I Call It Dating. You Call It Stalking.

Being a wannabe superhero plus “When Harry Met Sally” is right and also wrong and I am so screwed when it comes to dating

Lanie and Savannah at Parliament House with Adam Avitable

“Do you really think that men and women can just be friends?” Her head tilted, looking at me across the table.

“Yes. Most of my friends are women.”

“But wouldn’t you date them if you had the chance? Or have sex with them?” She smirked, a little.

“Some of them, sure. All of them? No.” I smirked back.

“Give me an example.”

“How about Lisa.”

“How about Lisa?”

“I see her a few times a week, we hang out outside of work, she’s smart and sexy and extremely pretty, but I have no interest in dating her. To me, she’s nothing more than a friend, and I’m perfectly okay with that.”

“Why is that?”

The answer was chained in my subconscious. Before I realized what I had said, it broke free and rocketed into our conversation. “Because she doesn’t need me. She doesn’t need anyone.”

Who’s my perfect woman?

If I were to compile all of the characteristics, physical and otherwise, that embody my Eve, what would they be?

Start with a slender frame, petite and short. Skin, spotted with freckles, so alabaster that it glows in the moonlight. Hair tinted with red and eyes deep enough to hold the suffering of a thousand and one worlds. A laugh that comes from a deep, dark place.

Add in a strong personality, stubborn yet painted with a shade of fragility. Humor like a laser and a raw intelligence that emanates palpably. A tremendous capacity to love and care, hidden, only visible when you don’t look right at it, flickering in your peripheral vision like a specter. Finally, a rebellious need to stand out, refuse the status quo, and be an individual.

But that – that which would be enough for almost any man – that’s not enough for me. What is it that would transform this woman into someone who compels me and occupies every thought? Why do I like some women and crave a connection with others so madly that it makes me physically ache?

It’s all about what she needs.

That girl with no loyal friends who would rather be alone than waste time with people who can’t commit. That woman who refuses to rely on someone because she’s always been let down, even though she desperately wants someone who she can trust. That amazing beautiful person who erected thick walls to keep from getting hurt again. That angel with the brave face, voiding her soul in her own private way. That wounded warrior with fire smoldering in her eyes and her shield firmly in hand.

I have this urge-


I have a compulsion to prove to that woman that she shouldn’t give up. That no matter what she has witnessed in the past, there is someone who is reliable, trustworthy, protective, and, more than everything else, consistently available to fill that hole in her life, her heart, her soul. And that someone is – it must be – me.

Can I be happy with someone who doesn’t need me? Who is legitimately secure and strong and whole without my support? I don’t know. It’s the healthy approach, but can I even do it? I don’t know. Why would anyone like that want to be with me? I. Don’t. Know.

What I do know, though, is that sometimes, the women I love the most don’t feel like they deserve it. They don’t deserve me, my concern, my support, my love and care. They sabotage their friendships and relationships and push people away, viciously, terribly, hurtfully, until everyone leaves. And then they can prove that they were right, that everybody does, in fact, let them down. I always persist. I put up with the pain and hurt inflicted on me just to prove them wrong. I open myself to vicious wounds, keep moving forward into the line of fire, and never learn. And, the next time I see someone else who needs rescuing, I’ll be the first in line to add yet another one to my list.

I recognize that this doesn’t make me a better person (Than who? It doesn’t matter. Than you, than someone else, than every person in a relationship). I realize that I would be healthier and happier if I didn’t have this psychological compulsion, and it’s something I try to be aware of. But it’s not that easy. There’s an amazing intensity that comes from trying to change one person’s worldview by breaking through the barrier of cynicism and releasing hope where there was little before. It’s the stuff of legends. Of superheroics. Of romantic stories that end with “happily ever after.” It’s addictive and it’s painful and it’s martyrdom and it’s unhealthy but it’s me. At least, it is for now.

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22 Replies to “Being a wannabe superhero plus “When Harry Met Sally” is right and also wrong and I am so screwed when it comes to dating”

  1. Kyra

    I understand your view point, but what happens when you do persist, but the outcome is either you are simply the only one and she’s still right that the rest of the world is full of jerks who would rather dump her dead in the ditch than have an ounce of empathy, OR you change her whole world view and now she agrees the world is full of good things and is totally secure and doesn’t need that rescuing anymore? What then?

    • Avitable

      Well, maybe if I’m one exception, it will open her mind to the fact that world isn’t a terrible place. And if I succeeded in helping her to change her entire world view and she is more secure and doesn’t need to be rescued, that’s a good thing, and I think I’d be able to be content with that.

  2. Amanda Bennett Lance

    Here’s the rub. Once you proven to that to her, she then is going to want to prove it again, elsewhere with a guy that pushes her away. See honey, you’re not fixing them. You’re just teaching them how to flip roles and play the psychological, broken wing games from the other side.

    I understand your need to be The Man Who Shatters The Walls, but isn’t that just a distraction from being The Man Behind His Own Walls? Of course you’re ridiculously open, and of course you communicate better than most, but that is just hiding in plain site. You don’t have to be disappointed in her for not getting to the hidden you, you don’t need to worry that she doesn’t fill a need in you, if you’re being really good at doing the guy on a white horse thing.

    I challenge you to find a woman who is ready for the steadfast man that you are. Who appreciates it, rather than struggles against it. She can test you, but she has to ultimately be wanting to take a chance and believe in you. And who has the desire to show you that she too, is a ride or die kind of woman.

    • Avitable

      I don’t know that this is true, necessarily. I feel that if you can show someone that not everybody will let them down, there’s a chance that they’ll be able to slowly begin to trust and open up in a way that they haven’t before, but they’ll still be that same person.

      I don’t really have walls – not anymore. I just want everyone to be like that – no hidden selves, just open communication and honesty and, most importantly, trust. I also don’t see too much of a difference in someone who will take a chance and believe in me vs someone who I promise to take a chance on and give them something to believe in. I don’t know.

  3. Marnie

    Here’s the thing. I am the one who doesn’t need anyone. Never needed anyone. Lived on my own and made my own way for years. Except. I need my husband. I don’t “need” him need him. I have a good job and can totally do whatever I want. But I know I’m better with him, and I knew that from the moment I met him. I don’t need him to make me whole, or make me better, or make me think better of myself. I just need him to be part of my life, because my life is better with him. It wasn’t bad without him, it’s just better with him. I think we all have a general need to be with the people who make us better than our alone selves. And that’s the end.

  4. Clown

    I really don’t mean to sound like an asshole, but I’m convinced while you’re still in this mentally and desire to be a savior and superhero, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Not anything lasting anyway.

    But, there’s not really anything anyone in here can say to you. You exhibit more unhealthy behavior than anyone I know, but you’re intelligent and are fully aware of it all, but it’s just how you are and things aren’t going to just change anytime soon.

    Marnie’s description of need is healthy. Yours will just lead to pain and seeing people you fall in love with fall into the arms of others, while leaning on you for support. You deserve to be happy by more than just fixing somebody or being the hero, but I think that’s a ways off. I would love to be wrong.

    Being totally honest, while reading this I pictured you as Rainn Wilson’s character from Super. He was so focused on fixing and saving his wife, and while he did, they broke up soon after realizing he was just a tool, and he was fixing her for her future husband.

    My point is. I think you need to get a wrench and start dressing up like a superhero. Perhaps once you get that really big “fix”, you’ll be able to move on to yourself.

  5. Dre (smooches)

    My lover boy (man),
    You came into my life at a time when I needed you So. Fucking. Badly. Goodly?? Maybe. But whichever, you helped me to cope with the garbage happening around me. Helped me to see the good that existed within me. The good that could possibly exist in those around me. And as much as I felt like the woman who needed no one, you saw through me and were there for me in a way few others were. It may not have led to you getting laid, but you did some good. And I, for one, am grateful. *SMOOCHES*

  6. martymankins

    I have a female friend that I’ve known for over 16 years. So many others in my life (almost all males) have asked if I ever wanted to date her or have sex with her. My answer has always been the same: no and no. She’s attractive and has a great personality, but there’s enough of me that wants to stay friends (she feels the same since we talked about it one time after another friend that used to ask me all the time about her passed away).

    So I get this post in many ways on that level.

    On the level of being needed, I think it all depends on what kind of independent person you are wanting to be with. If you can get to that point where you feel someone can be there, yet not dependent on each other, that could be a good match. I think everyone has a level of wanting to be needed, but as you get older, that need changes.

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