{ the sweetest bee makes the thickest honey. }


I didn't really like you that much until I noticed how distracted you get when I try to tell you things about myself, and how you obviously stare at other women, especially when they're wearing stomach-baring tank tops and tight jeans.
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How To Survive Unbearable Heartbreak: Precision-Guide Your Desires
by Sebastian Ischer

1. 1998

- Hey.
- Hey. What's up?
- Not much. I just got back from Europe, and, uhm, I'm kind of fucked. My roommate was supposed to leave me a key to the apartment, but I can't find him, and there's no way to get in. I think he went to the country.
- You need somewhere to stay?
- Can I come over?

- Thanks. I really appreciate this.
- It's not a big deal.
- You look really nice. I missed you.
- You can stay in my room. I'm going to Brooklyn.
- What for?
- It's none of your business. We're supposed to be broken up, remember?
- Is it somebody you're dating?
- It's a guy, and yes, I'm spending the night there. Please don't make this into a big thing.
- Just stay here. We'll hang out and watch tv, like friends.
- No. It's not going to be fun. We're not just going to hang out and watch tv. You're going to ask me to have sex, and I won't want to, and then you'll get angry, and everything will be tense and horrible.
- Only because you're making it that way.
- I don't want to fight. I'm going.
- Yeah, just walk out and go see your boyfriend, and leave me here in your shitty apartment.
- You. I offered to let you stay. As a favor. And now you're giving me this shit.
- What if I just go crazy and start wrecking this place?
- I'll call the cops, you asshole.

- I'm sorry, I was just kidding. I feel kind of weird, being here and seeing you.
- Don't touch me.
- What? Do you think I'm going to hit you? Just because I feel bad doesn't mean I'm about to start beating you up. I mean, I care about you.
- This is over. I'm leaving.
- Okay, go.
- What are you doing?
- I'm leaving too. I'm not going to sleep in your bed while you're getting fucked by some guy in Brooklyn. I'll be at Matt's if you want to talk later.


2. 2001

- The only time girls ever fall in love with me is when I don't care about them.
- Does that mean you don't care about me?
- No, of course I care, I like you very much. But I'm obviously not in love with you, or else you wouldn't like me.
- That doesn't really make sense.
- Yes it does. We only love people we think are unattainable - the unattainability makes them worthwhile. If something's attainable, you take it for granted, and it becomes banal and depressing. And besides, most people secretly don't like themselves, so if you present them with unconditional love, they get suspicious, start to doubt your sense of judgment, and then assume that you're inferior to them.
- I guess that is true. I didn't really like you that much until I noticed how distracted you get when I try to tell you things about myself, and how you obviously stare at other women, especially when they're wearing stomach-baring tank tops and tight jeans.
- See? And if human beings were the rational, self-protecting, dignified creatures we like to pretend they are, my behavior would make you say: "This person isn't any good for me. I shall kick him to the curb." But instead, you decide that you love me, and need my love more, in direct proportion to how indifferent I seem.
- Is that why you were in love with your ex-girlfriend, even though she kept sleeping around?
- I guess. I can't really remember why I was in love with her. When I see her now, she seems like an alien. I don't feel like the actual person is even real compared to the memories I have of her, and all the feelings I sort of remember. The image in my head has all these symbolic components now - it's much bigger than a real person.
- But you still want to sleep with her.
- I guess so. Sometimes.
- I want you to feel that way about me.
- I do, sometimes.
- I don't feel that you really want me, in a way that matters.
- Being in love, and really wanting someone seems like a self-indulgent, escapist thing to do. Like cocaine.
- You're just scared of letting yourself feel again.
- Maybe you're scared of facing the possibility that I can't feel anything. It's like a magic trick, and now I know how it works, and the amazement is gone.
- No. That's just cowardice and nihilism.
- Sigh. This is making me depressed.
- Let's have sex. It'll make you feel better.
- I guess.


3. 2002

- Do you feel that when you want to do something, it's usually the right time to do it?
- That depends on what you want to do.
- Let's say it's something that makes you nervous. Because there's a risk involved.
- Because it might not work out the way you want it to?
- Yes. And let's say thinking about the thing you want to do, even imagining it, makes you so scared you're paralyzed.
- That means you either want to do the thing too badly, and you're making it seem like too big of a deal to yourself, or you know you shouldn't be doing it at all.
- How can you tell which one it is?
- You just do it. Are we talking about something specific?
- No. I don't think so. I can't say.
- Why not?
- It's too nerve-wracking.
- Come on, just tell me.
- I feel like kissing you.
- Wow. That's really nice.

4.

- Are you having fun?
- Yeah. I really am. I love spending time with you, and it's so nice out here. Are you having fun?
- I don't know.
- Oh, that's nice! My company must really be doing it for you.
- No, I mean, I'm not sure how I have fun. I guess it's fun when I'm making you feel good, and you seem to like me. So I have fun when you do. I don't really enjoy anything other than being liked.
- That's weird.
- I guess there's something wrong with me.
- You're just very dependent on other people.
- So are you. You need other people to make you feel good.
- Yes, but I can have fun, whether you do or not.
- That's just selfish.
- Well, I think always needing approval and affection is spineless.
- Ahh! Tiny fish are biting my feet. Watch out!

5.

- It's hard for me to say, but I'm really attracted to you, and every few minutes I think about kissing you, and touching your body, which makes me feel dizzy.
- That's so sweet. I totally know what you mean. I'm kind of attracted to you too. And I feel bad about this boyfriend thing that's happening in my life right now.
- Yeah, I mean, I really didn't want to make it a big deal. It's not an issue or anything.
- No, of course not, but I feel bad that maybe I was leading you on. Because I do really like your company, and I want us to be friends. But what I said earlier, about wanting to make out, was before my relationship really started progressing. And even though I'm attracted to you, I wouldn't be able to risk the honesty and trust of what I have for something that would be a temporary experience, albeit an interesting one.
- Yeah, you shouldn't pick short-term gratification over long-term objectives and values.
- That's so true.
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