“I love you,” says the first text.
“I love you, I love you, I love you,” says the second.
It’s January, 2014, and I went on my first date with Graham Foster 9 days ago.
Given Graham and I haven’t known each other long, I’m disquieted by the pace with which this is moving. I don’t know, though, is love at first sight real? When you find the person you’re supposed to be with, you’re supposed to know immediately. Right?
HELL NO, BITCH. THOSE ARE RED FLAGS. GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE.
These memories flick through my head while I watch The Age of Adaline, a movie where Blake Lively falls instantly in love with a man who is as attractive as Blake Lively (but MUCH BETTER in Orphan Black).
They lock eyes across the room. He follows her to her cab, where she turns him down. He finds her at her job at a library, where she turns him down, so he threatens to withhold an enormous donation with which they could make major improvements. She ignores his calls, he finds her address and shows up at her house with flowers. Their fourth date is a weekend trip to his parents house. Less than two weeks in, he tells her he loves her.
ADALINE, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? YOU ARE IMMORTAL. YOU HAVE 100 YEARS OF WISDOM. NO SELF-RESPECTING MAN WOULD DO THIS SHIT UNLESS HE WAS VERY ILL AND UNWILLING TO CONSIDER THE FEELINGS OF OTHERS.
Movies tell us that when we meet the right person, there will be signs, that there will be love at first sight, and that the “right man” will see us and give us what we need without our having to tell him. Do you know who actually has the sort of acuity to figure out what you need emotionally and give it to you without your asking?
A MANIPULATIVE PSYCHOPATH, BABY GIRL, WHO ELSE? GET OUT. BE YOUR OWN SAVIOR.
“You know, you’re really too beautiful to be this socially awkward,” Graham told me once. At the time, I felt like it was the first time I was ever being seen. This is the plot of every romance. Girl is crazy hot. Girl does not know she is crazy hot, because she has normal flaws, like basic neurosis or a shitty boss. Boy sees girl is perfect BECAUSE OF her flaws!!! Girl finally accepts herself as bombshell!!! Boy and girl live happily ever after!
Do you know what else someone complimenting you while pointing out your flaws is called? Um, negging.
I DON’T NEED YOU TO TELL ME MY FLAWS, BOYFRIEND OF ONE MONTH. I HAVE BEST FRIENDS FOR THAT, AND THEY’RE WAY FUNNIER ABOUT IT.
My relationship with Graham was a whirlwind romance. He loved all the things I loved. He wanted to watch all the things I watched. He was a recovering alcoholic, but SO HONEST about it, SO VULNERABLE. Had I ever felt a connection like that with a man? I told my mom about jokes he made. He told his mom about how I was taking the GRE and how proud he was of my score. He told me he wanted to marry me down the line. He complimented every inch of my body and every facet of my personality.
WHO IS ACTUALLY THAT VULNERABLE AND HONEST WITH A NEAR STRANGER ABOUT THE DARKEST PORTIONS OF THEIR PAST? SOMEONE WHO CAN’T FEEL SHAME. OR MAYBE A CHARACTER IN A MOVIE THAT DOESNT KNOW HOW ELSE TO FIT IN EXPOSITION.
All of it was a lie. Graham never told his mother about me, because she did not know he was cheating on his girlfriend of several years. Neither did I. Graham had time and again used vulnerability and romance as a deflection tool to avoid answering my real questions about where he was, what he was doing, who he was with. Did he even like the things I liked? Did we really go to the same camp when we were kids? Was all of it a lie? I still don’t know.
He told me he wanted to keep our love private, but what he meant was, please don’t tell your friends. I manipulated and abused several of them, too. I have put many people’s sexual health at risk by promising monogamy while actually using online dating tools under a number of aliases, including Charles and Will.
NO SANE PERSON WOULD TELL YOU THEY WANTED TO MARRY YOU AFTER DATING YOU FOR SIX WEEKS. JESUS. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WATCH THE BACHELOR JUST TO LAUGH AT THE CONTESTANTS AND THEN ACCEPT IMMEDIATE LOVE AS A REALITY IN YOUR OWN LIFE?
Am I judging women who allow themselves to be fooled by psychopaths who promise love and wax romantic? Only as much as I judge myself. I’d love to say that after finding out my ex was a pathological liar I never saw him again, but I can’t. I spent a night with him a month after, and kept in communications for some time after that. In an inbox in an inbox in an inbox, I keep the 6 truly insane love letters he sent me from 4 different email accounts. I read them sometimes when I am sad. No one knows how to compliment a woman quite like a psychopath. It’s like reading a romance novel about myself.
WHY CAN’T A NORMAL MAN WHO DOESN’T LIE JUST TEXT ME THAT MY BODY IS FLAWLESS EVERY 20 MINUTES? Oh, what, he has a life outside seeking reciprocity for compliments? He is grounded with other priorities that I respect? Uuuuughhh, WHATEVER.
I give my compliments, vulnerability and love freely, easily, and earnestly, and I hope I never stop. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who gives compliments or love freely does it earnestly.
Love isn’t having everything in one human package, and it can’t happen in 90 minutes. Love is mutual support. Love is honesty. Love is fighting actively and then having real conversations about what went wrong and then eating pizza rolls in front of each other in your underwear and getting really hot sauce on your belly button and being embarrassed but also not embarrassed. Love is demanding that your partner tell you your butt look good today because you really need it and he sure as shit won’t remember to tell you.
MAKE THE PIZZA ROLL MOVIE, HOLLYWOOD. MAKE A NORMAL COUPLE EAT PIZZA ROLLS IN A SEX THERAPIST’S OFFICE AND I’LL PAY YOU ALL THE MONEY AND EAT ALL THE MILK DUDS.
THREATS ARENT LOVE. STALKING ISNT LOVE. MAKING RECKLESS DECISIONS IS NOT THE WAY TO SHOW LOVE.
The Age of Adaline review: 2 stars. (Everyone’s really hot and Harrison Ford is good in it.)