The Lovers II
René Magritte, 1928.
The first time I’ve downloaded Tinder was mid October 2017 when I was visiting New York. I did it out of curiosity as this app has been pretty much talked, downloaded, and utilized by most of my peers. And I like people watching. I can’t deny that.
It wasn’t hard to get a hang of the app as it’s more or less repetitive: click in, read bio (not necessary if the person is attractive enough for some people, right?), and then it’s either swipe left / right (and we all know about the accidental superlike when you were trying to swipe left…).
I matched with the first few guys who gave me the glimmering blue star at first, since I was intrigued by why their profiles were colored before I got jaded by them. One them stood out – especially because he managed to catch my attention at the last moment (just when I wanted to end the conversation for good). I then took a leap of faith and took up his offer and added him on WeChat; we texted each other attentively for a week, constantly sending messages back and forth to one another, but then real life happened and the excitement and sparks dwindled.
We were temporarily distracting each other. We were the burst of freshness and exhilaration and escape for each other during that time frame.
I could not describe how happy I was then. We obviously had some sort of connection, and we were both aware in the back of our heads that whatever we had was ephemeral, so why not just enjoy it while it lasted?
Despite mutually fading out, he still sends me holiday greetings and we exchange few lines of pleasantries until the conversation dies and gets resuscitated again when the next festival rolls around.
Until this time.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re on good terms, but I asked him a question that reignited some sort of conversation. He’s always been pretty honest with his answers, as there’s nothing to hide or lose from his side.
I asked him about whether he’s afraid of commitment, which led to the following questions of his views on dating and casual / not so casual relationships, and love.
We all have a sense of affinity from the food and drinks we consume to the hobbies we undertake and to the people we date and finally decide to quit or to commit.
What a colossal word, isn’t it?
It’s such a significant word especially if you’re dealing with living beings (yes, even pets count, in fact, I like animals a lot more than I like most human beings…
sorry not sorry). Obviously, there are people who are out there who look out only for themselves and they honestly don’t and can’t give a fuck about others. Those are exceptions, but I’m going to assume that most of us do have some sort of care.
My answer from him was that there are some people who are afraid of commitment, and there are some people who are capable to commit, but they also possess the power to not treat that relationship seriously.
Give it a few seconds to take that in, as I’ve asked him to elaborate on his thoughts during that time (okay, maybe it didn’t help that I was drinking whiskey through my flask then).
Basically, the second part means that it’s a half-assed relationship.
There’s quite a few reasons to be scared of commitment. That’s pretty straightforward. It could be because one doesn’t want to be vulnerable. It could be because of how much pain one has gone through during his / her last breakup and how the potential of that experience shouldn’t be relived anytime soon. It could be because one just feels lukewarm about the person he / she is seeing now. It might be because of greed and how there might be someone else out there who’s better than the option(s) one has now. It could be emotional unavailability. It could be a combination of everything above, or something completely original.
…he said he’s not afraid of commitment, and I believe him, which makes him the second type of person.
He’s able to start relationships, but they stop progressing after the casual level. Obviously, he’s taken some sort of measures to make it clear to the women he’s encountered that it’s nowhere close to being anything serious. In my case it was clear, as I told him that I wasn’t going to stay in New York for a long time when we started chatting, so I was a bit disinterested to continue my conversation with him as I didn’t want to use my phone that much when I have so little time in the city I love.
Why not progress his relationship with potential partners?
It’s because he left his heart – this isn’t to say that he doesn’t have a liking towards other women though – with one woman. That woman, in turn, is the only one who is able to push and tug his heartstrings and have him consistently coming back for more despite their arguments and breaks. Now that I’ve worded it that way, it sounds quite romantic, doesn’t it? To have someone love you to that type of extent is something that’s pretty magnificent. (It’s a bit unhealthy though, but that’s just my two cents.)
No one will ever compare to her for him, so in part he left his heart closed off. No one is allowed to trespass through that realm except for her. She’s permanent. Even a fragment of her reflection is enough to overshadow anyone that is present in his life at the moment.
His answer reminded me of René Magritte’s painting, The Lovers II. I can’t draw to save my life, nor do I know that much about art history, but to me this work is mesmerizing. There’s a sense of urgency of desire coming from the man when I see the painting, even though they are both veiled by the white cloth. It’s as if he’s been deprived of intimacy for so long that there’s not a care in the world even if he’s incapable of fully touching / embracing and kissing the woman in front of him. It’s better than nothing. Even if it means that there’s a barrier between the two of them.
He’s only able to provide halfway commitment, because a part of him has been / is still yearning for her to come back. And this want increases as history has repeated itself already, so what’s to say it won’t happen again? If it’s a casual type of arrangement that’s mutual, then I can say that he’s probably a great partner. If it’s for something more…probably not. This isn’t to say that he’s a player or a bad person though as long as he’s made it clear beforehand. I respect that. I don’t approach relationships the same way as he does, since when I commit, I dive in full on (at an appropriate pace) and leave the past as it is. I don’t think it’s justified for me to cast fingers at anyone and say that his / her relationship views are fucked up until I see the whole picture. Even when I understand the entire situation, well, it’s still not up for me to judge or to voice my opinion unless it is asked by said person.
Clarifying about the relationship (yes, one of the dreaded talks) shows a few characteristics about a person, provided that it’s in a healthy context. There’s a lot of people who chase to establish a relationship in order to soothe their insecurities and calm their jealousy. This is definitely not what I’m referring to.
- Honesty: Sometimes the truth is the hardest to swallow. We know that. Sometimes it’s the last thing we want to acknowledge and hear. Rejection stings a lot more than we’d like it to, but I’d pick the power of knowing if I’m on the same page with someone every single time more than getting strung along and / or expecting something that the other person knows isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Trust me.
- Respect: This is tied with honesty. If a person is willing to be candid with you in a genuine manner, appreciate that. It means that there’s some sort of respect for you there, and to be frank, respect is not easy to come by these days.
- Straightforwardness: Do you feel your heart fluttering every time you see that special person text or call you? Do you get anxious and nervous when the responses are delayed? First it’s a few minutes, then the response time slows down so much so from hours to half a day to entire days that your expectations drop exponentially and you feel sick to your stomach. The self doubt crawls in at first then rips you apart, and now you’re questioning your entire existence and how maybe all of the late night talks and swoon worthy dates are just coming from your head. If one is straightforward enough to tell you what he / she wants or envisions, it means that there’s barely any game playing.
Let’s be real here – if you are busy and fulfilled with your career, hobbies, friends / social life, and whatnot…do you really have time to play games? If that person is evading your question / refusing to give you a direct answer / being wishy washy, it usually means that he / she is not on the same page as you. Even if he / she is, the act of playing mind games is rooted from his / her insecurities. You can’t fix that. That is solely up to that person. You can stay with this person who is uncertain about you, but honestly – what good does it do for you? You’d be hanging by the thread consistently and dangling on the edge doesn’t seem like a great feeling to me. Walk away. Or run. If you don’t, it will usually burn you…not always, but most of the time (the romantic in me still holds a little bit of optimism, okay?). You can always give that person a shot once he / she is at the right place and when he / she is ready and wanting to try with you. There’s no need to hurry. If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a fuck no.
The most important questions to ask yourself here: Are you looking for commitment? What type of commitment are you looking for? Are you doing it based out of loneliness, as you’re still unable to detach yourself from someone else? (And honestly, if you say yes to the third answer, well, you do you, but make sure to clarify to the other person beforehand and confirm that he / she is on the same page. If not, you’re an asshole. I also hate to break it to you, but using others as a distraction to your feelings and pain without being candid about it makes you a shitty person. And maybe that’s part of the reason why he / she left you.)
René Magritte, 1962.
Do you have someone hidden in the back of your mind?
That one person you think of when the lights are turned off; you’re in bed tossing and turning but just can’t sleep and it’s three in the morning. The one person you miss – strikingly so much when you’re in the middle of the dance floor at the night club surrounded by strangers while everyone you’re with are intoxicated and trying to buy more rounds of shots and champagne with table service. The one you want to reach out to the most, but can’t, because you’re scared of his / her reaction. You’re terrified of rejection and the potential no. You miss the bits and pieces of memories with this specific person. Sometimes inanimate objects, places, songs, movies / TV shows, and certain conversations remind you of him / her, and it fucking hurts. Sometimes it might be a sting, sometimes it feels more like a stab. It feels like you’re bleeding from how much emotional hurt you’re feeling, but there’s no visible wound to justify the pain. You try, but you can’t get that person out of your head.
Life still goes on regardless of how anyone feels. Time is fair.
There are constants and changes. You meet new people, and some of them replace the ones you’ve drifted apart with and / or lost. You experience new things, perhaps start a new career or find a new hobby or learn a new language. You travel to exotic places. You still get vexed over the same issues. You still love the same type of music and food and drinks. You’re willing to step in all these unknown territories while staying true to your preferences and you let friends and family know this. It’s commendable to stay partially consistent to the important cores while embracing amendments.
…however, sometimes it’s impossible to admit to anyone, including yourself, that you’re still yearning for someone in the past.
We all know the reasons as to why we can’t and won’t admit to this to just anyone that easily. In a way it’s relinquishing your image, consistency. All of the thoughts about how you can do so much better and how that person is so toxic to you are immediately refuted by your own yearning of that person in the past. All the days and nights of drinking / drug use (again, not encouraging anyone here) to escape, even just temporarily, seems extremely pointless as they haven’t helped with alleviating anything. Nothing has really changed, except for the absence of that person from your life.
You can’t stop feelings. You can’t just change how you feel about someone immediately like switching lights on and off. Sure, it’d be a lot easier for us if it were that way. Dating and relationships would essentially be hassle free, and we’d be a lot happier. However, that’s just wishful thinking as we’re not wired that way. The best solution that you can apply to yourself is to acknowledge your emotions, do whatever it is to relieve them (preferably in a healthy manner, but occasionally indulging in your vices can be an alternative way, too) yet don’t ruminate or dwell on them too much (yes, ironic to say as I overthink, but I’m trying to change that), and move on.
You may be thinking, who the fuck is this unknown blogger telling me what to do? Why am I even on this website? (That is, unless you’re one of the few people I’ve given the URL of the blog to, and you…genuinely enjoy my writing? Wishful thinking here…) It’s easier said than done. She doesn’t know the pain I’m going through right now, hell, she probably doesn’t have much going on in her life now, which is why she’s writing on her blog and wasting time away. I’m going to close this page and text and call that person for the 20th consecutive time.
First off, I have other shit to do. I just enjoy writing a lot, so I choose to spend it on my little, obscure blog. I don’t care. You can show yourself out by clicking the big, intimidating X. Changing the theme, choosing the font sizes, looking up WordPress plugins and vamping up my blog is a facet of my happy place, so there’s that going for me. Secondly, we’re always distressed by at least something in all of our stages in life, so we’re more or less all equally miserable. The glass will always be half full for most of us, as we’re creatures who are consistently striving for improvement. So yeah, go ahead and text and call that person if that’s what you think is going to be the magic pill to get him / her back to loving you. While you’re at it, why don’t you also pay them a surprise visit at his / her workplace or home? You’d certainly get some sort of attention from that person other than silence (which translates to a free trip to your local police station as well as a restraining order). I exaggerate. Stop being disillusioned. But really, I’d recommend you to pick up a copy of my favorite philosopher’s book. Here’s a little inspiring quote for you:
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
The Lovers I
René Magritte, 1928.
What if that significant someone decides to come back one day? Actually, that’s a terrible way to word that question. What if you and and that person decide to get back together one day?
I’m an occasional believer when it comes to second chances.
First of all, you have to investigate the reason behind the broken relationship at first. Is it because of infidelity? Is it caused by physical and / or emotional abuse? Is it due to physical proximity? Is it because of some misunderstanding?
Did you end in good or bad terms? Were there any physical violence or verbal insults involved? Were both sides able to take some sort of responsibility for the demise of the relationship?
Are you pining for his / her return, because you want to regain what you’ve lost? Or is it because you truly believe that there’s a special connection / chemistry and that your values and personality do align pretty fucking well? But then again, if you were so perfect for each other…then why did you break up in the first place?
There are issues that are non-negotiable, and as much love as you have for that person, if he / she is toxic for you (we all know what this means, right?), then it’s really better off that that person doesn’t come back into your life. Ever. If it’s impossible to do so, keep him / her at arm’s length (or more than that). If violence and manipulation were involved and someone got injured over the aftermath of that relationship, then don’t even think about it. You will also learn to love others. Trust me.
There are also factors that fracture relationships, but with the help of time, growth, and respect from both parties, it is possible to develop and begin a new connection. It might even be stronger than the one at the beginning. It’s crucial to be mindful that any past problems shouldn’t be consistently brought up with your partner once the two of you do decide to reconcile. If you nitpick at every single problem that led to the demise of your first shot, I’m pretty sure it’ll fail as quickly the second time around. It’s better to let the insignificant matters go if you do want to resuscitate and grow with this person again.
Have you grown and changed for the good as an individual? We all think we’re so smart and wise and clear about the directions we’re headed towards when we were younger. Then as we grow older, we painfully realize that we have no fucking clue as to what we should do, where we should go, and who we should associate ourselves with (in all types of relationship). Look back towards the time when you dived into the relationship with that person. How were you back then, personality wise? Did any of your major life goals and core values change? Did you modify or solidify your boundaries with others? Do you have any new deal-breakers that you are aware of? I really do believe the importance of knowing and understanding yourself and your needs first before catering to others.
If you were to ever run into this situation, treat the relationship as if it were a clean slate (but with some sort of shortcut, since you’re already familiar with the person). The slate should be as spotless as the cloths over the couples’ faces on the Lover I painting.
Another significant aspect to point out is that the amount of effort that is put into the relationship. A consistent, severe imbalance of give and take between two people is unhealthy. No one should be completely / mainly responsible for carrying the weight of sustaining and growing a relationship. It should be a joint effort from both sides. If it’s not, the side that’s putting in all of the work will burn out and grow resentment. The other side will become lazier and greedier.
Crash and burn, kiss and make up, and then ultimately trying to see if you can sweep up the pieces of your shattered heart and glue them back together again.
Sometimes good things come for those who wait, even if they are the second time around. The key to remember here is if both sides remain the same, void of reflection and correction, then the results will still probably be the same no matter how many times you repeat it.
He told me he’s been trying to change her views, and that despite the process being slow, it’s starting to partially permeate and grow in her mind that they belong together despite the small issues and her insecurities. It wasn’t, and it’s still not a simple feat to do so.
I asked him if he’s dating around and consciously jumping into transient relationships just to kill time, or to soothe and distract him a bit from his loneliness until she comes back. He said yes.
He’ll never be able to take another woman seriously if he has that sort of mentality and that type of love. In fact, it doesn’t seem like he wants to commit to anyone else except for her. He’s still longing for her to drift back to him for good, for the happily ever after. Then he finds himself picking up the bits of his once again broken heart.
The scary fact is – he knows, and he’s still willing to be hurt by her over and over again. Because of love.
I told him that’s admirable, and that sometimes despite how much love we have for someone, maybe it’s just not meant to be if that person keeps leaving repeatedly.
He agreed passively, but I know he’s still yearning.