You meet this guy at an out-of-town party; he’s friends with some friends of yours. You get along great. You flirt. You smooch. He puts his arm around you and doesn’t even try to get to second base. “I can’t wait to see you at the next party,” he says, which is two weeks away, and for the next two weeks he text-flirts and e-flirts like crazy with you. And then, when you show up at the party? He acts like you are a total stranger and barely says two words to you. And you spend the next two months with a "When did I enter the Twilight Zone?" expression on your face, analyzing every text, e-mail and conversation you shared with this guy. And come up blank.
You know why you keep coming up blank? Because you’re avoiding the obvious explanation. This is the guy who comes on strong and finishes weak, like three-quarters of the movies that come out of Hollywood. This is the guy who visits you for a weekend and the first thing he does when he walks in is check the train schedule to see when he’ll be leaving. This is the guy who says he’ll call you and never rings, says he’ll e-mail you and never does, says he’ll meet you and never shows up, and who is so into you that he disappears off the face of Planet Earth when romantic push comes to carnal shove.
This guy is the PushMePullYou. And he is every guy. You have ever gone out with. In your. Entire. Life.
One minute it's this:
HIM: I really really like you.
YOU: I like you too.
And the next minute it's this:
YOU: I thought you liked me.
HIM: God no. Now I have to put my money where my mouth is.
That’s the guy in a nutshell. The problem isn't getting him to say "Yes." All you have to do to get a PushMePullYou to say “Yes!” is to make the first move. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Make the first move and a PushMePullYou will say “Yes!” immediately. It's getting him to say "Yes!" tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and a week later that's the problem, because by then, he will have had second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts. Which are actually first thoughts. This is because PushMePullYous are trained by years of playing sports to react without thinking or feeling to any kind of pressure situation. It’s only after they react that they say, “What the hell did I just do?” And if they did it badly, “Can I take it back?” This is not an option when you’re fielding a line drive and you botch the throw to first for the out. But when you’re fielding a come-on from a pretty girl, you always take it back, because you actually have the time to think it through.
HIM: Okay, I have the ball. Now what do I do with it? Do I throw to first? Do I give her the base? Do I even want her on base? Crap, she could score against me if she’s on base. I should throw her out. But I like her. I think I like her. Do I really like her? Do I like her enough to give her the base? She likes me. I should give her the base for liking me, right? But what if she steals second? Do I want her on second base? Second base is too close to home. And forget about third; if she gets to second, then third is just 90 feet away. I should throw her out. Oh crap; she’s on first already. She’s standing there smiling. And now she probably thinks that I let her get to first base because I didn’t try to throw her out. Crap crap crap. Maybe if I just ignore her. Maybe if I just hang on to the ball and walk into the dugout, she’ll go away.
“Maybe she’ll just go away.” Remember those words, because every PushMePullYou thinks them, even though he never says them out loud. They're not even the whole sentence - just the first half. The second half of the sentence? He can't even say it to himself, it's so embarrassing. Seven little words that explain it all: "So my life can be simple again." You didn't know you were like pneumonia after open-heart surgery, did you? You didn't know you were a complication. Butcha are, Blanche - yuh are. And armed with this knowledge, you can now save yourself countless hours of needless nitpicking over the incomprehensible behavior of these simpletons. Gone are the days when this conversation was the norm:
YOU: What do you think this means? He said he’d call me and he didn’t.
YOUR BEST FRIEND: How far did you get with him?
YOU: First base on a single, stole second.
YOUR BEST FRIEND: Then he totally should have called you.
YOU: But he didn’t! He said he had a great time, he texted me the next day and he wasn’t even psychotic, he said let’s go out Friday, I’ll call you Thursday about Friday; and now it’s Friday and he never called and I don’t know what to do. Did I hear him wrong? Should I call him? Should I text him? Should I say "Screw him?" What should I do?
YOUR BEST FRIEND: Okay – run that by me again.
Yes, kiss those frustratingly repetitive conversations goodbye the way you’d kiss that asshole goodbye. From now on you’ll be having conversations like this:
YOU: What do you think this means? He said he liked me and then he –
YOUR BEST FRIEND: PushMePullYou.
YOU: He said he’d call me and he –
YOUR BEST FRIEND: PushMePullYou.
YOUR BEST FRIEND: PMPY! :-(
It is the single all-purpose answer to any question about back-and-forth I'm-all-over-you-today-and-why-the-fuck-are-you-hanging-on-me-tomorrow male behavior: whatever you do or say, he will always do the opposite. Be distant? He’ll chase. Be forward? He’ll run. Be blasé? He’ll offer. Be expectant? He’ll disappoint.
YOU: Why did you pull back?
HIM: [BECAUSE YOU PUSHED] I don’t know.
YOU: It was just a date; it’s not like were getting married.
HIM: [YES IT IS!] . . .
YOU: I’m sorry, did you say something? I thought I heard something.
HIM: [RUN! RUN AWAY!] I didn’t say anything.
YOU: So we’re okay then?
HIM: [FUCK NO!] Sure. [I’VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN YOUR NUMBER.] I’ll call you tomorrow.
So what do we learn from this? Four very worthwhile lessons:
1. Never give a PushMePullYou a chance to think. Thinking means second-guessing. Second-guessing means kicking himself. Kicking himself means he screwed up. And the only way to fix a screw-up is to screw up bigger.
2. When there’s nobody on base, it’s easier for guys to play the game. And when there is somebody on base, it's all about throwing them out.
3. A PushMePullYou will never live up to his promises, but always live up to his name.
4. Possibility always trumps actuality, like penis trumps brain.