Old Dog

If I were a dog, I think I’d like to be a labrador. Everyone loves them. They get picked first at the pound. They’re beautiful in a variety of colors. In fact, I think I’d get even more specific. I think I’d like to be a labrador puppy—they’re fluffy and learn tricks fairly quickly. Plus people like the new, the cute, the lovable. The mixed breed, the old dog with the missing leg—well, it can be lovable, but unless someone takes pity on it, it’s getting put down.

As it stands though, I’m a working-class human female, who’s 36 and in debt. I know, with this resumé one might wonder why I’m not yet married. Surprisingly enough, I believe it has little to do with my stellar list of accomplishments. It has more to do with the company I keep.

Inevitably, wherever God places me, I find a way to attach myself to men who are not remotely interested in me. My next door neighbor who lingers at my front porch a little too long. My friend in the visual department who stops by to see me every morning. My gay co-worker who wants to take salsa lessons with me. The list is embarrassingly long and unlikely, so I’ll stop here.

The attraction for him comes out of nowhere. It’s spawned by something he said or did or something someone else said to make me wonder about something he said or did.

The recovery movement has popularized a spot-on definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result. According to this, I should’ve been locked up ages ago. Through the years, I’ve attached myself to guy friends expecting emotional reciprocation, expecting—I admit it—love. No, I have obviously never been literally put down like a shelter animal, but in the emotional sense, I’ve been picked up, handled and then put back down a lot when something newer and shinier comes along.

Today the pitiful cycle came to a halt.

I’m a forward kind of gal, I like to put all the cards on the table. I don’t like to waste time in relationships. I save that for work.

My guy friend and I were sitting in my garage hanging out, when I finally asked him who he was interested in. My family and friends saw his behavior and kept telling me he MUST like me. It turns out that he’s interested in a mutual friend of ours, and I have to admit, it stung to hear it out loud even though I’d suspected.

And why wouldn’t he? My friend is amazing. She’s also petite and ten years younger than me.

My heart has never learned this axiom: guys aren’t like us. When they’re hanging out, they’re really just hanging out. It means nothing. When a girl is spending countless hours sitting with, talking on the phone to or texting a guy, it has the potential to mean everything. It’s just biology.

So today, after all these years, I did it. I put my foot down. I told him since he was interested in someone else, our relationship had to have better boundaries. I gave him specific examples of how his actions said we were more than friends. When I strung them together for him, he saw my logic. Because we work on several projects together, we came up with some measurables—how many phone calls are appropriate, texts, emails, their content, etc. I won’t bore you with the details.

He left, and I went into my house to shed a few tears. Lo and behold, not twenty minutes later, guess who was texting me? You know it, my friend. Like a crazy woman, I picked up my phone to respond. Halfway through my text, I saw the insanity of it. I erased my half-completed message and put down my phone.

An hour or so later, guess who had emailed me twice? My friend again. Testing the waters, I assume. I’m learning though: to get something different, you have to do something different. And that part of me that I’ve been giving, the heart of me, he doesn’t get to have access to that anymore. He should have never had access to that without a commitment.

He chose the labrador puppy, not the three-legged mutt.

But the joke’s on him.

You’ve heard the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Well, today I’m here to tell you that you most certainly can.

Be blessed.