Last week Thursday I had a talk with Jeovany. I stepped outside during math to make some photocopies and found him on the stoop of the building next door, looking angry and dejected.
“How are you?”
“Not so good, you know? Valerie and me, we’re not together now.”
“I know. She told me. I’m sorry to hear it.”
“I’m sorry about it, too.”
He was surprised that I knew, a little upset that Valerie was ‘telling everybody’ … until I pointed out that he was telling me, too, that telling me was maybe a little different from ‘everybody.’
“I would never say she can’t be with her friends, can’t go out and enjoy herself, but I get upset. You know Valerie, she’s like a dude all the time: she plays with her hands with her guy friends, and I’m not used to that. I have a hard time with that.”
(What this means: Valerie rough houses with her guy friends, which puts her hands on them and — worse — their hands on her. It’s easy to imagine Valerie ‘playing with her hands’ but it’s funny to hear her described as being ‘like a dude.’ Valerie is all uber-sexy girl and couldn’t be less dude-like.)
He said Valerie had ended the relationship because of his jealous behavior. And I can see that. I can see him having quite a lot of trouble with Valerie’s physical play with her friends, with her sometimes over-the-top shows of affection. I suggested that maybe he could trust her a little more, that Valerie seems fiercely monogamous and that has to count for something.
“It’s my past,” he said. “I have a real problem with trust after everything I’ve been through.” He shook his head. “But she’s been through so much, too, and I mean through. some. stuff. With men she was supposed to be able to trust. She’s been through all that and she still trusts me. Why is that?”
He asked if I thought he was jealous. So I tried to be both honest and kind and talked about what I’d observed in his behavior. I adore Jeovany. I think he’s wonderful, but if he were my boyfriend, he’d drive me so insane, we’d barely last a minute. Want to know what Jeovany looks like? Go look up “jealous” in the dictionary.
And he knows it.
“I’m always up on Valerie,” he said. “Whatever she does, I have to know all about it. She doesn’t do that to me.”
“So maybe that’s something you want to think about, maybe try to change. Even if things can’t work with you and Valerie, you don’t want this jealousy to get in the way of your next relationship.”
“You’re right. You’re right. But I want to be with Valerie.”
He’s angry, but he’s more hurt and sad. And I don’t like to see him hurt or sad, but those seem ‘safer’ emotions for him, less likely to drive him to do something unfixable. He wants to talk things out with Valerie, help her see that he wants to work on his behavior — though she’s already told him she’s been trying for the last six months to get him to ease up on his green-eyed suspicions.
He said such a curious thing to me about his jealousy, said he couldn’t understand it because, “I’m not even ugly.” What? Yes, that’s what he said and what he meant. He seems to think that good looking people don’t have any reason to be jealous. I’d really like to understand that one a little. Any ideas?
I admit that — for all my private nay-saying from the start — I really like these two together, and I hope they find a way to make it work. Mostly, as I said before, I want them to be ok. I want them to get it more right the next time, no matter who they are with, so there can be fewer loud, crashing arguments, less painful drama. I want Jeovany to find a way to see that a girl can be ‘like a dude’ and still be entirely faithful to him, that love and affection don’t mean obsessive attention or control … and that, until he learns these things, girls like Valerie will keep walking away from him because he will keep smothering them. I can say the words, but I’m hardly the one to teach him these things. How does anyone learn these things?