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Dating / Relationships

When Red Flags Signal That They’re Just Not That Into You

I’ve caught feelings and they’re clearly not reciprocated.

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Written by Erika Kramer.

Illustrated by Jason Longo.

This story is prone to exaggeration.

We met at a tiny gay bar before she lived in the city. I was sitting on a stool grumbling to my newly-engaged friend that I’d be alone forever. A broken record of a conversation we’d often trail into after “sharing” a six-pack. So my dutiful friend turned to order more drinks and I swiveled around and there she was. Petite, feminine, big eyes, and an obnoxiously generous smile. We started to chat and I knew I liked her immediately. Things got progressively more hazy. With a Heineken-infused confidence, I led her to the forest green bathroom that always reeks of bleach and we made out. Banging on the door ended our intimate moment and eventually we parted ways. Later, I texted (read: begged) her to come over instead of leaving me stranded alone in bed. She graciously refused. The next morning I apologized for the blunt language. She tells me she has a girlfriend and asks if we can be friends. Shrug emoji, I guess.

Some months pass. She moves to Brooklyn and breaks it off with the girlfriend. She was visiting in preparation for a move when we met, I think, but most of the time I hadn’t been sure if she was fully telling the truth. She was a liar in the way that she’d say something was blue when it was actually green. Not in a way that’s truly significant or intentionally malevolent. Just because she could. Like, I guess it’s still a color?  She reaches out. Want to try that friend thing?  

Over the next several months a bond grows. A crush is brewing but I try to push it aside.

We meet at a dive bar. My drunken behavior from our first meeting and the passage of time have rendered this a near-blind friend date for me and I’m not sure I really need it. Turns out, we had a great night. She’s charming and chatty and clever. She’s single but trying to not date for the first time in 15 years. I’ve had just one serious girlfriend, whom I remained aggressively faithful to, and a slew of not-serious experiences. Different roads got us here.  We agree to hang again and leave it at that. New lesbian friendship made.

Over the next several months a bond grows. We go to screenings and shows and events together. A crush is brewing but I try to push it aside. I dream of her. We’re swimming together. Late at night in warm, open waters with dark layers above and a soundtrack of bugs. I hold her by the small of her back and kiss her. She dunks me into the water, giggling.  I wake to a message ping. She texts me about a book I told her to read called Desert of the Heart. (Did I mention we’re lesbians?)  Finished it! A bit maudlin for my taste. But, I love a happy ending.  That’s the perfect word for it, I say.  So many dream sequences in that book, she types back. No one cares about your dreams!

Pride rolls around and admittedly it’s always a shameful weekend for me. Sorry Mom, but it’s the only time of year lesbians come out of hiding en masse. I get overstimulated and overwhelmed and act out. Many thanks to my gay ancestors.  After a colorful day, I land at a massive dance party on the southern edge of Manhattan. I text her, casually, to come. She responds and I’m nervous but have zero expectations. Truly. As zero expectation-y as you can be when you’re also a little nervous.

She shows up and we drink and dance and have incoherent, deeply personal conversations. Eventually, we both give in.

The sex is…not great. We’re really not sober, so we both do our best. I remember wanting it and she says she does too. It’s new and exciting, but also, ultimately lacking something. The next morning I can’t stop touching her and I initiate sex again. Afterwards, she collapses onto me and it feels immense. The feeling of her full body weight on top of me, done from fucking, surrendered. I kiss her but she stops me. We should go, she says. Huh. Uh yeah of course, totally. All done.

That morning is full of easy conversation. I crack a joke and she lets out a laugh that’s so genuine I can actually feel my heart beating harder. We share stories and random thoughts, it’s comfortable. But I know this is all it’s going to be. This is all I get. What happened in my bed won’t happen again, I tell myself, as I hug her goodbye and head off to march in a parade for the freedom to feel this…confused.

After Pride, I obsess. I think about her body on mine. Sometimes when I’m drunk I text her embarrassingly. She is too calm about it. I apologize profusely, she tells me to forget it. I’ve caught feelings and they’re clearly not reciprocated.  I invite her to a party and to my surprise she says she’ll come. We drink, dance, and fall into kissing again. This night’s even hazier than the first. When we wake, we have great conversation again. We laugh. I kiss her a couple times. We part ways and I finally confess my feelings in a vague text. Now’s the time, I hope. 

What I get instead is a call a few hours later where she tells me she can’t sleep with me again. That it’s fun but it’s not right. She needs to be more honest and that means telling me this. But let’s definitely still be friends, she says.

So it ends where it began. Drinking a few too many Heinekens and texting a friend.  There’s no caging her, she messages. You know this. You need to understand and study your prey!  Ewww, I respond.

I mentioned this story is prone to exaggeration. And it is. To fall so intensely for someone I never even kissed sober is clearly a red flag. But to crush is to feel alive and excited and like your days carry possibility. It’s much like how I describe New York City when people ask how I can stand it.  


About The Author

Erika Kramer is an award-winning filmmaker and writer living in NYC. She runs the video production company SUP (http://sup.nyc) and spends an unacceptable amount of time listening to podcasts.

Follow on IG: @goforkramer | Follow on Twitter: @ediddy33


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