What I want to know more than anything, more than what I mean to him or where he sees us going or how he'd define our relationship, is when and why these questions became so important to me. When exactly did I become the kind of girl who likes to discuss and define, the kind who in so doing alienates all significant others in her life, ensuring that if they do stick around they'll do so with a certain degree of resentment and reluctance?
Until recently, I had myself pegged as a relatively un-girl type of girl. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy wearing pencil skirts and drop earrings or that I don't complain about my upper thighs or upper elbows and then binge-eat a pint of neapolitan. And, yes, I like to spoon. But I believed that, to a certain degree, my emotional fluency was more masculine than feminine.
Actually, I had myself pegged as emotionally illiterate as well. On average, I cry no more than once annually. I'm terrible at expressing my feelings, preferring instead to explain myself from a sensibly objective perspective. I'd rather ride the wave of unspoken discomfort than actually talk about the cause of said discomfort. When I get involved with someone, I like to take things real easy, nice and slow. No drama. Can't we just see where things go?
Apparently, I can't. Or rather, I no longer can.
One day I'm heavy petting on a futon, with no worries about what it means or how he feels about me. The next day, for no reason, I'm checking my cellphone battery to make sure it hasn't died, because maybe that's why I haven't heard from him. I'm losing sleep over the fact that he seems to be communicating tension by the way he's holding the remote.
My paranoia doesn't appear to have any foundation in reality, but I feel a new and very intense desire to talk about "us" and what he wants from "this." Why is this so important? Why does the prospect of discussion and clarification suddenly seem so appealing, so necessary?
The next time I see him, I'm a quiet puddle of self-consciousness, oozing lack of confidence like a ripped bag of rice. And of course he picks up on it. It's impossible not to. Our barista and the crosswalk guard can pick up on it.
"It's so obvious," they're thinking. "There's such tension between those two, and she's likely to blame because she'll force him to talk about their relationship and ruin everything."
The conversation is stilted all evening, the goodnight kiss feels forced. I ride home berating myself for every gesture and making wild assumptions about what he's been thinking.
Again, I hardly sleep, so preoccupied am I with the impending disintegration of my not-yet-defined relationship. I conclude that We Need To Talk, but not before I voice my concerns to a small and varied handful of friends.
My girlfriend tells me I should never be embarrassed about my feelings. If I feel we need to talk, then we need to talk. My emotions are valid and need to be acknowledged.
My male friend smirks and points out that I've become the discuss-and-define girl. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, he tells me; it just indicates to him that deep down every girl wants to talk and clarify things. I'm merely proof.
My gay roommate responds by informing me that "forever" is not a term gays use in respect to relationships, so discussions of Where Is This Going? are far rarer. If it's good for now, it might be good in a few months or a few years, but there's no point in trying to predict that.
The problem is, it isn't good right now because I am going insane. Denial can only take me so far before I hit the cold, unwelcome wall of reality: things aren't working out.
The next time I see him, I try fakery once again, kissing him with my eyes tightly closed, mimicking the body of a girl in the throes of lust. Eventually, though, we stop kissing. After a moment of silence, I ask, simply, "What's on your mind?"
Apparently, what's on his mind is his ex-girlfriend. Wonderful. He just isn't ready for a relationship. Right. It isn't me, it's him. Etcetera.
Perhaps if I'd kept my mouth shut I could've kept things going for a little longer and enjoyed an early-summer make-out partner for some more sweaty nights. But that would've meant living in an uncomfortable fantasy world where he wasn't preoccupied with lovers from his past and I wasn't preoccupied with the task of trying to read his mind in order to figure out what was preoccupying him.
Instead, I honoured my psychological welfare and became one of those girls who refuse to let any emotion go unacknowledged, who voice their every feeling and who frighten the boys away.