What he hasn’t told me yet

Originally, he was a fairy tale. Then an addiction. We met the old-fashioned way – on a ‘dating’ app. I swiped right. Because he has kind eyes, or because a random phrase in his profile resonated with me. Because he understands the difference between “your” and “you”.

Not because I thought he and I would meet face-to-face. Not because I think we have potential. Because we didn’t.

Our exchange began discreetly, when he said, “Hey, what’s up?” and I said, “Hey, nothing much.”

I have no expectations. I was in New Jersey; he was in Massachusetts.

The next night, he said, “Is it bad that I planned my trip from Boston?”

Cute, if a bit early. “Perhaps you should examine me first. I could be in danger.”

“Want to FaceTime?”

I’m not. I just got home from work. I didn’t eat. I took off my makeup cleanly and changed into an oversized t-shirt and sweated it out. But I said, “Sure.”

I recently recovered from a series of lectures from my mother on how I need to focus on my personal life. She said I, at 30, have aged. It’s time to get married. And I agreed. I want. I didn’t meet the right person. I tried. “It’s hard here,” I said.

My mother doesn’t care about excuses. I’ve spent the past decade or so focusing on my medical training, but the end of my training is near and I need to reschedule.

He was having dinner when he called. For a few minutes, I tried to be cute and cute. I nodded to everything he said. I thought I’d try to keep it short. But right after that, I didn’t feel tired at all. With every word he said, I was more fascinated.

He is handsome, well educated, successful. His voice had a moderate amount of gravel. He made me shy but not nervous. Comfortable but not boring. And he seemed to fall in love with me, almost immediately. From then on, I craved his adoration.

A pandemic has brought us a kind of quick intimacy. When we talked over FaceTime, it was never less than four hours. We ate together. Sleep together. Dream together.

He told me about his father leaving when he was young and how hard it was for his mother. I told him about my history of eating disorders. He recited Urdu poetry and sent me romantic Bollywood songs discreetly. I tried to convince him of the merits of Dr. Eliot. On the side of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, we agreed. I haven’t had much feelings for anyone in a long time.

I’m not sure how this happened. Or why he likes me. I don’t think I’m his type. His Instagram account is flooded with comments from sexy women with make-up, out of the world, fun, free-spirited and unrestricted.

I have flat chest thanks to braces and don’t own a single piece of lingerie. I choose to read novels on my days off, and still make fun of myself every time I try to shave my knees. I’ve never been in a real relationship and I don’t believe in premarital sex. Knowing all this, he still looked at me as if I were an uncharted planet. And I believed that look.

Two weeks after we first met online, he drove down to meet me. I took him to the only place in town that I knew had grilled cheese, his satisfying choice. We went to the same side of the booth so we could watch the presidential election unfold on the television next to the bar.

On the ride back, he took my hand away from my lap and pressed his thumb into the mushy part of my palm as if he were making a hole to plant a seed. He intertwines his fingers with mine, holds my hand to his chest, dips his chin, closes his eyes, presses his lips to my knuckles.

I am afraid to move. I’m afraid he’ll let go. I feel like I’m holding his whole world in my little hand, and I want to keep holding him there for as long as possible.

But if the pandemic has given us an insulated dream world, it has also allowed for some smoke screens. In the end, we fought. He’s the only person I’m not afraid of getting angry, it feels invigorating. He is very confused in planning. Unreliable on return phone calls. Incompatible in his feelings. Secret for too long.

He said there are things he hasn’t told me yet but will eventually do. I discovered his real age through a perfunctory Google search – 41 not 36. In fact, I knew before I knew. He’s too full of anecdotes and advice, too successful, and a little too nervous at 36. He’s not the first person to lie on a dating app, and the 11-year age gap doesn’t discourage me. heart, but I was afraid of what else was waiting to be discovered.

I found what I was looking for in the archives of a Facebook page. I didn’t go there with the intention of investigating. It just seemed natural that after spending so many months with him, we should at least be friends on various social media platforms. But when I found his account and scrolled back, I stepped on a crack in the glass floor and fell – all the way to 2014.

A woman tagged him in a photo of a child handing out water bottles at a mosque. He has no granddaughter. It made me a little off. I clicked on the woman’s profile and scrolled to a post that said “Everyone, send your damn RSVP in the mail or at home…yes, that’s Bridezilla talking!” whereby he commented, “I’ve got your back girl!”

Another post read, “School, exams, weddings… stress,” in which he wrote, “Don’t worry, love… I’m coming.” There’s more. He told her that he missed her that day or that she was cuter than a certain Bollywood actress. He calls her “sweets”.

My heart sinks deeper with each word.

I want to turn purple. I don’t want to do anything with him anymore. But instead, I felt physically sick, with a kind of unshakable pain. The pain of being left alone on the first day of a new school. The despair of waiting for the results of an exam you know you’ve failed, except is amplified to the point of despair.

Did he have a child? And an ex-wife, or maybe a wife? Please, not a wife. Was it all in my head? Has he been playing with me all this time? Who am I to him? I still want him to want me. To choose me. And I don’t know why I want those anymore.

Half an hour later he called. He was moving around his kitchen and rambling about something. I can barely register a word. I nodded satisfied. I’m mostly quiet. I’m not good at pretending to be okay.

“So what’s wrong with you?” he say.

“Have you been married before?”

He stopped moving. “What? Why?”

“I found your Facebook page.”

“I was married, and then divorced.” He looked away, dipping his head in his hands, brushing his long hair back. “Now you know everything,” he said with a sigh. And then his phone died. Or he hangs up. Or the connection is dropped. All I know is that he’s gone. I tried to call him back, over and over, until I realized that it might really be over.

He ignored every call and text for days. I feel like a diver constantly trying to rise up in search of air but keep getting sucked down. How can someone who is nobody to me in September become completely indispensable in January?

I grew up independent with a will. Steadfast with the certainty that I can only depend on myself, that I have everything inside of me that I ever asked for. I know I don’t need him, but somehow the line between need and desire is melting. I want him because I need to be this less inhibited, freer version of me, and I’m not sure how I would do it without him.

A few weeks later, he called. Or I called and he finally picked up. In the end, he apologized. Or I apologized and he said something sweet, and I almost forgot what I wanted him to apologize for. It’s true – he’s divorced and a father. But, somewhere along the way, this became my interpretation of Prince Charming.

We talked for many hours. It feels like being back home after walking aimlessly for days. There’s nothing left to hide. Maybe that’s all there is to hope for. Maybe it’s all love. An attachment does not depend on anything.

Not all love is meant to last. Ours did not. But it is never completely lost, although it can be etched into a finite moment in time. An extinguished fire that quietly glows within us.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/style/modern-love-muslim-dating-what-he-hadnt-told-me.html What he hasn’t told me yet

Fry Electronics Team

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