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Battle Scars

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 9/26/2001

I always thought I was too smart to get caught in this trap, but here I am. I've known this guy for several months, and at first he pursued me relentlessly, calling me every day, leaving amusing and affectionate messages on my answering machine, even sending me flowers. Naturally, I loved the attention, and we saw each other a couple of times a week. We always had a great time, but I tried to keep just a little cool, because I had a feeling if I let him know I really liked him he'd back off. Eventually, though, I began to relax, and one night, when he told for the umpteenth time that he loved me, I told him I loved him too. You can guess the rest. Now he says that I'm a great gal and he really cares for me, but that he's just not ready to be serious. I feel like an idiot and I'm angry as hell. What makes men do this?

Pissed in Poughkeepsie

Dear Pissed:
This guy was playing a private, selfish little game, the object of which was for the player (him) to get his opponent (you) to surrender (say I love you). As soon as you did, the game was over, he'd won, and now he's free to take on another opponent (unsuspecting female). Your feelings were irrelevant except as they could be manipulated toward his ultimate victory. You're not an idiot. Anybody targeted by someone who's good at the game would have to have a pretty low opinion of herself not to succumb eventually. And it's no good keeping your feelings too well defended; if this guy had been on the level and you'd been too cynical to believe it, you could have missed out on something great. Instead of beating yourself up for being stupid, give yourself credit for having had the guts to take a chance. That's more than this guy can say. He was never at risk; if you had rejected him, he would have either played harder or, since he was the one making up the rules, he could have called the game a draw and walked away.

As for why they do it, there are lots of reasons. Some need to prop up their own saggy self-esteem at they-don't-care-who else's expense. Some believe the ability to trick others into loving them proves them somehow superior--each new victim confirms their contempt for the rest of us. Others could be avenging themselves for previous real or imagined injuries. Some are such emotional messes they think anyone who could love them must be desperate, or too damaged to want. And some people are just shits. And it's not just hetero men or even just men who do this; sadly, there are scalp hunters among our own supposedly kinder, fairer sex.

You have every right to be furious. Whatever his hang ups, he had no right to play with you like this. Eventually, though, you will recover, and when you stop feeling angry and start feeling sorry for him, then you'll be the real winner.

Regarding your response to By Love Possessed in your Sept. 5 column (www.citypaper. com/2001-09-05/mink.html), I largely agree with you but want to share my story and give a possible alternate response. After I ended a brief affair several years ago, the guy kept calling, trying to see me. When I call-blocked his number, he called from his sister's phone. I was ready to change my phone number when I decided to try something. The next time he called I talked to him. I told him I was sorry things hadn't turned out the way he wanted. I said I understood that he felt hurt and lonely, but that his behavior was unhealthy and he should consider professional help. I had some numbers ready to give him. I suggested he get involved in sports and spend time with his friends. I let him know that I was trying to be kind, but that if he continued to call I would have to change my number, and I didn't believe he would want me to do that. After talking for about a half an hour, he calmed down. He called me twice in the next month, and each time I stayed calm but firm. He stopped calling. I saw him in a store a few years later, and he didn't approach me.

My ordeal lasted two months, and I know By Love Possessed's affair lasted longer, but it might be worth a try. I think it's better to come from a place of caring than avoidance. It's a thought.

BR
Dear BR:
You're a kinder soul than I, but you make a good point. There are other ways to remove a splinter from your toe besides cutting off your foot. Thanks for your letter.

To my readers: In case any of you are imagining parallels between this column and my feelings about the events of Sept. 11, there are none. While I am still in shock over the monstrosity of the attack on us, and have confused and conflicting feelings about retaliation, what I do not feel for the people who did this to us is pity. My compassion is reserved for the victims, their families and loved ones, and for everyone affected by this horror. My greatest hope is that we can get through this crisis, as long as it lasts, without destroying ourselves in the process.

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Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

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Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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