This is how you end up with the wrong guy.
Something seismic happens- an illness, a birthday unlooked for, a birth, a change of address, dress size or your last single friend’s surname, a death in the family or the end of a thing- and it shakes you up. When the dust settles, there are cracks in you that weren’t there before and through those cracks shine the deceptive, persistent light of maybe.
Maybe there is too much of me, too little of me, maybe I expected too much, gave too little. Maybe.
Maybe is the invitation to a vampire, the first roll of a gambler’s dice, the first click of ice cubes against the side of an addict’s highball. Maybe is definitely a bad idea.
Riding in on maybe comes half of what you want and all your insecurities made flesh. A tall, strapping hunk of stress, a knight in shining fuckery. His particular sin doesn’t matter- immaturity, questionable hygiene, loose concepts of loyalty and/or fidelity, a sad bank balance and professional indifference, no sense of humour or sometimes (and this one is particularly sad) he’s just a hairy bundle of not-quite-good-enoughs.
Your cracked self, splintered with maybes, gets to work shoring up these weaknesses.
I’ll help him out, you say. I’ll bite my tongue and hint. I’ll support him. I’ll encourage him. I will work on being more patient, less demanding. I’ll be less of me so that I’ll fit better with the lesser him.
And time passes, while you diminish.
Then, something seismic happens- an illness, a birthday unlooked for, a birth, a change of address, dress size or your last single friend’s surname, a death in the family or the end of a thing- and it shakes you up. When the dust settles, there are cracks in you, fissures now, deep wide chasms that lay bare the gap between what you want and what you have. Maybe’s light is revealed to be blinding, and you start to see again.
You see your flaws, yes, but you see the countless hours of emotional labour you have put in to better yourself and realise his flaws haven’t even occurred to him. You see how many times you have propped him up, filled in the awkward gaps he leaves in the world. All the times you papered over his stains, wrapped him up in fine linen and told your doubting friends he wasn’t that bad. You flick through the pages of your memories and find, even through the haze of maybe, you had doubts. You wrote them in your journal, you told them to the listening ears of the night but somehow you let yourself forget. You let yourself forget who you were, who you are, who you were on the path to becoming because you met some guy who made you say- maybe. You let the dots in your human perfection draw a picture of divine imperfection that showed you ending up alone, so, maybe. You heard the laughter and clink clink of toasts to brides that weren’t you and sang from a songbook of microwave meals for one, so, maybe. You remembered how your body shook when the chemicals in your brain sent you spiralling down into a dark place and recoiled from going there again alone, so, maybe.
How do you kill maybe? You force the issue- this is not news. You say “what are we”? or “where is this going?”. You make moves into his space, clear space in yours for him, aggressively negotiate a merger. You might even ‘take a break’, putting your toe in the water of single before taking a full plunge. If you’re lucky, he’ll say ‘I don’t like labels’ or ‘Let’s see how things go’ or ‘I’m not ready to live with anyone yet, it’s not personal.’ or ‘I know we were on a break but I’ve kind of reached the end point with this’. If you’re lucky, maybe it will die there and your real life will begin. If you’re unlucky, his maybe will breathe new life into yours and, well.
That’s how you end up with the wrong guy.