Warning: the following story is purely personal, and borders on the emotionally icky. It’s a story of a “nice guy” being not so nice, after considerable provocation. And while the precise words might not be 100% accurate, I swear the particulars are.
Last week, an ex-girlfriend of mine got in touch with me. We’ve occasionally exchanged pleasantries, but I don’t think we had actually seen each other in person in about 2 years. She wanted to see me for dinner.
This struck me as odd. She’s been living with a guy (a stage she and I never quite reached) for some time now, and she indicated they were still together. But it seems she had a bit of a personal problem, and wanted to talk it over with me — “someone who knows her very well.”
I thought about it for a few days, then decided what the hell. If nothing else, I’d get a free meal out of it. And being the ironic and slightly vindictive type, I suggested Hooters.
We met, then went there in my car. We talked about a whole lot of nothing for a while, then she let a little out. Yeah, she was having some issues with loneliness and fear of abandonment, but the main reason she’d asked me out — and tonight — was that her boyfriend was out drinking with his buddies, and she was pointedly NOT invited. She didn’t want to spend the evening at home by herself.
That made sense to me. As she said, I know her pretty well. By going out with me, she was scoring some subtle points back against him. Even if he never found out, it was still satisfying to her. And me — being the “nice guy” — was utterly and perfectly safe. Our past history of being involved for several years was irrelevant; I was too respectful of her current status to push the issue — presuming I even wanted to venture down that road again.
I was feeling a bit less than nice, though. She described the root cause of our breakup as “I was tired of being mean to you, and you were tired of my being mean.” I pointed out that if that were true, it actually would have been a good step for us; instead, we just kind of faded out.
I pressed her on the root causes of her unhappiness, the reason she wanted to see me. She said “it’s the kind of thing you really don’t want to hear, and I’ve decided I don’t want to push you.”
We batted around a few more things, then left.
At that point, I realized that I was tired of being the nice guy. I was tired of being walked all over. I was tired of being her fail-safe, her backstop, her “emotional tampon” (I even had that full, unexpurgated quote printed out and on me, because I had a hunch where this would go; when I was proven right, I gave it to her. She smiled, but with a slight wince or recognition.) At that point, getting up from the table, I made my choice.
Then just as we reached my car, I grabbed her and pulled her to me. And then I kissed her.
I kissed her like I hadn’t kissed anyone in a while. Like I used to kiss her, back when we were together. And, for a brief moment, she responded as she used to. Then we both pulled away.
She was confused. I explained. “You wanted to score your points on your new boyfriend. You wanted to act out a bit, flirt with misbehaving, do something you know he’d hate, but in an utterly safe way. In a way that would not pose a risk to your nice, stable relationship — unless HE decided to overreact and blow all out of proportion. You wanted to risk a major blowup, but in a way that left you seeming the innocent, the wronged party, the one who did nothing wrong.
“Well, I just took that away from you. I just ruined your whole grand plan. I just wrecked your attempt to use me once again.”
I drove her back to her car, then drove myself home. Yeah, I was alone, but that was nothing new. I’d gotten a free meal, and I took her attempt to use me one more time into my chance to give her a taste of her own medicine.
There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being so petty and spiteful. But I think that if I don’t indulge that side of me at least once every few years, it’ll fester.
And — if she’s being honest — she’ll admit that she had it more than coming.