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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