After that last entry, I decided that perhaps the girls in my class were right. I was making too big of a deal out of Neighbor Guy’s stated intentions and inflating what was essentially just a man trying to get to know me. I also can't deny how much I miss having someone outside of medical school to keep me grounded and remind me of real life which (oh right, I remember!) is one of the reasons I wanted to hang out with Neighbor Guy in the first place.
So, this afternoon, I called Neighbor Guy’s cell phone with the intention of coercing him into having dinner with me tomorrow night. It went to voicemail.
When he called back a few hours later, he was jovial, but expectant in his tone. I quickly explained that the reason that I was calling was because I was drafting him an email, but then felt silly—you know, with him living in the same building and all. (Read: I was worried that he wouldn’t read the email until tomorrow—and I needed a Neighbor Guy fix now!) I breezed through the details of the upcoming cooking class, for which he didn’t offer comment, and then got to the true purpose of my calling.
“It was really nice seeing you on the train this week,” I told him. “I really miss seeing you on my commute and I was wondering if I could entice you to have dinner with me sometime in the near future.”
He was quiet long enough that I thought he might have lost reception. He didn’t.
“It was really nice seeing you too, but I have to say no,” he said, matter-of-factly. “As you know, I like you and I just think that spending time together is a bad idea. I just feel like my feelings are going to intensify and like I said, I don't know how it must feel to be in your situation. I don’t want to interfere with your grieving process.”
And then, something I did not expect.
“I know these are really hard conversations to have, but we can reassess in three or four months.”
Now, I was the one processing in stunned silence.
When did he make the transition to not wanting to hang out at all? Even though I had declined his most recent invitation for dinner, my reasons for doing so were because I “wanted to take things slower” and “more casually.” I never outright said no to him and I was the one who asked him to give me time.
Now, he’s an expert on how long it takes to grieve a relationship? And, he’s telling me that we can “reassess” in three to four months? No, he did not.
When I met some girls in my class for dinner tonight, I was still reeling. Partly, I can’t believe that what I thought was going to be an easy, casual friendship has turned into this litany of serious conversations. But also, why must the stipulation of me being a part of his life be that I have to be his serious, monogamous girlfriend? I feel like he’s trying to manipulate this situation to maintain control, and possibly keep me at his mercy, after I was the one to set the boundaries early on.
Why can’t he just be my friend and share a Chipotle burrito on a Sunday afternoon every now and then? His response this afternoon feels too much like a “my way or the highway” type of behavior, a la Rich, and it galls me.
What I need right now, and what I was seeking from him, is a respectful, casual relationship to remind me how a decent man treats a woman. Someone to shield me from the isolation of the medical school library, and share a non-medical conversation, wouldn't be bad either. Perhaps it was naive of me to have this expectation, but I miss the man who used to talk to me openly without pressuring me to be anything more than a nice girl who lived in his building and told him great stories on the way to work.
I hope that our paths don’t cross this week because I fear I might unload some of my hurt and disappointment on him by telling him these very things. I may also mention that I don't need his help in gauging the state of my mental well-being and that it may serve him well to remember that in the future. Mostly, though, I'll probably just think about how much rejection hurts, especially when it's coming from a totally unexpected source.
UPDATED (10/24/10): I obviously wrote this when I was really ticked off. I am, of course, the one who told Neighbor Guy that I wanted more time before dating and all he really did in this conversation was hold me to my word. The “reassessment” comment is still annoying, though, as are the lofty expectations of our friendship (that this is somehow going to end in a serious relationship). I don’t want to diminish the fact that Neighbor Guy is a great catch, but seriously, he'd better check himself before he wrecks himself.