I was a late bloomer when it came to men, so it isn’t surprising that my only long term relationship began at 22. At 19 I met a man who was my first real infatuation, and though I felt rejected at the time, meeting him did help shape me into the woman I am today.
His name was Peter, a student teacher from America, and we met at my old high school. Before you get the wrong idea, I had already finished high school the year before, and that day I was visiting the art teacher. He had a great smile, tall, blue eyes, and as I show the art teacher my portfolio, he just listened. I mean, if I knew what my type was at that age, he would have ticked a few boxes.
Looking back at the 19 year old woman that I was, she was happy, yet also deeply insecure. I never saw myself as physically attractive, and no guys ever asked me out in high school. Being single didn’t bother me because I didn’t really know what people did in relationships - how can you spend that much time with each other and not get sick of one another? What could I offer that other people couldn’t give them?
Peter and I hung out a few times, but we never moved past that. This all happened before unlimited texts, and we both worked during the day, so we would talk at night. Deep down even though I knew he didn’t really feel the same way, I couldn’t accept that I was well and truly in the friendzone. It didn’t help he was actually a nice guy.
One day he rang, really excited. He got a job in Auckland. In Auckland, a city four hours away. Gutted didn’t begin to describe how I felt, and how hard it was to be happy for him. Nothing says a guy isn’t that into you by moving to another city. By the way, he took that job because it helped him to get his PR, and I understood that, but still, at the time, gutted.
On his last night in Whakatane, he was out with a friend and I was out with mine. I knew he was into one of my friends, because he often talked about her, and nothing plays into a woman’s insecurities than a guy you’re into telling you how much he’s into your friend. It came to a head at the end of the night, feeling confused, rejected and a bit drunk, I asked one of my girlfriends to drive me home. He caught me as I was walking to the car, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I was angry. At him? Maybe, but mainly at myself for being into a guy that didn’t want me. As I sat in the car while my friend drove away, he stared at me, with those damn gorgeous eyes, confused about how the night ended.
We tried to have a conversation about it a few weeks later after he moved to Auckland. He understood, though he didn’t really say much. We last saw each other for dinner, my birthday was coming up and he was in town and wanted to catch up. He didn’t say anything about that conversation, though he probably felt bad for me that he didn’t see me that way.
For my birthday, he gave me a book. Sounds odd I know, but like I said in the first paragraph, knowing him helped to figure a few things out. He gave me an inspirational quote book for young women trying to find their place in the world. One of the quotes that stood out to me went something like this…(This is a similar quote on Google).
The truth is, we were never together, and it was unfair to be angry at him for not feeling the same way. He was just not that into me. I read through that book in one night, laughing, crying and most of all, feeling grateful that I had a friend who cared enough about me, and the future men who would come into my life.
We’ve messaged maybe twice when he pops up on social media. I know he’s married with kids, and he’s happy. Sometimes I still think about him, though not the same way I did at 19. One day we’ll cross paths again, that I’m sure, and over coffee I will be sure to thank him for a life changing gift, my self worth.