Tangled Up in Flynn

Lunch with FlynnI ran into Flynn at the office today. And last week. And the week before. We’ve been seeing each other a lot, completely unplanned and unanticipated. 

Last week, I walked with Jo Ann to pick up her diaper bag from our on-site lactation room, and we bumped into him while waiting in line to walk through the building’s revolving doors. As I have recently befriended Patricia, Flynn’s ex who was his girlfriend during our period of mutual interest, my feelings for him have faded somewhat, but my stomach still flip-flopped when I saw him in the office cafeteria this afternoon. He had already spotted me and was watching my winding path through the tables as I walked with my tray.

I was supposed to meet Jo Ann and Farah for lunch, but I didn’t see them yet, so I made my way toward Flynn, who was sitting alone for once. “You’re eating alone?!” I asked in a teasing voice as I got closer. He is normally a social butterfly.

He shrugged with a smile, “I have no friends!”

I raised an eyebrow. “I know that’s not true. I’m waiting for some girlfriends. Can I keep you company until they show up?”

“Sure, pull up a chair!” he gestured to the empty seat beside him.

“So how’s your lady friend?” I asked as I sat down, referencing the full-figured blonde I’ve seen in his Facebook photos lately. I wanted him to know that my joining him was not an attempt to pick him up; I knew he was taken.

“I don’t have one,” he said between bites of sandwich.

My surprise showed on my face. “What about that girl in all of your pictures?”

“Oh, you mean Josie?” He waved his hand and made an it’s-no-big-deal face. “We broke up. It was never really anything serious.”

“Oh… so who’s next on the docket?” I asked without missing a beat. Flynn is never without a girlfriend for long.

“I’m looking at her,” he said with a devilish grin that instantly changed into an embarrassed smile. “Sorry–”

“You’re such a player!” I laughed, making light of the comment. He hasn’t changed a bit.

We just looked at each other for a moment; then I added, “It might be good for you to have a season of singleness. You tend to go from one relationship right into another.”

“I know,” he said, head down. His expression told me that he really did know. “I don’t know how to be single. I tend to go from one intense relationship to another. It would be nice to have something casual and low-pressure. That’s what Josie was supposed to be, but she got really intense really fast. She was asking all of these questions…” he paused; then went on, “That’s actually why I backed off from you after Patricia.”

He grinned in fond recollection. “We would have gone on one date and been done.” And by the way he raised one eyebrow with the word done, I could tell that he meant we had ridiculous chemistry and would have mutually gone off the deep end in utter infatuation and intensity if we had even gone on one date together.

“I know.” I smiled back at him. There was a natural break in the conversation, so I pushed back from the table and said, “Well, I’d better go find those girls I’m supposed to be lunching with.”

As I stood, Flynn laughed and said, “See? Casual conversation?” he gestured low with his right hand. “Intense conversation.” He gestured high with his left hand; then whistled as he arched his right hand up the imaginary curve to intense conversation. 

I just laughed. “See you later.”

When I got back to my desk half an hour later, I had a text message from Flynn:

“So if you think we can curb the intensity for one night, you want to be my date tonight to Newsies?”

I would love to see that musical, and I would love to be Flynn’s date, but I already have a date planned tonight with Jared. He’s making me dinner at his place; then he wants to snuggle and watch a movie.

“Ha! I think we can try to curb the intensity! …but I already have plans tonight. That said, if you ever find yourself in need of a +1, I’m game.”

I wanted him to know I wasn’t completely uninterested, but I also wasn’t about to cancel on Jared.

I could see the “…” indicating Flynn was typing a reply; then he stopped and erased it. Then the “…” started again; then stopped. Finally he simply wrote, “Duly noted!”

It’s probably for the best that we’re not going out. It wouldn’t be very good for my budding friendship with Patricia. Also… we could probably both do with a season of singleness.

Authentically Aurora

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Sweetly Broken – Part II

GoodbyeMy ex-fiance and I kept running into each other all day long – at the crawfish boil, the volleyball courts, in the cafeteria… It was like something out of an Agatha Christie murder mystery novel where all of the characters are trapped in a secluded set, snowed in at a log cabin or marooned on a private island.

My ex and I would inevitably pretend to ignore one another, avoiding eye contact but all the while keenly aware of the other’s presence. It was awful. Just when I reached another valley of desperation, mind spiraling to dark places, I spotted a familiar face: Patricia. Flynn’s ex-girlfriend. Oh, the irony. 

Patricia and I smiled and waved at each other across the meadow and walked toward one another. Still smiling, aware that my ex was watching me, I said to Patricia, “Will you walk and pray with me? I’m having kind of a rough day.”

“Of course!” She looked surprised at my vulnerability but genuinely happy to be there for me. We walked and talked; then found a bench in the warm sun. I told her about my ex; she told me about the pain of watching Flynn with his new girlfriend. We encouraged one another, laughed together, cried together, and prayed over one another, just as I’d done with Grace earlier. I’d known Patricia was beautiful. But before that afternoon, I hadn’t realized what a wise, godly woman she is as well. God truly works in mysterious ways.

As the sun was setting just before the final session of the day, I saw my ex yet again. Patricia had called me over to her table and started to introduce me around to her group. I shook hands with one person after another until I came to my ex, who was sitting in the circle. I played it cool, sticking my hand out to him and saying, “And you are…?”

He looked tired; emotionally drained. He didn’t complete my sentence but said simply, “Hi, Rory.” He reached out and took my hand, shaking it as the others had done.

I moved on to the next person in the circle, smiling broadly and playing the social butterfly I can be when I decide to be. After laughing and cutting up with a few new friends, I walked around the table and put my hand on my ex’s shoulder. “Can we talk for a minute?”

I hadn’t planned on talking to him; in fact, I’d been intentionally avoiding him all day. I had no idea what I was going to say, but after hours of unrest and internal turmoil, I just wanted to face the issue head-on and address the unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach.

He looked pained and wary about talking with me, but he agreed. “Uhh… we can if you really want to.”

In response, I gestured for him to follow me, and we made our way to the tree line, along the edge of a wooded pathway away from everyone else. Once there, I turned to face him.

“I thought we should just acknowledge that this is awkward,” I began. “I’m uncomfortable, I’m sure you’re uncomfortable… this is just an awkward situation.”

“Yes,” he stated with emphasis, nodding.

“And we’ve been dancing around each other all day,” I added, “So I thought we should just acknowledge that, yes, this is uncomfortable. But I also want you to know that I’m okay. I’m really glad I’m not married to you.”

His change in expression was immediate. “There’s no reason to be mean,” he spat at me.

My eyes widened in surprise. “I wasn’t trying to be mean!” I defended myself as gently as I could. “I was trying to affirm you in your decision not to marry me!”

I paused; then sighed heavily. “This is one of the reasons it’s good we’re not married. I’m a direct communicator, and you’re sensitive. I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings. I was just letting you know that I’m okay, and this doesn’t have to be so awkward. But I’m really doing okay. I’ve been dating someone the past six months –”

He interjected enthusiastically, “Rory, that’s great! That’s what I’ve been praying for!” What? His whole face had lit up with genuine excitement.

“I’ve prayed for you every day since we broke up,” he told me, “I’ve prayed that you would find a man who will love you well and that you’ll get married and have kids…”

“You’ve thought about me every day? You’ve prayed for me every day?” I was shocked. Even as heartbroken as I’ve been, I have not thought about him every day for the past year. And I stopped praying for him a long time ago. It engaged my heart too deeply, and I didn’t think it was healthy to keep that kind of emotional connection to him.

“Yeah,” he admitted sheepishly. “I’ve been kind of a wreck. I know I treated you horribly. I’ve been in a deep depression for the past year. I haven’t dated anyone, and I’m still seeing our old counselor every week.”

Wow. That shouldn’t make me feel better, but it definitely did. The last few prayers I prayed over my ex were for his ruin – financial, emotional, relational, etc. I know that’s not God-honoring at all, but I rationalized to myself that only through his utter brokenness could God truly reach my ex and make him into the man he was created to be. So it was really a loving prayer, right?

I knew my prayers had at least been partially answered when IBM and NOV tanked. My ex is a value investor who doesn’t believe in diversification, so he was only invested in five stocks, two of which were IBM and NOV. He also invests tens of thousands on behalf of his closest friends and family. I’d wondered how that affected their relationships (and hoped for the worst. I know, I’m terrible).

“Why have you been depressed?” I asked as casually as I could. “Was it all guilt… or did you miss me?”

He shrugged and hung his head. “A lot of it was guilt. Honor and pride played into it. I did wrong by you, Rory. But I also missed you. I revisited that decision multiple times a day, every day for a long time. I would have to call my mom all the time to talk back through the decision not to marry you. But it was the right decision. I totally butchered the decision and dragged you through hell for months – I know – but it was the right decision.”

Although I agreed with him that it was the right decision, I only felt that way because of the way he’d treated me near the end. I would have married him. I loved him. And so hearing him say it was the right decision not to marry me caused my heart to twinge, even though I knew it to be true.

“Why did you propose to me?” I asked suddenly. It wasn’t a premeditated question. It just tumbled out in my moment of insecurity.

His looked at me sadly; gently. “Because I loved you. I was in love with you. And you were the first person who ever loved me back. That’s why I proposed to you.”

“Then what happened? I hadn’t planned to get into this, but since we’re talking about it… You said so many horrible things to me those last few months. That I’m so Type A that I would drive you to have an affair. That I’m domineering and no man could lead me. That I’m cold and emotionless. That I’m too much… Even though I’ve moved on from wanting to marry you, those words play on repeat in my head. Did you mean all of them? What was the real reason?”

“Rory, do you really want to get into this?” He sighed and looked away, exacerbated. “You take everything to heart and twist it to see it in a negative light. I don’t know if I should tell you.”

I just looked back at him, waiting.

He sighed again. “Okay, first of all, I was a crazy person. Ignore everything I said during that time. My own parents didn’t recognize me. But what it all came down to is, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m an emotional guy, and I need a woman who is absolutely dripping with empathy. It’s not a knock against you because everyone has empathy on a different scale, and all kinds of personalities end up together, but it was just an incompatibility. There’s nothing wrong with your personality – please hear that! – but we just weren’t compatible.”

I thought we were.

He continued, “I would have seen our incompatibility sooner if not for my issue with lust. I lusted for you, Rory. I’m so embarrassed by it. It’s humiliating. I had a deep-seated sin of lust, and I’m so ashamed by it. And how it blinded me.”

That was hurtful to hear. “So you proposed to me because you wanted to have sex with me?” Although he wasn’t a virgin, I am still waiting even now, and he had claimed to respect and admire that, although his actions didn’t always align with his words.

“No!” he looked hurt and horrified. “I asked you to marry me because I loved you. I just didn’t see our incompatibility until after we were engaged. I felt like you changed.”

“The change in me – the hardening, pulling away, being less empathetic —” I looked pointedly at him, “– was a response to how you were treating me. I sensed your anxiety and emotional withdrawal and was trying to protect myself.”

“I know I wounded you, but you wounded me, too – in a different way. I was afraid to talk to you today because you know me. You may say you don’t know me – that I’m a stranger to you – but you do. You wounded me because you saw deeply into me and spoke truth into my life. And I was afraid you’d speak more truth into me. And the truth is painful. But I’m thankful for it. I learned so much from you. You have no idea.”

That had been my initial prayer when we first broke up. That he would grow and learn and have eyes to see the truth. He had been so blind and walking in darkness. It was an unexpected blessing to learn that he finally heard the words I had been speaking for months. I only wish he had appreciated it sooner and more fully. That he’d had the maturity to recognize that being married to a truth-speaker is a blessing. That much of marriage is encouraging our spouse toward greater Christ-likeness, such that we present them before the Throne of Grace more sanctified than they would have been if not married to us.

We both just looked at each other. And sighed.

“Well, is there anything else? Anything you need to hear from me?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t think there’s anything you could say that would be helpful and not damaging. Because of your rejection, sometimes I don’t believe I’m marriageable or desirable, but there’s not much you can do to change that.”

“Rory, you’re a great girl. You have so much to offer. And you will get married someday. And that man will be a very lucky man.” He looked thoughtful. “I actually say that to our counselor all the time. You have so much to offer a man.”

I smiled sadly; then asked, “Is there anything you need to hear from me? Have I said anything in this conversation to hurt your feelings that I need to retract?”

His brow furrowed. “No, but I need to hear that you forgive me. Will you forgive me, Rory? I know we’ve been over this, but I need to hear you say that you forgive me.” He looked at me with big eyes. Vulnerable. He needed this desperately.

“Of course I forgive you.” I smiled sadly again. I forgave you a long time ago. Many times over. Over and over again. It’s a process. I was glad to help him move toward peace… and I was glad that I was glad.

We stared at each other again. “I don’t know how to end this conversation…” I trailed off.

“Well, we’re going to hug in a minute here…” he began before he, too, trailed off.

“The last time we talked, you said that you wanted to be friends,” I reminded him. “That you’d call me in a year and try to be friends.”

“Yeah, that was ‘pie in the sky’,” he admitted. “It was my way of comforting myself. I didn’t want to lose you completely, so I told myself I was only losing you for a month or a year. But I knew deep down it wasn’t realistic.”

I know it’s best we’re not friends, and I honestly don’t want the angst of him in my life – I’d never wanted him to call a year later – but it still hurt my heart to come to the realization that we were about to say goodbye forever… again.

Two girls walked past us, ranting loudly about something that hadn’t gone the way they wanted. My ex made his classic “uh oh!” face and started making high-pitched “meep”-ing sounds like Beaker from The Muppets.

I burst into laughter, and he looked surprised before his face relaxed into an authentic grin. He chuckled softly. “Oh, Rory, I’ve missed your sense of humor.”

“I’ve missed yours, too.” We smiled at each other for a brief, shining moment where time stood still and we were transported back to another season when we were deeply in love. My eyes started to water unexpectedly, and I blinked back tears.

He saw my tears, and his expression softened as tears welled up in his eyes, too. “Rory…”

I started laughing, embarrassed. “I’m okay,” I waved him off with my hand. “I’m okay. I know you’re not used to seeing emotion from me.”

“No…” he agreed.

“It’s just… I feel like you’re dying to me all over again. I had to grieve the loss of you like the death of a loved one, and now I know I’m saying goodbye again. It’s just… very emotional.”

He took a step toward me and said, “Who knows? Maybe five years from now, you’ll be married – to that guy you’re seeing; maybe he’s ‘The One’ – and maybe I’ll be married, and we can be friends. You never know.”

“Okay,” I smiled at him through my tears.

He closed the distance between us and wrapped me in a hug. We stood for a moment before pulling away and walking in different directions. As we parted, he called softly, “See you later.”

“See you.” …Just maybe not this side of heaven.

Authentically Aurora

Flynn’s Final Chapter?

Flynn Ryder fan artWhen I last wrote about Flynn, I’d called him out on the mixed signals he was sending me, as well as his borderline attempts at two-timing his girlfriend with me. I made it clear that I would NOT be The Other Woman.

The very next day, I was asked to help lead a pre-Christmas worship service at church. Only after I’d agreed and showed up to rehearsal did I discover that Flynn was playing cello in accompaniment to the piano and guitar. At rehearsal, the guitarist quietly told me that Flynn and Patricia had broken up the day before and advised against mentioning it.

So he finally did it. It only took him two months.

Now that he was free to actually pursue a relationship with me, I expected Flynn to flirt more openly with me at the rehearsal. But instead, he was quiet and sullen, avoiding eye contact and generally being anti-social toward everyone, which is completely unlike him. Granted, he did just break up with his girlfriend of nearly a year, but it was two months in coming. And he did the heart breaking.

The day of the worship service, I anticipated that Flynn would again be quiet and a bit standoffish while he righted himself, but what I DIDN’T expect was for him to continue his interactions with Patricia. Everyone was seated at round tables of eight, with Patricia at one and me at another. Flynn chose to sit at a third table, completely alone. When someone at my table called over to him, “Hey, what are you being anti-social for? Come sit with us!”, he did get up, but instead of coming over to join us, he made his way over to the empty seat at Patricia’s table. What?

I went into the hallway to get coffee partway through the sermon, and Patricia followed me out. It seemed like she wanted to talk, but of course I couldn’t let on that I knew, so I just smiled and asked how she was doing. “Fine,” she answered with a shrug.

I looked into her eyes then and saw hurt that I recognized all too well. She didn’t know about Flynn and me (not that there was much of anything to know). What I saw was just the raw pain of a young, broken heart. And in that moment, she wasn’t Flynn’s ex-girlfriend. She was my Sister in Christ whose spirit had been crushed and whose heart had been bruised almost beyond healing. In that instant, I had a “Holy Spirit moment”, as I like to call them. I felt supernaturally filled with God’s love and joy and peace, and its purpose was for overflowing into Patricia.

“Can I hug you?” I asked suddenly, warmly.

Her eyes widened with surprise. “So you know then.”

I nodded. “James told me.”

She reached for me, and I wrapped my arms around her. Right at that moment, Flynn walked into the hallway, but I didn’t care. “I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, girl. Let me know if you need anything.”

She smiled a bit then – a small, hesitant smile – and we walked back in together.

When Patricia left our post-service potluck dinner an hour later, Flynn popped out of his chair and disappeared for several minutes, presumably to walk her out.

I don’t understand what he’s doing or thinking, but one thing became clear to me that evening: Whether or not Flynn is or ever will be intended for me, I don’t know, but my ministry is to Patricia and other young women like her whose broken hearts are in desperate need of comfort and encouragement and healing.

Our miseries become our ministry. And that night, my heart unexpectedly went out, not to Flynn, but to Patricia.

Authentically Aurora

Mixed Signals

It may come as a surprise to some of you that I am not confrontation averse. That statement was made with complete sarcasm.

Now, I don’t consider myself a contentious woman or someone who stirs up trouble just for the sake of excitement, but if someone needs to be rebuked or held accountable, I have no problem speaking up. Granted, some might say I still need work on the whole rebuking “in love” thing. I’m a work in progress.

Kate Not ImpressedFlynn hosted a Christmas party at his house last weekend. Yes, the same Flynn who has insinuated his interest in me but is still dating the girl he’s been “meaning to break up with” for two months. He said he knows I need an alpha male and “could be the kind of man [I] need”, but if he’s having trouble cowboying up and breaking things off with this soon-to-be-ex, I’m not so sure he’s as much an alpha male as he’d like to believe. This is my Not Impressed face.

I showed up to his Christmas party two hours late because I was spending time with Bryan, who left on Saturday for a week long trip to Colombia. It was a beautiful night out, so the doors and windows of Flynn’s house were all open. Since it was formal attire, I’d chosen to wear the same knockout floor length green formal I wore to sing in my brother’s wedding. I’d curled my hair and gone heavy on my eyeshadow for a dramatic look. As I waltzed through the doorway, the three gentlemen standing in the entryway stopped their conversion and watched me float by. Just the reaction I’d been going for.

I made my way to the kitchen for a drink. A girl I hadn’t met before greeted me with, “You look gorgeous!” just as Flynn turned around from where he’d been standing at the sink. At the same moment, Patricia, Flynn’s girlfriend, walked into the kitchen wearing a dress the same shade of green as mine. This new girl I’d just met oohed and aahed over how well Patricia and I matched and then insisted we take a photo together. #facepalm

The night progressed, and Flynn and I proverbially danced around one another. I agreed to sing karaoke with Trey, a sweet but awkward thespian. He chose the Frozen duet “Love is an Open Door.” We hammed it up, and the rest of the party loved it. Flynn jumped up with mistletoe on a stick and held it over us; then he videoed the end of the song when Trey’s character proposed and mine said yes.

“It’s official now,” Flynn said to me as I passed off the mic. He’s been teasing me about Trey ever since the camping trip.

“If you make one more crack about us…” I threatened jokingly. He just grinned.

When I sang karaoke for “Silent Night”, I glanced up to see Flynn watching me intently. Then he took the mic and imitated Elvis with “Blue Christmas.” His eyes locked with mine several times with silent communication I couldn’t decipher.

Patricia wasn’t feeling well and so left early. Meanwhile, the girl who’d loved my dress got out a violin, and Flynn went to a back room to pull out a cello. He plays cello. A super hot engineer in a suit and tie playing a melancholy line on a cello?! That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all.

Hot CellistI walked past him at one point while he was tuning and commented, “I didn’t know you played cello.” He looked up at me through dark lashes from his seated position and said with a sideways smile, “We haven’t gotten that far yet.” A present perfect verb tense. My heart fluttered. Interesting.

Over the booming of the speakers and the volume of the higher pitched violin, I couldn’t hear Flynn’s cello very well and told him as much at the end of the party. “I was disappointed I didn’t really get to hear you play.”

“I guess you’ll have to come back then,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

“…or you could stay,” he mouthed silently to me when the others in our conversation weren’t paying attention. Then, embarrassed, he said out loud, “I didn’t say that.”

I pretended not to see or hear either comment. What was there to say? There was no appropriate reaction, because those comments shouldn’t have been made. He’s made his choice. He’s still with Patricia.

I left at the end of the evening feeling frustrated. I’m attracted to Flynn but feel like I shouldn’t be. Why does chemistry have to be so unpredictable and uncontrollable? And how much should raw attraction play into our relationship decisions?

The whole drive home, I kept hoping he’d break his silence and call. This party was the first time we’ve interacted since our lunch a month ago, and based on how things went, I felt like there was much to be discussed.

I typically don’t like to initiate (because I’m traditional and think that’s the man’s role), but I was so frustrated and confused that – for the sake of my health and sanity – when I got home and still hadn’t heard anything, I decided to call.

When Flynn answered on the third ring, I opened with, “Hey, it’s Aurora. Can we talk about the mixed signals I’m getting?”

“From Trey?” he asked without missing a beat. But surely he knew better.

“No.” I wasn’t letting him off the hook. “From you.”

His response was immediate, with a tone of knowing he had some owning up to do. “I’m a horrible person. I never should have said those things.”

“Stop. You’re not a horrible person,” I countered, “But you’re still with Patricia, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Well, a month ago, you told me you’d been planning to break up with her for weeks. So… things have gotten better with you two?”

“No! No. I just… it was her birthday on Monday. And before that, it was Thanksgiving. I keep rationalizing to myself, putting it off. I’m being a pansy. I just need to man up and do it. But I know it will devastate her, and I don’t want to hurt her. There just never seems to be a good time.”

“Well, there never will be a good time. But you’re a man and can take responsibility for how to handle your relationship with Patricia, so I’m not going to speak to that, but if you’re going to keep dating her, you can’t keep flirting with me the way that you do. You do realize you’ve put me in an uncomfortable situation, right?”

“Yes. And I feel horrible about it. After our lunch, I knew I couldn’t even talk to you until things were settled with Patricia. There’s this tension between us – you and me – this attraction. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. It’s taken so much self control for me to have your phone number and not call you. Or instant message you at work.”

He continued, “And you’re like a ninja at lunch. I’ve started sitting at a different table where I can see all the doors to the office cafeteria, but I never see you come in or leave.” Aww. He’s been looking for me.

I decided to show my cards a bit since he was doing the same. “I guess that’s why I haven’t seen you. I keep looking for you at your usual table.”

We both grinned into the silence over the phone line for a moment before I sobered up and sighed. “Okay. I’m sorry to have initiated this potentially awkward conversation, but I felt like some of these things needed to be said.”

“No, I agree completely. Better to get them out in the open and address them.”

“Good. Well, like I said, it’s your choice what you do about Patricia, but I think you know I’m not a boyfriend stealer, and I have no intention of being ‘the other woman’, so I’m not going to wait on you. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. If the timing ever works out, great. But I need you to know that I’m setting aside any expectations.”

“Right, of course,” he agreed. “That’s the way it should go.”

“And I’ll stop looking for you in the cafeteria,” I added.

“And I’ll stop checking your status on Communicator,” he concurred.

There was a brief pause before he closed out, “So I guess I’ll see you at work on Monday.”

“Maybe,” I replied cryptically.

He chuckled. “Okay, have a good night.”

“…Night.”

Authentically Aurora

Wanted: Date or Apology

flynn_rider_wanted_poster_by_ayameclyne-d37lejeWhen Flynn and I had lunch a few weeks back, I didn’t initially post about it because our conversation was too close to my heart to share publicly. It was too precious a memory to display online for all to see.

But I’m ready now.

After bumping into each other once in the parking garage and twice in the cafeteria, Flynn and I had agreed to meet for lunch the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Going into that lunch, I tried to keep my expectations low. I kept telling myself, “Flynn is a coworker. A friend. Nothing more. He has a girlfriend. Sure, we have ridiculous personality chemistry and forged an immediate bond, but nothing can happen. This is just a friendly lunch between coworkers.”

We rendezvoused in the office cafeteria that Tuesday, and my face lit up the instant I saw Flynn striding toward me. I can’t help but smile when I see him. He has an aura of charisma and playfulness that makes my heart feel light. He hugged me hello, and then we each got our meals – a salad for me and sushi for Flynn. He tends to sit in the same place every day (a fact I’d noticed over the preceding weeks), so we settled into his usual place.

We talked about lots of things – work and church and family and friends – and we were both grinning like fools the entire time. Flynn is hilarious. He makes me laugh out loud constantly. And he makes me happy. But every time I started to drift up toward Cloud Nine, I reminded myself to keep my heart in check. He’s spoken for.

After hearing about yet another one of my hobbies partway through lunch, Flynn said with mock exasperation, “Is there anything you don’t do?!” I laughed and told him I’m a pretty terrible swimmer. “But I do great photography, so if you’re going to be in the need for engagement portraits any time soon…” I raised my eyebrows expectantly.

His mood instantly changed. His roguish grin faded, and his twinkling eyes looked down at the table. “Yeah… I wanted to talk to you about that today…” his voice trailed off. He looked up at me then, searching my eyes as he said, “I’ve been meaning to break up with Patricia for a while. Before I even met you, in fact. The weekend before our camping trip, I was going to end things, but I got into a motorcycle wreck and ended up in the hospital.” So that was the reason for his knee surgery. I hadn’t realized he’d gotten into a wreck.

“She stayed by my side the whole time,” he continued, “And I felt like I couldn’t end it then.  And now it’s getting into the holiday season, and I just… I know it will crush her. I know I need to do it, but the timing never seems to be right.”

I listened quietly, letting him share as much or as little as he wanted. I tried to keep my face neutral, but on the inside I was simultaneously flooded with joy for myself and compassion for Patricia. I’ve had my heart broken so many times. Devastatingly broken. And she’s clearly expecting a ring for Christmas. Instead, she’s going to get heartache.

After he finished telling me about Patricia, the twinkle returned to Flynn’s eye, and he teased me, “And why aren’t you dating anyone? You’re quite the catch!”

It was my turn to be somber. I looked thoughtful for a moment; then said, “I’ve found that I tend to intimidate most guys. Everyone wants to take me on a date to try to solve the mystery, but once they get to know me, they get overwhelmed and – in their own words – don’t feel ‘man enough’ to lead me. I’m supposedly ‘too much’ for most guys.”

Flynn raised one eyebrow at me. “I know what kind of man you need. You need a strong alpha male to lead you.” He paused; then continued, “I could be the kind of man you need.”

Woah. I was completely taken aback at his boldness. So much so that I started giggling nervously and blushing profusely. Then he started blushing! He fanned himself comically. “Whew, did it suddenly get hot in here?” We laughed, both embarrassed; then Flynn chucked and said, “Let’s hit the pause button on that conversation for a week or so until it’s appropriate for us to be talking about such things.” I wholeheartedly agreed.

We ended the lunch, and I fully expected to hear from Flynn the next week. Or the week following. But he has ceased all communication with me, despite having both my phone number and instant messaging capability at work. I know it would be inappropriate for us to talk while he’s still with Patricia, but shouldn’t he have broken up with her by now?

This week I finally reactivated my dormant Facebook account to have a look and discovered they’re still dating. Our lunch was three weeks ago. And he’s been meaning to break up with her for nearly two months. I am disappointed… and know better than to keep waiting.

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part II

Campfire 2Sitting around the campfire, I was soon introduced to the young, curly haired girl who was so possessive of Flynn. Her name is Patricia, and she and Flynn have been dating for eight months. I’m not a boyfriend stealer, so I made a conscious decision to keep my distance from him, although that was difficult in a group of just twelve people sharing a common campsite.

As women, when we become jealous of other women, we have a tendency to dehumanize them so that we are better able to focus on their flaws. Beth Moore writes in her book “So Long, Insecurity” (which I highly recommend):

“In order to nurse a rival mentality, we… view our competitor through a one-dimensional lens. She is not a person. She is a contender… It’s easier to despise her that way. If she got the promotion we sought, she’s the embodiment of selfish ambition… If she’s more attractive than we feel, she’s only skin deep. We can’t fathom that she’s ever been betrayed or brokenhearted… When we go against the grain of our human nature and determine to personalize someone instead, rivalry loses its bedding ground.”

So I decided to try to get to know Patricia in order to personalize her and stop viewing her as a rival. After all, she already has the guy. But Patricia didn’t seem very interested in getting to know me. In fact, she acted standoffish toward everyone except Flynn. It would seem that Patricia was only there for her boyfriend; not to make other friends.

SurvivorFlynn had put together a Survivor role playing game where we were divided into three teams and each given different supplies. We had to make judgement calls as a team on whether we were going to stay at our crash site or try to walk to civilization. Flynn had planned for a real-world element as well, in which – for example – we had to shoot a tangible bow and arrow set to determine if we successfully hunted down food for that day.

I am not-so-secretly a sci-fi geek and lover of RPGs and strategy games in general (hello! INTJ = master strategist!), so I got really into the game. In fact, my team won. But 25-year-old Patricia spent the entire game sequence complaining about how boring her boyfriend’s game was and how unrealistic his survival scenarios were.

Later, when Flynn tried to stoke the campfire and stirred up mostly smoke due to the recent rain, Patricia criticized him, “Come on, I thought you were an Army ranger.” Watching them together was painful, not because of my attraction to Flynn, but primarily because of how uncomfortable is it to observe a woman publicly ridicule her man.

Over the next 48 hours of the camping trip, Patricia frequently made comments alluding to her desire for Flynn to propose. In one instance, Flynn joked that she is expensive to date because she is always hungry. Patricia retorted, “Yeah, you buy me lots of food, but what I’d really like is something sparkly.” She wiggled the fingers of her left hand.

Later, Flynn told the group about his family in Louisiana (why am I always attracted to Louisiana boys?!) and how he wished he had family locally. Patricia jumped in, “You could have a great set of in-laws in town any time you wanted to seal the deal.” Everyone around the campfire discretely raised their eyebrows at one another.

Still later, when the group was talking about what each person does for a living, Patricia admitted that she’s unemployed and living with her parents. But she also said unashamedly that she’s not in a hurry to get a job since she probably wouldn’t need it for long anyway. She smiled coyly at Flynn, her 34-year-old mechanical engineer and sugar daddy. Gag me.

How to Lose a Guy in One Week

Day 1: Pick a man 9 years older and far more mature than you are. Display your immaturity at every possible opportunity.

Day 2: Make no effort at all to build relationships with any of his friends. Be clingy and obsessed with him. Have no identity of your own.

Day 3: Complain constantly. The more whining, the better.

Day 4: Make fun of his interests and hobbies. Insist that he stops all of his lame hobbies and picks up yours instead. Don’t compromise.

Day 5: Drain his bank account by making no effort to get a job and insisting that your parents are letting you stay at home, so he needs to cover all the rest of your expenses. State openly that you have no intention of contributing financially to the relationship, either now or in the future; either in tangible dollars or sweat equity.

Day 6: Disrespect him publicly, questioning his masculinity and capability, especially in front of his friends.

Day 7: Make frequent mention of your family, specifically to cite them as his future in-laws. Be sure to couple this with pointed comments about wanting and expecting an engagement ring soon. The pushier, the better.

With this winning combination, you too can Lose a Guy in One Week!

Authentically Aurora