the other other woman

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve liked a guy that I couldn’t have, I could buy and sell Bill Gates. (Not Bill Gates the Microsoft guy, mind you, but still a fairly-well-off Bill Gates.)

Then, about two and a half years ago, I met a guy that I really, really liked, someone who liked me back AND was available. All three qualities? In one romantic prospect? For me, it was positively unprecedented! We started dating, and I thought I’d finally found my happy ending.

Before long I found myself in still more uncharted territory. Now *I* was the person people liked and couldn’t have. Two people have told me so – not sure I recommend spilling your guts about your unrequited feelings, btw – and with another one or two, I (flatter myself that I thought I) picked up a few “if only…” vibes. That gets to me because I’ve been in their shoes so many times, and I know how much it sucks.

But then, that happy ending I thought I’d found? Turned out to be just the honeymoon phase of the relationship, and it ended, as such periods of elation always seem to. Reality set in, and my Mr. Right turned into Mr. Not What I Thought. Again I started to notice how attractive other guys are, but this time I wasn’t free to pursue even those who were free to be pursued. Although I didn’t (and don’t) yet feel like breaking up with my boyfriend was the right thing to do, more than once my feelings for him have paled in comparison to those I’ve felt for a crush. 

Thankfully, those feelings of random attraction again settled down as I recognized that even if I didn’t have a boyfriend, it probably wouldn’t work out with the current objects of my affection.

So, I’ve been in a pretty neutral place lately, crush-wise. Therefore, when I was invited a few weeks ago to attend the company banquet with Cute Work Guy, it was no big deal. After all, last year I went with one of the married girls at work when her husband couldn’t make it. If I could be her “date”, why couldn’t I do the same for CWG? As far as I was concerned, the situation was the same, simply two work acquaintances at a company function.

Yeah, I was pretty much fooling myself. At first – even though I was thrilled to have been asked, shoulda been my first clue – I truly thought it was no big deal, and I was all, “It’s not a date!” Then right after that, on the way to see my boyfriend I heard this song. I remembered that back when I first heard the song, I would think so passionately about my boyfriend because I was working with one of my exes, and I really wanted my boyfriend to know that he had nothing to worry about. Back in the present, I suddenly felt terrible. Was the teasing at work true? Was I really cheating?

I decided that I’d casually tell my boyfriend about the banquet after it was over, being sure to compare it to my “date” the year before. If it’s no big deal, I can tell him, right? I did tell him about it as I’d planned, and he seemed okay with it although he sure did change the subject quickly. I hadn’t even had the chance to say who the guy was, and I felt that was an important element of truth not to be omitted. So the next day I emailed him a picture from the banquet, joking that “[CWG] says he’ll take you next time, to be fair.” After I sent that email, I wondered what a psychiatrist would say about this compulsion I feel to say things that could cause trouble between me and my boyfriend. (Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to get some sort of reaction? Or trying to break up? Maybe it’s my mother’s fault?? (Just kidding about that last one.))

On top of all this, I think my at-work protests downplaying our “non-date” hurt Cute Work Guy’s feelings. :slaps forehead: He knows I have a boyfriend, and he agreed that it wasn’t a date. So why did someone tell me that CWG repeated how quick I was to deny the dateness of the situation? :sigh: Apparently, yet again, I’m not the only one with mixed emotions about this whole thing.

I’m going to go now and try to recall why I ever thought any of this was a good idea.

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