Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Tam links some stories and the troubles "Squeaky" is having with a stalker. This brought back some painful memories from way back - back when dirt was new and I was a fresh faced kid, who had never been in love.

I thought I had fallen in love. She was a coworker, and we went out several times. We were even considered an item. We didn’t “get it on” - it was primarily my decision at the time. She wanted to one night in the worst way, but I was kinda scared. A few days later, she informed me (rather nicely, really) that she was seeing someone else. I fell apart. I wrote a weepy letter telling her she would regret this decision, and what else I said I don’t remember, other than it was very maudlin. I dropped this letter through the sunroof of her car, and instantly I realized that was a mistake. She had told me I was still a friend. I stopped by her house once to see her - and she was very uncomfortable with me there. Me a friend? Not so much. The raw truth was that since I didn’t sleep with her, I wasn’t any use to her. Not that I learned that right away or anything - it took a while for that knowledge to percolate through my consciousness.

I couldn’t let go. I drove by her house several times a week to see who she was sleeping with. I never called her, or bothered her at work, but I damn sure drove by her house a lot. She had to know - how could she not see me drive by? Sheer chance would dictate she would see me. It took about a year, but I finally quit. I realized this behavior was doing nothing but hurting myself and healing nothing. I had learned one of the dating rules the hard way: “Thou shalt not dip thy quill in the company ink.”

I violated that rule again - another coworker wanted to go out with me. I told her that dating coworkers wasn’t such a good idea, but she insisted. Well, who was I to refuse? This one didn’t turn out well, either. When we went out, we always had to take along her best friend. I never got any time alone. I had been hearing rumors about her having an affair with the boss as well. Another guy at work started claiming she had gone out with him, and he had scored. So, we had a come to Jesus meeting. I told her if our relationship was going to work, it was going to have to be without a continuous escort, and that it wouldn’t hurt if I at least got some time alone, and even a goodnight kiss once in a while. I also reminded her that this was all her idea, that if she wanted me, she was going to have to change a few things.

This went over like a lead balloon over the Grand Canyon. There were no more dates, to say the least. What made it worse was working with each other - when I was in a good mood and wanted to cooperate, she wanted to be catty. I was hurt, and retaliated when she wasn’t expecting it. Work wasn’t always a positive experience.

I also drove by her house. I was looking to catch my boss there, but I never did. I never saw the “other guy” there either. However, her best friend told me that she was sure there was an affair with the boss. I think it took about six months of driving by before I got smart and quit.

Does this qualify as stalking? I think so - more a mild case rather than the full blown bombardment by phone or other harassment - but still unwanted attention. Today, I cringe when I think about those days. I’ve also learned another rule: "The Law of Diminishing Returns". It is a law of economics I’ve applied to the dating scene. If you are putting more into a relationship and getting less back as time goes by, then you are wasting your time. Pure and simple. It is hard to see this at times, but if you are the one bearing the load of maintaining a relationship, and you aren’t getting much or anything back, then it is truly a case of diminishing returns. Lessee here - when the first girl told me she just wanted to be friends, then that should have told me any further efforts on my part would be wasted. I realized the second relationship was a bust, and exited accordingly. Except I couldn’t completely let go.

Now, as a far more worldly and scarred traveler in this old world, I’ve certainly learned a thing or three. If someone doesn’t want me around - great! I’m gone. No sense in wasting my time. I see the younger me agonizing over these two relationships and I know that I wouldn’t listen even if I could go back in time and tell myself this wisdom. That version of me was going to have to learn the hard way. I’ve got some great friends who I don’t get to see or visit often enough. I could be talking to them, rather than torturing myself.

So, when I read of a stalking case, I can feel a tiny bit of empathy for the stalker - but that stops when laws are broken and women are violated. I can understand the frustration of not getting your way, but when some idiot starts threatening or beating women, I’ve no sympathy. Let it go, for God’s sake. Apparently, a lot of these guys are control freaks who become unhinged when they lose the whatever control they thought they had. Too bad. You’ve got to be able to control yourself before you are worthy of a decent relationship, and that is true in all facets of personality. Gambling, drinking, drug abuse - whatever - if you cannot control yourself, it’s gonna be tough on any relationship.

I’ve got to laugh a bit sarcastically - I basically have a hundred percent failure rate in relationships, and here I’m giving my opinion. I’m certainly not so hot on the dating scene anymore - I’m not the optimist I was. Plus, I’ve learned to enjoy my own company, and I’ve become set in my ways. The tooth paste tube needs rolled up. Toilet paper over, not under. The dishes will get washed in their own sweet time, and the bed will be made when it’s laundry time. And, I’m damn sure not wasting three buck a gallon gas driving by someone’s house mooning over them.


LBJ said...

well since I fall into that ambiguous. "we're friends" loophole. all I can say is this. You're cool. . they're stupid. . and if you ever go down that path again, as your friend, I'll bring the Doritoes and the Coca Cola and I'll drive by her house with you and make catty remarks about her taste in curtains.

Jeffro said...

Heh. Let's just sit at home and snark from there - more entertainment options than just cruising - like movies and a kitchen.

And that was in a galaxy long ago and far away. I tend to follow direct routes to where I need to be these days. Worrying about what an ex is doing ranks pretty low.

I did hear the first gal married a guy from my hometown several years younger than me - and it was a disaster. I'd heard she went back to school, so a couple years ago I googled her and she was a bankruptcy lawyer in KC at the time. I have no idea what ever happened to the second woman.

steph said...

Don't you love hindsight? At least I'm not alone in the cringe department when it comes to reflecting on past behavior.