06/26/2012 12:28 am ET Updated Jun 26, 2012

Impossibly Awkward Conversation

"This article originally appeared at the Good Men Project"

Oliver Lee Bateman admits that this may not be exactly how the conversation went, but it is exactly how it felt to him.

“Hey, I’m this one guy you met.”

“Hi, good to see you. I’m Emily.”

“Hi Emily. Are you ready for our date?”

“Are you calling this a date? Is that what this is?”

“I guess so.”

“I’m not comfortable with the term ‘date.’ That puts a lot of pressure on me.”

“I agree. Let’s call it hanging out.”

“No, I don’t like that, either. Let’s just call it nothing.”

“Okay, Emily, then it’s nothing. We’re doing nothing.”

“I like that. I like doing nothing with you.”

“Yeah, I guess it beats doing something.”

“Does it? I like staying active. You know, going out and doing stuff.”

“So do I, Emily. I’m a big fan of doing stuff, especially when I go out.”

“Well, there are also times when it’s good to stay in.”

“You’re so right. Most nights, I’d just like to curl up in my pajamas while staying in. It’s a jungle out there and so forth.”

“I hope you’re not one of those guys who just wants me to come over and stay at his dirty rat hole of a place. I want a
guy who comes up with interesting ideas for dates.”

“But I thought you weren’t comfortable calling this a date.”

“This? No way—definitely not a date, definitely not with you. What I mean is when I’m on a date with a guy I’m in a
relationship with who isn’t you.”

“I see. So what do you want from a relationship, Emily?”

“Relationships? Ugh, those are so twentieth century. I just want something casual.”

“I’m all for that. Casual is best.”

“I don’t agree. See, I want you to want to have a relationship with me, but I don’t want to have a relationship with you.”

“What? That’s confusing!”

“No, I need attention from you. But I’m definitely not going to reciprocate. Not your attention, anyway. I’m going to reciprocate someone else’s attention, except that’ll be a one-way street, too. What I want, I guess, is at least two one-way streets: One where you’re needing me and one where I’m needing some other, better guy.”

“If you need a better guy, why are we hanging out?”

“Hanging out? I thought we were doing nothing.”

“Excuse me, why are we doing nothing?”

“You asked me out, right?”

“Huh? You sent me an e-mail asking me if I wanted to have coffee with you, Emily.”

“I didn’t mean it. I think you totally misinterpreted that.”

“Did I?”

“When a girl says or writes that she wants to have coffee with you, she’s trying to tell you that she doesn’t want to have coffee with you. I was being nice.”

“But I didn’t want to have coffee with you. However, I did want to have coffee after you asked me, because I thought you were interested in me…”

“Why on earth would you think that?”

“You wrote that you were interested in me and wanted to have coffee!”

“I wasn’t, though. That’s just what I wrote. You’re so silly.”

“Okay. Let me see if I understand: Right now we’re doing nothing, and this isn’t a date, and you didn’t want to go on it,
even though you asked me to go.”

“Exactly. How hard is it to understand that?”

“What about this other, better guy? Why don’t you have coffee with him?”

“If I had coffee with him, he might learn that I liked him. I want to have a relationship with him, but I don’t want him to know that. Besides, I have a fear of relationships. Also a fear of dates.”

“But not a fear of doing nothing.”

“No, doing nothing is okay. Anyway, you’re harmless. Like a brother or a best girlfriend. I can say anything to you and it won’t bother you at all.”

“Yeah, I’m glad you can, Emily. Lucky for you, I’m a total doormat. I don’t have any feelings. I’m the perfect guy to do nothing with, and I certainly won’t challenge you in any way.”

“Just don’t pressure me. I don’t like being pressured.”

“Have I pressured you, Emily?”

“I can’t shake the feeling that you’re trying to turn this nothing into something. This nothing will never be something, guy I met.“

“I don’t expect it to be. In fact, I have no expectations at all. You matter, but I don’t. I’m happy to sit here and listen to you ramble about your doubts, hopes, and dreams. I won’t even point out how contradictory they are.”

“Great! So I can tell you how I want a guy who will love me with all of his heart, except he’ll ignore me most of the time. Money won’t matter, but he’ll be very rich and will buy me lots of expensive crap. He’ll be handsome but not really, not enough that he’ll ever make me feel insecure about my looks, and I’ll always be able to outsmart him, even though he’s a genius. We’ll have kids, and I’ll care about them so much that I’ll never see them because I’m always on vacation or getting my nails done or getting my highlights retouched or whatever.”

“That sounds so wonderful, Emily. It sure does. My life is of no consequence, and I’ll die alone and forgotten, but I’m happy that you have it figured out.”

“I don’t respect your opinion, but I’m glad you’re listening to me. You should be, too.”

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