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Let me start out by saying I care about politics. I care about who becomes President, who’s in Congress, what the people running our country plan to do with it. I care, but, with nothing really new to add to the conversation and a tendency to get easily annoyed, prefer to steer clear of discussing politics.
That said, it never occurred to me that this aversion might render me an unsuitable love interest to some.
I met Jake* through a mutual friend a few years ago and immediately formed a crush on him. Tall, dark-haired, cute, and funny, he was basically my exact type -- except for the girlfriend. In addition to living a couple states away, he’d been dating a girl who would later become his fiancée. I never made a move.
Jake and I saw each other a few more times before he and the fiancée called off their engagement and broke up for good. Later that year he and I ended up at the mutual friend’s wedding, where I did little to hide how pleased I was to see him. He was (finally) single. I was (still) single. We subtly flirted throughout the reception, but once the party moved to a bar we stepped things up, even making out right in front of everyone (something I find annoying and generally avoid).
After the bride and groom left, things started winding down and I brought Jake back to my place. We got it on, went to sleep, and he took off in the morning to head back to his home state. It was a pretty standard one-night stand -- which I didn’t mind -- until it wasn’t.
I texted him in the afternoon and told him to let me know if he came back to New York. I wasn’t interested in anything long-distance, but I figured if he was in the area, why not get together for the evening? He seemed to have other plans, though. We started texting on the regular, the typical cutesy getting-to-know-each-other type stuff. He told me he was happy we were both single at the same time, and it wasn’t long before he started talking about heading back to New York in a couple weeks.
Even now it pains me a bit to say that, after just a few days, I was already starting to reconsider my stance on long-distance relationships. I’m not sure if it was the longtime crush I’d had on Jake, sheer loneliness, or a mix of both, but I found myself thinking things like, It’s only a four-hour drive...
Hurricane Sandy hit right around the time he was going to visit, but that didn’t end up being the biggest obstacle in our not-even relationship. Once the weather started settling down, he already started acting weird. I generally don’t get antsy when a guy doesn’t respond to a text or email right away, but up until that point, he’d been a pretty snappy replier -- I rarely heard from him more than a few minutes after my last message. It was hard not to wonder if I’d said something wrong, so my obsessive self started poring over our most recent exchanges.
It hit me much later than it should have. I’d already thought to myself, It couldn’t be the politics thing, but now it’s the only conclusion I can draw.
To explain: Our conversation steered toward the impending presidential election, which was maybe a week away. New York was still reeling from the damage from the storm, and I mentioned I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it to Westchester (where I was still registered) to cast my vote. The rest of the conversation is where things fell apart.
Sometime in the past year I deleted Jake’s emails (less out of anger or annoyance and more out of having run out of space) so the exact dialogue is lost, but it basically went something like this:
Me: I’m not really into talking about politics.
Him: *radio silence*
While I can’t remember the convo word-for-word, I do distinctly recall that there was nothing else in that particular exchange that might have set Jake off and sent him into the silent void. I didn’t hear a word from him again until the night of the election, at which point he asked me if I was able to “swim through a subway station to a polling precinct.” I managed to contain myself to a terse but polite reply.
I figured that was that, which was fine. For a while it annoyed me that he made a point to pursue me when I was content with keeping our relationship a one-night (or possibly two-night) stand, only to blow me off when he realized he wouldn’t be able to discuss a certain topic. Since it’s a topic he was clearly passionate about and there was no way of knowing whether he was disappointed he wouldn’t have someone to discuss it with (or rant about to), it bothered me less than it normally would have. Plus, that mutual friend? When I explained to him what happened, he told me it was for the best that Jake and I didn’t start dating.
“Why?” I remember asking, to which he replied, in so many words, that I was too good for Jake.
Frankly, I tend to agree. Jake texted me about half a year later to apologize for blowing me off, and while I was ready to ignore him, my bleeding-heart boyfriend said I should reply. I told him if he thought it was so important, he could answer for me, which he did. It was a simple response, something along the lines of “No sweat” or “Don’t worry about it” -- the sort of thing that didn’t really elicit any further conversation.
But Jake didn’t stop there. He went on to tell me about how he was reevaluating his life and trying to become a better person and blah blah blah. I opted not to respond. That was the last contact we had, and, barring any run-ins at the aforementioned couple’s anniversary parties, it’ll stay that way.
*Names have been changed to protect me from annoying text messages.