The List
December 12, 2008, 12:07 PM
Filed under: Lists, Love and Relationships, Sitcoms

Anyone remember this classic Friends episode?

Chandler says to Ross:  “Ok, all right, look. Let’s get logical about this, ok? We’ll make a list. Rachel and Julie, pros and cons. Oh. We’ll put their names in bold, with different fonts, and I can use different colors for each column.”

So that’s exactly what they do.  The three boys dissect Rachel’s personality and looks.  We learn that she’s ditzy, a little too into her looks, and has slightly chubby ankles. 

It continues:

Chandler: ” Ok, let’s do Julie. What’s wrong with her?”

Ross sighs: “She’s not Rachel.”

Honestly, is this even slightly romantic?  Not really.

Let’s cut to Rachel finding out about the list, shall we?

“What is this? Ross, what is this?”

Hm, smells like trouble, so Ross decides to attempt to cushion the blow by saying: “Ok, just, just remember how crazy I am about you, ok?”

“Kind of ditzy? Too into her looks? Spoiled?”

At this point, you can just hear the pain in her voice.  The poor girl is devastated.  And later, she gives what I consider one of the best explanations as to why a list like this can hurt a person.

“Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now, how would you feel if the one person that you trusted the most in the world not only thinks them too, but actually uses them as reasons not to be with you.”

Actually uses them as reasons not to be with you.

My first real relationship since Dave ended last week Saturday.  I was in a complete state of shock when it happened; I honestly never even saw it coming.  I tried to convince him to continue forward, at least for a little while, but his mind was set.

“Look, the bottom line is that you’re 19 and I’m 24.”

He had been 24 for approximately 72 hours, so it was a stretch to even say that we were 5 years apart, not like that’s a huge difference in the first place.  But I’m told that there’s so much I have left to learn and experience and that I’m “just not there yet.”  He’s clearly never read this blog.

Before all of this had happened, he and I were sitting on the couch with his roommate, discussing all of his ex’s and how he used to make pros and cons lists about them.  I winced, “Why on earth would you do that?”  He shrugged, “Well, when you have multiple people that you’re interested in, it makes the decision making process a hell of a lot easier.”  Maybe so, I thought, but doesn’t that make it rather impersonal?  Dehumanizing?  Shallow?  But I didn’t pursue it.  The last thing I had to say on the subject was “I don’t ever want to see you make a pros and cons list for me.  If there’s anything wrong with me, I just want you to tell me so I can work on it.”  He nodded.

The night we broke up, I went to his friend T.J.’s house, where he already was for the majority of the night.  He had texted me around 1 in the morning saying that if I wanted to talk, I could come over there, so I did.  Heartbroken and upset, I spent the night with Liz, T.J.’s roommate.  We stayed up until 6 discussing my past relationships to figure out what it was I was doing wrong.

Liz gave it to me straight: “C.J., it sounds like you’ll date anyone as long as they show interest in you.  You need to have standards.  A set of rules.”

This sounded all too familiar, since my now ex-boyfriend just told me that he “broke his rules” by even agreeing to date me in the first place.  I didn’t know how I felt about the word “rules,” but standards I could live with.  And I couldn’t necessarily argue with her anyway, after all, she was completely right.  If you surveyed all of my past interests, chances are the only thing you’d find that they had in common would be me.

From that moment on, I had decided that I needed to have a certain set of standards.  But being the person I am, I also promised myself to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  The catch is that I can’t justify issues I have with them.  As soon as I’m aware of the problem, I need to address it, end it with them, and move on to someone who is more worth of my time.

I had already begun to feel better, that is, until recently.  By Wednesday, I had moved past the tears, past the anger, and past the vindication.  I was supposed to go see T.J.’s symphony concert that day, but because of a lack of communication on my part, I ended up not being able to go.  I called him later, and we settled on me coming over there and having some wine with him and Liz.

While we were in the car, either T.J. or I, I can’t really remember, had mentioned the recent ex.  I told him that I was for the most part over it, and that I had high hopes for maintaining a friendship with him in the near future.  I began to make my whole speech about age.  I told him it’s not a deciding factor in a relationship for me, and if it was for him, then there was nothing I could do about it.  T.J. nodded, “Yeah, it definitely was for him.  He made a pros and cons list about you and the fact that you were 19 was on there like six times.”

I scoffed.  I was only half-surprised, seeing as he told me he had done this in the past.  I wrestled with my mind for a bit before turning to him and asking him something I probably shouldn’t have.  “Do you still have it?”

He laughed, “Well, maybe…I think so.”

I nodded, but left it that.  My mind was swimming with curiosity, by my heart was pleading for mercy.  I didn’t know what to do.

I was still pondering this list when we got into the house.  Liz was working on an art project and T.J. began to pour the first glasses of wine when I said it.  “The list…the pros and cons list…I want to see it.” 

Liz and T.J. exchanged nervous glances and Liz asked me if I was sure.  I told her I was.  “I’m curious.  I mean, I’m already over it, so it’s not like it can affect me that much if I read it, right?”  She shrugged and told T.J. that it was probably in her garbage, but I asked him to fish it out.  I went from being anxious to downright desperate.  No matter how awful it could be, for some reason, I needed to read this list.

T.J. looked over it for a second, but I couldn’t wait any longer, so I snatched it from his hands.  My heart sank.

19: This was on here about six times, like T.J. had mentioned.  It came as no surprise, but the redundancy of it made me realize how big of a deal it was to him.

Controlling: Whenever I would talk to my friends about him, they would always tell me, “Do you always let him do whatever he wants?”  I would just shrug and say, “Well, as long as it’s not hurting me or him or the relationship, then there’s no harm.”  I never had a problem with him going to bars.  I never told him what to do.  I may have made suggestions, but I never forced anything on him.  This is a complete joke.  I am one of the least controlling people I know.  I like a person for what they are.  I don’t get into relationships so I can change people and release them back into the wild.  It’s simply ridiculous.

Pretentious about music: Hannah put it best.  “What do you mean ‘pretentious’?  Music’s your thing!”  And she’s exactly right.  I just love music.  It’s something I can’t really help.  And it’s not like I was sitting there saying, “Well…YOU wouldn’t understand, you silly little peasant.”  I was always open to explaining anything.  Maybe he didn’t know that.

Too sentimental: This one made me angry.  I express my feelings.  I always have, and I always will.  I think there’s nothing wrong with it.  In fact, I think it’s what makes a good relationship.  If he wanted someone who was going to be all closed up and cold to him, then I suppose he made the right decision in breaking it off, because that’s just not me.

And then…it gets to the “Rachel has chubby ankles” portion of the list.  These hurt.  Bad.

Carries a “murse”: Really?  The fact that I have a handbag makes you want to break up with me?  Sheesh, that’s ridiculous.  First of all, it’s cute.  No, I mean, it’s really cute.  Secondly, it’s big, so I can carry a ton of stuff in it.  It’s not really just the looks, it’s the function too.  But who am I kidding?  I don’t need to justify this.  I am a murse man, and I’m damn proud of it.

Hairy: When we were lying in bed once, I had told recent ex-boy that I was slightly self-conscious about my hair.  He smiled at me, “I don’t know why…I kind of like it.”  That’s why this one was such a slap in the face, because he told me a bold face lie about previously. 

Here’s the deal…

I have body hair.  Chest hair.  Stomach hair.  Thigh hair, armpit hair, hair hair hair hair HAIR.  And you know what?  I used to shave it.  I used to sit in the bathroom for hours until I was completely smooth, just so that I wouldn’t have a situation like this happen to me.  Men have before ended things with me specifically because I was “too hairy.”  I just want to scream, “I’m an area rug, DEAL WITH IT and like me for who I am!”  But those sorts of people are too self-absorbed to listen to such a rational comment.

The interesting thing about the whole hair ordeal is that I have a quite a few body image issues.  Consider the following:

I finish a meal with a guy I’m dating.  I feel guilty, so I say, “Ugh, I’m so FAT!”

He looks at me all crazy and says, “You should love yourself no matter what.”

I look in the mirror and I hate my hair or my outfit and I say, “Wow, I look like a train wreck.”

He looks at me all crazy and says, “You should love yourself no matter what.”

I get out of the shower and look at myself and say, “Wow…I have way too much body hair.”

He nods and says, “Maybe you should think about electrolosis.  I actually brought a pamphlet, if you wanted to read it.  I just happened to have it, by complete chance, I swear.”

Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?  I rest my case.

There were others, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.  After I read them, I was pretty upset, but thinking about it now, I’m actually really happy.  I’m happy that I’m no longer with someone that thinks these things about me.  A person who uses my manbag against me in my own relationship.  A person who lies to my face about probably the most sensitive subject when it comes to my body.  I trusted this person with a lot, and unfortunately, in the end, it bit me in my ass. 

But I guess that’s what I need to look for.  The one who doesn’t need to make a list.  The one who understands that I’m imperfect without having to address the imperfections.  The one who can still be with me despite those things. 

That’s just the difference between me and those other shallow, self-obsessed men out there, I suppose.  “See, because I’d never make a list.”