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Why Are We Like This

I struggle with my feelings about/for/toward Matthew. I don’t have any romantic feelings for him, and I don’t have any interest in spending time with him ever again.  

But I have an overflow of compassion and genuine concern for him, to a point which borders on pity.

And I don’t want to pity anyone because pity just seems so self-righteous and conceited and condescending and I don’t want to be any of those things. Still, my feelings toward him oscillate between aversion and something related to pity.

I met Matthew on Tinder during my second trip to Bali; the one where I knew I had to move here. He was my second Tinder date on the island. The second older man I met, in his forties, who lived here.

I was just using them. I needed information. I needed to know how it could be done, to become an expat. I needed to know better places to live than Kuta.

And also, clearly, I wanted to get some action, and free drinks. Obviously.

But I liked Matthew right away, and more than the other date. He had style, a very slight bit of swagger. He dressed well and he played confident and forthright, much like I play indifferent.

We are neither of these portrayals.

I am not indifferent to anything. I am passionate and furious about everything and I’m constantly vibrating.

I know now that Matthew is neither very confident, nor very honest.

He is not malicious in his deception though. He is just a human being – aged, dissatisfied, flawed, and lonely. He is the ghost of someone’s Christmas Future, ferrr-shure.

But Matthew was always good to me when we spent time together. So even though he’s disappointed me, he never hurt me, or yelled, or insulted me, and I don’t hate him for anything.

I was just disappointed.

I didn’t catch on until after that fact I was little more than a sex doll to him, as he’s a sex addict. But I didn’t know that going in.

I knew he was a recovering alcoholic. He didn’t mind if I drank though. He gave me Vodka when I went to his house.

We talked about my friend who’d committed suicide, about Matthew’s ex-wife, his drinking, about his career as a hairstylist.

We explored some kinks.

We had breakfast at Lupe. We went to the movies in Seminyak. We spent the day at Hidden Beach. I bought him a bracelet to match his eyes.

It was fine, but it wasn’t an epic romance by any means. We were two people who met on a dating app and fucked around and formed a friendship. I added him to my Netflix account. I logged into my Spotify Premium on his computer.

I was alone in a foreign country and I’d made a friend.

And suddenly that friend had no time for me.

Messages went unanswered for days. They were returned super late at night. Somewhere between friends-with-benefits and random slut is the 10pm cut-off for “Wanna hang out tonight?” texts.

I began to get the feeling that he’d gotten the feeling that I was being clingy. And maybe, in a way I was. But certainly not intentionally.

I didn’t want that man to fall in love with me.

I looked at him sometimes, at breakfast, or when we were in the ocean and I wondered, “Is this it? Is this what I want? What am I doing? What are we doing? Could I have relationship with this man?”

My questioning made it clear the answer was No.

I did not want to make a pretend relationship with a recovering alcoholic in his forties because I was still a very much practicing quasi-alcoholic in my thirties and as far relationship ideals, I wanted a deep, sudden, and intensely connected kind of soul love.

All I wanted from Matthew was the basic decency not to blow me off after I let him cum in my mouth and pee on me, and gave him a Netflix profile. All I wanted was to be treated with courtesy and respect, the way a friend that you sometimes fuck should be treated.

After I told him I’d met someone else that I wanted to be serious with, he suddenly became available to hang out and I was completely turned off by him.

It got worse when he dropped by the guesthouse for lunch. He was chatty Cathy that day, like we were suddenly best friends. He told me all about the Indonesian hooker he’d fallen in love with and their battle of wills over her going to his house, versus him driving to get her.

It was annoying and juvenile and I wasn’t even jealous, if that’s what he was going for. I simply didn’t like this side of him. He could do better. He deserved better.

And then he told me about the sex addiction. And maybe, just maybe he’d told me before and I hadn’t caught it. But that afternoon in April this revelation (or reminder) created a complete picture of the man.

Addiction is whatever.

Who isn’t addicted to something in these times?

Still, I felt blind-sided. The honest and funny and spiritual and intelligent guy that I’d spent time with had been replaced by a cocky and delusional, pussy-chasing asshole. And worst of all was that I didn’t even want my friend back.

I didn’t even care.

I just sat there in the big kitchen, nodding and smoking, and watching and listening to him.

I offered no advice, the way I would to a real friend. I gave no opinion, nothing.

I just wanted his visit, and this chapter of my vagina’s history, to be over.

Hati-Hati translates to “Be Careful” or “Caution” in Indonesian.

HATI-HATI by Ruth Nineke is a collection
of poems, dreams, photography, and personal essays reflecting on the author’s love addiction, romanticism and sexuality.

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