“You should ask her out.”
Instead of playing etudes in my own space, I sat on the floor of his practice room, interrupting his warm-up while trying to convince him to ask out a girl he told me he liked.
Actually, I was trying to convince him how great I was.
I suppose I was following that “If you love something, set it free” platitude. Not that I was in love with him yet. He was a nice guy, quiet, funny and a fellow music major. He also seemed safe. That’s just what I needed after the ex-boyfriend from my freshman year, the one that had been the first I ever dated, the first I fell in love with, the first to break my heart.
Unfortunately, the nice guy politely declined me by saying he was interested in someone else. I decided to call his bluff. If he was going to use another woman as an excuse, then I wanted him to make an effort to date her.
“You’ll never know if you don’t ask her. Tell her how you feel. What’s the worst that can happen?”
I already knew the answer to that:
She’ll say no just like you said to me.
I kept urging him on, certain this demonstrated how selfless I could be. He eventually asked the other woman out, but it ended after he realized she was using their dates to proselytize. I offered myself as an alternative, and he settled for me.
Having denied him the opportunity to be the pursuer, I first emasculated then married him. He kept this belief to himself. The newlywed me was also unaware that he developed a crush on a cute blond he met at grad school.
Two years later, he was pining after a fellow doctoral student. This time, he revealed it to me. I found myself repeating the words from our lopsided courtship.
“Ask her out. Tell her how you feel. What’s the worst that can happen?”
I already knew:
She will say yes, and you’ll end up with a woman looking for something you can’t give her.
He didn’t act on his feelings despite my encouragement.
Four years later, it was a shy co-worker who caught his fancy. I played matchmaker once again.
“You should ask her out. Tell her how you feel. If you don’t want to be with me, then be with her. What’s the worst that can happen?”
I knew the answer too well:
You will long for her, but feel obligated to stay with me. There will always be another woman until you end our marriage.
A few months later, to both of our surprise, there was another woman. This woman was willing to have an affair. This woman was destined to break up our marriage.