A love game: come close, stay away


So there you are, feeling all warm and fuzzy and cosy, looking forward to the breakfast, brunch, dinner, coffee, talk, holding her hand, walking, a weekend trip; time together that the two of you have planned for weeks.

You call her and she answers. There’s a tone in her voice. Cool. Cold. You don’t get that warm fuzzy feeling, you don’t get cuddly comfort in her voice, you don’t get cozy close. Instead, you get a wall, you get a chill, you get glacial distance and because you are sensitive to such things, you get scared and you step back inside your own walled garden; you hold your breath and you try to make sense of what’s going on. You’re reeling. You’ve planned this time with her, looked forward to this, talked about how wonderful it would be when the two of you could have this time together. This is your signal to back off and call on the aloof part of you. But you don’t.

Instead of backing off, regrouping in your walled garden, you step forward. You get clingy. And when you do that, the Lesbian Cling-on routine, she closes down and tells you you’re imagining things. By now, red lights and sirens are running down your emotional streets, flags raised all over your interior landscape. Are you paying attention?

It’s a game. It’s called the come-close-stay-away game. The players of this game don’t ever tell you that you’re in a game. In fact you might never know you’re in a game because it’s something you’re so used to by now you think it’s a normal.

Maybe you thought you were in the bigger game, the game of love and unfolding to each other, growing with each other, into each other; 1+1=3, a thing you read about once and wondered what it must feel like and if you’d ever know it. It never occurred to you that it was anything but, because the signs you saw you thought were all about others, not you. You’re different.

Of course you might be different: you reached through to her because you are so fucking awesome you’ve swept her off her feet, stolen her heart, wowed her senses and zing-rayed her curiosity and mind and touched her trust and oh goddess she is scared witless and doesn’t know what to do so she’s about to run. If that’s the case, if you are that awesome that you have challenged her worldview and self perception be gentle. Listen before you talk. Use the three-second rule before opening your mouth to say something. Do not speak before thinking. Do not be clingy. She’ll come around.

But if that’s not the case, if you’ve landed in this place with one of those psychochicks, not-so-nice sociopaths or wacky women who play come-close-stay-away as a way of being, as a way of being chased and wanted, well, unless you like playing pet, perhaps it’s time think about it playing another game, like Scrabble or Twister with someone a bit more honest and accessible and who’s willing to share herself and the universe with you.

The game of stay-close-go-away is painful and hurtful and mean and the people who do — regardless of gender or sexual orientation — are all sorts of flavours of messed up. This game is different than simply changing our mind about something, specially as we’re coming out and experiment and try on different personas to see what feels right as we go through our teens and into our mid-20s; you know, those years when we find out that the world and its people are not exactly the way we imagined it to be and we experience some amazing things as well as some profound disappointments: dreams and wishes crashing with reality. During this time, we might think we want something, or someone and think we’re 100 per cent certain only to realize in the cool morning light and over breakfast, um no. Not her. Perfectly legitimate to change our mind. That’s normal.

But if we’re still playing that, and it’s edging into come-close-stay-away at 30 years old with everyone we think we want to get close to, that’s not a recipe for personal happiness or contentment, let alone relationship happiness.

So, time to get with the grown-up program. Not willing to do that? At the very least, get informed consent. Tell anyone who’s interested that’s the game we need to play. No more reeling in unsuspecting women (and a few men for those lesbians who sleep with men) only to hit them with that come-close-stay-away silliness. Or pathology.

Yes, this is me being a bit judgmental.

It never ceases to amaze me how many four-year olds and eight-year olds and 14-years olds there are out there masquerading as adults, in adult bodies of various genders and orientations, doing seemingly adult things until they turn. Turn into their true, or wounded or damaged self who seemingly need to hurt those who love them, or, turn into the self they can never be, a self incapable of love, of experiencing love, of sharing love.

And yet. Love exists. I believe that love is always worth the risk of running across a few cretins, the game players, the extreme narcissists; those who like to carve through a long line of lovers, leaving a swath of shattered hearts and broken moments in women’s lives, collecting them as proof of something. Power, superiority, being wanted. Or nothing. An activity as natural as breathing. They will always find someone, until they don’t.

Those types of people are expert at drawing in hopeful hearts. They do it out of some sort of intellectual something or another, efforts to evoke some feeling in them because they lack the hormone for empathy, compassion and love.

Love might be a romantic notion and stuff of scientific enquiry these days, but what we know is that it is no longer imaginary just the stuff of poetry, ballads and sappy love songs. Whatever love is, when it is real, it is life changing, it is awe-inspiring and transcendent and it is never ever long enough.

We have not long to love

~by  Tennessee Williams

We have not long to love.

Light does not stay.

The tender things are those

we fold away.

Coarse fabrics are the ones

for common wear.

In silence I have watched you

comb your hair.

Intimate the silence,

dim and warm.

I could but did not, reach

to touch your arm.

I could, but do not, break

that which is still.

(Almost the faintest whisper

would be shrill.)

So moments pass as though

they wished to stay.

We have not long to love.

A night.  A day….


Inspired by a story I was told at the dog park

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing ... at least for now.
This entry was posted in being a lesbian, lesbian, lesbian life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A love game: come close, stay away

  1. bookish butch says:

    Been there, mostly on the receiving end, but, hey I did it too. I don’t anymore. I love games Jeopardy,Scrabble,Hockey but, when it comes to love, it’s too important. Better to be alone then to
    accept some woman drop kicking your heart because she’s scared to grow up to commit, who isn’t? Scared that is. Deal with it and risk happiness.
    Beautiful post and you’re not being judgmental you’re just not being politically correct,
    Hourray, honesty:-)

    • fs says:

      Dear BB: Ooohhh. Scrabble? Jeopardy? You are SO on. Not that I am competitive. Hockey? Um, the Canadian Women’s Olympic team, and maybe when a Canadian team is playing an American team in the Stanley Cup. And thank you. I agree with you, to deal with what it is all about being adult, and let other people….be there. That’s one part of the story. The other part is the scientific part: the “light sociopaths”. And there are plenty of women who are all that and more. (Pick your heart up, dust it off….and watch Singin’ in the Rain.)

  2. T says:

    I’m a little hesitant to choose this post to venture out of lurkdom (I very much enjoy your posts BTW). As a thirty-something, I agree that I’ve had my fill of game-playing. With the benefit of being a little bit older and a lot more battle weary, I recognise that there have been times in the past when I haven’t been as “together” in relationships as I like to think I am now. Certainly I have never intended to mess anyone around, but with hindsight I can see how it may have seemed that way.

    The simplest (and quickest!) way to describe my adolescence and early adulthood would be troubled. I’m glad that period is well behind me. But as someone “damaged” I was a little uncomfortable reading some of this post. It is challenging to be on the receiving end of hot/cold behaviour. If I’m honest, I struggle to be patient with it as well. But somewhere inside me I suspect that this behaviour in others comes from a place of deep hurt – and if it is still manifest in a woman in her thirties it makes me wonder whether anyone has taken the time and care to point it out to her (and risk the backlash from doing so), and it makes me sad that as yet this woman has not found the resources to learn some self regulation. So whilst my reflex response to someone behaving that way is to walk away and fight the urge to tell them that they ought to warn the next woman, I know that I really ought to take the time and care that someone once did with me and ask them if they really meant to treat me that way.

    Of course it is one thing to write it, and another to be in the middle of it. I do hope that I haven’t caused offence, I really enjoy reading your posts and am always pleased when a new entry pops up in my RSS reader.

    • fs says:

      Dearest T: Thank you so much :-). And welcome. No offence whatsoever. I am sorry to hear that something I said made you uncomfortable. That’s never my intent. I agree with you, completely. There are people who have been hurt, are frightened, troubled and who need help — who actually have the capacity to see that there is more to life than hurt and hurting. It takes courage to face that and be different going forward. Yes, I think that approach — to look beyond the immediate act — and dig deeper is a good one. I hope I acknowledged that in a few lines in the piece. I am glad to hear that someone saw your heart and helped you see a different way of being. You had ears to hear her, and a heart to take it in. I was flaring my nostrils and raising my eyebrows at those who refuse to: do you think I should up the age to mid-30s? 😉

  3. makingspace1 says:

    Ha – love that – sing it! I am just finding that I’m repeating an unfortunate pattern, at least in my internal response, and I’m doing my damndest not to make it external. I’m doing lots of jogging and yoga. At some point the fog of anxiety will lift and then I’ll be in a frame of mind to speak. But I’ve pledged to do absolutely anything other than repeat the old pattern. So here I am. A white chick sittin’ around not talkin’ – yet.

    • fs says:

      Dear MS: Hmmmmmmmm. Repeating a pattern in (outside) silence internal noise. Hmm Nothing says change like putting it outside of you see it clearly. Have you heard of a process called morning pages? There’s a ton of stuff on the internet about it, but it is helpful … sort of like a mental shower, and it in a relatively short period of time can be powerful and helpful process. Not that you need anything more to do in your life, but this is a private thing and just for you. Just sayin’.

  4. makingspace1 says:

    I wish I could tell the difference between what I perceive and what the other person is actually doing…

    • fs says:

      Dear MS; Never easy, is it? Sometimes, as women who love women we might fall into that trap of thinking we are all mind readers, attuned to one another by virtue of the same hormones and body parts. Nothing could be further from the truth: it takes talking with one another, it takes true communication.

      What we perceive can often be clouded by all sorts of things: wishes, desires, fears, old hurts, dreams. The fog of unknowing. Talking helps. With open heart and mindfulness and pragmatism and truth. That way, we own what we feel and perceive, since no one can make us feel anything.

      • makingspace1 says:

        Yeah, it’s that talking part I don’t seem to do so well. I’m currently trying something different, and it’s every bit as painful as everything else I’ve tried, but it IS different, I’ll give myself that… This shit is hard.

      • fs says:

        Dear MS: Yes it’s hard. Ideally, when you talk, you have a true listener. But who ever said it was easy?

        I find that talking it through is better than not, and even if we don’t get what we want, there is a clarity that wasn’t there before, and while THAT can be painful, we can deal with what we know; and go to the next step. Hard to move with clarity through a fog of unknowing.

        And if you can’t talk, you can always sing it. 😉

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