He Said, She Said: On New Year’s Eve and Mismatched Feelings

An Email Exchange Between Mike and Stella J.


Back in February of 2015, Mike started a publication called The Cooties Report to tell the world about his thoughts and stories on being single in San Francisco. Right around the same time, Stella J. started Navigating The Sea Of Singledom, a similar publication from the other coast. With the two enjoying each other’s writings, it wasn’t long before they got in touch to discuss all matters dating. Because, you know, synergy. Here’s one of their recent email exchanges:

Mike:

Okay, thanks for participating in this gimmick that can keep us afloat while we wait for other material to come along. Let’s see where this goes.

Seeing as this email exchange will straddle the turnover from 2015–2016, let’s start there. What are your thoughts on New Years Eve? It may be my favorite holiday, just because I’ve had an incredible 15-year streak of NYE’s — most of them really excellent and memorable nights, the rest of them very good nights.

Woo! 2016!!!!

Although I do acknowledge the stress involved with that night. We all put a ton of pressure on ourselves to make it a classic. And if you’re without a date, midnight feels like all of the loneliness/doubt/self-hatred of a single Valentine’s Day compressed into 10 seconds. I guess I’ve just had better luck with NYE.

How do you feel about it, and what are you doing for it? Or, depending on when you respond, what did you do?

Stella J.:

I have just about the complete opposite opinion of you when it comes to New Year’s Eve! First, I think the whole “it’s a new year, time for a new you” thing of making resolutions, identifying goals, etc. is bullshit. You can do that ANY DAY of the year, not just New Year’s. But, I suppose rolling over the calendar is as good an excuse as any to party.

I’ve spent the last 8 NYE’s — count em, 8! — coupled, most of which we spent at home because I think that’s what tends to happen when you’re coupled for so long. So, a part of me has been looking forward to my first single NYE, but I am going out with a date so at least I’m sure to get a midnight kiss. I’ll be going out with Kyle*, the Mr. Nice Guy I’ve been seeing, and meeting up with friends. We’ll probably hit one or two local little bars for dancing and drinking.

I’ll let you know how it goes and we can compare. Small town New Year’s Eve must be very different than SF NYE. You get all the fun stuff :-p

Mike:

If by “fun stuff” you mean expensive parties at trendy venues, then yeah, we’ve got all that. On the plus side, open bar. On the minus side, if you actually did get your money’s worth, you’d probably be passed out on the dance floor well before the countdown.

At least one of us had a midnight makeout :(

Speaking of which, let’s get a full status check on Mr. Nice Guy. Because from what I know about the situation, it doesn’t sound like you’re fully into him. The middle school/high school version of me would be mad at you for this. I spent many a night tossing and turning, wondering why nice guys finish last. But over the years I’ve come to realize that being nice and treating a girl right — that’s just not enough. And why should it be? Being nice is easy. Making somebody laugh, or giving someone an orgasm — that’s the exciting shit that people crave.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Stella J.:

November through now has been the most boring few months for me, romantically. In part, that’s by choice. I’m no longer on Tinder or other dating apps actively looking for people. I’m sort of thinking of this as my winter of “Finding Joy in Solitude”. Doing me. Bettering myself. All that good stuff. So, in the meantime, Kyle* and Mike* are still the only the dudes really in the picture.

Status Check:

Mike* — He’s been away since late October. Will be back next week. We chat occasionally, mostly via snaps. Nothing new to report really. We had hit a few bumps when he thought I was catching feelings for Mr. Nice Guy, but I think we’re cool again.

Mr. Nice Guy Kyle* — I was very into him the first 2 months or so (it’s now been 4 since we met), but my interest has definitely been waning. There are a few very minor things about him that I don’t dig: he’s a bad tipper, he has terrible taste in music, and he doesn’t have great texting game. Bigger things that I don’t dig: the sexual chemistry is not there most of the time.

So, you’re right. You said a while back something like “great conversation and great sex are not as easy to come by” (as “nice guy” qualities), and you’re not the only person who’s said more or less that same thing to me. And I’m beginning to think that’s true.

But, I did finally get around to having The Talk with Kyle*. I’d been worried we were on very different pages, that he was more invested in a potential serious thing than I was. I told him I don’t want a serious thing, and I’m seeing other people. He was very cool about it and basically said that’s fine by him. He said he’s “just having fun” but will just keep trying to win me over. That second part makes me nervous…

Mike:

Ooooh, that second part makes me nervous as well. I’ve been in that stage before — the “that’s okay, it just means I have my work cut out for me”. Truth is, it’s near impossible to overcome. In my experience, If she doesn’t like you, she doesn’t like you. Bringing her flowers just because it’s Tuesday won’t change that.

Because these types of feelings are unstable: if the two parties are not on the same page, the difference between those pages will increase. For example, I’ve been out recently a few times with this girl, and I can tell she’s pretty into me. But I’m like, only kind of into her. And just the fact that there is a difference in our level of feelings makes me like her less. So there’s a vicious cycle thing going on, and before long I’m just trying to figure out how to end this textversation gracefully so I can get back to binge watching Friday Night Lights in peace.

On the other hand, Kyle* has made it four months. He’s obviously got something going for him. Maybe he’ll bring you flowers on Tuesday and you’ll realize what a gem you’ve got, and then you’ll take off together. Because as unstable as feelings are, if you are on the same page, the opposite is true — things can move at an exponential rate.

Stella J.:

“And just the fact that there is a difference in our level of feelings makes me like her less.”

Now THAT is an interesting phenomenon. I’ve been there before, maybe even on both sides of that, but I’m still not sure I understand it. The other person likes you more than you like them, and that’s a turn off. But why? In my experience it’s two reasons:

- One is you don’t want to lead them on and so maybe you try to be distant so she doesn’t get the wrong idea (but that’s a little different than liking her less because of it).

- Two is that they come off as desperate or clingy, and desperate is just never attractive and if you don’t want clingy, that’s not attractive either.

But on the flip side, there’s something human and honest about that: they like you and they show it. That shouldn’t be a turn off. It’s just the way it is. She’s putting herself out there (in some way) and being vulnerable (by letting on that she likes you so much) and that should be honorable! But instead it’s like, “Nope, she’s expressing too many feelings and that’s a bad thing. Minus some points for her.”

And I’m not knocking you for it. I just think it’s a strange dynamic. I definitely think some of that’s going on with Kyle*. He likes me more than I like him and I think do like him less for it! But I couldn’t exactly tell you the psychology behind why that is.

Mike:

I think you’re right on both bullet points. And I also think this needs to be formulized!

In these situations, let’s call Kyles* of the world the Clinger (C), and the yous of the world the Heisman (H).

The Hiesman Trophy keeps all clingers at arms length.

Let x = C’s level of feelings for H
Let y = H’s level of feelings for C
t = time
y1 = y at this initial time

And in this situation, x > y, obviously.

I propose that:

y = t*(y1 + (y — x))
Artist’s interpretation of Mike while he was writing this email.

Now, my best algebra days are behind me, and I’m quite certain the above doesn’t quite make mathematical sense. But if you can imagine this equation feeding back on itself, y is going to get smaller and smaller and eventually become zero and even negative. Ouch.

On the other hand, if y is equal to x (i.e. C and H are in fact on the same page), then y just grows and grows with time.

Where do I pick up my Nobel Prize?

But I’m with you — I don’t disparage the Clinger from expressing his/her feelings. If you are on the same page, that’s when things take off. And it’s not that my feelings about her go down. More that my feelings on the whole situation go down.

Man, this whole idea for an article probably would be better if we disagreed more. Oh well, maybe next time. I think we’ve put these readers through enough.

Stella J.:

I’m impressed by this formula! Not only that you formulized it, but moreso that it actually makes sense. Kind of…



*Names have been changed, of course, to protect the innocent.


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