It’s the end of an awkward date, and we’re standing in a car park, fumbling through the small talk we feel obligated to make. He points across the parking lot at a sign I can’t read, so I squint into the distance before putting on my glasses. “Why don’t you wear your glasses all the time?” he asks. I reply that I feel prettier without them on. But that’s not true.

I actually didn’t wear my glasses on that date because kissing while wearing glasses can be cumbersome, and I’d gone into the date hoping it would end in a kiss. But by the end of the date, standing in the parking lot, I knew I didn’t want to kiss him. 

I didn’t want to kiss him because I realized he felt lukewarm about me. And I don’t kiss people who feel lukewarm about me.

I’d been seeing this particular man for a month and a bit, but we lived in different cities, so I’d only see him while I was home visiting my family. He’d really made me feel valued at first. He’s the first and only man who has brought me flowers on a date. On our second date, he said the words, “I really like you.” And I like being liked. I also really liked him in return.

I didn’t want to kiss him because I realized he felt lukewarm about me. And I don’t kiss people who feel lukewarm about me.

Perhaps the old adage “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is a myth. Or he could simply have lost interest in me, which is a normal thing to do. But between dates four and five, I began to feel undervalued by him. I still liked him, though. So, when I was home again, I made a plan with him to have dinner. 

I’ve often thought that how you feel about somebody can be communicated through effort. The effort he’d put into planning dates, and showing up early or on time, and bringing me roses communicated to me that I was valued. This time he was late, and he was rude. It almost felt like he was a different person, and I didn’t feel valued at all.

We sat in the corner of a burger joint, making more small talk than usual. His sullen answers to my questions dragged me down as I tried to keep the conversation afloat. And then, just as our burgers arrived, he said, “I’m sorry I haven’t been very communicative recently.” To which I replied – in the ‘cool girl’ way society has ingrained in me – giving him an easy way out, “Don’t worry, I know things have been stressful and busy for you.” 

In that moment, I decided that he wasn’t for me, because I’m worth much more than a man feeling lukewarm about me.

“Oh, no. I think it’s just that I feel so uncertain about you,” he replied. At least I can applaud his honesty. I took a deep breath and ate my burger, thankful that the food in front of me gave me a way out of this conversation. His words knocked me, but they did something else that surprised me. In that moment, I decided that he wasn’t for me, because I’m worth much more than a man feeling lukewarm about me. I ought to have put on my glasses right then because I knew that I no longer wanted to kiss him. 

As we were paying the bill, he pressed his knee against mine affectionately, as if the date had gone well. It hadn’t. 

But in many ways, it had gone well for me. Because I realized that I had learned to value myself. I also learned to let go of things that aren’t meant for me. He deserves to be with somebody he feels certain about, and so do I. I feel this deeply.

My first love’s uncertainty about me made me feel that he believed that he was doing me a favor by loving me. I never want to feel that way again. I don’t think anybody should feel that being loved is a favor.

With our date behind us and my glasses on my face, we hugged goodbye.

“Let me know when you’re home safe”, he said, as I climbed into my car. I cried as I drove home, because the end of anything can be sad.

I let him know I was home safe. “Yay!” said his reply text. 

“Yay!” indeed – a lesson learned.


https://thetempest.co/?p=134009
Ellen Heydenrych

By Ellen Heydenrych

Editorial Fellow