Valentine’s Day Aftermath: A Note On Love

Irrelevance—like its more evil and twisted stepsister, irreverence—is a term not often price-tagged to the present of love. But in a recent story published by Man Repeller’s Amelia Diamond, the word is affixed to that very topic, more specifically to the idea of love’s most debilitating strain: amore unrequitedare (or something Latin-sounding and ominous).

Why do respectable dating prospects turn us down only to pivot around and settle with the very next person they see buying a particularly spicy type of goat cheese at the supermarket? What did Spicy Goat Cheese Person have that we didn’t? Why can’t this dater-gone-awry commit to binge-watching Netflix and ordering sushi on a Tuesday night with us but when it comes to Spicy Goat Cheese Person, easily commit to a lifetime together?

If we are to take Amelia’s advice, then the answer is for no reason at all. “It’s definitely not you, but it also isn’t them,” she writes. “It just is what it is.”

Maybe a certain je ne sais quoi, an aura, an essence of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme can explain the inexplicable, except I think she’s mostly right.

Especially when it comes to her ousting the fallacious logic behind that classic, “it’s not you, it’s me” line, which tends so callously to land on our cell phone screens and each time, thud with a sincerity more hollow than our ex’s cold, empty heart.

Yet many of us accept this excuse and decide without question, of course it wasn’t us; duh, it was him, the sender of the trite, break-up platitude, who has a problem—some former lover who tugged at heart strings and caused ’em to unalterably pop, a mom who ran away with a track-suited tennis instructor from Portugal and now the very thought of commitment sends said person running, too. But really, this reasoning is flawed and we can no longer use it as a crutch to mend the broken collection of blood vessels and innards that beats with rhyme but little reason inside our chests.

Honestly, the line should probably go more like, “it’s not you, it’s her.” Put harshly: You’re not the one. She is. The Goat Cheese Girl of my dreams. She’s it. 

Of course our sociological predilection for a credits-rolling, happy-ending resolution isn’t cool with this, (see my take on the false expectations set by Hollywood rom coms here), but another bromidic phrase applies: “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

I’m reminded, in fact, of a particularly grating experience I had while living in Chicago, deemed The Worst First Date In The History of Ever. I probably should’ve taken heed when I met this guy at a bar and his opening was, “I’m here for my friend’s drug intervention but I saw you across the room and had to come over and ask you out.”

Alas, I ignored all red flags flying high, abandoned all sensibility and met him for seafood the very next night.

Cut to us sitting side by side at a trendy Lincoln Park joint, him texting his mom in full view of my unbelieving eyeballs over our family-style plate of blackened wild salmon with saffron rice: “She’s OK. Not sure if I like her yet so we’ll see. Probably don’t though.”

Cut also to him telling me he knows what gym I work out at because, as he burbled through his third pint of beer, “I go to the same gym as you and I’ve watched you run on the treadmill before.”

And finally, cut to him asking me about my most recent relationship, not waiting for a reply and stammering with beer-foam spilling from the corner of the lip he can still keep upright, “I was in a serious relationship that ended last year and I told myself I wouldn’t get over her until I met someone better and trust me,”—he pauses dramatically, finishes off his drink with a burp, stares right at me, due glaze in his eyes—”I’m definitely not over her.”

His overwhelming ridiculousness caused my feelings to remain intact even through the verbal and beer-imbued barrage, (I was clinging onto this date for dear life if only for the plot-line possibilities it might offer a future Sex and the City-style sitcom I would one day write), and it was because he was so insane that I actually believed him. There was much less wrong with me than this drug-interventionist, beer-slinging, mama’s boy with slight stalker tendencies (or so I’d hoped) and still, I wasn’t for him.

(P.S. This date ended with the dude handing me a $20 bill to “go hit on literally anyone else but me,” then falling asleep as I tried to lift his lifeless arms from the table and give him a water. Eventually, I picked my pride up off the floor in the very spot where I have no doubt he soon vomited, and went home.)

Who’s to say why people fall in love, out and in again? Not science, not history, not writers like me who can twine a few ideas together with shiny ribbon, though we have little understanding of the topic at all.

The only thing I do know for sure is that while casual ambivalence stings, eventually, like a mosquito bite of passionless romance, the pain subsides. And it’s then you find yourself alone in the supermarket, fresh out of spicy goat cheese, when you’re spotted across the dairy aisle by someone who knows beyond any doubt that yes, it’s you.

Melissa Kandel is a Southern California-based writer and the founder/author of little word studio. If you really want, you can follow little word studio on Instagram here.