I just finished Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe and it was a serious revelation on many fronts. I need some time to process the magic that befell my brain, but there was one section (of many) from tonight’s homestretch that really set fire to my soul. It had to do with the notion that while most everyone fantasizes about situations, introverts (me) are highly susceptible to having those fantasies take over. And when they take over, they don’t align with the reality of the scenario, generating some hurt and disappointment along the way. And in regular fashion, like everything else this month, I had some direct experiences with this very phenomenon. The best part is that I believe I was a solo-sufferer in this trap, but apparently it’s a flaw within all of us inner-power beings.
Now because I’m a hopeless romantic and no longer try to keep my heart from getting beat up, I’m all too familiar with this pitfall. Though I will say I’ve gotten an ass-load better at keeping fantasy and reality pretty close together over these past six months of dating (and prior to my hiatus). Currently I’m just about done with everyone that isn’t within my immediate circle, but I definitely recall past situations where I envisioned a lot more than what was there. Filling in the in the blanks is just the job of the overly active and creatively inclined piece of gray matter I was gifted. Turns out it’s not such a unique trait that I should go on the road with it.
Introverted people, those of us who gain power from solitude and reflection, are prone to this because it’s our way of expressing desire and due to our limited interaction (delicious head-space). This expression of desire fits the MO of introversion yet it is also very active within in the same vein. There’s no passivity in imagining myself and bae-in-training on some non-descript beach sipping whiskey from her “100 Whiskeys to Try Before You Die” bucket list while we float along on a wooden raft we built together with help from local islanders. There’s nothing static about imagination or fantasy; it’s as fluid as the blood that fuels our brain’s ability to do so.
The problem comes when I start fantasizing about personality traits based on actions from situations. I’ll come out and admit that with just about every woman I’ve been interested in, I’ve thought about a future with her. That’s not to say I wanted to marry her or that I thought she was worth building a relationship with that early. It’s more of an idle “what if” scenario that becomes a little game for me. Especially if they’re on the level and pique my interest. Despite this confession, I feel like I’m certainly not alone in this activity. It’s kind of a requirement to have a loose imagining of the future with a potential mate right? That’s certainly a cliche “it’s not you, it’s me” dialogue string where someone claims they can’t “see a future” where the other person is present. Only to get tipsy, forego the condom and be locked into a future with said person. Don’t be silly, wrap your Willy and all that.
There was a woman I fell pretty hard for last year that exemplified this disconnect between fantasy and reality. It was a typical situation; mutual attraction, hanging out, beating around the bush (we are both introverts), I take the first step into vulnerability, we make out, everything is great, “I’m not ready,” I wait, I get impatient, we have a feelings fight, things get awkward, things never return to neutral, I say fuck it.
Now within this run-on, I can pinpoint exactly where the misalignment fucked me up. Up until the eventual kiss, things were going so smooth I thought I was in a Johnson & Johnson commercial. Reciprocation was on fleek, she was available, she gave me my space, we vibed, everything was gravy. So gravy I started to fantasize about this situation being the end-all-be-all. I was gonna ask this girl out and be done with this dating madness for a time, finally. So up until that fateful kiss, I was imagining a future where we take a vacation to Chicago (where she was from), she would show me around and give me that Chi-town loving I never experienced.
With my fantastical renditions on every encounter we had, I was very far removed from reality. I would imagine her smile or where she was or how she was probably thinking about me in these scenarios. It was bad. Though there were instances that took me out of fantasy land for a bit. Seeing her in Snap Stories where other dudes were involved (in semi-suggestive situations) brought me back down to Earth in that nothing was official nor had we even had the DTR (Define The Relationship) talk. Those sobering moments gave me time to reign in my imagination and expectations. Only to be countered by a litany of personal Snaps from her that served to toss me back into fantasy land. I was on a see-saw of desire.
But I was so sure that we were a thing, just not officially, that I delighted in my dream sequences. And she corroborated them which made it much harder to see the not-so-dreamy reality that I was to face in the next month. So now we fast forward to this fateful kiss that I had been playing in my head since the 3rd date. It was very tender and took me back to those high school days of uncertainty, but it felt so right. In the fantastical version of this story, after I say “well that took long enough” through a smirk, her line would be: “Yeah, I’ll say. I hope there’s more where that came from.” Then I’d hit her with that one liner of infinite wit, “Hmm, I think that can be arranged!” More making out ensues, we part ways staring at each other. I get in the car, she’s still standing in the doorway as I pull off. Scene. Fantasy realized.
Now what actually happened is what brought about some balance. After my quip about us taking a while to get our lips locked, she hits me with “I’m not ready. Be patient with me.” Shit. Alright, it’s not so bad. She didn’t tell me to fuck off, she’s being honest. Gotta respect that. The fantasy has been taken down for maintenance. Though immediately after I heard those words, reality love tapped me in the balls. It didn’t hurt per se, but it felt quite uncomfortable. I wake up the next morning to an essay further deconstructing my fantasy. Okay, we still have some of it left, no need to panic. Things are moving as they were. Then reciprocation wanes, she’s unavailable, and making excuses. It’s cool, she just need some space to think. As an introvert, I get it. It’s gonna be okay fantasy, we got this.
Boom. Another thesis from her. This time explaining why I should still be dating other girls (I never stopped, but okay). Hmm. Alright, show’s over folks. Fantasy has left the building. Reality is now the new headliner. And then it all started to settle in. I fell for the idea of dating her, all the cool stuff we would do and things we would accomplish together, while neglecting what was really going on. Naturally it wasn’t all my fault, she happily indulged my advances for a time which fueled the fantasy for so long. The true reality check came when I stopped initiating. Nearly 3 weeks went by without a single peep. That shit was dead way before I came to realize it. Cold game. But lessons were had.
And not the obvious ones about managing expectations, tempering fantasy with reality, or knowing one’s worth. Y’all are smart, that’s a given. The real lesson for me, which I stumbled upon after finishing that section tonight, was the notion that it wasn’t bad that I fantasized about this scenario the way that I did. In fact, that’s a core tenet of living a life inside; I derive joy from ideas and thinking through scenarios. It felt good to feel, if you will. My error was not marrying my fantasy to the reality. I did not readily accept that that whole situation could have just as easily blew up in my face.
I hadn’t even considered that possibility because of the circumstantial evidence saying otherwise. So the goal here is to desire with fervor, knowing full well I might get hurt in the process. Being mindful of the positive and negative outcomes is important, but so is reconciling with both. Going in with eyes wide open, willing to dust myself off, and then involve myself in making more worthy mistakes. I don’t have to compromise my vision of someone or something to be mindful of the reality. I have…we have the ability to do both. It’s also important to choose who is allowed let inside. I let homegirl in and she took advantage. She certainly cared and had feelings, but clearly was conflicted yet still decided to take some of my creme brulee (dat biiitch).
With all that being said, I can safely say that I’m practicing what I preach (read) in regards to my bae-in-training. She actively shut down my romantic advances, fantasies abound, but I went into it knowing full well that was the likely scenario. I went in not only resolved to the outcome, but also mindful of my vision for my desire and the reality of the situation. There was no compromise in what I felt like doing or my understanding of the outcome; I did it and now I get to see where things go from here. And honestly, I’m not worried at all. Burning desire is often better at foresight than a crystal ball. If she tells me why we’re still hanging fine, if not whatevs. I still got my vision. And it’s still married to the reality.