She’s looking positively fierce in a black gown that envelopes her slender frame as though it was made for her, standing with perfect posture. But as soon as he enters the room, her body language changes. She hunches over forward sharply, like anything that folds for storage when you kick in its joints. She turns towards him and stares.
And right on cue, he walks over to her, seeking her out in a room that has a couple hundred other people in it. A loud room. One with spotlights and karaoke.
I sip my bourbon apple punch from a few tables away, watching their conversation unfold like a silent movie before me. Normally I’d have to shift my gaze every now and then. At least pretend that I’m not watching them. But they’re so absorbed in one another, this time it’s unnecessary. They’re oblivious to my presence.
Eventually, he strolls away, leaving her reeling in his wake.
I walk over to her table.
“That’s him, isn’t it?” I ask. She’s been talking about him for months, fairly constantly, using an alias.
“I see why you like him,” I say. “He’s cute and definitely your type.”
“Isn’t he adorable?” she says, exhaling the whole statement as a kind of sigh, resting her arms on the tabletop in front of her.
“He really likes you,” I say.
“Oh!” she says. “You think so?”
I nod. “It’s obvious.”
“Break it down for me,” she says. “I studied psychology, too. A bit anyway. What exactly did you see?”
Chemistry Is Obvious, Dealbreakers Aren’t
I walk her through the way he held himself. His posture. The timing and nature of the way he looked at her. “I can tell two things from this,” I conclude. “He’s attracted to you, and he trusts you.”
She smiles, more broadly than I’ve ever seen from her.
“But I can’t tell you exactly what this means in practical terms,” I explain. “I’m about 95% certain that there’s mutual chemistry, but there’s no way for me to tell how much of a dealbreaker polyamory poses.”
After knowing him in real life, she’d stumbled onto his profile on an online dating site. And on that he announced that he’s very monogamous. But that’s the way he’s presenting to the world, and for most single women (his target audience), that’s what they want to hear because they equate monogamy with ethical behavior, with loyalty. It’s possible that he secretly holds attitudes that are more amenable to consensual non-monogamy.
“So I’m right back where I started,” she says.
I offer to attempt a fact-finding mission. She waves the idea away with her hand. So I don’t push the issue.
I leave the party wondering how it all shakes out. Part of me thinks she really doesn’t want to know, that she prefers the idealization of an unrequited crush to the potential rejection. Or even worse, the messiness of an actual relationship that will never quite square with the image she holds of him on that pedestal.