December 24, 2016

Six Months on the Back Burner: The Story of Not-My-Boyfriend

Six Months on the Back Burner: The Story of Not-My-Boyfriend / Single AF Podcast / In which I tell the story of my six-month, long-term back burner relationship (or is that non-relationship?) for your entertainment, amusement, and education about dating in 2016.

This could also be titled “let’s lead my entire audience on a journey through my disorganized storytelling without actually putting it all together in a nice, tidy, sequential order because this is going to be a chapter in my upcoming book but I haven’t written it just yet but I still want to promote it without giving the content away and fuck if I want to be one of those authors that just copies and pastes blog posts into ebook form and slaps a $5 price tag on it because fuck that.”

But that was too lengthy according to Blogger.

This is a piece-by-piece collection of all the stories I wrote about not-dating a guy casually for more than six months, prompting me to ultimately refer to him as my Not-My-Boyfriend.

Let’s start with the piece that was covered in Vice’s Broadly Magazine

You can read this part here. Note that the reporter didn’t bother to use my last name or link to my site or follow back on Twitter or otherwise fucking return the favor on any level. Because we all know that content creators give reporters stories for funsies and don’t have any of our own interests to watch out for. But it’s a good read and I want to promote it all the same.

(Because that’s what good people do, Suzannah. We help the people who work with us.) 

Then there’s this

When I moved to El Paso, this motherfucker broke my heart by telling me how badly he wanted to date me and be with me 48 fucking hours before I moved. So I got payback by writing about him and all my feelings.

Because I guess that makes us even?

He was also the guy that I was frustrated with when the shootings at Pulse Nightclub happened. I had to seek comfort from him because he was my best option, but cuddles and Bob’s Burgers weren’t enough to make the world totally okay, and I was angry at him for that.

(And I still feel bad for how angry I was.)

The whole situation inspired the fourth episode of the Single AF Podcast, which is all about back burner relationships.

And finally, there’s the emails.

In the course of getting the story for the Vice piece linked above, we had to email back and forth 14 times. Here’s copies of those emails (lightly abridged).

And so, I present to you…

Six Months on the Back Burner

I think most of my dating experiences over the last year or so have been either benching or back burner relationships, so I definitely have experience here (as sad as that is to say out-loud). I actually didn’t realize that either of these terms existed because I never really learned how to date properly, so this explains a lot of weird experiences.

Honestly, looking back at my dating history, I don’t know if I’ve had a meaningful connection with much of anybody – and I think that disinterest is mutual, although I’m horrible at reading guys.

The worst has been this guy we’ll call Owen. I met Owen for the first time in April, before I relocated. We went on an actual, legitimate date, which never turned sexual. About a week later, we had dinner and then went back to his place to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous.

He didn’t touch me. I figured maybe we were friends. Then as soon as I got home, he started telling me how he wished I’d stayed the night. Suddenly, we’re cuddling and watching Bob’s Burgers (and a couple other things) every couple weeks. Oh, and he talks to me on Snapchat every day.

Fast forward a month and I move four hours away. The night before I leave, he gets drunk, invites me over, and tells me that he wishes I weren’t leaving because I’m the first guy he’s met that he could see a future with. Go figure, right?

It’s been a few months since. We talk a few days a week – he sends me naughty pictures. Sometimes I reciprocate. I used his bed as a crash pad when I went up to visit. I texted him when my friend died because I didn’t know who else to talk to. He occasionally sends me a meme that references Drop Dead Gorgeous.

A week ago, I kept him on the hook by telling him that I was trying to find location-independent work so that I can split my time between my new city and his place. But I’m going to be honest: this isn’t going anywhere. I don’t think either of us knows what to do with the other. We’re just killing time. At the same time, the idea of him reading this and walking away makes me queasy, so I guess I’m attached.

It definitely feels mutual. At one point, he started to wax poetic about how nice it would be to have a relationship, but he never went anywhere with it. Note that at no point did he say it would be nice to have a relationship with me. I called him out, and he changed the subject.

I think we keep each other around because we’re both insecure and we like the validation. It’s comforting to know that when you’re feeling bored – or, honestly, when you feel ugly and unwanted – that you’ve got somebody who’s going to tell you, “nice butt.”

Sometimes I do wonder if we’ll end up giving a relationship a shot, but there are several signs that it would never happen. We’re separated by distance and I don’t see that changing. I’m not moving back, and if he decided to move here just to date me, I’d be terrified. I get distracted easily, so I tend to focus my attention on whichever guy has introduced himself most recently. Finally, I’ve been through a nightmare of a relationship before and come with complications, while he’s never had a boyfriend, so lord knows what our relationship would look like. Dating me would be like trying to pass a calculus exam when you only know arithmetic.

I have this tendency to take every guy seriously – at least early on. I’ll give any guy the equal opportunity to woo me and fit into my life. But I’m also not about to chase someone down and try to push a relationship forward.

In some ways, every guy I’ve dated for the past couple years has been a back burner guy because of that: I’m down to see where it goes, but I haven’t seen a future with anyone specific, and I’ll easily forget about them as soon as they let me (until I feel lonely. Then it’s time to go through my text messages and pick a few to talk to).

The last time I saw Owen was about three weeks ago, when I visited to go see a concert. While I was living there, we saw each other about once every couple weeks. Now, it’s been once since July because of my move. I usually refer to him as my not-my-boyfriend, because I didn’t know how else to describe him.

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