I Got An $80 Haircut And Yet Still This Lady I Dated Seven Years Ago Continues To Not Be My Forever Princess


Elle.com, Ask E. Jean, 22 July 2014:

DEAR E. JEAN: I’m a 29-year-old guy with a sad story. Seven years ago I fell in love with a girl who was admittedly out of my league but who sought to be in a relationship with me anyway. She was the first person to give me hope that I could be somebody and have a good life. Then she left me abruptly for a younger guy—a film producer (followed by several other guys)—but promised that if she ever didn’t have a serious boyfriend, she’d give me another chance. I waited for her and changed my life based on what I thought she wanted. I changed jobs, got an advanced degree, moved closer to her apartment, went to the gym every night, and started wearing $2,500 blazers. I did all these things specifically for her, down to getting $80 haircuts. Well, I got my wish. She broke up with her last boyfriend, and I took her to dinner. She confessed that her latest fling was the 18-year-old stoner next door. (Not exactly on par with what I thought she wanted.) And after two hours she said it was not going to happen between us. I built my life on the hope she gave me! Isn’t there some way I can prove my worth to her? I love her. But more than that, my confidence and my excitement about the future have been built on the promise of someday getting her. I take her refusal as a sign that even though I try my hardest, I’m nowhere near deserving of happiness. I feel like the biggest failure in the world. Can I salvage this? —Knocked Out of the Ring

Dear Knocked Out of the Ring,

It definitely sounds like this lady is just on the bare cusp of marrying you really really hard—after all, she’s only spent seven measly years actively not dating you while you have changed the entirety of your life and personage to impress her based on information she never expressly gave you and thereby have transformed yourself into precisely the kind of dude she appears to not date, ever.

Why should you, today, take her at her word that she’s not interested in you after going on a date with you when, nearly a decade ago, she told you she might go on another date with you sometime (read: date you and only you exclusively forever with absolutely no reservations or caveats whatsoever, just whole-hog total commitment and never looking back ever for any reason)? You obviously know what this lady wants and needs better than she knows herself, you just haven’t been able to show her with your blazers.  

Soooooooo, $100 haircut?

I think a lot of people don’t understand that when we talk about these issues—blackface, rape jokes, the appropriation of marginalized cultures, and so on—we are having an ethical conversation, not a legal one. There is no thought police. No one’s coming to your house and carting you off to Insensitivity Prison. But you, as a person living on this planet, get to make a choice whether you want to hurt people or help people. Whether you want to listen or shut people out. I can’t imagine why you’d choose “defensive shithead” over “nice lady capable of empathy,” but okey dokey.
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