Sometime during this whole sickening affair I slipped into signing my e-mails to the AP with “love.” I didn’t love her. I think, however, that I was trying to elicit a similar remark from the AP. I was desperate to hear someone say they loved me. This was not because I was unloved or wanted love. My wife, kids, and parents loved me very much. I saw the word “love” from a woman as a proxy for more specific phrases such as “want,” “desire,” or “find attractive.” I desperately wanted evidence that women found me attractive, and I thought they could prove that either by giving me sex or saying they loved me.
I was really obsessed with the question of whether women found me attractive. I used that as a measure of my success and my self-worth. I think I had been too lazy or cowardly to focus on some other thing that might make me special. Why not, for example, measure my self-worth in terms of my academic, career, intellectual, athletic, creative, or other endeavors? The reason was that those things required hard work, risk, and more than occasional failure. I couldn’t stand failure. I was too sensitive, like a temper tantrum-prone child. So, I measured my self-worth by something I perceived as predetermined: attractiveness. In fact, even attractiveness is subject to effort and smart choices. But, I told myself it was predetermined. I also told myself it was my Holy Grail.
No, I didn’t love that AP. Yes, in some way I was attracted to her. More than that, however, I was seduced by the hope that she was attracted to me. The sense that she might see only the so-called masculine and successful elements of me — unlike my wife, who knew all of my weaknesses and failures too — made me cling to the AP like a moth to a flame. By the way, whatever you might think of the way that phrase — like a moth to a flame — is used in popular culture, it is not romantic, desirable, or healthy. It is a sick, self-defeating behavior. As sentient beings, we should be expected to rise above that pathological behavior.
I woke up next to the AP Sunday morning. Here’s another selfish act that just kills TL. I should have made myself go lift weights, run, or otherwise work-out, as I insisted on doing every other day of my life, at the expense of sleeping in with TL. Instead, I told myself I would skip fitness and lie there hoping for sex or flattery. The insult to TL is deep. I said to myself, “Oh, you will have plenty of time with TL during the years to come, but you may not have many more opportunities to get sex or flattery from this AP.”