My heart sinks as I check my email and I see an email from Mike. I don’t want to talk to Mike.

I met Mike on a social media site that doesn’t exist anymore. We lived in the same city and had the same niche job, but we never met in person. He was a hermit who adopted a curmudgeonly persona. Very few people had met him. He interested me because of his mysteriousness. I have a soft spot in my heart for prickly, cranky guys.

We had lunch for the first time about a year ago. It was incredibly disappointing. We had nothing to talk about. I am generally a good conversationalist and I got nothing out of him. He wouldn’t talk about his job. He didn’t seem to have any hobbies. He didn’t have any friends. He was this sad, pathetic lonely dude. I felt sorry for him.

I got lunch with him again a few times, but I started to get creeped out by his behavior. I had no idea why he kept wanting to get lunch with me. We had the same awkward conversation every time we had lunch.

There was a guy on Twitter who defined chemistry as something females say they need, but they can’t define it, and they know if you have it in less than five minutes.

We had no chemistry. It didn’t take five minutes to figure that out. It was less than a minute.

I stopped inviting him out and stopped emailing him.

A few months after I stopped talking to him, he wrote back and asked if I was mad at him. He said he hadn’t seen me around the social network for a while. He said he just wanted a friend. He told me he wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t want to be his friend.

I probably should have just let it go. It was just so pathetic. You don’t like to think you’re an asshole. You want to be nice. It’s not someone’s fault that they’re boring.

Then things got weird.

He was around all the time. I don’t think I posted anything to Twitter that he didn’t favorite. I felt like I was being pursued. No matter where I went online, he was there. When I took a break from social media, he took it personally and started bombarding me with emails.

He told me he wanted me to mother him. He started acting like we were in a relationship when we weren’t.

He wouldn’t tell me that he had feelings for me because he knew that I didn’t like him that way. He was doing this sleazy under the radar thing where he would try to get me to go on dates with him without calling them dates. He kept trying to get me alone.

I wondered what he would do if we were alone. Would he put his arm around me and try to pass it off as just being friendly? How long could he cling to plausible deniability? Would he just hope that if he tried to take my bra off that it was too fucking awkward to call him out that I would just let him feel me up?

If I told him to get his hands off me would he try to cover his ass and tell me that I led him on and that it’s my fault? Would he just pretend he didn’t hear me and overpower me because he’s a guy and I am a girl? What is the plan? Is there a plan or is he doing this like Agile where the bases are replaced with sprints?

I don’t understand.

I have no idea why this guy is doing this. Actually, I do. I am hot. That’s about it. I don’t understand why someone would want to engage in a relationship with someone just because they are hot.

I feel like this guy sees me as a good parking space at the mall. He sees people piling into their cars and he knows it will be vacant soon, so he hovers in his car waiting for the space to open up. He wants it to open up really soon before someone else sees that it is available.

I don’t understand why people feel like they can’t be alone. My ex had his first date set up less than a week after moving out of our house. He set up an online dating profile months before we filed for divorce. He was telling me he loved me and refused to hear me say that I wanted out of our marriage, but he was out there trying to line up his next girlfriend just in case things didn’t work out.

I talk to all these guys who got out of long term relationships and the first thing they want to do is find their next girlfriend. Like Jeff Goldblum, they’re always on the lookout for the future ex-Mrs. Malcolm.

Their lives are filled with board game nights and pub quizzes and a lot of noise so that they can avoid the possibility of being alone with their thoughts for even a moment. But for what purpose? To find another person to be with, but not really be with because no one knows who they really are because they can’t be alone?

After the divorce, being alone was hard. I thought I wanted to be alone, but sometimes the uncertainty of the future and the lack of human contact were too painful to bear. I had people tell me to either date or go on antidepressants, but I wanted to embrace the pain.

Pain and suffering can be great teachers. Shamans would push themselves to their physical limits to convene with the spirits and achieve wisdom.

I can’t imagine living with someone ever again. I can’t imagine having to spend hours talking to someone else about deciding what to do today when neither of us want to do the same things. I don’t want someone to be appalled by my inability to keep the house clean because I am too depressed to deal with anything.

I like being alone. I like deciding I am going to spend the day sitting in my chair with my dogs while watching TV and knitting. I like making frozen pizza for breakfast. I like not having to talk to anyone.

But just because I can’t picture being married again doesn’t mean that I don’t crave and desire companionship.

I am in love with Jason.

I don’t think that Jason has ever had a relationship. I think that he finds dating and small talk to be tiring and confusing. He likes to spend his time working on his personal projects. He doesn’t drink with friends. He just keeps to himself.

I think he finds the idea of a relationship to be a waste of time. He would be putting himself out there in a minefield full of unspoken rules that could result in him being rejected. Even if he wasn’t rejected, he would be put in a position of having to give up his independence and have to juggle being with someone else. Having done that for five years, I can understand what the idea of doing this would be unappealing.

Sometimes I want to be like Mike. I want to just act like Jason and I are in a relationship and pressure him into being with me. I think he likes me but doesn’t know how to express it. I sometimes think if I am just assertive and make a move on him that I can make him be with me for his own good. I feel like I can somehow pressure him into going along with a relationship because it would be too awkward for him to tell me that he doesn’t want one.

But then I get an email from Mike and I realize that I could be wrong about Jason. He might feel about me the way I feel about Mike. He might be okay with being friends with me but has no attraction to me whatsoever. The things he does that makes me think he might like me could just be things he’s doing to be polite because he doesn’t know how to tell me he doesn’t like me like that.

So even though it’s painful for me, I wait. It’s all I can do. I can’t make him be with me. He has to decide that’s something he wants.

I am not in a hurry to be in a relationship. I just don’t like the uncertainty of what is out there. I think Jason likes me, but I don’t know. I can’t ask him. I think if he is given enough time he would be willing to give a relationship a try.

I know that even if he agrees to a life with me, it won’t be easy.

When I picture what a life with Jason would be like, it’s a lot of being alone. I picture him coming home from work and then holing himself up in his office and working on a personal project. I picture him not eating the food I prepare because he can only eat yogurt. I don’t think he will ever be cuddly in the way I want him to be. I don’t even know if he and I could live together.

I don’t know if I want those things anymore. I am sick of going to bars and drinking and having the same conversations over and over again.

I miss Jason. I miss our conversations, but more than that, I miss the comfort of not talking. I miss when he would work on debugging the software in the same room with me and we wouldn’t talk. It was comfortable just to be in the same space with him.

I want to be alone, but I want to be alone with Jason.

[This was written by a woman I know, who adds “I find it difficult to express in writing the horrible, suffocating feeling I feel when people like Mike try to impose on me, like it’s a game they’re trying to win because they know they can’t compete on their raw assets alone.”]