4. The Runner

walkers-486583_1920This has the potential to be a really long post, probably because my relationship with The Runner lasted longer than any of the other 40 matches, 8 months in total, interspersed with periods of (his) silence. But I don’t want to write, nor do I believe you want to read, a story that long. So I’ll give a brief sketch of The Runner and share what I learned before I broke things off.

The Runner is a few years older than me, and I met him at what I assumed was an unusual time of upheaval in his personal life. As it turned out, upheaval was his norm. In the first three months I knew him, he changed jobs 4 times and drove 3 different cars. We connected on an intellectual level, had a similar dry sense of humor, and enjoyed a delicious sexual chemistry. Yet he remained distant, and I didn’t push. When he told me that he’d be moving across the country for a new job, I felt sadness that belied the brevity of our casual relationship. It was only after he moved that he told me that he’d never connected with anyone as deeply as he had with me and that I’d offered him the best and most intimate sex of his life. Then he disappeared for a while, re-emerging to talk vaguely about a mental breakdown, having to leave the new job and move to a different town and find yet another job. Then began a period of time, perhaps six weeks, when we texted frequently, but almost exclusively about sex. When radio silence began again, I stuck it out for a few weeks before sending him a farewell message and blocking his number.

All told, I saw him in person six or seven times, we slept together four times, we talked on the phone a half dozen times, and we texted intermittently for 8 months. And I pined for this man, my chest ached when I thought of him. I called him “the one that got away.” I believed him and sympathized with him and pitied him and worried about him. I imagined my life with him in it. Reading this paragraph makes me want to slap myself, but instead, let’s think about what I learned from the The Runner.

  1. Red flags need to be carefully assessed as an aggregate, not discounted on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Dumping time and emotional energy into someone who’s not reciprocating is what  I like to call wasted effort. Don’t do it.
  3. Despite someone’s best intentions to not “fuck with your emotions,” they still can do exactly that, over and over and often.
  4. When someone isn’t forthcoming about their story or circumstances, even when trust is established, their air of mystery isn’t charming — it’s deceptive.
  5. My time is valuable. My heart is worth protecting. My attention has more worthy destinations. Don’t hesitate to walk away when my time, heart, and attention aren’t appreciated.


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