I Am Enjoying Being an Afterthought

The weirdest shift my love life has made.

Vanessa Torre
Dec 4, 2018 · 4 min read

The number of times I have driven myself (and others, I am sure) crazy with the need to feel important to someone is plentiful. I have craved this. My ex-husband was not so great in the making me feel appreciated, loved and cherished department. When we got divorced, it loomed out there. Now. Maybe now I could finally have that feeling.

I searched for it. I hoped. I looked. I tried to make relationships work. I picked things apart. I overthought. I analyzed messages. I read stupid advice articles. Still, the feeling wasn’t there.

After exchanging brief texts with two different men today, it occurred to me:

And, I don’t mind in the least bit. It’s also shocking as hell to me that I am just fine with this. To be clear, no one is treating me poorly, disrespectfully, or even neglectfully. There’s just an overwhelming absence of expectation. It feels really good. Here’s what it looks like:

I have gone on exactly two dates with a guy. Two. He is handsome, nice and funny and spoke to my dog with the appropriate accent. Our second date was almost three weeks ago. That was four weeks after our first date. We chat here and there when it occurs to us to do so. I don’t know if a third date will happen. Really, it’s a crap shoot.

I just found out that he is going on vacation next week. I had no idea. Not even mad. We go days without talking to each other. There is interest there but it’s not mind blowing right now because it doesn’t need to be.

In letting others off the hook, I have let myself off the hook, too.

It’s freakishly liberating. Since my divorce last year, I have put a lot of effort toward dating and trying to rebuild some kind of a love life. That’s a bunch of crappy work to do. I’m an over thinker with the dating skills of a root vegetable.

It’s nice to have someone to talk to and to occasionally spend time with. I don’t want to be their everything. Being someone’s afterthought shifts my thinking and allows me remain focused on my own growth, my writing and other interests.

It allows me to continue to have high standards while tempering expectations.

I don’t get involved with a lot of men because I am picky as hell. What can I say? My time is at a premium. I am choosy with whom I spent it. I like high quality men. This has not and will not change. What has changed is that I go into situations much more casually. I am not expecting the Earth to move.

I’m not emotionally investing like I have before. I am more focused on what I am doing and how I am feeling to be concerned with when and what the last text was. The overthinking has come to a screeching halt. My mind is strangely calm.

Tempered expectations can lead to pleasant surprises.

October 4, 2001. Two days before I married my first husband. That was the last time a man ever brought me or sent me flowers. I love flowers. Immensely. So I go to the store every week and I go to the discount bin of half off flowers I affectionately refer to as the “Treat Yo’self” flowers. I treat myself.

I always waited and hoped for someone to bring me flowers. I would, literally, add them to the shopping list for my ex-husband. “Flowers for wife.” The best he ever did was to bring home a plant.

At some point, I am sure someone will send me flowers. I am sure I will fall over. Because I’m not expecting it in the least bit. It will be more meaningful to me and at the same time, my brain has not wrapped up some preconceived fantasy in my head about what those flowers mean.

Though my thinking has shifted, one thing remains the same. I know at some point that I will be someone’s waking thought. They will be mine. I can’t get rid of that sense of hope and I don’t want to.

The beauty of this is that eventually the Earth will move. I still have faith that it will happen. The difference is that I’m not sitting over here with a bag of popcorn anxiously waiting for it to happen. I’m living my life.

Vanessa Torre

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Going through life like a flaming pinball. Nerd, music lover, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com