10pm on Thursday, that he might have to go to this wedding dinner? Did he forget we had a date? So either his memory was just that bad, or he just didn't care that much, or he was simply that careless with my expectations. His failure to give me a straight answer on Saturday exacerbated what I'd felt on Friday - and on Friday, I knew that if I was going to talk to him about this (as I'd fully intended to), I had to be delicate about it; otherwise, he would take it as evidence that this wasn't going to work.
I was spot-on. I knew what was coming because I couldn't hold it in by the end of Saturday and I had to say something, and that was why I was upset, and I was hoping he'd prove me wrong, but I was spot-on. How disappointing that, when push came to shove, he wasn't that special after all.
When all is said and done, however, the pain that I feel isn't from losing him. Like John and Raffie said when they kindly abandoned their work and came over to Magdalene to keep me company after Thomas had left, he should never have been admitted into my private club to begin with because he'd failed to meet the most basic of requirement: he'd completely failed to make me feel like he was interested and that he'd actually liked me. A good relationship isn't one in which I am struggling to know and understand how the other feels about me - and I have struggled with this pretty much since the very beginning. And so no loss because now I can stop wasting emotional effort on stupid things like his non-committal responses to my questions; and no loss because they believe, like I do, that we should take people as they come and not expect them to change, and so it follows that it's never going to get better (yet another point that I wrote in that email). So I don't care that he's out of my life. But what pains me is how thoroughly wrong I was about him. 彻底的错。 I was so sure, I was so convinced; I felt it in my gut.
How could I have been so wrong? Why did I not stick to my conviction - why did I not have any strength of conviction - when I realised a month ago how incompatible we were? Why did I let his words sway me? Was I that desperate for someone to want me? Dating him brought out the worst in me - this was one of the many things that I wrote in that email. Was I sleeping when I wrote that? No, I was lucid, my mind was clear, I knew that it was the truth - and this suddenly didn't matter because he'd expressed some vague hope that we could date again, but ultimately accepted my 'finality'? How did that suggest to me that he was someone in whom I could invest all my hopes and dreams?
Why do I keep falling in love with an idea? I formed a picture of him in my mind and it was so strong and powerful that I couldn't see past it and into who he really is. I formed a picture of Matt in my mind and it was so strong and powerful that I couldn't see past it for who he really is. What is wrong with me?
I am so sick and tired of all this constant, unceasing disappointment. There is a dull ache in my chest soaking up all the accumulated pain - yes, pain - of the past year and a half, and today, and Thomas, and all that I had wanted... The pain of my unfulfilled expectations, desires, the gaping hole in me that I long, continuously, for someone to fill.
It is almost a cruel joke that, as I left Raffie at Sidney and embarked on a long walk by myself because I did not want to be in my room, barely 10 minutes into my walk, a man started chatting me up. I talked to him for about an hour (perhaps less), and before I left, he gave me his number, said he'd like to talk to me again. It didn't seem to matter to him that, as I told him, I'd just ended a pseudo-relationship.
It is also almost tragic that, as I was contemplating dinner and what I felt like eating to stave off the hunger and realising that I had no appetite, Nicolas resurfaced, told me he's definitely coming to Europe in June, would I like to go to a music festival in Spain? Nevermind, of course, that I don't think I'd ever responded to his initial message about his coming to Europe.
Why is it that the ones who persist in their efforts are always the ones that I don't like? Why is it that the ones that I want are always the ones to leave?