Unwitting Puppet

If it has­n’t been painful­ly obvi­ous, I’ve fall­en off the wag­on. I’ve been think­ing about her again.

But it isn’t my fault.

You see, she came by my work and gave me a box of home­made short­bread cook­ies in a cute lit­tle box (as well as some for my oth­er co-work­ers). I would nor­mal­ly say that it’s a nice ges­ture, but in this case, it was a cru­el and painful reminder of what I had lost. But that pain sub­sided as I ate them (admit­ted­ly, in one sit­ting) and I decid­ed to for­give her for that one. It’s hard to stay angry when the sug­ar and but­ter hits your brain.

Then she walked by at a con­cert, and squeezed my arm as she was pass­ing by. I did­n’t even know she was there until it hap­pened. Then she did it again.

This whole time, I’ve been try­ing to get over things by stay­ing away, and I was doing pret­ty well, until the touch1 of her hand fanned the ash­es of pas­sion that were left smol­der­ing in my chest, revers­ing sev­er­al weeks of emo­tion­al recov­ery.

I told my friends I knew I was being self­ish, because I’m the weak­er one for not being able to han­dle it when she’s dat­ing some­one else2. But they tell me it’s not self­ish, it’s self preser­va­tion. That I’m just tak­ing care of myself, and she’s the one being self­ish and incon­sid­er­ate, because she’s not respect­ing my wish­es to keep a dis­tance. I’ve since stopped feel­ing guilty for stay­ing away.

Still, I’m left with this won­der­ing. What do her actions mean? What is she try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate? What does she want?

I can only guess that she wants to remain friends, but there’s this stu­pid hope in the back of my mind that it meant some­thing more. Maybe it’s a habit; I lived with that hope for more than a year as we fell into a rela­tion­ship at arms length.

I’ve con­sid­ered going back to her and ask­ing for some clo­sure — some real clo­sure — but I don’t think even she can explain her actions at this point. And if she could, her answer would prob­a­bly be the same as it’s always been.

But I real­ly don’t know for sure because she’s cho­sen not to stay away, against my wish­es, and my heart feels like it’s hang­ing by a thread. I doubt she’s doing it on pur­pose, but yet again, she gets to fig­ure things out at the expense of my emo­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty. After all, it’s hard me to move on when mixed sig­nals are hold­ing me back, like an open, gap­ing wound con­stant­ly being picked.

  1. This is the same sort of caress that can melt one’s resolve when com­ing from a per­son for whom one has a weak­ness. Humbert Humbert refers to this at the end of Lolita when he says to her, “Don’t touch me. I’ll die if you touch me.” []
  2. Then again, at least I know enough to stay away, instead of stalk­ing and going psy­cho. []


  1. She is being absolute­ly cru­el to you. She does not respect your wish­es AT ALL. You say it’s not on pur­pose and I won­der how she acci­den­tal­ly wound up at your office.

    It’s obvi­ous what she wants; The wants to con­stant ado­ra­tion with­out effort on her part. Who WOULDN’T want that? She’s hav­ing her (beef)cake and eat­ing it too.

    She’s toy­ing with you, and that is absolute­ly not fair.

    • You’re right. Absolutely right. Everyone is telling me the exact same thing. For some rea­son, I’m the only one who can’t see it as sim­ply as that.

      It’s fun­ny, my best friend used the word “pre­med­i­tat­ed” to describe how she came to my office dur­ing the day to vis­it my co-work­ers (who also hap­pen to be her friends, as we both worked there).

      I also hear quite fre­quent­ly that she wants all the good parts that she was get­ting, even though she can’t offer me what I need in return. That’s exact­ly how I feel about it. I made a frick­en dia­gram about it. I need to keep remind­ing myself of that.

      All this means I need more time to heal, since every point of con­tact keeps putting me back right to where she wants me; emo­tion­al­ly com­mit­ted to her with­out giv­ing any­thing in return. It feels like I’m start­ing over, but at least it’s a start.

  2. Does she know that you need the dis­tance right now?

    Have you heard of the Big Mac and Fries anal­o­gy for stay­ing friends? I’ve past­ed it below:

    Imagine if you went to McDonalds a lot and ordered a Big Mac Combo meal. A Big Mac, Large Fries and a Coke. You real­ly like this meal. One day, you pull up to the dri­ve-through and order the Big Mac Combo meal and the girl tells you, “I’m sor­ry — you can have the Big Mac and the Coke, but you can’t get fries with that any­more.” You think about this for a moment, and sure — the Big Mac is the cen­ter­piece of the meal, but McDonalds has some real­ly good fries and you like their fries with your meal. So you say, “I’ve been able to get fries with that before, why can’t I have fries with my Big Mac com­bo any­more?” The girls says, ”Well, I just think it is bet­ter if you only have the Big Mac and the Coke from here on out.”

    At this point, a lot of guys are going to go to Wendy’s or BK and see if they can get fries with their com­bo at that dri­ve-through win­dow. But there are some guys who REALLY like McDonalds Big Macs and they might think, “If I keep com­ing here and order­ing the Big Mac and Coke, maybe she’ll change her mind and give me some fries with that lat­er.” So they will keep on get­ting the com­bo with­out the fries until the deal break­er hap­pens: One day that guy is going to order the Big Mac and Coke and then he’s going to pull up a lit­tle bit to pay, and some­one else is going to pull up to the dri­ve-through speak­er and order the “Big Mac Combo” and he is going to hear the girl say, “Would you like fries with that?”

    • Oh yes, I’ve told her unequiv­o­cal­ly that I did­n’t want to see her again, after she said it would nev­er work between us.

      I’ve nev­er heard Big Mac and Fries anal­o­gy before, but it’s FANTASTIC. It explains so well why it’s so hard for me to give up; I real­ly liked her, and that’s why I’m so will­ing to keep wait­ing for her to come back). I guess I need to hear from her that she’s dat­ing some­one else before I can feel like it’s final­ly over and move on. Unfortunately, that’s prob­a­bly not going to hap­pen since we don’t have any con­tact.

  3. we women are such cru­el and fero­cious crea­tures, and we don’t even know it. Does she know you do not want her to con­tact you the way she does because it hurts you? Have you made that clear to her?

    It seems like she either wants to com­mu­ni­cate to you that she still wants to be friends, that she still cares about you, and that she wants you in her life… maybe to show you she did­n’t mean to hurt you.. or some­thing…

    But hon­est­ly, that’s the wrong thing for you. It’s very self­ish of her. She’s prob­a­bly doing it all to make her­self feel bet­ter and does­n’t take into account at all what you feel.

    • A lot of peo­ple ask me if she knows that I don’t want any con­tact. If she did­n’t know, then her actions would be for­giv­able. But I was com­plete­ly clear that I did­n’t want to see or hear from her again, and she still end­ed up doing these things.

      She had also made clear that she want­ed to remain friends with me, so I guess this is her try­ing to feel out if I’m still res­olute on that. Unfortunately, I’m the one who suf­fers for her exper­i­men­ta­tion.

      • I’m glad some women acknowl­edge that many of them are such cru­el and fero­cious crea­tures.

        Even if she had­n’t known you didn’t want any con­tact, she should have avoid­ed any con­tact at this del­i­cate tran­si­tion, know­ing full well how you took the break­ing up. And you doubt she’s doing it on pur­pose? I don’t. Sorry, I’m just angry.

      • Hahaahah…I know how you feel. I was going to say the same thing, but did­n’t because I felt like I’d come off as being sex­ist.

        You’re right about the tim­ing. I had nev­er thought of that before, but every­thing cer­tain­ly hap­pened in a time that I was still heal­ing.

        I still doubt that she’s doing it on pur­pose in my heart. I nev­er felt like what she was doing was any­thing mali­cious. More like care­less, and that was only toward the end. Maybe I’m just love-blind.

      • it seems to me, the mud­dle of sep­a­ra­tion con­tin­ues with mixed minds. you can’t turn off fond­ness. you want to con­ti­nu­ity, inte­grat­ing past into the present and feel nor­mal again.

        with­out see­ing some­one they get larg­er in your mind. see­ing in per­son makes it all human-scale again.

        I could spec­u­late that maybe she want­ed to know where she was at by see­ing you again at a clos­er dis­tance, test­ing if she was reac­tive. an arm squeeze is still extend­ing a friend­ly car­ing. maybe she wants to tell if you’re feel­ing neu­tral again yet.

      • You can’t turn off fond­ness. That’s exact­ly it. And at night, when I think of the good times, is when the image becomes…biased.

  4. She real­ly should respect your space… A. has respect­ed my space, but my prob­lem is that I can’t respect my own space so I end up going to her.. as you know..

    Either way it does­n’t mat­ter… see­ing her WILL make it worse… regard­less of whether she’s the one who comes to you or you to her… if noth­ing has changed on her end in terms of want­i­ng you in her life as “that per­son”… then see­ing her again will be as painful and as point­less as pour­ing alco­hol on an open wound and then piss­ing on it to infect it… And I learned this the hard way this past week… when we last spoke I told you that I met with her at a cof­feeshop… well since then noth­ing has changed on her end in terms of want­i­ng to “get back togeth­er” …

    I actu­al­ly feel a hel­la lot worse now after “reignit­ing” some lost desire and emo­tion by see­ing her and being able to touch her, hold her, smell her again… who knows what her inten­tions might be or what­ev­er the case is.. the fact is that if she now made the deci­sion to want to be with you, then there would be NO con­fu­sion on your part, she would make that CLEAR to you in what­ev­er way… it would­n’t be a sub­tle arm squeeze or a phan­tom box of cook­ies… it would be a phone call or a let­ter… “Let’s make this work”… straight up… she knows where you stand, why would she make a deci­sion to want to be back with you and spread the new realization/answer onto a time­line and a series of sub­tle ges­tures? The sub­tleties are for the peo­ple on our end.. the ones who were left behind try­ing to reach out to the one who left us…

    Sucks!! But what can we do.….. After speak­ing to A again ear­li­er this week, i think it’s pret­ty clear that she’s stick­ing to her deci­sion… I’m now forced to final­ly let go and move on with my life… it’s gonna be hard but I’m look­ing for­ward and try­ing my hard­est not to look back… hope you feel the same soon.… good luck to you sir !

    • You’re total­ly right. If her actions meant more, then it would­n’t be in this form of sub­tle­ty. What haven’t I real­ized this before?! I should print this off and put it in my wal­let. Good luck to both of us. We can only look for­ward now.

  5. I was so embar­rassed about post­ing this entry, but I did it any­way because I real­ly felt like I had to get it off my chest (I haven’t been sleep­ing well for too long). I’m so glad I did now. These com­ments have real­ly opened my eyes. Sometimes it’s not enough to hear these things from your friends, who prob­a­bly side with you whether you’re wrong or not, but from peo­ple who have the infor­ma­tion boiled down to essen­tials and can give an objec­tive view from there.

    • You should nev­er be embar­rassed about express­ing your feel­ings. They are your feel­ings and should be respect­ed whether they are agreed with or not. Im glad post­ing it has helped you.

      • I know, I know. I real­ly have to stop being so sen­si­tive about stuff like that. Easier said than done, though.

  6. I think she’s won­der­ing how you can resist her. The knowl­edge eats away at her con­fi­dence as a desir­able woman. She’s start­ed doubt­ing whether or not you real­ly loved her that much. The fact that you are able to stay away changes some beliefs she had of your rela­tion­ship. Mainly, the fact that you were in the palm of her hand, thus becom­ing a bor­ing tar­get (I am not sure why you part­ed ways, but this is what I am assum­ing). By not doing the expect­ed thing (con­tact­ing her) she is re-eval­u­at­ing you, or the you that she thought she knew.

    I agree with the rest. It’s a cru­el and self­ish thing to do.

    • In most cas­es like this, I would agree with you. In this one though, I real­ly have no idea what she’s think­ing. And that prob­a­bly just makes me won­der even more.

      I was nev­er a tar­get though. It was more like she was the tar­get, and at one point when she kept try­ing to put a dis­tance between us, I decid­ed I could­n’t take it any more and had to make a clean break.

      • I don’t think I con­veyed my mes­sage assum­ing either of you being the tar­get. It does­n’t mat­ter whether you are chas­ing her or she is chas­ing you.

        I find that for woman, they instinc­tive­ly knows how to play the game of chase. So whether or not she planed to incit­ed desire or that she may be one of the excep­tions is not an argu­ment in my point of view. To do so would vio­late the def­i­n­i­tion of a woman.

        That, you can’t blame them for being. Again, just based on my expe­ri­ence. I sure as hell wish it is the oppo­site.

  7. Sounds like she is just try­ing to recon­nect and maybe assess your reac­tion by mak­ing small steps. she prob­a­bly lost a real­ly good friend and that is just as hard to deal with.

    I have been through the exact same sit­u­a­tion where my best friend told me he had feel­ings for me and I was­n’t sure what to say. I did­n’t turn him down imme­di­ate­ly because I had to explore these feel­ings I may or may not have. When I final­ly turned him down he com­plete­ly flipped and told me he nev­er want­ed to see me again. I was so hurt that he cut me out of his life like that, as if our years as friends meant noth­ing. Eventually I reached out to him in very small ways and we slow­ly start­ed talk­ing again.

    I don’t think it’s fair to call her cru­el or that she is being dis­cussed pub­licly in a neg­a­tive way. I mean, can she not read all these entries?

    • I agree that she’s prob­a­bly just try­ing to assess my reac­tion to see if she can resume the friend­ship. But that’s like stick­ing a knife in a wound to find out how much it hurts, in an effort to see if it’s fin­ished heal­ing. Just because the inten­tions are good does­n’t mean they don’t affect me in a neg­a­tive way. It would be unfair to call her cru­el if she did­n’t know that she would hurt me by doing these things, but I’m pret­ty sure she knows bet­ter than that.

      The dif­fer­ence between your sit­u­a­tion and mine is that when I was told that it would­n’t work out, I said I only need­ed a break (in oth­er words, time to heal), and that we could resume our friend­ship when I felt like I was ready. But she made con­tact with me again after only a week, want­i­ng to resume the friend­ship again. Every attempt I made after that to dis­tance myself and heal was met with more con­tact and more pain.

      I did­n’t want to end the friend­ship com­plete­ly, because it did mean a lot to me. But she could­n’t respect my wish­es, and my heart was toyed with over and over again. I doubt she did it out of mal­ice, but I end­ed up being the one pay­ing for her mis­takes. I had to put my foot down even­tu­al­ly.

      Perhaps you were hurt by the fact that your friend cut you out of his life, but you also need to con­sid­er the fact that he was also hurt because he does­n’t mean more to you. It’s not that your friend­ship meant noth­ing, it was that to him, the pain was far greater than what he gained from your friend­ship, which is why he cut you out. Each per­son can blame the oth­er for being incon­sid­er­ate because both want some­thing dif­fer­ent, which means at least one per­son is going to get hurt in any case. It’s true that she has just as much right to blame me for being incon­sid­er­ate as I do to her. But I can more eas­i­ly live with being seen as incon­sid­er­ate than with a heart that can’t mend.

      And yes, she can read these entries if she want­ed to, the same way direc­tors and actors can read the words of crit­ics who talk about their movies, so I’d say that this is as unfair as a movie review in a news­pa­per or mag­a­zine. Admittedly, not all my com­men­tors are aware of all aspects of the sit­u­a­tion, and some of them give opin­ions based on big (and some­times wrong) assump­tions.

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