“No More Strays”…

MM7567After my last relationship crashed and burned like an airplane shot from the sky, my wise and loving dad said three words to me that have become somewhat of a mantra for my new dating adventures.


You see, like all good fathers, he wants the best for me. He wants me to find someone who doesn’t need fixing. Someone who comes to me mostly whole (after all, life has given all of us scars in one form or another) and someone who will simply take care of me. If he happens to know anything about general car maintenance that would be an added bonus! My parents are fairly old-fashioned. They agree that a relationship should be a partnership, but that a man has a responsibility to provide both emotionally and financially for those he cares about. Here’s the problem. I seem to have an extraordinary ability to overlook the damaged parts and only focus on the good. I am a nurturer, a fixer, a healer, a hug-giver and I have a soft spot for strays. Oh..and at times, a complete idiot when it comes to men.

(Thanks to those damn Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercials, I have two sweet dogs at home who started their lives in a rough way..one in a dumpster and the other abandonded in a park..What I seem to forget every so often, is that while most dogs can be rehabilitated, most people can not. As much as I want to believe it, people for the most part do not change.)

My next date was with a guy named Grant (name changed so my dad doesn’t hunt him down later) who I had actually met before. I used to go to all of my ex’s soccer games. On Sunday mornings I would sit on the sidelines and cheer him and his teammates on, argue with the refs over bad calls (I’ve been threatened with a red card before) and chat with the other girls. As it turned out, after talking for a few hours over text message, Grant and I realized how we knew eachother. He had played on the same soccer team as Jeff. He told me that one game he looked at his girlfriend who couldn’t have cared less about watching him play and was busy on her phone and then looked over at me cheering for Jeff and thought to himself, “I wish I had a girlfriend like that.” It was a small world and getting smaller every second. I worried that he would feel weird about talking to me when he had been teammates with my ex and knew all about the engagement. It made me sad for a moment, thinking that Jeff could take even just one more thing from me. “No, I don’t care”..Grant said. “It’s his loss.”

And then, slowly but surely, he began to place small bandaids on all the hurt places on my heart. “You are enough. More than enough for any man.” He told me one night. Another hurt covered up. For that’s what a broken relationship does to you. When someone tells you they have chosen someone else over you, that you weren’t what they wanted, it feels like the floor drops out from beneath you. All that confidence shattered. Grant though, seemed instinctively to know exactly what I needed to hear to help glue those broken pieces back together. (A word of advice for all my single lady friends out there: another red flag I was not experienced enough to pay attention to..when a guy says all the right things..you should sit up and pay attention. These kinds of men can be the most dangerous kind.)

We spent every day together for the next week and a half. He surprised me with flowers one snow day, we played trivial pursuit in front of a fire and talked about music. Our chemistry was off the charts. More than I had ever experienced with another person before. It was intense and slightly overwhelming at times, how fast we both seemed to be falling. He came to me damaged though, with demons in his past that he was still fighting. When I say we went out for drinks, I was the only one drinking. Get it? He’d go to weekly meetings, had just gotten back in school and was working as a bartender at a restaurant. And so stomps the big elephant into my cute little living room. All these things gave me the oddest sense of Deja Vu. Grant had self-confidence issues. He was going to be 30 in two months and still hadn’t finished school. He also didn’t have what I would like to call a “Big Boy Job.” Hmm..didn’t I know someone just like this? Oh yea..I did..and we all know how that one worked out..remember that airplane?
He was also handsome, charming, smart as all get out, and told me multiple times a day how beautiful and amazing I was. By the end of that first week he told me he was falling in love with me. That elephant kept swinging it’s trunk around and flapping it’s ears as if to say, “Julia..you are an idiot..can’t you see this guy is just like that other dude who stomped all over your heart just a few months ago? I mean I’m just an elephant, but come on..we mate for life and no way I’d keep going out with this guy. He’s gonna break your heart.”

Even more infuriating than when my dad is constantly right, is when a damn metaphorical elephant is right. He did break my heart all over again..before it was completely healed. And he did it in almost the same way Jeff did.

*Taylor Swift..Red Album..Track 10. (side note..this album was given to me..and I may or may not have listened to it multiple times on repeat in the car while crying dramatically “why Taylor!? Why do these men treat us so badly?!” ok…may..)

We were having a conversation one day and dancing around the topic of what “this” was. I told him I cared about him very much, but wanted to take things just a day at a time and see where things went. He said he was feeling conflicted about things as well. And then he dropped the bomb. “I had been sort of seeing someone before I met you.” Um…what? And how do you “sort of” see someone? “She wants to have a relationship with me.” Um..didn’t you tell me when we first met that you weren’t ready to have a girlfriend?

And so for the next week he went back and forth between us. He told me he was going to be with her. I said ok good luck..then a day would pass and he would freak out and tell me he made the wrong decision. (By the way, she didn’t even know I existed). Then he would be with me and freak out and say he had to go. Back and forth I allowed him to do this to me THREE TIMES. I told you I am an idiot about men. I convinced myself that he was confused and didn’t know what he wanted, but that he would realize how awesome I was and finally stop running.

The following are some of the lamest excuses a guy can give you:

!. I’m scared because I feel so much for you.
2. You are so amazing and I just know I can’t give you what you deserve.
3. I went from having nothing to having so much and I am afraid to choose the wrong thing.
and the final icing on the cake…
4. You didn’t do anything wrong. You are perfect. It’s me who is screwed up. (just another version of “it’s not you…it’s me”

My best friend Leigh scolded me for this one. She was angry at me for letting a guy have all the power when I had told her from the beginning that he wasn’t right for me. I let him hurt me anyway. I doubted every word he said to me and all those wounds were ripped open again. “I don’t know what’s worse.” I told him. “The fact that you did this, or the fact that you knew what Jeff did and did it anyway.” I’m tired of men who were never good enough for me in the first place, making me feel like less than I am. I put on those blinders and don’t see the red flags. (You know, the ones that are flashing and blazing red and shouting DANGER! DANGER!..yea..those) Inevitably, I end up with another small, or not so small, scar reminding me of why I should have listened to dear old dad. It is infuriating how often that man is right.


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