dating · health · joy · passion · sex · uncertainty

Craving Cupcakes

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For reasons unknown by me, I came home the other night and
while in my closet, took down the book He’s Just Not That Into You. It sits in a pile of books I own that I’ve taken to
the bookstore to sell back to them, but they’re not having it – it shares space
with the
Twilight saga – and for
further reasons unknown, I haven’t just put these books out on the street or
donated them yet, and so they’ve stayed for several years.
Taking down Not That Into You, I read the chapter titles that at the time I bought the book I
imagined I would sneer at and laugh at in obviousness, but that on reading, in
fact, offered a swift kick upside my besotted brain. For example: He’s just not
that into you if he’s not asking you out; he’s just not that into you if he has
a girlfriend/is married; and my personal eye-opener at the time: he’s just not
that into you if he only wants to see you when he’s drunk.
But what struck me the other night as I perused the chapter titles was
the one added on after the first printing, the one entitled: Life after
He’s Just Not That Into You.
I flipped there, and the female co-author writes about the
typical stages she’d seen in herself and in those who’d taken the book’s
message to heart.
First, there’s empowerment: YES! I Get It! I see that these
mixed messages are just smoke-screens, I’ve stopped waiting by the phone, I’ve
stopped accepting “Let’s hang out” as an acceptable “date.” My life is awesome!
Then there’s loneliness: Great, he’s out of my phone and out
of my life, what do I do now?
Quickly followed by temptation: Okay, so if I know that he’s just putting up a smoke-screen, and I get
that this isn’t a relationship – then I’m in full knowledge participation, and
it’s okay, right? Then I can’t really get my feelings hurt, right, because I
know that this is not what either of us really wants, right? Besides, the door
isn’t breaking down with guys asking me out on real dates, and I’m lonely,
horny, and just give me a BREAK already!
I called this yesterday, over lunch with a friend, the
cupcake moment.
We all know this temptation. I’ll set it up for you:
It’s someone’s birthday at the office. They’ve brought in a
dozen of the most delicious looking cupcakes from the 4 dollar a cupcake place
with the clever name. Everyone stands around this offering and awkwardly sings
Happy Birthday to the person of honor, and you feel a little proud, and a
little separate as you gouge the cupcakes out of their container and hand them
to your coworkers, expressing that, No thank you, you’re not having one.
You know how you feel after you’ve eaten one, you know they’re not actually as good as they look, and it’s
not worth the calories or kicking off the sugar addiction. You’ve had SO MANY
afternoons where you’ve had half a cupcake, only to return for the other half,
another whole, and maybe, another half or two.
You know that to put one bite of this thing into your mouth
is to set off a series of woeful and painful head moments of debate,
self-derision, and self-pity.
So you’ve been so good. It’s been weeks, or maybe months
since you’ve let yourself fall into the pattern. And sometimes, it’s so easy to
say No thanks, and be on with your day. The cupcakes don’t whisper at you. The
longing doesn’t bite at your throat.
And then you find yourself in the moments when you say, I have been so good – and what the hell good is it doing
me, anyway? What kind of a martyr, saint, ascetic am I, anyway? What am I
proving and to whom?, the thoughts run. …
What kind of martyr or saint am I?
What kind of pleasure-avoiding, overthinking, “principled”-living dullness am I?
So, you stand at the cupcake moment. You’ve seen the outcome
of this moment on both sides, and you don’t know which path you’ll go down. You
stand equally torn toward “health” and “pleasure.” And you haven’t enough
experience yet to know that sometimes health and pleasure are available in the
same situation. And remember, it’s been SUCH A LONG TIME since you’ve had that
kind of pleasure, anyway. That kind of solace.
The final phase of “Life after He’s Just Not That Into You”
is Balance.
The book says, “Life, love, dating—it’s all a process. There
will be highs and lows, disappointments and temptations, and it all might take
a while. If you are just so lonely that you simply have to get into a less than
ideal situation, for God’s sake, get out of it before the guy makes you cry or
mope in bed all day… No matter how long you end up being without a
relationship, you will always be worth it.”
I stand at a cupcake moment right now. “Sometimes I think
‘health’ and ‘reason’ are the great enemies of ‘passion’ and ‘love,’” he wrote
me. And I think he’s right. However, though I don’t have much experience with
them being aligned, I do believe they can be.
Will our heroine submit to the temptation and luster to sink
into the arms of comfort and human affection? Will she turn away from the
alluring embrace and continue to march the lonely path toward an imagined ideal
of a less complicated entanglement?
Tune in to find out!

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