The Rules of Love

Trigger warning: self-harm

No matter what lies you’re feeding yourself. It’s just a chemical and neural process. Something you can’t fight. Love is not a lie, but it is not much more than a very special kind of addiction.

An addiction you can manufacture.

Show niceness and attention. Laugh and flirt. Then withdraw. That’s what I did to you.

It’s a very simple effect, primed in our brains from times immemorial – we all need to get the best possible partner. But the best possible partner is too good for us and so he – or she – will try to get away, he will roam more and look for his best possible partner.

So the one that chases you is unattractive. The one that keeps you on edge; the one that tortures you with confusion and grows an eternal insecurity in you – that’s the one you love.

That’s why you love me, Brian.

Oh, poor Brian. I’ll have to keep you cold right now, so you don’t grow too complacent. Of course I saw your texts. First a flirt, a role play nearly, then a friendly question to meet up. And I have to leave you cold.

So sorry for you. So sorry that I have to tease you like that. I want to reply, you know, but if I do then you might leave. You might see my insecurities. You might see that I’m not the best possible partner; that I’m just a shy and insecure girl with more body issues then you could count.

It hurts me to see you hurt, but I don’t have a choice. I hope you understand. The addiction is so deep in your mind that you would understand – and if you would know the truth you would do the same to me. You can’t let go, and so can’t I.

I brought you in like this, how can I stop now?

You saw that I gave my world for you. Sacrificed the friendship with my best friend – but, really, it was her that destroyed it. She knew I wanted you, yet she seduced you. Caught you with her smile and laugh and by pulling away just when you were trying to get close to her. I taught her those tricks because I thought she was my friend – but she learned too well. She used it against me. So I had to make sure that you couldn’t like her anymore. That you wouldn’t be able to look at that face, ruined, because of you. She was your girlfriend, right? You should have known she was allergic to shellfish – and yet you give her that expensive Japanese makeup. Should have told me about her allergy when you asked me for advice which makeup to buy. How should I have known about that allergy?

Oh, I’m so sorry Holly. Really, you yourself are to blame for that face. Brian could’t look at you anymore, because he felt guilty whenever he saw those ripped lips and that scarred skin around your eyes, framed in your still far-too-perfect hair.

You even said it’s okay. That you understand that he can’t be with you anymore. Always the hero, right?

Oh, Brian. When you mourned and beat yourself up, I was there, just as long as necessary. And then, when you couldn’t get the smell of my perfume out of your mind anymore, then I was nowhere to be found. “I’m just meeting a friend for dinner,” I said. And when you asked which friend – we both knew what you were really asking.

“Guy or girl?”

And I didn’t reply.

That second text that night, that’s when I knew I was lodged in your mind. Holly was still out cold in her hospital bed and you had seen her face and cried and cried on my shoulder and before she even woke up you were already chasing the next girl. You probably didn’t even realize it.

Chasing me.

That night, with the third text, asking whether I was okay just before midnight – the chemicals were already rearranging your brain. Deleting the old partner. Gearing up for the new and better one. The perfect girl that was giving you attention and then – whoops – suddenly unavailable. Too good for you. That’s when you wanted me.

In the morning you were strong enough not to text me. You knew not to seem desperate – or maybe you just didn’t want to seem like the asshole that dumps Holly, right after you ruined her face, to go after her best friend instead. The asshole that ruined her face on her birthday and a week later, with her still dreaming of you in her coma, you can only think of me.

I’m innocent, of course. I’m a victim too. I was just nice to you – and you thank me by hurting my best friend.

Well, that morning, it was already clear that we would both have to dump Holly. Too many complications – if she would ever wake up anyway. The poor girl.

And when I texted you at 9am that I was just getting on the bus – I knew your response before you even sent it.

“Going home or going out? :D”

That smiley didn’t hide your anxiety.

And I just didn’t reply.

I must have been pretty good. Not two weeks and you wanted to talk. To tell me that you had feelings for me. And I’m sure you wanted to say that we should stay away from each other – but I was quicker. Outraged. Never talk to me again.

And two days of silence; with your mind churning.

Then I liked your Facebook status to feed the flames. Such an innocent act. Nearly an accident, probably. Or maybe not? You were wondering whether I like you too.

Another two days. Then my text.

“Up for dinner tonight?”

And just a minute later, to shatter your hope: “Sorry, wrong chat.”

Oh, so much jealousy growing in your head. So much desire. So many new connections in your brain, all just saying one thing: You want me.

Humans are great at rationalizing. You were telling yourself that you always had preferred me. You’re not just a perverse monster that moves from one girl to the next like he changes his pants – no, she was misleading you.

I had dropped a few hints about that, didn’t I?

When you were asking me which makeup to buy, what did I say?

“Oh, wow, Holly must really know the tricks. Guys always buy her stuff so quickly.”

Ah, yeah.

I really enjoyed that long message that you left when I didn’t answer my phone – that you can’t get me out of my head and that you always felt for me. You didn’t say it, but in your head you were telling yourself that it was all Holly’s fault. That she had manipulated you. That she just blinded you from what you always wanted. Me.

I told you we should meet and gave you a time and place. The guy only leads in his imagination. You were probably imagining many things would be said. You thought I would be angry. Or maybe express my love too.

You went for the hug and I held on for a moment longer than you thought. Enough time for you to breathe the perfume. Enough time for your hope and want to grow. And while you were babbling about your confusion and your coffee was getting cold I was sipping my hot chocolate and smiling and nodding and sometimes I made a grim face. And I liked those shivers in your body, when my hand touched yours and when my foot gently kicked against your leg.

And you were wondering whether those were accidents. Because I didn’t say much. Left all the time for you to talk – and when we got to talk about my thoughts I had to leave.

I pretended to look away, but I saw you staring after me. You enjoyed what you saw. Wanted what you saw. You were wondering whether to jump up for a grand gesture, but you didn’t, because you thought it would scare me away.

You knew you were chasing me. The chaser has the lower value. The chaser can only hope.

I can tell you it wasn’t easy to walk away. Not to say a word. For so long I had been chasing you. For so long I was the one hoping. But the chaser has to learn patience – and I did.

That night I played a good game, thinking of you. And I bet you did the same. You still had my smell in your head and imagined to run your hands under the tight skirt that I wore at the café.

Holly woke up a bit earlier than I thought. Funny her mother called me first, so I was sure to be there before you. I had time to wait for you, just at her door. To say hello and make sure you smell me and feel my chest against yours before you open the door to see that face you ruined.

You said you didn’t want to kiss her because it might hurt her lips. Well said. At least you have some morality.

What were you thinking, when you saw her, pale and scarred, and right next to her face was mine, smooth and beautiful? She was incoherent and I was so sweet.

We are disgusted by the sick; that too is primed in the very structure of our brains. The sick and ugly, they are bad as partners. They make sick and weak and ugly children. So we stay away from them.

I saw the dilemma in your face when you left the room. The confusion and self-loathing.

So I followed you. And on the corridor I hugged you for long, so that you would smell me and so that your hands could slide slightly lower on the back of my dress. And they did. And I said it’s okay and that none of it is your fault. That love isn’t fair. Your hands pulled me tighter and I was quick to wrestle myself free.

And just before I left I gave you a kiss on the cheek. I was gone before you could demand more. All that, just around the corner from Holly’s room.

I want tell you a secret: Yes, I felt your erection.

At least one of us visited Holly. I guess you were too ashamed to face her.

And I kept teasing you. There and gone again. When we met and I asked you to walk me home. Allowed you to hug me and pull me close and grab my ass, but I pulled away just before the kiss. I said it’s not fair to Holly.

And like clockwork, I got that phone call from her, with her crying and calling you an asshole and me saying I’m so sorry. That she’s my best friend. That I didn’t allow you to kiss me. That I would never allow anything to happen.

And, like clockwork, she was still crying, but she said it was okay, that she knew that I liked you too. And that she just wanted me to be happy.

I really didn’t want her depression, but things happen. I’m sorry she cut herself.

I met you that night and allowed you to put your head on my chest. And we both know you were enjoying that. Feeling me, you forgot about her already. You tried to kiss me and first I resisted. And then I gave in. As if you won the chase.

But I was gone before you woke up. My clothes too were gone. As if I’d never been there.

You must have wondered for a while, whether that was a dream. Maybe that’s why you texted me that I left hair on your pillow – you must have searched for it.

It’s funny that even Holly’s mother is happy that we are together. That we can help each other “through this.”

Those emotional times, they bind people together, you know? That’s why there are rebound relationships – it’s just that craving for closeness and love and trust and sex.

As said it’s an addiction. And each time of withdrawal and rebound the addiction grows.

There is no “too much” of love. I like that you’d do everything for me.

But those texts, those threats – well, they are a bit desperate, aren’t they?

From role play to “let’s meet up” to “I can’t take this anymore”?

Oh, come on. I know you won’t do it. You’re not as strong as Holly.

I know you can’t bear the thought of being without me, even if it’s in death.

I’ll reply tomorrow. Just another night to let the chemicals do their work.

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