Houston, We Have a Problem

Email Buddy Eric and I were chatting online yesterday. He’d sent me this article called “Why the Smartest People Have the Most Trouble Dating,” or something like that. He prefaced the email with the statement, “Not that I think you have any trouble in this department.” Yeah, right.

The second of the reasons the article gave for this problem is that smart people think they deserve love just because of their accomplishments. I emailed him back and told him that I thought I deserved love just because I’m hot. Tee tee.

So, the Boy is cooking dinner for a girl tonight. I felt a brief glow of pride for having raised such a gentleman before he gave me a crooked smile and told me that this girl’s boyfriend just cheated on her, and he wanted to give her a good night. I blinked. The Boy is trying to move in on some chick who’s just had her ego walloped.

Before I started in on the whole “That’s really sleazy like Ben Affleck asking J-Lo to marry him before the ink on her last marriage license was dry” speech, I bit my tongue and said, “That’s nice of you.”

He’s at that age when you have to let them be their own person and make their own mistakes. If this is the worst he does, I think I did an okay job. But, boy, it’s hard to let go.


I think I must come off as a sensitive person people can talk to.

I have no idea where people would get that idea either.

Here’s what happened:

I was talking with a co-worker/friend the other day. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, and we’re both terribly busy. He supervises this huge department, and he’s a really strong, gruff man. You have to be when you’re in charge of that many people, right?

So, I ask him to take some time off to go with me to take care of something for this project we’re working on together. “We can grab a bite on our way. Get you away from the hustle and bustle of the office.”

Then, I realize that he may, inadvertently, have taken that as me asking him out. Ridiculous. I know this. You know this. But does he?

So, I do what I always do when I’m worried about blurring lines. I ask him how he and his girl are doing. Okay, this may also send the wrong message, but it always makes me feel better. And he tells me they’re good, and then he tells me something personal. Not personal, like, TMI. Personal, like, these are my feelings.

Now, when people, who I don’t know really, really well, do this, my brain goes completely blank. And this is not the first time it’s happened. Recently, another man told me he and his wife were having problems. Another told me he regularly cheated on his wife. Another told me he thought his wife was cheating on him.

See what I mean? What kind of vibe am I giving off that people think I know what the heck I’m talking about? Or that I’d know what to say? Or that I’d know what they should do? Well, except the guy who keeps cheating. Him I’d like to tell to either keep it in his pants or cut his wife loose so she has a shot at something real with someone who loves her. I mean, holy crap! I’m just as clueless as the next person when it comes to relationships.

It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I just don’t immediately know what to do with all these problems. I’m really more into my particular brand of logic than I am into the sensitive stuff. I need to think about the person I know. I need to think about the situation. I can’t just spew out advice arbitrarily. I mean, what if I’m wrong?

So, getting back to my story, the big guy has told me his feelings, and I’m stunned into silence for a second before I say something flip and jokey. Yeah, I’m graceful like that.

We go our separate ways, and it hits me what I just did. But I tell myself to just let it go. Then, five minutes later, I find myself calling him on his cell. He doesn’t pick up. I don’t leave a message. There, a clear sign that I shouldn’t worry about it. It’s nothing. He’s already forgotten it.

Two hours later I get an email from him thanking me for taking care of something for him. There, a clear sign that he forgives me for being a butt head. But five minutes later, I find myself emailing him back:

“Hey, I tried to call you but figured that what I had to say was completely inappropriate. But here you go…”

And I wrote that I was sorry I brushed him off. He didn’t deserve that. And then I wrote that I understood where he was coming from and why.

And I do.

I’ve got problems.

There. I’ve admitted it.

But we all do. And whether we feel qualified to give advice or if we just listen when someone reaches out to us, it’s kind of our responsibility to look out for the people who trust us with their problems, too.

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