Open Letter To The Man I Can Not Have

 

Hi,

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been acting strangely; avoiding eye contact, leaving class a few minutes early. I know you’ve noticed. From the corner of my eye I can see you staring at me, waiting for me to look up so you can say hello. You court the attention. Worse, you return it, feeding my hope.

It breaks my heart every time.

Not because I’m in love with you. No, nothing that extreme. What I know of you could fit on a Post-It. I harbor a school girl crush on you.  I have for months. It’s pathetic, really; a grown woman getting butterflies. I’m stunted, you see. I may look like a forty-nine year old woman but inside I’m still thirteen with matted curls and thick eyeglasses.  (What’s that? You say I could pass for thirty-nine? You’re a love. I knew I liked you for a reason.)

InstaSize_2015_7 _ 3111143

I’m going to tell you a secret: I used to move bikes in class to ensure I’d have an open one next to me, just for you. You’d rush into class a few minutes late, the room dark.

Is this bike taken?

I’d lean in because I couldn’t hear you over J-lo’s auto-tuned voice praising her big, big booty. A few inches from your face, I could smell the spice in your cologne.  We’d finish a set and I could hear you, winded and moaning. I recognized those sounds. They’re the sounds a lover makes when he collapses on your chest, heart thumping.

Spent.

Is that what he sounds like…after?

Images would fill my head, pictures not meant for me to see. Your lips on my breasts. My hands in your hair, back arched. Those sixty seconds were meant to bring my heart rate down, but instead it’s racing. That’s when the shame washes over me.

black-and-white-couple-kiss-love

I cling to brief moments of contact because I’m lonely.  I see what I want to see, not what’s there: a married man who thinks of me as nothing more than the girl he flirts with at the gym. I give you the boost of confidence you’ve possibly lost after being married for so long. I’m an ego stroke. Class ends and you return to the warmth of a home you’ve created with the woman you love.

For me,  the scenario looks something like this: We make eye contact. You smile at me. We exchange a few words but nothing untoward or improper. You tease me; I blush. Then it’s over. I go home to make myself lunch that I eat at my dining table. Alone. I work. I write. I go to bed. Alone.  Moonlight streaming through my window, I run my arm back and forth across the empty side of my bed, hot tears streaking my face. It’s not fair. I’m a good person. I’m kind. I’m empathetic. I love with the fierceness of  a lion protecting her cubs. I may be damaged, but I am self-aware and resilient.  What have I done for this to be my fate? What sin have I committed? I drift off to sleep trying to think of one.

lone

So, I made a decision. No more. You do not exist. I do not see you. I lack the finesse necessary to pretend I don’t die a little inside when our eyes meet.  You’re going to approach me and ask what changed. I can feel it. Your jaw will hang on its hinge when I tell you the truth.

I’m attracted to you and you’re unavailable.

As if you were blissfully unaware of both.  You’ll be pleased with yourself but shocked by my boldness. You weren’t anticipating the truth. You rationalize your flirtation by falling back on plausible deniability. (“I was just being friendly!”) Now that it’s out there – dangling like sneakers over a powerline – it’s not innocent anymore. It’s real. From this point forward we share the onus of doing what’s appropriate. Now you know and can’t say otherwise.

It’s the only way.

 

 

Thoughts?

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22 Responses to “Open Letter To The Man I Can Not Have”

  1. 40something Says:

    What an authentic post! I think many of us can relate to the feelings you share and for me, it’s difficult to put into words. You do that so well.

    This may be a bit off topic, but what you express in this letter is similar to what I’ve been grappling with the last couple of years. There is someone I am insanely attracted to (not sure specifically why) and it is most definitely not reciprocated. And call me whatever you want but I think, “Dizzam! This was different 20 years ago!” But for me it now feels isolating. Difficult to describe. And no, I wasn’t cruel to men. I was always with someone and have always tried to treat everyone with kindness.

    Hang in there. I know you’ve had some tough days. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Bluegrass Says:

      How is it different than 20 years ago? Honestly, I remember having crushes on guys in college that weren’t reciprocated, and feeling dirty about it even then.

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      • 40something Says:

        Oh I get it. I meant it’s different for ME. I can’t speak for everyone-only my experiences. Honestly, I was always in a relationship (either married or cohabitating) my entire life. I really didn’t experience being interested in someone and it not being reciprocated until I was divorced. And it $uck$. I’m in my forties, divorced with 3 kids under 13. Trust me. I realize most folks don’t want to sign up for me. It’s just strange because the attraction thing not being reciprocated wasn’t really an issue until I became single after 20 years. I had not experienced it before as an adult. And I certainly don’t mean that in a “I’m so hot in a SI swimsuit edition way.” Nothing of the sort.

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        • Bluegrass Says:

          Cool, thanks for the clarification—was just curious. I don’t think you come off as arrogant. Honestly, what I was experiencing was more the exception, and likely due to a lack of confidence and not being around enough people in college. Things have improved in my early 30’s, and I’m having some fun. I would like a boyfriend though. Someday, hopefully.

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          • 40something Says:

            Yes, hang in there. My ego is super fragile at this stage in life and that’s a me thing. Not sure that will change though and that’s okay. I view relationships a little different now than I did back in the day.

            Be true to yourself and live your life. Hopefully you find what you are looking for. Best of luck!

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  2. TwoCents Says:

    A question popped into my mind as I was reading this: what if, if this scenario played out with him asking you what happened, he said, “what makes you think I’m unavailable?” and proceeded to ask you out? I don’t know/remember if you confirmed that he is unavailable, but what if he’s not? What if this is reciprocated? What would you feel then? I worry–not knowing you at all other than what you tell us, of course–that you would find something to be anxious about in that scenario. Not to be all The Secret, but there’s something to self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m not at all saying that becoming Polly Anna will change anyone’s life, but knowing how you’d react when a positive “what if” happens is one possible way of viewing the world.

    That said, this was lovely and you should find a place to publish it so it’s widely read.

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    • ATWYSingle Says:

      As of last year, he was married. In the rare times we’ve had actual conversations, I always ask what “you guys” did this weekend. Both times he only talks about his kids. There’s a chance he’s separated, but I’m pretty certain he’s married.

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      • TwoCents Says:

        Ah. Missed that update. Then, yes, I can see where you’re coming from on this one. I would do the same pulling away to protect myself (and be mightily pissed if I believed he was using me as an ego stroke).

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        • ATWYSingle Says:

          Here’s what gets me. Before yoga today, I went upstairs to warm up on a treadmill. I saw him and quickly looked away before he saw me. He heads down stairs, and again I can see him looking at me. This time he waves his towel up in the air to get my attention. I still ignore him. I feel stupid for pretending I didn’t see him, but I also feel angry that he makes such effort because it only encourages me.

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          • 40something Says:

            Some peeps crave attention whether they are married, single, happily involved, unhappily involved, etc. Maybe they have separated. Maybe they have an open marriage. Maybe he likes to keep his options open. We can only speculate but if you have a difficult time being around him, then do what best for you. I’m sorry it feels awkward. Ugh.

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          • Yvonne Says:

            It’s entirely possible that this man sees your interactions as harmless flirting that’s simply fun and friendly. But if you think he’s aware of your attraction to him, and taking advantage of that, you don’t owe him any explanations if you stop engaging with him.

            Anyone at any age can develop a crush, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not your “fate” if you don’t want it to be.

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          • Ames Says:

            Since he only speaks of his kids and seems friendlier lately I think there’s a good chance he might be separated or divorcing. Might be a good idea to keep the door open and be the first to scoop him up.

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    • Selena Says:

      TwoCents:
      “That said, this was lovely and you should find a place to publish it so it’s widely read.”

      Very much agree.

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  3. Trish Says:

    That was DELICIOUS! No, I know it’s a painful piece, but I was riveted.

    So I’m thinking maybe he is at worst, a muse. Seriously, if you wrote THAT book, I’d read it. Probably a few times. Not to mention recommend it to everyone.

    K, you are gifted, and you are a gift.

    P.

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  4. Annabelle Says:

    It is awful isn’t it? Having schoolgirl crushes at this age. I’m mortified sometimes by my own feelings and awkwardness when it comes to men, dating and relationships – the giddiness when someone returns my feelings and the equally ridiculous devastation when they don’t. And, yet, I find myself at the start of the cycle again, hoping that this time it will be real. I wish the best for you and for all of us who remain love-challenged! Hang in there and keep loving yourself.

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  5. john Says:

    Although desiring someone you know so little about who
    is probably unavailable may or may not be unreasonable, I say it’s
    in your best interest to at least make a conscious effort to
    find out. Begin a simple dialogue with this man. In your own
    winsome way tell him how you feel and graciously accept his reply.
    Whether he reciprocates or not, at least you won’t have to spend
    forever wondering whether or not you let a golden opportunity slip
    through your fingers. Good luck in all your endeavors.

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  6. Beta Male Says:

    This guy is someone Moxie wrote about on several occasions. She developed a crush on him, went to find out his availability, and she discovered he wasn’t available because he was married. She found out that he was not available for a relationship so she is doing what she feels is necessary to move on from this crush.

    She has already done the work to determine his availability and came to the conclusion that he isn’t. Kudos for doing what it takes to move on.

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  7. Coffeestop Says:

    There are a couple of married men at my gym who I speak to regularly who clearly use their social time at the gym to get their egos stroked. I try to be friendly but not allow too much of my time to get eaten. One of them has mentioned his wife in ways that suggest she wonders why his work outs are so long and why he cannot miss them. I have more than once suggested cheerfully he bring his wife and introduce me and I will even work out with her.

    Moxie you are doing something difficult here and is usually the case difficult things, the right things have frequently no reward. What really sucks is your married gym buddy will replace you with another lonely middle aged woman who might buy his bullshit banter and bask in his attention and willingly accept his crumbs. Hate to say this but “lonely” married people of both sexes should be avoided. They are always will to use the singles as partners in the lifeboat but the minute we aren’t useful we are tossed into choppy waters. Married women do this to single friends all the time. I recently turned down a chance to go on vacation with a married friend because she has a pattern of canceling if her husband is suddenly available for girl dates. I am not sure she gets why I said no.

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    • Ss16 Says:

      I completely agree with you. As someone who has made the terrible mistake of dating a married man for a year, I can honestly say that every married man or woman who encourages attention from singles who they clearly know are vulnerable and lonely will eventually shift their minds back to either their spouse or a new target. They tell you they’re lonely and unhappy in their marriage in however subtle ways and before you know it they have become this larger-than-life persona you’re obsessed with. They have nothing to lose because it’s just casual flirting but their egos gets stroked so well. I get that people who have been married for a long time often lost that feeling that they’re still attractive to other people and it is amazing for them to feel that again, but for single people who fell in love with them, it is beyond cruel.

      Moxie, a lot of us have been there and it is great that you did not make the mistake that I did. I have asked myself why I couldn’t have fallen in love with someone who is available and treat me like they’re lucky to have me, not as a passtime for their mundane marriage. Now when a married man gets too friendly, I immediately distance myself from them because I know how this is gonna go. I would say maybe switch your class to avoid seeing him all the time. The temptation is real. It is almost like drugs – you know they’re no good for you but you just can’t resist them. There is no easy way to do this, but we’re all here for you and hopefully another truly available guy is on the horizon.

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      • coffeestop Says:

        I have to say I do not find married men tempting only because my experience has been they want to tell you their sad married guy stories about how the wife does not do XYZ, some of them don’t even want sex they want free therapy from a sympathetic woman who listens to their bullshit.

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      • UWSGal Says:

        This isn’t just married guys who do this, single men do this all the time. They don’t really want all the strings that come with a relationship but they want the attention, the ego boost, may be occasional sex and somebody to go to dinner with once in a while when THEY are feeling lonely (and never when you are, of course). Free sex and therapy – great deal for the guys.

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  8. UWSGal Says:

    Perhaps a little perspective can go a long way. Being single and alone is not the worst state to be in. You know are what is? Being in a BAD relationship. And i don’t even mean abusive or violent, just a baD. Do you know what it feels like to be coming home to a partner you have grown to resent, who you don’t like anymore, who you want to get away from, and who sort of feels the same way about you even though neither one may be ready to admit this yet? To be coming home and seeing them there, angry, dissatisfied, unhappy. This is toxic, it will suck the joy out of your life…. By the time you extricate yourself from such situation, having an empty side on your bed will fill you with the greatest joy… Not all romantic relationships are harmonious and blissful. In fact, very few are. Most are filled with drama, power struggles and endless negotiations and forced compromises. Truly, watch what you wish for.

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