I’d love to come out with you tonight. You’re fun and funny and sweet and sexy and so many things that I like in a man. But I have to cancel, I’m afraid, because I don’t know you well enough to have a breakdown in your presence. Come back to me next week, when I’ll have finished crumbling. Come next month, when I’ll be well. In three months’ time, when we know each other better, and this stuff doesn’t seem quite so weird. For now, though, I don’t have the energy to be the sexy fun girl you’ve enjoyed on previous dates. Leave me alone for a minute. I need to be fragile in peace.
I need to be with friends who’ve seen me cry. Ones who’ll tell me the right jokes to snap me out of it, or the perfect soothing words to stop the panic rising. Friends who’ll say nothing when they don’t know what to say – just pour me a drink and pass me some tissues and sit in companionable silence. Friends who’ll let me be fragile and fucked-up and won’t be alarmed by how ugly that look is on me.
Dating is fun, and so are you. So am I, most of the time, I hope. But the energy it takes to be fun for someone new has left me right now. I can’t fuck you tonight because the thought of exposing my body makes me want to weep. I can’t make jokes because I’ve run out of them. I can’t tell you how work is going because if I start telling those stories I will crumble and cry. I cannot see you, because I’m fragile. And although I am sure you would let me be messy if I needed to be, I don’t have the energy to work out how best to cross that line.
We have fun because we don’t show each other the hard stuff yet. Because telling someone you’ve not spent much time with that you’ve spent the last week in a pit of depression? That’s frightening and intense, four dates in. Give it ten, at least, before you have to see this kind of shit.
You want to distract me from my problems, and that’s a noble gesture. But really all you’re doing is adding lots more problems to the pile. If I see you tomorrow that means lots of work today. I need to:
– tidy my flat
– change my bedsheets
– pick an outfit
– plan where we’ll meet and how to get there
– shave whichever bits of my body I have to shave in order to feel sexy for you
– do my nails
– finish all my work so I can knock off tomorrow on time
– lay aside the panic and stress and spend time on ‘self care’ so that tomorrow, instead of flailing, I can sparkle
And I’m sorry but I just don’t have the capacity for all of that. If we’d planned ahead I could have factored this in. If I’d known you’d ask, I’d have not done that big tiring thing yesterday, or spent the weekend working, or rinsed myself last week. I’d have tried to keep my flat a little tidier, so the prospect of getting it guest-worthy didn’t seem like an impossible goal. But the situation is what it is, and now I’m spent. I don’t have the energy to hold the fragile pieces of myself together as I plan a last-minute date which will bring you a burst of joy.
If one of my close friends told me they were coming round for wine, I’d leap on that. Say “yes mate, fuck, I really need to talk. Come on down.” If my Mum or sister invited me to the pub, I’d be on it like a shot. I can fall apart in front of these people, and know that they recognise a blip when they see one. Right now, I am shattered enough that only the closest friends and family (the ones who have stroked my back or been present at the other end of the phone as I ugly-cry in a foetal position on the floor) would be able to provide any kind of social time that wouldn’t flash in my brain like a chore or panic. Good friends can be fragile with you, and let you be fragile as well, and there’s no stress or pressure to be on top form. Not when you know each other well.
But I don’t know you well enough yet, I’m afraid. We’re not close enough for fragility. For you I want to be happy and well. For you I want to be fun.
When you and I are together, I want to make sure that I sparkle.