Fatal Flaw

“Isn’t It Ironic” belts Alanis Morissette when, quite honestly, she cites nothing ironic at all. Rain on a wedding day? Bad luck. Some superstitious people even say that is good luck. Winning the lottery and dying the next day? Really bad luck. Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife? Hopefully just bad luck and not a recipe for disaster. Which makes the song itself ironic. You expect examples of irony but get none. Frustrating? Yes. Hypocritical? Maybe, much like the way my dates tell me one thing and then deliver quite another. Just a night filled with bad luck. But I can think of some times when I presume that I am sending one message and have contradicted myself. Is it possible that we all just misunderstood?

Let me explain. In one of my past blogs, about Deal Breakers, I claim that one (of only three steadfast and hard) deal breakers is when a man walks in front of me. I can’t stand that for many reasons. One being that it is unkind. But, one of my more flexible and soft deal breakers is when a man does not walk in front of me on a hike when there are spider webs. I despise and fear walking through spider webs.

It ruins the entire hike as I then spend the rest of our time together, not connecting with nature or him, but fretting that a black widow spider is crawling on me, ready to attack. And so him NOT walking in front of me just might ruin the relationship. Sing along with me to the tune of Alanis’ ironic song, please. “Is that hypocritical? Do you think?”

Before you answer, observe the sequence below. First, we are walking along a gorgeous path with water views, then, after we cross the bridge, we enjoy the dense and peaceful woods. Sounds romantic and surreal, right? Then, wham. Spider web. Black Widow. Bite.

Is it possible that all of us could so succinctly explain away our hypocrisies? Perhaps. I am looking for kindness in both scenarios: wanting him to walk beside me and needing him to walk ahead of me. So I ask again, “Is that hypocritical? Do you think?” Or am I making up excuses?

Specimen 1: The date was set for us to meet at Surf House’s bar for a drink. Part of my prep was to scarf down dinner first. I arrived right at 7 pm to meet a man younger than me by 2 years. He had already arrived and had gotten us a table (damn those table people). Upon sitting down to greet him, he expressed how starving he was and how he had heard this was a great place to eat. Hypocrisy? Perhaps. Or perhaps just a lapse of memory? Too many dates to even keep track? Lost track of time and didn’t have time for dinner? Who knows, but I very nicely ( or not so nicely–stay with me) gave him the benefit of the doubt instead of asking why we aren’t sitting at the bar, as we agreed. This inability to speak up is definitely one of my fatal flaws. I fear that it will come out sounding like a resting bitch face looks. So I keep quiet.

Once he ordered a drink and DINNER, he asked how my dating experiences were going. As I pondered the perfect response for him, he began his own tirade. “I get so tired of women who just want to vent about their exes. Why don’t people want to move past that and talk about something more meaningful?” Then he never waited for me to answer the question before he added, “That is why I didn’t mind going out with an older woman like you. I bet you are more mature than that. I can tell already that you have so much more depth than women my age.” TWO YEARS??? Look at me robbing the cradle. Although there may have been a (shallow) compliment in there somewhere (because I had barely had a chance to speak yet so how could he possibly know?), but I just couldn’t entertain it as I was obviously distracted with his distortion of our age difference. Guess where the conversation went from there? To what a bitch his ex wife is. Then made this face.

He asked, “Do you know just how shallow and fake my neighbors are?” Then made that face again. “They all pretend they are rich, but are really house poor and living on credit.” They were all so artificial. So artificial that his ex-wife convinced him to pay for a boob job. “She had her own job, why should I have to pay? But I did (the face again) and then she left me for that asshole trainer. I am still paying off that surgery.” (the face again). Conversation for the rest of the evening was jam packed with more complaints of his ex. When he offered to pay the check, I let him without argument. Two beers for a therapy session is actually a bargain. Sing along with me to the tune of Alanis’ ironic song, please. “Is he hypocritical? Do you think?”

Go easy on him because I still worry that his eyes would get stuck if somebody were to yell at him while going cross-eyed.

Specimen 2: I spent some time texting back and forth with another man before we had the chance to meet. He made me laugh a couple of times in our back and forth chatter. So when he made the bold claim that “[He] is the most fun person in Frederick,” instead of being grossed out, I assumed that this was another effort to make me laugh. But I also had some subconscious expectations of getting ready to meet somebody super fun. Wouldn’t you?

Well, we met and boy was he wearing something fun. A very thick and glittery gold chain around his neck. I tried (not very successfully) to not stare. This was him, minus the muscles.

Ok, so maybe his chain was a bit lighter than that, just like the conversation that began light, with him explaining how his favorite meet up group, Game Night, was dripping with drama and he feared that he may have to quit. “We meet to play board games in the back room of a local hobby shop and some people are just trying to exercise way more control than they should be.” Hmmm…how light and fun. Then he quickly corrected himself and said, “Sorry, we do not need to talk about that type of negativity. Speaking of which, don’t you hate when your dates begin talking about their exes?” Phew.

“Why, yes, yes I do.”

“Well that’s not going to happen here. I can’t stand that. I mean, who wants to hear that drama?”

“Thanks goodness. Not me. Tell me about the games you most enjoy.” Yawn.

Then without missing a beat, he began, “I mean I did walk in on her and her new man and had to chase him through the woods. Then, believe it or not, she took me to the cleaners….you wouldn’t believe how much money I actually have to pay her every month. Most people don’t have that quality of a story to tell.” Again, my fatal flaw stopped me from shutting him up. Or telling him how wrong he is, assuming that others don’t have an interesting story worth sharing. Or that nobody exudes fun quite like him. Sing along with me to the tune of Alanis’ ironic song, please. “Is he hypocritical? Do you think?”

Specimen 3: After one bad date, the guy who insisted I would just adore his church came at me with a wide open mouth at the end of our date. I have no idea why he thought an open mouthed kiss was appropriate because the date did not go that well, plus I was rushing out of there quicker than a bride dashing from the church to her first drink on her rainy wedding day. I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t want to kiss him. Instead of stating that though (remember my fatal flaw?), I quickly turned my cheek so that his mouth landed on the side of my mouth where I gave him a quick peck and bolted to my car.

Once home, I received a number of texts from him, proposing dates for a second date. Why? I offered some lame excuses as to why the date wouldn’t work for me. I hoped to take the easy way out, like with the kiss, and hoped that he would give up and that I wouldn’t have to say that I just wasn’t interested (fatal flaw at its finest). Well, he persevered with offering date options and at this point, we were now about a month out on the calendar and he just wasn’t taking “I’m busy” for an answer. I finally had to say, “Look, you are a nice guy. You deserve to find somebody who wants to go to church with you. I am not that girl.”

His response? “Well then why were you so assertive with a good night kiss? You claimed to be in a rush to get home to see your son play lacrosse, yet you took time kiss me.”

I didn’t even know what to say. So I said nothing. About an hour later, my phone was accosted once again, this time with an even more bellicose attack: “By the way, I found your kiss very aggressive and actually wondered if I should read that as a red flag. I decided to give you another chance. You blew it to hell.” Sing along with me to the tune of Alanis’ ironic song, please. “Is he hypocritical? Do you think?”

And btw, what is the source of that anger after just one date? Perhaps it has to do with my fatal flaw and the mixed messages that I send.

As humans, we all want positive reinforcement, kindness, and honesty. And compliments are such a great way to do that for another human. But that gets tricky. That guy above complimented my earrings and my glasses so nicely when we first greeted each other. And I made fun of him for it, saying they were silly. What compliment might have felt genuine, not bogus? “You are beautiful.”? If I hear that from a man I’ve never met, he just sees my pictures online, that compliment feels schematic. But if I know him from the gym and he always see me in my workout clothes then picks me up for a date and says “You are beautiful.” then that feels different, more authentic. We can all be hypocritical in the spaces that rest between what feels good and what feels yucky. Between what feels bona fide and what feels contrived.

Perhaps we need to be more kind to one another, more thoughtful and more honest. I know that I do. I will work harder to address my fatal flaw of avoiding what I consider difficult. Honesty is kindness. And our world can certainly use more kindness, to ourselves and to others.

What is your hamartia? What can you do to be more kind to yourself and to others?

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