Anyone who watched How I Met Your Mother knows a few indisputable truths. There are the little ones, like one must always respect the Slap Bet Commissioner and anything can be solved with whiskey and sword fights, but there are two lessons I find boomerang-ing into my life over and over again these days. They’re completely opposite lessons but somehow intricately connected, something silly and something serious, both simultaneously funny and painful. The first: Relationships boil down to chemistry and timing, and timing’s a bitch. The second: When the window is open, don’t wait.
I’m not the person that cycles in and out of relationships like a merry-go-round, hoping someone will grab the brass ring. That said, since probably freshman year of college, I’ve been in relationships more than out of them, maybe for years at a time, or maybe just a couple of months. I like being single as much as I like being in relationships, learning about different parts of myself, understanding different parts of my emotional spectrum. I’m someone who jumps high for a big splash in the water if I’m dating someone new, and yet I’ll never be the person that’s going to chase an abstract idea of a boyfriend to escape from single life. This is likely why I’m supremely intrigued by my now-multiple experiences with the Window Phenomenon: I don’t know if it’s social media or if there’s a built-in radar in some men, but I swear, every time I’m back on the market inevitably someone I haven’t heard from in a while starts texting again.
It can be frustrating, hearing from people who you know have ulterior motives behind the “long time no talk” text. Sure, it’s nice to know someone is thinking about you somewhere, but sometimes we all just want weekends filled with solo date nights: bad takeout, old sweatpants, Taylor Swift and all. But on the other hand, there are times it’s not only a good thing to hear from someone again, it’s a great thing. Living through Lesson One is not an enjoyable learning experience. It’s miserable for a little while and there’s residual anger, but in the end, it boils down to timing: Maybe it was the right time for you to meet him, but it’s just not the right time for him to meet you. And that’s okay, really. So you may be sad, but the slow re-emergence of someone you haven’t seen in a while sending texts that are on the Extra-Friendly side starts to bring back the smile, the confidence, the independence you were missing in the few weeks spent wracking your brain about what went wrong. It’s sticking your head out the window for a few minutes, testing the weather, just for a moment, to see what’s there and if it’s safe to go outside.
In HIMYM context, the Window Phenomenon is all work on the guy’s part, running to meet this idealized dream girl while she patiently waits in the wings for someone to scoop her up, chasing after her like a dog after a Frisbee. Maybe the first time I came back to single life that was me, freshly on my own in NYC, my whole body out the window, hoping someone would come along to fill the gap in my life I didn’t know how to fix. But I’d like to think by now, I’m not waiting for someone else to grab hold of the window frame and move it whatever direction suits him. I’m holding onto my own window frame, throwing it open or shutting it closed myself. I can’t stop whatever force propels someone to text immediately after watching the curtain on my window slowly raise, and frankly I don’t want to – let’s be real, everyone wants to be wanted. But if I can keep this on my terms, want this on my terms, text back on my terms, perhaps I can take hold of the Timing and the Chemistry again, and keep myself from another chemical burn. Until then though, I’m having a really good time just enjoying the breeze.