My muse is a tiny comedian and we need to stop fucking. I never wanted to feel so inspired and aroused by a small, anxious, twenty-two year old who all but ignores me in public and then tells me how beautiful I am after we’ve had sex, often in a noteworthy location like the roof of his house or under the stars in a friend’s backyard. I’m not a stupid person — I know what this man-child is doing. I can hear myself when I describe our relationship. I’ll go to a party at his house, we’ll barely speak until things wind down, and then we’ll make eyes at each other and go bang somewhere.

One time, mid-thrust, he asked, “Can you believe this?”

“Believe what?” I responded.

“Four years ago, I never would’ve guessed we’d be here…” he said, letting the sentence trail off. He doesn’t want to remind me of the crush he’s had on me since freshman year, because he knows from experience that whoever cares less has the power. What he doesn’t realize is that those things he says are what has given him all the power. Or maybe he knows exactly what he’s doing.

This is the Chase Challenge: as I dissect the latest interaction, justifying his behavior to my girlfriends, the logical and very quiet voice in my head says, Sarah, he’s just not that into you.

I have considered that, Tiny Voice! He’s probably too nervous to talk to me because he’s loved me since he was eighteen and doesn’t want anything serious right now!

That was before you had sex.

But it can’t be THAT bad for him!

He’s slept with at least twice the people you have…he knows a lot more than you do.

Tiny Voice and I stop arguing because she is always right and then I summarize the discussion for my best friend, who would like to be called Clementine this time. I end the summary with, “I don’t want to love Chase.”

“Sarah,” she says, exasperated that she’s going to have to spell out everything I already know, “your brain is confused. You know that Chase should love you. There’s no reason for him to not love you. But for some reason, whether it’s because he’s confused or anxious or a complete idiot, he’s just not that into you.” As she speaks, I nod along in the back seat of her Jeep Commander, making occasional eye contact in her rearview mirror. Her boyfriend, God’s Gift to Women (GGW for short), sits blissfully silent in the front passenger seat, waiting for the right moment to tell me how perfect I am. “So I need you to do me a favor,” Clementine continues. “Do me a favor as your best friend. I need you to be more selfish. Don’t stop being generous and sweet and compassionate, but stop letting guys like Chase fuck you!”

GGW tells me I’m a catch as we pull up to my friend’s driveway, where he ties my new-to-me futon couch to the top of Clementine’s car. As we drive back to my apartment, I think about how tiny Chase could never help me move a couch. Clementine parks in my garage, GGW unties the futon, and then carries it up two flights of stairs by himself, barely breaking a sweat. If I’m selfish, maybe I’ll have more time to meet my own God’s Gift to Women.

In the meantime, I’d better stop making eye contact with Chase.