I’d like to take a moment to share a fairly embarrassing story with you. We’re all friends here, right? I write a lot about going from hook up to relationship. Well, this story involves NOT going from hook up to relationship. And not because I didn’t want to, believe me! As much as I love writing about how to take your relationship to the next level, it’s also important to realize that sometimes it’s just not going to happen. Have you ever seen the movie or read the book He’s Just Not That Into You? There’s a reason that exists. Because people need to hear that message. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read that book when this incident occurred. And the movie didn’t exist yet. I learned the message on my own. And it was pretty embarrassing. Whoopsy doopsy.
Let’s flash back almost five years to my freshman year. I was having the best time at college and was pumped when I met a cute boy in my dorm. We also had a class together. Let’s call this boy “Mark.” Mark and I became good friends. We saw each other a lot. We would study together for tests and all that good stuff. I developed a huge crush on Mark and thought the feeling was mutual. One night I was out at a party, a series of events transpired, and I ended up running into Mark. He kissed me. After our first kiss, Mark and I moved into the “hooking up” stage. I felt with a lot of certainty that soon we would continue into the “relationship” stage. I mean, how could we not? We saw each other in the dorm, in the dining hall, and in class. We studied together. We texted. A LOT. We chatted on IM. He always seemed happy to see me. We hooked up several times a week! Look, I may have had experience with hook ups and dating in high school, but college is a different animal. Because of my inexperience with college hook ups, I failed to see signs that indicated…. hmm…. HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU!
I didn’t realize that when you’re getting serious with a guy, or about to get serious with a guy, your quality time should include things other than meals at the dining hall or a movie in your dorm room. You shouldn’t jump for joy when he decides to grace you with his presence at a party. His friends shouldn’t be strangers and they definitely shouldn’t be rude to you (like his were to me). Independence is very important, but you can’t be living two separate lives. If you’re about to get serious with a guy (and the feeling is mutual) you start to incorporate each other into your own lives. You have time with your friends, but you also go to parties together. You actually go on dates. You put in equal amounts of work.
Mark and I continued hooking up for a few months, but nothing progressed. We never even acknowledged the fact that something was going on between us. We went away on a school break and texted back and forth, but most of the initiating came from me.
When we got back to school, I was excited to see Mark. I was convinced that now things would move forward. Things were good for a little bit. Mark and I hung out a few nights during the week and went out together on the weekends, but shortly after that, things were not so good. Mark would disappear at night and I wouldn’t hear from him until the next morning or when I saw him in class. Flashing red lights, right? But I didn’t see it. I kept making up insane reasons why that was happening, and none of them included the fact that he didn’t really care about seeing me. Eventually Mark told me he had started seeing a girl from back home, and that was the end of that. I did not take the news well. I was pretty sure we were heading in the direction of a relationship, but in reality we were heading in the direction of dunzo (to quote the Kristin Cavallari classic from Laguna Beach). Looking back on it, the signs were obvious, but at the time the news was shocking. So shocking that I felt compelled to write Mark a lengthy email telling him how much I cared for him and how hurt I was. Embarrassing. I literally shiver when I think about the fact that I did it. If I ever had to re-read that email, I would probably die. For the record, he never responded to it.
The next phase of Mark and me was known as “Pretend we’ve never met and don’t make eye contact.” It was pretty fun and exciting. It consisted of ignoring each other whenever we saw each other. It got even more fun when we both went abroad and studied at a school with less than 100 students. Avoiding each other became like an Olympic sport.
On one of the last nights of senior year, I saw Mark at a bar. We literally had not spoken in four years. We used to spend a good chunk of time together, and now we were acting like strangers. How ridiculous. I did not want to let myself graduate college and still have that awkwardness. I downed my drink and marched right up to him.
“Hi, Mark,” I said casually and with a smile.
“Uh…. hi,” he said. The confusion on his face was so worth everything.
“How are you?”
I asked him what he was trying to do after school and he gave some short answer. I asked him if he was excited or sad to graduate. He gave some short answer. He was clearly not trying to talk to me. He was still just not that into me. I didn’t care though, now I was doing this for myself.
“Well, good luck!” I said and walked away. The conversation did not go swimmingly, to say the least, but it felt damn good to go up and say something after four years of awkwardness and hurt feelings.
I’m sure many of you have had a Mark in your life. Sometimes you have such strong feelings that you are blind to the cold, hard facts. I can only hope that you didn’t write your Mark an embarrassing, heartfelt email when things ended. I try not to regret that email, because at the time it was what I felt needed to be done, but seriously, why did I have to be that girl!? If you are in the middle of a potential Mark situation, ask yourself: How often do we hang out? When do we hang out? Where do we hang out? Do we have mutual friends? How do his friends treat me? Who initiates our conversations? All of these things are so important. If the answer is: I initiate the conversation, or his friends are rude/don’t know who I am, or we only hang out when we’re drunk, or we only hang out in class, then you may have a Mark on your hands. If you do, there’s no shame. Just think twice before you pour your guts out to him (in any way, shape or form). Also, don’t expect this relationship to be your next great love. Recognize it for what it is. If you are the Mark, consider the other person’s feelings and be honest with him/her sooner rather than later. It will be much appreciated and you will probably avoid some awkward moments.
Do you have a Mark moment? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @lifewithlauren1. Find me at Life with Lauren.
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