The I Love You Conundrum

Welcome back everybody! This is part 3 of The Shawna Years. By this time my emotions were really starting to get involved. However, my confusion when it comes to social norms and the dynamics of male-female friendships really comes into play. My actions are often dictated by my logic but the rest of society often reacts to a different set of guidelines. I hope you are ready. Things are about to get interesting. Enjoy!

By July of 1995 just two months after meeting Shawna, she had firmly imprinted on me. We were still side by side with each other, eating most of our meals together, hanging out off campus and undeniably best friends at this point. We had never dated each other and crossed that bridge. I briefly dated Lisa again, right at the time Shawna had stopped dating Tim #1. Whenever there was a brief window where we both seemed to be available it closed quickly. Soon, Shawna was dating Tim #2 who happens to be my favorite of all of her boyfriends. The three of us got along great.

Being the best friends that we were we started talking about our dating lives. I would tell her about Lisa but confided that it really wasn’t going anywhere. I was kind of over her at this time. My heart was just not in it. She would tell me all about Tim and then some. As it turns out she cheated on Tim, a lot. First there was Shane, then Adam, and then back to Shane. He was the constant and I believe I was the only one who knew about their affair. A line had been crossed, I knew so much about my best friend that it made her undatable. I would end up making myself undateable as well.

A few more months passed by and Shawna was still with Tim and I had begun dating Tammy. Tammy was cute and goofy and let’s be honest, was big breasted and ditzy. I liked her but in my heart I knew she was safe. I knew I would never fall head over heels in love with her. I was not ready for that. I didn’t want it. Besides, I was head over heels in love with Shawna.  I was just unwilling to cross that bridge, she was a cheater. I knew I wouldn’t have a chance with her. You just can’t change another person. We don’t have that kind of power. I feel grateful I knew that at such a young age. It is a lesson lost on many a young person. Despite all this I really spoiled Shawna. I was very kind and patient with her. When she would act up I was calm and collected and forgiving. I took her out to the movies, I took her out for cheesecake, it became our thing, some couples have sex together, we had cheesecake. To have cheesecake with another woman or go to the movies with another woman became akin to cheating in her mind. This had become her driveway rule although we were friends, and not an actual couple. Not that I had a lot of money because I didn’t, but I spent what I could on her. It was how I could show her my love, without saying it. My mom used to show me love by buying little things for me and letting me know she was thinking of me when she was out. You can say my mom showed me how to love.

 After I realized I was in love with a cheater and I wouldn’t stand a chance with her I began to make sure she did not see me as any kind of a future boyfriend. I set out to make myself look like an asshole of a boyfriend. Good old self-sabotage. I told her I didn’t spend money on my girlfriends, I don’t spoil them. I told her I spent money on her because she is my friend but girlfriends get a different treatment. I loved Shawna and in my mind I just had to make sure I didn’t break her heart so to make sure she never got any ideas about me as a romantic possibility I had to make it seem like she had it better as my friend.  Why on Earth would she want to change this situation? I spoil her both with my gentle behavior with her and also by buying her things and taking her out, she gets to sleep with whomever she wants and gets to talk to me about it without any anger or judgement. I made being her friend a perfect scenario. I loved her so much that the last thing I wanted to do was to have to reject her and have to explain to her “You cheat on your boyfriends.”

After Tammy came along a girl named Rachel entered the picture. Tammy left me for a really nerdy guy who wrote her some kind of big love letter after he learned about me so I was a goner. Rachel was in fact a brief romantic interest of mine. All this time Shawna is still with Tim. Tim is growing on me and I really like him for Shawna. Shawna and Rachel got along well, unlike Tammy or Lisa and they started hanging out a lot. Things never really went anywhere with Rachel and I didn’t really care, my heart was always with Shawna. After about a week of friendship I hear Rachel say “love you.” to Shawna. Shawna said it back to her. Now I have to admit I got jealous. I had been Shawna’s right hand for months now and Shawna had never told me she loved me. But a thought came into my mind, they are friends and apparently friends can tell each other they love each other so I will tell Shawna I love her.

One day Shawna and I are together at break time from one of our classes and I decided it was time. I didn’t waste much time. I stood in front of her and just said it “I love you.” “Marc” she said. That was it. And she had a tone in her voice that sounded surprised. Boy, this didn’t go as planned. I wanted her to take it the same way she took it when Rachel said she loved her. I didn’t get the same reaction. No, I love you back. I was very upset. I have known her 6 months, ate countless meals with her, got her back with Tim #2 after she broke up with him, listened to all of her secrets and kept them confidential, all that I meant to her and she doesn’t love me. I thought this was bullshit. Apparently a male friend saying I love you to a female friend is not received as well as a female friend saying it to each other. I think there are some driveway rules in play here for women that I just have no clue about. Apparently, there are other connotations. I deserved that I love you back, more than Rachel, more than anybody. This made me question my value to her as a friend. Does she enjoy my company but have no emotional attachment to me whatsoever? Am I the guy that women like but can’t make a connection with on any level? This was not a pain that I would get over easily. This one hit me really hard.

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