At lunch the other day, a good friend paid me the second greatest compliment I have ever received (the first being the time a friend told me of all of his friends, I was the most likely to have a secret, superhero alter ego).
We were talking about dating and relationships (as two single people always, inevitably find themselves doing). When Bob turned the talk towards me and asked what was going on in my dating life. I laughed and reminded him that I am single for life and expected him to laugh back.
Instead things took a serious turn.
"You don't really mean that do you?"
So I made another joke: “Getting it tattooed across my knuckles.”
He gave me a disapproving look.
“Look, if Peyton Manning walked through those doors told me he left his wife and just signed with the Eagles and only needed my hand in marriage to make him the happiest man alive, I’m not going to say no. But other than that scenario, I don’t see myself getting married any time soon.”
“I’m not talking marriage. I’m just talking about dating. Why aren’t you seeing anyone?”
I realized he wasn't going to let me off easily. So I got serious, too.
“You described your ups and downs dating. Well, I had those too. But my ups were few and far between and my downs were really down. And they just kept getting worse. And so I just kept trying harder and harder to make myself better and more desirable and the more effort I put in the more I felt like a failure until one day I had a come-to-Oprah moment. I looked around and realized I had a pretty good life. Actually, I had it effing awesome and I was really happy when I wasn’t trying to improve myself to meet the imaginary needs of men I had never met. So, I stopped. And, despite what everyone tells you – that when you stop looking that is when you find someone – I have found that when you stop putting any effort into dating, you stop dating. And that's fine by me.”
He nodded and said, "I have wondered why you are still single and I think I know what it is. You are too smart. You are like Neo at the end of the first Matrix”
For those wondering – that is the second best compliment I have ever received. The Neo part. Not the being too smart part. The too smart part, was funny to me, because just that day, I had read this article and was ready to tell Bob all about it. But he continued.
“You’re really observant and I think you pick up on things a lot of people don’t and you can see things coming that others don’t. But here’s the thing, people can surprise you. So, even if you are right 98 percent of the time, you won’t always know what someone is going to do.”
I didn’t disagree with him. I am smart. And I love looking for clues and dissecting details and uncovering secret motives and above all else I love being right. And 98 percent isn’t a bad average.
But is Bob is also right that by seeing everything in strings of zeroes and ones, I might be missing out on finding my Trinity. That by not giving any one a chance to hurt me, I am also not giving them a chance to surprise me?
Does this makes sense? Okay how about an example that doesn’t involve a movie that left us all questioning what is real?
Say, I liked a guy. And this guy and I talked and sent fun, flirty texts and emailed and everything seemed to be going really well. Except, he hasn’t told his friends about me. And, when we talk, he tells me about other dates he’s been on. And, while, yes, we are Facebook friends, he never likes or comments on any of my statuses or pictures. The ones and zeroes are painting a pretty clear picture for me and it is that even though this guy has said he is looking for someone to settle down with – that someone is not me. And so my response would be to cut off all contact.
But, what if I’m wrong. What if there are other reasons for this behavior. What if I’m absolutely right, but if we continued to talk and text and email and hang out, and he changed his mind and decided he could spend the rest of his life with me.
Is it better to be right and alone or wrong and hurt? Does the 2 percent chance he won't be a total asshole make it worth the risk of feeling stupid when he doens't surprise me and turns out to be a total asshole?
Most importantly, does the ending of Matrix Reloaded indicate that the real world is also part of the Matrix or that Neo is really a machine?