When it comes to relationships, you get what you pay for. If you're not willing to get invested, then your relationship is going for broke. If you, dear reader -- if you don't mind me breaking the fourth wall -- are anything like me, then you are more afraid of commitment than Stoop Kid is to leave his stoop, and if you don't understand that reference, you were not between the ages of six and sixteen in the 90's or you didn't have cable television.
Don't get me wrong: I glorify and idealize romance, courtship, staying faithful, etc. and I've been known to play a little Dashboard Confessional now and again. I'd love to settle down as big spoon in one silverware drawer for some time. But then again, it's dark in the silverware drawer and I don't like the dark. I want to be out of the drawer, scooping up Raisin Bran at breakfast, before being thrown back in the dishwasher for someone else to enjoy later. It's hard to sit in the same drawer, next to the same old forks and knives, while all the other spoons are out getting into cereals and ice creams and sorbets. Sorbets! Get the metaphor yet?
Maybe I just haven't found the right utensil. Maybe like lactose-intolerant people who love ice cream by the spoonful, I like what I can't have. Maybe my standards for utensils are extremely high (no sporks!). Why am I afraid of commitment? Why is your hookup buddy afraid of calling you his girlfriend (shh! Not too loud!)? "Don't worry, it's not you, it's me." Have any of your spoons ever said this to you? If yes, you are either with someone in the Broadway cast of Beauty and the Beast or you are crazy because spoons don't talk. But if a guy or a girl says this to you, what does it really mean?
What we say and what we mean can be two very different things. Accept that ... but do take everything I am saying right now at face value. Ever have one of those "fear of commitment" lines spouted at you? Sure you have. Two out of three times these lines mean what they appear to mean, but sometimes we're really just trying to say something else in the nicest, most cliché way possible. Like I say to my dog when he pees on fire hydrants: "Really Meeko? How about a little originality, please?" So, the third guy or girl who says one of these to you (Disclaimer: This is not how probability works), tell them you're onto them, do something unexpected and awesome (this is why I always keep ninja vanishing powder on me at all times), and then move on. The one thing that is worse than a relationship that's not going to work is a drawn-out relationship that's not working. So maybe what you should be trying to say is ...
"I just really don't want a relationship right now."
It's not because it's right now. It's not going to be a relationship five months from now either. What you should know though, is that it probably has nothing to do with you and you're not the problem at all. Actually, you'd probably make an excellent girlfriend, and you should remind yourself of this instead of taking it to heart. The problem is we (excuse my nosism) like the status quo: uninhibited, unrestrained Discovery Channel out-on-the-prowl lifestyle with the freedom to start a relationship with whoever's out there, instead of just settling on whoever's right here. However, I don't want to rush into or out of anything, though, so let's just take it slow ...
"Can we just take it slow?"
I don't think it's going to work out, but I like hanging out with you, and there's currently no better use of my time, i.e. I hate puzzles. But if you're still here tomorrow, and we don't have morning breath, can we still do it? No? Well, you're still pretty cool, so let's hop in the car, head to the nearest Sonic Drive-In (wait ... there are no Sonics in the Northeastern U.S.? Stop tempting us with commercials, Sonic!) and just hang out. Like friends do.
"I'd rather be friends."
You really are great -- just not for me. Therefore, we should not be exclusive anymore or even hookup at all. We're probably both missing out on the person who actually lights our fire whereas the fire we have is more the pal-around, roasting marshmallows kind. It's possible we've even already found someone else and feel guilty with you still in the picture romantically. Although we're not right for each other, I would like to have you in small doses because you are fun. Like taking lots of baby Tylenols. Whoa, these Tylenol are giving me a funny feeling in my stomach. Is this liver failure or am I feeling butterflies? I ... I think I am! I ... I think I really like you ...
"Do you want to go out with me?"
Why, I thought you'd never ask! Don't lose hope for a relationship if you want one. One day all of us Lost Boys are going to wake up and realize that Neverland isn't fun anymore, put on our green leotard, fly over to your house, and watch Peter Pan with you and snuggle. We'll wear matching Snuggies and it will be exceptionally adorable. For a lot of us, though, that maturity has yet to come. So just give it some time. If you can commit to that. If not, pop Sleepless in Seattle in the DVD player and realize that if Tom Hanks can get Meg Ryan then there's got to be someone out there for you.
Follow Jeff A. Katz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jeff_A_Katz