Grown-ups are supposed to know the difference between make believe and reality – but when it comes to sex and love on Facebook, the lines get blurry sometimes.
auremar / 123RF Photo
Over the last few years, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been contacted by boyfriends from my distant past. It’s startling when it happens, because prior to social media, chances were good that the high school boyfriend you seduced when your parents were on a weekend vacation, or the Italian lover that made you temporarily insane, would remain safely tucked away as memories — not pop-up on your computer screen to remind you of awkward behavior that happened 20, even 30 years ago.
Still, once the initial time-travel whiplash has subsided and I’m breathing normally again, re-connecting with them has provided a good opportunity to connect the dots between who I was then with the person I am now. But recently, it was me who initiated a re-connection, finding a past “him” by searching on Facebook. Now why this guy suddenly inspired a name search is beyond me because I hadn’t thought of him in decades: curiosity, a boring afternoon, a way to avoid finishing the work that was piled up on my desk?
So I typed in his name and up he came. From what I could tell from my initial peek at his profile, he was living on a ranch in Colorado, wasn’t married, and there was no sign of a girlfriend. I sent a friend request without a whole lot of expectation of acceptance.
Why? Because the last time I saw him it was to give him the big kiss-off. This man, who had been a loyal, fun, generous and exciting boyfriend when I was in my early 20s, was unceremoniously dumped after about year and a half of dating — without explanation. And now he was getting a friend request some 30 years later?
I remember the night it happened. He came to my house with a baby bunny he’d found and had it cradled in his arms. Instead of inspiring feelings of tenderness, I felt imposed upon, pressured to commit, overwhelmed, manipulated, and so I sent him on his way, forever, never to be heard from again — until now.
A few days after sending it, my Facebook friend request was accepted. I messaged to confirm it was really him. It was. Looking at his profile again, I could see there was an apparent girlfriend in the picture and I had a moment of clarity. What was I doing trying to shoehorn my way into his present after being tucked away and forgotten in his distant past?
I remembered how disconcerting it was when others contacted me the same way and also realized that my motivation needed closer examination. Yep, I’d opened a Pandora’s Box and needed to make a grown-up decision to close it again — but the right way — not like before.
That left one “high road” alternative: make amends, long overdue. Seize an opportunity to apologize for how thoughtless and cold I’d been way back when…how selfish and inconsiderate of his feelings…to confess that I’d behaved like a jerk and was truly sorry for that now…and to wish him the best. Over and out — the end — the right way this time. And that’s what I did.
But then I got a response — “no worries” — and an invitation to call so we could catch up. So after opening a door that should have stayed closed, I didn’t know what to do next. Maybe I’m just being a drama queen because when old boyfriends contacted me, nothing came of it. Why should this be different just because it was me who contacted him?
I’ll tell you why: because aside from having a significant other in his life who wouldn’t appreciate my sudden appearance, he was, for sure, a man I would have married had I not been so intent on pursuing a life without the encumbrance of a long-term committed relationship. That’s what makes it scary. Had I not been of such a singular mindset, this would have been the one.
So I returned to his Facebook profile to see if it would somehow indicate what I should do next. I found a photo of him with his girlfriend. She was “tagged” so I found her profile page (her profile photo was of them together) and other photos of him, without the rakish cowboy hat. I saw that he was an old man now. His hair, what was left, was completely white. What happened to the dashing 25-year-old with the bronzed swimmer’s body that swam naked with me in the Caribbean?
Reality trumped fantasy. No need for further romantic daydreams. It was like when the lights come on after last call. I realized he wasn’t “the one” after all – not any more now than he was back then. And furthermore, he was “the one” for someone else.
Ah Facebook, with your potential to inspire romantic daydreams that could spin life in a different direction. Thanks for the reminder that fantasy, especially the romantic kind, is usually far more intriguing than reality and memories are best when left as such.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.