The moment my friends tell me, after an evening out or a great weekend, that they want their spouse, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, lover, paramour, crush, et al. to be like me, they diminish themselves in my eyes.
I say this not meanly but honestly. For though they may intend it as a compliment, perhaps even an encouragement regarding my repetitively single state, or even if they mean it sincerely from their deepest, most vulnerable places, they still know not what they say.
For they experience me at my best — I can be friendly, compassionate, and most generous at the times I am with them. They experience me at restaurants and in public and on schedule, they experience me when I am ready and willing and able to break bread and make merry at their behest or our shared agreement.
They never experience me at other times where, perhaps even against my will, I can be petty and snippy. My charm has evaporated into thin air; I am prickly and vacillatory; my temper is in a state of distemper; my exhaustion has exceeded my bonhomie, overmatched my good will and joy.
No, they only see the upside and so, unwittingly, they cannot imagine my downside, my failures and flaws, my weaknesses, my inability sometimes to rally, my lackings…
I love them — at least a part of me does — when they voice those desires. I am only human, you know, and subject to the good feelings that come from compliments. And I dislike them, envy them, for their lack of vision into the whole of me, their failure to understand that I want not someone who gets me at my best, but someone who loves me even when I am at my least.
I wish I felt safe enough to show them my least, to show anyone that, and be secure enough to believe that they would love me all the same.
And that is my great cowardice: I am not. And all signs point in one direction: that I never will be.