Maybe you’re listening.

There are times during certain situations when words escape you, when you don’t always know what to say. Maybe someone you know has suffered the loss of someone close to them, or is going through the heartbreak that can come with the end of a relationship. Maybe someone has asked you a question and it’s thrown you completely. Sure, you know plenty of things, but your world is filled with a lot of other stuff that you don’t know anything about. The right words to say can be one of those things. Not always being able to say the right thing, at the right time is confusing, but it’s something that happens to all of us now and again. You can nail it, you can know in that moment exactly what you need to say, but then, on occasion, you have the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Aren’t there so many times in your life when an email, a phone call or a text just won’t cut it? You need to have an actual conversation. Some of us find it easy to open up, whilst some of us are emotional hand grenades. Every day of your life involves you answering questions. No, yes, I’m not sure. Some questions are clearly more difficult than others, but the answers even more so. The ability to say yes or no is easy for some, but can be so difficult for the rest of us.

Take meeting someone new that you like, for example, isn’t all that you want to do is to enchant, impress or surprise them? Your reply to every question they ask you, is usually yes. It takes courage to say no though when a part of you wants to be saying yes. There’s no point in saying maybe, if you feel like you should say no. If you’re at a loss for words, isn’t it better to learn to keep your mouth shut? If you can’t find the right words, if everything you might say could be wildly off the mark, perhaps you should remind yourself that this could be the right time to listen? No is a complete sentence though. Don’t you have a right to say the n word without having to explain yourself? Maybe you say no to a lot of things, just so you can say yes to the one person or the one thing that you know you want. We all have different hopes and dreams, but don’t some of them go on hold if someone says no to you?

No one ever intrinsically really wants to hurt someone’s feelings if they ask you something important, and you can’t say yes. You might not always want to care too much, but you do, don’t you? The problem is knowing how to say no.

The ninth letter and the sixth letter of the alphabet. I and F, if. When someone asks you an important question, doesn’t so much weight hang on that one word? There are so many things we feel we should do or say that we really don’t have to. Sometimes we do have to though.

If I was asked a difficult question, I’d like to think I’d know just what to say.

It was a Saturday night and a friend is having a housewarming party. It’s always nice to get invited to things, so obviously the response is yes. I’ll know next to no one there, but there’s a fun element in meeting new people and having conversations about different subjects that I’ve maybe never had before. He’s super popular with everyone, a cool trait to have. There are so many people of so many various creeds, faiths and nationalities in his place, that Benetton could rock up to film a new advert, and no one would bat an eyelid. Wine is opened, there are a ton of beers in a bath that’s filled with ice, there are so many spirits and mixers on the go, you could make pretty much any cocktail that you want to. New people are met, conversations are had, and there is so much laughter. Pretty much a perfect evening so far. It looks like everyone is having a good time, people who have never met before add each other on Facebook and Twitter, because connections have been made. Numbers are exchanged.

The kitchen is the best place to be whilst at a party, right? A side effect of this, is that you end up opening beers for people or topping up their wine glass, but that’s okay. Standing next to the one bottle opener and corkscrew is my own fault, but it’s cool, always a good conversation starter. A girl that I’ve never met or even noticed yet, is looking around confused. I ask her if she’s okay, and she replies that she is, she just needs more wine. It’s lucky that someone is stood in the same postcode as a corkscrew. I ask which colour she would like, and I duly oblige. We start chatting, and she tells me that she’s Canadian and is travelling around Europe before having to go back home to start a new job in a month or so. Her conversation is on point, she’s clearly clever, and the time that we chatted with each other was enjoyable. As is the case at most parties, you get speaking to other people though, and your conversations move on.

I live in the city, so I know that I’m headed home alone, but his place is huge and a lot of people will be staying over, because they’ve travelled to see him and they don’t know the city. She’s one of those people. We bump into each other again later on in the night, clearly she needs more wine, and we chat once more. She asks for recommendations of things to see and do, and I scribble down the best attractions and the things that she shouldn’t miss, I’m not just a guy with corkscrew skills. One of the things I mention is the beach and she seems super excited to see it, and asks me if I would like to go with her, some friends and grab a coffee or an ice cream tomorrow. Given that coffee is always best enjoyed on a Sunday morning, I agree, and we arrange a time to meet back at my friend’s place, and then I can show her and her friends around.

I return at the admittedly early arranged time, but it’s only her standing there, everyone else is too hungover, it seems. It’s cool though, a couple of hours at the beach is always good, whether alone or in company. I point out things on the way, she takes plenty of photographs, of the buildings, of the beach, of the dolphins that we see swimming in the harbour and we grab coffee. It was fun, I walk her back, we hug, say our goodbyes, and I head back home. Not at any point has anything romantic ever crossed my mind, I was just being nice. If someone is nice or polite to you, it doesn’t always mean that they’re flirting with you.

A couple of days later, I get a message asking if I’d like to go and visit her, have dinner, drinks and stay with her? Maybe I could join her on the next part of her trip and we could see more things together? How bad are men at reading signals? The dots begin to connect, but everything has changed in that moment. Too many things are in the cons column for it to even be a possibility. I’m going to have to say no to her because I still want to be saying yes to someone else.

Maybe I don’t know anything anymore. Perhaps the silence, between that message coming through and me still not replying, is only awkward because I don’t have any confidence in it. Don’t you have to decide who your priority is without feeling guilty? I don’t want to hurt you, but it’s not fair to say yes, when I need to say no.

I write because I never know just what to say.

@TheSamMcLeod

Expectations fail.

He was just an ordinary guy. There was a girl in his life and he liked her. A lot. He was careful with her though, in deciding if she was someone that he wanted to give his heart to. If you get hurt in a previous relationship, you tend to be a bit wary the next time that you feel that you might be falling for someone. The next time that you dip your toe into the water of something new. No one wants to get hurt in the first place, but certainly not again. Sucks for the new person but that’s life. He weighed everything up in his world as regarded her. Pros and cons. She was pretty. She was compassionate, she was funny, she was personable. He could get lost in her eyes for days and her body was bonkers. Six zero to the pros. Was she too good to be true? He didn’t know yet. Despite all of those qualities, something didn’t sit right. If he thought all of those things about her, then why hadn’t someone else snapped her up? Six one. Unfair of him to think that way perhaps, but she still has the lead.

Then one day, he’s sitting reading through his Twitter timeline. A random message from someone drops into his inbox, telling him that the girl he was starting to fall for, apparently has a boyfriend. Six two. It didn’t take much investigating to find out that it was true. For someone who worked in finance, you think he would have done his due diligence, but there it was and now he knew. Clearly, she hadn’t mentioned the said boyfriend, so he knows that whilst she didn’t lie to him, she didn’t tell him the whole truth. Six three. It’s not a comeback on the scale of the Patriots in the second last SuperBowl, but the numbers are beginning to stack up. It was difficult though, they’d been best friends for a while but things had changed, it had all elevated. They grew closer and everything just felt right, they were practically perfect for each other. That’s what he’d thought anyway but it shows how wrong one person can be. How did he not know? Could they get back to where they started from?

He’s devastated, beyond hurt now, because he knows the conversations they’ve had and the feelings that they’ve shared are built on lies. He thought that she was the kind of girl that would change your life without even meaning to. The kind of girl that wouldn’t know that she’d done it, even if you told her. She told him that she loved him and he reciprocated those feelings. Intimate details have been exchanged and tears have fallen on both sides as one would comfort the other, about all of the hurt they’ve had going on in their respective lives since they met, but now everything feels like an untruth. Six four. It sounds like a fucking tennis match in his head at this point. Love means nothing in tennis. Perhaps it meant nothing now in his life.

Finally, he plucked up the courage to ask her about it and she admitted that it was true. She told him that her relationship with her boyfriend meant nothing to her any more and that she wanted to escape it. She hadn’t loved him for a long time and she didn’t want to be with him, he wasn’t the man for her.

He could understand that on some level, because he knew that leaving someone wasn’t always that easy and that perhaps she was stuck in a situation that she couldn’t get out of. He sighed a lot at the thought of it. Still keeping score? 6-10? 12-4? Good luck figuring it out.

What if none of it was true though? Perhaps she wasn’t the girl that he thought she was. He wasn’t sure how much he trusted his judgement any more. It’s okay to like someone, but you don’t want to be the person that breaks up a relationship, people need to work their shit out on their own. It’s not the fault of the guy that has a girlfriend that has been interacting with someone else. Maybe she’s difficult at home all of the time. Maybe they argue constantly and it’s of her doing. Maybe she doesn’t connect with him, emotionally or physically. Maybe she leaves the toilet seat down. It’s cheating, isn’t it? She’s definitely bad news for him and she’s forbidden fruit now. You don’t get involved with someone in a relationship, regardless of whether or not it’s toxic.

Intrinsically, you want to believe and trust everything that someone tells you. Unless they try to tell you that the Yankees are the best team in baseball or that the Giants are better than the Jets.

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If you want someone to blame and you can’t find that person in the mirror, you choose the nearest target, don’t you? The other person. He didn’t blame her for long, it’s part of his nature to forgive. She admitted everything and apologised, and that was enough for him, as tough as it was to hear. You can take things that someone tells you any way that you want, but don’t you just want it to be the right way?

Everything comes to a head though eventually. He’s moving away from her because of the lies and she knows that this is dead now, because of her. Is she finally being honest with herself, can she work to resolve or escape her situation? If you’re not happy, you leave it all, you end the relationship. Maybe she did love him, but she should have told the truth and they could have had a future together. Maybe it was just infatuation, and that’s okay, but you don’t lie about something as important as what your intentions are.

Whatever makes her happy is the most important thing to him though in terms of their relationship, and if that means it’s not with him, then so be it. Part of him didn’t want to give her up but sometimes, your heart rules your head. Or is it the other way around? Move forward should be your mantra every day, but you can’t dictate love. It just happens, no hesitations. Fuck it though, honesty was the best policy with her, with anyone. If she’d been honest, who could say? It’s closure. Better than not knowing whether to forget or to hang around.

Maybe sometimes you need to deny your heart.

@TheSamMcLeod