Passionate vs intense – yeah, there’s a difference

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A long time ago – when I was still a teenager – I went out on a few dates with a pretty boy. He wasn’t my type at all: blond hair, blue eyes, very preppy – he was doing a baccalauréat in maths and sciences while mine was literature and languages.

The Literature and Maths groups didn’t really mix – it was all very cliquey – but we used to meet in the corridors on the way to class and this particular boy and I exchanged the kind of looks understood by teenagers the world over.

Even back then I was into personality rather than into looks, but this boy proved to be one of the few exceptions I made in my life, because there really was nothing to recommend him to my attention apart from the fact he was extremely good looking in that unique way that people couldn’t help but stare.

But I don’t think I would ever have gone on a date with him if it wasn’t for the fact that on the day he asked me out I saw him cross the grand courtyard on his way to me, pass the fountain and promptly stumble on… nothing whatsoever. He stumbled, faltered but quickly regained his composure and I thought the whole thing was just so cute. Okay, I admit you had to be there – but it really was cute.

My best friend Valérie was crushing badly on some other pretty boy called Fabrice who belonged to the local football team. He didn’t go to our grammar school, was doing some apprenticeship at a college. I knew him a little as I knew most of the football team since my dad was the coach.

One day, I met Fabrice in the street when I was on my way to join Valérie in the town’s library. After some small talk he mentioned her and I immediately seized my chance to play matchmaker.

“Why don’t you come with me, I’m meeting her now.”

He agreed readily but as we approached the library he said: “wait…is she in there?”

“Well, yes. Why?”

“I’m not going in there. It’s…the…library.”

“And? You’re allergic to them? You’ve got a moral objection to them? What exactly is the problem?!”

“It’s just not my scene.”

……………………..

“Right. It’s not your scene, fair enough. But can’t you just, you know, pass through the door? Just once?”

“I’ll wait outside – if you get her, we can go and grab some coffee.”

“Fine.”

So I went in and found her buried in some research for an essay she was writing. I quickly explained that Fabrice was outside, waiting to take her for coffee.

She got all excited and then nervous and started to gather her things.

“There’s something you should know though, he had the strangest reaction when I said you were in here.”

“And?”

“…and it strikes me that not only is he the kind of guy who’s never read a book in his life, but he might also regard those who read as…weird.”

“What?! I DON’T CARE!”

“Oh. Ok then. I was just saying, because I personally find that really off-putting.” 

“I like him! I don’t care if he burns books in his spare time!”

Well, I had to laugh – teenagers were always ruled by their hormones.

Off she went to meet him and by the end of the day they were an item.

The next day, I went on my third date with my pretty boy. I had a feeling it would be the last because we were – predictably enough – very different people and we hadn’t gelled at all on our previous meetings. I wasn’t sure why he kept asking me out to be honest.

This third date was as boring as the other two…until he asked me what book I’d last read and I revived like a parched flower that’s finally been watered. My latest book was “Tristessa” by Jack Kerouac and I proceeded to explain at length why I had loved it. At some point I realised there was a really long monologue going on…and he was looking at me kind of funny.

“What?”

“Nothing. It’s just…you’re very…intense.”

I was silent for a few seconds as I processed this.

“Intense?! What do you mean by that? Intense…Because I loved a book?! Are you serious?

Well, I’m sorry I like to read and I like to feel things…except I’m not, am I!!”

I got more and more pissed off as the reality of what he’d said hit home. Even with my limited experience, I was well aware that being called intense was not a good thing. In fact, it was a bloody awful thing…and there I was proving him right by freaking out.

I looked at him and all I saw was that amazingly pretty face that suddenly didn’t look so pretty anymore. He was bland, we had nothing in common and what the fuck was I doing here? I’d gone out with him because of his arresting looks. He’d gone out with me because even back then I was into style and fashion and it had blinded him to my bookworm nature. It was all a huge mistake.

That was the end of pretty boy and I. But it was an important lesson because that’s when I first realised this is how it goes:

if a guy likes you: you’re ‘passionate.’
If a guy is not that into you: you’re ‘intense.’

I’ve been called passionate far more often than intense over the years, thank fuck.

I never again made the mistake of dating someone who was just pretty. It was never who I am but I guess you have to try everything (most things anyway) at least once.

As for Valérie and her own pretty boy, they lasted exactly 2 and a half weeks – at least he never did tell her she was intense.

*Pics from last Tuesday when I was in a Charlie’s angels kind of mood*

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