A friend recently confided in me about not being able to choose between two men. She described each men to me. And they sounded like every two men I’ve ever had to choose between.

A is kind and takes good care of her. He’s the one that’s always around. She feels safe and comfortable with him.

B is mysterious. Quiet. Intellectual. He’s not always around, and that makes him exciting. She gets butterflies around him.

She wanted my advice on what she should do. Whom she should choose.

I thought about it. I searched my brain for all the wisdom I had ever collected on the subject. And I drew a blank.

‘I don’t have any good advice to give you’, I said, admitting my defeat.

‘What do you mean?’, she asked, clearly annoyed, ‘didn’t you say you’ve been through this before?’

‘Yes’, I said, ‘I have’.

‘And?’, she pressed.

‘Well, I can’t tell you who to choose…. because I never chose’, I revealed, ‘I just dated them both’.

I used to own a T shirt that had ‘Why can’t I have it all?’ printed on it. I guess that was also my philosophy in life.

I hated choosing between things.

I bought both dresses. Ordered both desserts. And dated both men.

I used to think that if I chose one, it’s a loss. I didn’t want to miss out on the other one. I didn’t want to be ‘stuck’ with one.

But the thing is – unlike dresses and desserts – when you choose both men, you actually end up having neither. You may think you have both, but in reality you don’t. Or at least in my case, that’s how it was.

In my experience, not choosing can play out in two ways:

  1. Neither of them know and you’re constantly trying to hide the fact. Eventually you get tired of it or get found out.
  2. One or both of them know. They’re OK with it because they are also dating other people.

In either case, the experience is unfulfilling. Like always having half a meal.

I’m reminded of something that happened years ago:

It was his last night in town, and we went out for dinner by the water – my favourite spot. I had been spending a lot of time with him this week, and I wondered if R suspected anything. I had told R I was busy with friends from out of town. But it must have seemed odd to R that I never invited him along.

On my way back home I called R and asked if I could come over.

I brought him a burger – a big juicy Guilt Burger with a side of fries.

We were lying in bed, and I noticed he was suddenly really preoccupied with his phone. He apologised, saying he was wishing his friend a happy birthday.

I told him to take his time.

Then his phone rang. He stared at it and let it ring without answering.

He then excused himself and went into the bathroom. I suspected it was to return that phone call.

Then his door buzzer rang. At this point I put two and two together. I kept my cool and knocked on the bathroom door, letting him know he had a visitor. ‘Do you want me to leave?’, I asked. ‘No’, he said.

He stayed in the bathroom for a bit longer. I could hear his phone ringing and his Whatsapp messages beeping. I lay on his bed staring at the TV, thinking about how I should handle the situation.

I could play the upset girl card but hell, given what I was upto, that would make me a hypocrite.

I waited until he came out and asked him again- in a nice way- whether he needed to be somewhere and whether I should leave. He said no, and I could tell he looked embarrassed. He lied down next to me on the bed.

I leaned towards him and whispered “Sometimes trains collide”.

He put on an embarrassed smile.

That night, I realised that the thing about not choosing is you can’t expect them to choose either.

I still buy both dresses and order both desserts, but I have since learned my lesson about men.

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