I missed the memo about unrequited love.
OK, I’ll admit it… I watched the royal wedding. I didn’t do anything daffy like throwing a tea and crumpets party in the middle of the night, but later that day, I watched a couple hours’ worth of footage. And unless Kate and Wills are fantastically good at fake smiling, they seemed genuinely happy. Time will tell if theirs really is a fairy tale marriage, but I’d like to think it really is true love for them. I think it’s interesting that we call happy, mutual love “true love” but what’s the opposite of true love? Is there such a thing as “false love”? I think unrequited love comes close.
While I have been happily attached for a long time, before I met my prince, I kissed some frogs. And sometimes I wanted to kiss the frog, but he didn’t want to kiss me. Making out with amphibians is an extremely hard way to learn about love, but since I learned well, I think, I’ll presume to impart some insight.
There are two forms of unrequited love:
“Thanks, but no thanks”
“Thanks, but no thanks” unrequited love is that situation where you’re falling for someone, but there’s a lot of ambiguity. You agonize, wondering if you should make a move. I personally think there’s something really delicious about the uncertainty and anticipation in this situation, but this is coming from an old married woman who has probably forgotten the acute torture of playing the “he loves me, he loves me not” game.
I think I also missed a memo about being coy and playing hard to get, as when I found myself in one of these situations, I was pretty quick to just lay my cards on the table. Perhaps it wasn’t particularly ladylike, but I felt brave and honest, and that felt good. And when I got a “thanks, but no thanks” response, it actually wasn’t that bad. I think the object of my affection was genuinely flattered that I was trying to put the moves on him, and I just had to trust and appreciate that he knew himself better than I knew him, and he knew that we weren’t a good match. I didn’t get the guy, but I was still pretty pleased with myself because I had the huevos to just ask him; I totally respected that he had the huevos to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Believe me folks, you’d much rather get a “thanks, but no thanks” response than to find yourself in a “nevermind” situation. A “nevermind” situation results from really unfortunate asymmetry in the depth of feeling between two people. In my case, I once fell inexplicably hard for a guy, and though he was fond of me, he did not love me. However, since I was reasonably cute and willing to afford him all the benefits of boyfriendhood without actually requiring him to be my boyfriend, he understandably hung around. That is, until he fell inexplicably hard for someone else. Everything that he had ever said or done that made me hope he might really love me too? Oh, nevermind.
Sometimes when two people are together, one of them is in love, and the other’s just killin’ time.
Avenue Q…so good…It’s like Sesame Street with sex and curse words.
So let’s sum up: If someone makes you feel kinda funny, like when you used to climb the rope in gym class, just tell ’em. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Just don’t get too pissed or bummed out if the response is “thanks, but no thanks.” They’re doing you a favor and sparing you the heartache of a “nevermind”. Memo received.