There are Harder Things In Life Than Breaking Up. Telling the Other Person, For Instance.
In all of mankind’s glorious inventions, whoever came up with the idea of taking turns deserves a special place in history for being particularly brilliant. I imagine a conversation, somewhere around the beginning of time, between two Cro-Magnon men, that must’ve gone something like this:
“Okay, tonight I’ll sleep in the cave and you sleep outside. Then tomorrow, I’ll sleep in the cave. Then the next day, I’ll sleep in the cave again.”
“Hmm, when do I get to sleep in the cave?”
“Oh snap. I didn’t think about that.”
“Hear me out. How about tonight you sleep in the cave, and then tomorrow, I sleep in the cave.”
“What about the third night?”
“I have no idea. Do you want to eat a fish?”
The genesis of taking turns must’ve gone something like that. Now, eons later, taking turns is still all the rage, just like fire, the wheel, and sleeping in the cave (if you are a bear). The modern dating ritual largely incorporates this older theory of turn taking. If I buy you dinner, then you get the coffee afterwards. If on Tuesday I go to your side of town, then on Thursday, you come to mine. If you do something nice and clean my apartment, I’ll do something nice and sleep with your friend. Things like that.
Likewise, sending text messages is all about turn taking. I message you, you message me. Say I message you four times before you respond, then I’m a weirdo and you’re frightened. Or, if I message you and you don’t respond, I lay off sending another message, getting the idea that you aren’t interested in further communication and you are probably at a magic show (that’s an in-joke).
So, two or three weeks ago, I finally met a decent girl on the dating website. We went out a few times and it occurred to me that I liked her and I wanted to see her more often. At the same time, and in lieu of my disastrous last pseudo-relationship that ended with heartbreak and a pathetic attempt at a bar fight, I wanted to keep my options open. The last thing I wanted was to get attached to someone and end up getting hurt again. I continued to talk to women online and, even though I was texting and hanging out with the one girl, made plans to meet up with another. This was supposed to be healthy for me. Kind of like how you send out your resume to a bunch of jobs, despite the fact that there’s one you have your heart set on. Because that job might not work out, and obviously it’s better to work the night shift at Target than have no girlfriend at all.
I ended up going out with Girl Two twice and, to be honest, she was pretty cool as well. I still preferred Girl One, but Girl Two was definitely no Target. Last weekend, I had plans to hang out with Girl One. Pay close attention – this gets complicated. Still following the ‘keep your options open’ philosophy, I tried to make plans with Girl Two also. In fact, I did make plans with Girl Two. Then Girl One changed our weekend plans a little bit, (unknowingly) creating a situation where I had two overlapping dates. I found that rather thoughtless of her. Understand, though, that I’m just not that kind of a guy. This situation was no fun at all, and I felt stressed out by it. I decided that I’d have to get rid of Girl Two, which shouldn’t have been that big of a deal since we only hung out twice and never even kissed.
Now came the hard part – ending things. It’s hard enough breaking up with someone; ending things when there’s no real relationship there to begin with is even more uncomfortable. As with most things, I started by trying to weasel my way out. I sent a text saying I ‘might be’ busy the next day. Her response? She sent back kind of a snippy text that said, “Fine, if you have plans, just forget it.” She didn’t sound pleased. I waited until the next day and then sent another text that simply said, “Yeah, sorry, going to have to cancel for tonight. Have a great Saturday. : )”
Yes, that’s right. Have a great Saturday. I mean, I don’t want to fuck up anybody’s weekend.
There was absolutely no reply to this, which clearly (I think) meant she was pissed. That was five days ago. We’ve had no contact since. In the meantime, I saw Girl One a bunch of times, and we had a talk and decided to give a dating relationship a try.
Here’s the question I’m asking: I’m out with Girl Two, right? I mean, it’s her turn to text, and since she hasn’t done so…that’s it, I think. I don’t have to send a message saying that I met someone else or anything like that, do I? I sent the last text…so, end of story, right? I repeat – it’s HER turn. Not my turn. Deal done, correct?
Maybe not the classiest way to handle things, true, but what’s a guy to do? Taking turns is important in a relationship, especially one where both people are treated equally. So, by extension, the next date will be with Girl One, and, after that, it will be her turn again. That’s only fair.