When I first put this site up on the web, I sent the URL to about a dozen of my closest friends -- and my Mom -- to ask them for feedback. Did they think it was funny? Touching? Insightful? There was a little of that, but in all honesty, most of the people who responded said that it just made them sad or uneasy. Sad for me, maybe, or maybe sad for themselves; they didn't specify. (One person did specifically say that it hit "too close to home" for them at that point in their life.) The most positive reaction I got was actually my Mom's. So I knew from the start that the site wasn't going to appeal to everyone. In particular, it seems that when people who aren't already sad read it, they become sad.
As it says on the front page, I wrote the majority of the material here in early/mid-2001 while I was on my way out of an agonizing experience. I found myself ready to start moving on, starting to get over her, and one of the things I did to help myself along was to collect and write down many of the thoughts I've had over the course of my life about falling for people who don't feel the same in return. I stopped after about a month of intermittant work because I no longer needed the therapy, and then over the next year and a half made minor additions from time to time when I was feeling more generally blue and "in the mood". Eventually, though, it was done, and in January 2003 I put it up and pointed my friends to it. Even though most of them didn't like it, I was proud of what I'd written, and I was sure there were people out there who would find the site funny and maybe even helpful, so I went ahead and left it up.
Most of the email I get about the site is very positive. Lots of "thanks, it's just what I needed!" Lots of people grateful to see that they aren't the only person to feel the way they do. And that's exactly what I hoped to achieve. Still, based on the sample of my friends, and a (very) small number of negative emails from strangers, I know there are people who don't like the site, or don't understand what I'm trying to do. Here's a list of things people have said about the site, or concluded about me after reading it. Possibly you, reader, are thinking some of these things yourself:
In my opinion, none of these things are true. In general, I am anything but unhappy. I wouldn't say that I'm totally fulfilled and self-actualized (who would?), but I am a cheerful, very even-keeled person. The only times in my life that I become unhappy for more than a few days at a time are when I am suffering from unrequited love, and that happens only once every few years. I have been pretty lucky in that I've never had a friendship fall apart as a result of one of us developing feelings for the other. It's always been something I was able to get through. Drifting apart later can happen, of course, as with any friendship, but I'm not still trying to hold on to those women. Do I have some regrets? Sure! Everyone does. But again, I wrote the material here not while I was depressed, but as I was recovering, already getting over someone. (And laughing about it.) That doesn't mean, even remotely, that this site is "about" that particular woman. It's about me, and my experiences with all the women I've ever fallen for. Some of it comes directly from the 2000/2001 saga, and a lot doesn't.
When I am unhappy, I don't run from it. When I speak of "wallowing" I am not talking about destructive behaviors like self-pity or self-deprecation. I am talking about allowing myself to be unhappy, and exploring that emotion. I think that -- just as it's essential to mourn for a great loss -- it's good for us to allow sadness to run its course. This isn't the same as succombing to despair, giving up hope, losing faith in the future... those are not things I endorse, nor things I think I've ever done. I can't help but think that when a reader asks me about pessimism and hopelessness, that they haven't read the whole site. I think that the dénouement wraps up the "story" of a crush in a very optimistic manner. And my serious note directly addresses, and counters, concerns that I support obsessive or self-destructive behavior. That's exactly why I wrote it: to make sure that depressed visitors didn't come away feeling justified in hurting themselves.
This site is about being miserable, but the message behind all of that is (a) the things people are feeling are legitimate, and they shouldn't hide from them, (b) the things people do when they are miserable are dumb, but to some extent inevitable, and can even be seen as funny -- even while miserable, and (c) life goes on, and there are outcomes for the situation that are not merely adequate but even good. There's always another person to love right around the corner.