Dating Series: Pity

I wasn't sure if I should include this story here since it's called dating series and the guy I am about to talk about is I haven't actually dated. But I can honestly say I have never felt what I felt with him with anyone else. Not because he's this amazing special guy. Not because I fell in love with him. I mean at a point when we were still friends I did think he was amazing and special. But don't we all think that when we develop feelings for someone even before we get to know them better? This feeling I got with him was a feeling I thought I'd never find with anyone. And I remember when he rejected me I was wondering why I was so upset over a feeling that I never even realized I wanted.

If you've been reading these posts you know that all of the guys I've been involved with were not Muslim except for one. And the one that was I could never relate to, because of how differently we viewed the concept of religion, so it almost didn't feel like we even followed the same religion. I don't think I ever dated someone who viewed religion the same way I did. But I always thought that was okay. If I can date guys who at least respect my views even if they don't agree with them, that would be okay. And most of the time it was.

I remember when I got to know this guy how refreshing it was to meet someone with similar views to me. I didn't realize how I great it could be. He was born in the states and his parents were from Iran. Even though we have been raised differently due to being raised in different sects in Islam (my family and I are Sunni and he was raised as a Shi'a) we had conversations about how we felt about certain concepts that most Muslims in America can be faced with. It took me a long time to realize I had feelings for him. I denied the attraction I felt towards him when we're just starting to become friends... well because he actually wasn't physically attractive to me (at first). He had weird hair and didn't have a good sense of fashion (we had a running joke about how weird his shoes were). We met in college and became friends at a house party.  I started a conversation with him and I remember talking to him the whole night up to the time it was finally time to go home at 4 in the morning. We were so immersed in conversation and it didn't occur to me that I could be attracted to him. And we never became really close friends but we maintained contact for a bit after I graduated college (he was younger than me so hadn't graduated yet). Somehow I found myself wanting to see him and talk to him more and more. And he made an effort to spend more time with me too. And that's when we got a little closer. I still wasn't admitting to myself that I had feelings for him. I just thought that it was nice to have a friend I can talk to about stuff that no one else in my life really understood. Until one day he started telling me about another woman in his life that he had strong feelings for. I remember feeling jealous. And I immediately questioned my jealousy. I have male friends who talk about women they like all the time. I never get jealous during those conversations. Why am I getting jealous over this? Could I have feelings for this younger man who was such a horrible dresser? Nah. No way. And so I kept denying it until we were having another one of our late night conversations. He was telling me about a Pakistani bus driver he met one night when he was coming home from a late night out with friends. He was telling me how this driver was lecturing him on how to be good Muslim. He was basically being lectured by the Haram police. I remember laughing and just thinking why have I never had this conversation with anyone else? All the sudden his shoes looked nicer to me. I guess that was my mind's way of telling me that I did indeed have feelings for him. I told him how I felt. He reciprocated those feelings at first and then got over me a lot faster then I got over him. I guess you could say it was bad timing.

We both discussed and decided neither of us were ready to be in a relationship. We were going in different directions with our lives and it would also have to be a long distance relationship which neither of us wanted to do. He wanted travel for sometime after he graduated and I already (recently) made the decision to continue working and go to graduate school part time. This made me sad that we couldn't be together but I was also somewhat relieved. After all this time I was still not ready to commit and with all the experiences I have had I can feel myself protecting my heart and keeping my guard up even more.  And for me that was ok. I figure when I am ready to let someone in and when timing works out better I’ll be able to let events take its course. But I really didn't want to lose his friendship. He understood me in a way that no one else in my life did. Not my family, friends or any of the guys I was dating at the time or the guys I dated in the past. And at the time he seemed to make it clear that he wanted to stay friends and I was very content with that.

I was also going through a really rough time in my life. I didn't have complete job satisfaction and I was constantly fighting with my family after I just moved out. I started feeling lonely and depressed and he was the one I went to. And he told me that he couldn't help me because he didn't have those feelings for me anymore. That he was happy with the life that he has. And that maybe I should find what he has. And he wished me luck too.

And I realized he pitied me. And that was possibly the worst way a man has ever made me feel. I can't imagine anyone likes to be pitied. And in retrospect I guess it didn't make sense for me to reach out to someone I already knew I couldn't be with. Maybe he did me a favor by rejecting me, because it might have taken me longer to get over him if he didn't. But I remember thinking: why does he have to pity me? Yes I am going through a really rough patch right now. But I still had so much to live for. I have a few good friends who I love dearly. Yes, I was arguing with my family a lot, but they were still there for me too. And yes, the fact that I still wasn't sure where exactly my career was going even though I have invested so much time in it was scary as hell.

But it didn't stop me from exploring and discovering my interests and where I belonged. I was in a bad place at a certain time and I reached out to a friend for emotional support and got rejected. But instead of pitying myself, I made use of all the good things in my life. I reached out to my friends who take care of me. I worked on my relationship with my family. I kept pursuing my career goals. I realized I didn't need his support. I just wanted it.

I also realized that even if there is one person in the world who might understand me in a way that no one else does, that doesn't have mean that this person is special. You see, my view on religion is only one part of me. And while he understood it very well, he didn't understand any other part of me. He didn't understand the other things I was going through and he didn't really want to. How could I ever think that someone like that is special? True friends don't have to understand, they just have to be there for you. My loved ones don't pity me. They love me and they support me when I need them. They might not understand my views on religion or my identity crisis. But I am so much more than that. The different people in my life who love me and care for me don't understand all of me. I am so lucky that I have these few special people in my life. And I decided this guy didn't belong in this special group of people. It felt too toxic. Why would I want to keep pity when I have other wonderful people in my life that support me instead?

Perhaps one day I'll meet someone else I could relate to the same way I related to him. It doesn't have to be someone I'll have feelings for or date. But even if I don't that's okay. I guess I finally remembered that it was ok before I met this guy. These days things are looking a lot better. I'm still exploring my career as an engineer. I still argue with my family, but less since I started making an effort to work on my relationship with them. I am working on personal goals that I'm not sure when I'll achieve, but these goals are making me feel alive and passionate. If you've read my posts before this series you know that I'm still feeling lost and scared. But I'm no longer lonely or depressed. Having all this uncertainty doesn't have to be a bad thing anymore.

I am never going to let anyone else's pity get to  me. I am so lucky and privileged to have the life that I have. And I'm not going to let anyone, not even a man I had strong feelings for, ever make me feel that way again. Yet another lesson I've learned.