When The Fall Comes

When The Fall Comes

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She lies on the bed. Face inches from mine, bodies parallel, limbs intertwined. Beneath her eyes you can see faint lines, the lines which in a decade or two will wrinkle and droop and betray her youth. Lines nobody but me and her have seen. Her pores glisten in the overhead light. Tiny traces of make up and sweat and soft microscopic hairs dot the contours of her cheeks and nose. Her eye make-up is meticulous. I wonder what she thought about as she put it on tonight. She is beautiful. For me.

Music from my laptop ambles on in the background, unnoticed and merciless, the only object anchoring us to time. Moments are hours and hours are moments. Smile meets smile. Eyes devour each other. For all I know, I had been lying with her my whole life.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks.

The age-old question. I tense up and create an awkward smile. Even after all these years, relinquishing my most intimate thoughts meets immediate resistance. But I force myself through.

“I’m thinking about how I would write this moment.”

Her eyes lighten. She smiles. She loves my writing. Even though it’s hard for her to read it.

“And how would you write this?”

Her accent stresses the vowels in unexpected ways. Even two months later her vowels are still unexpected and beautiful. I fidget for a moment. I’m shy and insecure about my writing.

“Tell me,” she says.

I take a deep breath and tell her. The lines beneath her eyes. The pores around her nose — “What are pores?” — I explain in words she understands what pores are — “Oh, OK.” — How I imagine she puts her eye make-up on. What she thinks about while she puts it on.

Before she can respond, I instinctively defend myself. “I know it may not sound romantic, but those are the things I think about in moments like this.” My insecurity.

“No,” she says. “I like it.” She beams. She really does. A smile and a kiss. “It’s very real,” she says.

When a person falls, they never notice the cause until after it happens. The step that’s slightly higher, the chair leg sticking out too far, the patch of invisible ice. The crash. The pain. The hard smack of reality against your face. Then you look back and see the moment. The inflection point of horrible serendipity, unknown and unavoidable.

A moment passes and she asks an unrelated question. This one is different. A simple answer. Her eyes begin to withdraw, suddenly skeptical.

“But why?”
“I don’t know,” I finally say.

The adoration in her eyes morphs into hurt and then into tears which spill and stain the bed. Explanations. Apologies. Resignations. Then silence.

Words fail, as they often do, but this time they fail in two languages. The drop is sudden and the ground is hard. The music is merciless. And the words fail.

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39 Comments

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  • Reply

    Raphael

    4 months ago

    good on you! :-)

  • Reply

    Zac

    4 months ago

    Damn man. This was pretty killer. This kind of reminds me of my own problems communicating with partners in the past and even present. Sometimes it’s a struggle even with people we love most. Even when we as people are truly being ourselves we don’t always have words to express everything. Obviously language barriers make it harder but even when you speak the same language communication can be hard.

    On a side note, I enjoyed the different style of writing and I think that you communicated a lot even though it was a much shorter article than usual. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply

    Stu

    4 months ago

    I don’t really understand…what was said that made her cry? I feel dumb for asking, but I’m curious. Likely missing something obvious.

    On another note…I think the writing in this article is exceptional. Would love to read more like this.

    • Reply

      Mark

      4 months ago

      Honestly, I don’t remember… that’s kind of the point.

      • Reply

        Stu

        4 months ago

        Ahhh, now I’m with you.

  • Reply

    Salaam

    4 months ago

    Damn. I felt that.

  • Reply

    Halo Effect

    4 months ago

    I loved the first half. I really felt it. Great stuff. But then you lost me as well. I still don’t get it. :$

    I thought maybe it was that she felt incredibly close to you and she celebrated your connection and loved to be with you, and then she realized that it would end and that you would leave her not too long from now. Which makes the beautiful connection very painful.

    • Reply

      Mark

      4 months ago

      Hence, “When The Fall Comes.” It’s the beginning of Fall in Brazil right now.

    • Reply

      Mark

      4 months ago

      But me leaving wasn’t actually the problem. It was the way I was handling me leaving.

      The purpose of the ambiguity is to make the point that when couples have emotional crashes like this, it’s not always obvious why or how they happened… and often the actual logical details of the conflict mean nothing.

      C’mon, you know that. :)

      • Reply

        Halo Effect

        4 months ago

        Err.. Yeah, I know that. :p

        When I read it the first time, before the “conflict” I can clearly imagine the scene and feel all the emotions. What didn’t satisfy me was that after it becomes ambiguous I lost that and had to think about what just happened. It’s like, not only the situation in the story was ambiguous, but the text was.

        I reread it again and I can now imagine the whole scene and feel everything and basically imagine the look on her face from start to end. So either I was tired yesterday or I just needed the extra explanation.

  • Reply

    Koanic

    4 months ago

    I can’t really explain it, but your answer to her first question, “What are you thinking,” felt wrong. Very wrong.

    I think your vulnerability misserved you there. There’s an alpha/beta balance that must be maintained in a relationship. You gave her too much beta and logic, and the pores thing and all that was a rapport break too.

    Then you compounded it with “apologies and explanations”. The correct solution when things start spiraling downwards with logical questions and demands is a freeze out and reassertion of alpha. You failed the followup tests, and the love bubble was lost.

    Your vulnerability stuff is amazing, but you have to balance it for a healthy LTR. It isn’t always optimal to be vulnerable.

    • Reply

      Tim

      4 months ago

      I call troll.

    • Reply

      Mark

      4 months ago

      Why would I ever hide my thoughts or feelings to manipulate a girl I was dating? That’s a clear path to an UNHEALTHY relationship. This balance you’re talking about is a form of protecting yourself. If I’m going stay with a woman in the long-term, she either accepts me for who I am, or she can GTFO. That’s real alpha, if anything.

      I think a lot of the fake alpha guys are afraid of conflict and emotional confrontation. It’s painful but conflict is often very healthy for a relationship and necessary for it continue to grow. This is actually an example of that. I’m not afraid to get hurt in my relationships. And that’s what makes them so powerful and enjoyable.

  • Reply

    Koanic

    4 months ago

    I’m not a troll. I read Mark’s book and loved it.

    If you truly prioritize genuineness and full expression at all times above keeping the girl or avoiding drama, then yeah, it’s a form of screening.

    My priorities are usually different. I’m willing to make allowances for female nature in how and when I fully disclose my thoughts. Or, to put it differently, I’m aware that subtext is part of the communication as much as text.

    If expressing the “true me” in logical terms means injecting an unwanted or false subtext, I’ll find a different way or time to do it.

  • Reply

    Koanic

    4 months ago

    ” when couples have emotional crashes like this, it’s not always obvious why or how they happened… and often the actual logical details of the conflict mean nothing.”

    Yes, it’s supposed to be non-obvious, the female conflict defense mechanism ensures the true cause is obscured. I don’t find those crashes hard to figure out. You just have to look back a step or two, to find the emotional trigger.

    I don’t know if you would agree with that or not.

    • Reply

      Thomas

      4 months ago

      Yes, I’ve found relationships to be quite simple as well. Why books are still written on the subject is beyond me.

      • Reply

        Koanic

        4 months ago

        Are you being sarcastic? Because if you are, that signals to me I should write a post about this area.

        It is intuitive to me, but I’ve been in an LTR for 5 years. I don’t switch girls for religious reasons.

        • Reply

          Chris

          4 months ago

          Koanic: I’d be interested to read what you’ve got to say, do you have a website or something?

          • Koanic

            4 months ago

            Yes, I do, it’s koanicsoul.com.

            Nick, I guess we just don’t have chemistry…

            Honestly, just stick with Mark. You’ll do fine.

    • Reply

      Mark

      4 months ago

      Haha, I’d love to see a scientific paper on this so-called “female conflict defense mechanism.” I have no idea what you’re referring to when it comes to sub-text versus text and what that has to do with this story. But I definitely do think you’re projecting your own experiences into the story and you don’t know who she is or how things turned out. I imagine you and your girlfriend don’t have to deal with you moving 5,000 miles away very often either.

      The story was written as a short allegory to illustrate the emotional rollercoaster that can happen. It was also just a way for me to express some of my feelings from the situation. That’s all.

      • Reply

        Koanic

        4 months ago

        Well, that answers my question, then. You do see it.

        I wrote because it seemed like you didn’t, which was startling.

      • Reply

        Koanic

        4 months ago

        Did you edit this comment? It seems different than what I read yesterday. Maybe I was just tired.

        I think you made a profound point about vulnerability helping deepen a relationship even when it causes drama. It’s something I hadn’t considered.

        I don’t deal with 5k moves, but I deal with similarly serious stressors regularly. I appreciate the rollercoaster effect. I’m not making any assumptions about how the story continued from the point your narration stopped. If I had to guess, I’d say things probably recovered nicely.

        I’ve just learned a lot about how to avoid, eliminate, and/or mitigate those negative spirals over the last 5 years. I prefer her to be pliable and loving around me. It’s a lot like jiu-jitsu – an intimate and initially unintuitive sport that becomes simple once you learn a few principles.

        By text and subtext, I meant, the message you intend to deliver versus the message she receives, or the feelings it generates in her.

        Yohami talks a lot about female conflict defense mechanisms, and I think you may also find some stuff about it in Sperm Wars. Really, it’s everywhere. Anyway, this one is really simple. You do something that generates a weird feeling, she brushes it off nicely, you think everything’s fine, then her emotions tank as a delayed effect, and she starts injecting negative energy, on some logically unrelated topic.

        The key is to ignore the logic and just pay attention to the brief time delay.

        Most guys don’t understand this. She’s unhappy and they have no idea why – because the true cause is obscured – because revealing the true cause would reveal her true biological agenda, which human females aren’t designed to do.

        That’s why feeding the loop with more words on her chosen topic is counterproductive. It shows a failure of emotional intuition. Deida would say, “Her complaint is content-free.” But actually, her complaint is that her agenda is going unfulfilled – and you need to re-demonstrate that you can fulfill it.

        • Reply

          Koanic

          4 months ago

          …. and I don’t view that as manipulation, any more than it’s manipulation for my girlfriend to stay in shape, dress sexily, and bang me often to better fulfill my sexual agenda.

        • Reply

          Mark

          4 months ago

          I think avoiding spirals like this is something that you and her must learn to do together. It takes conscious awareness on both hers and your part. In newer relationships (like the one in the post), it’s easy to find yourself suddenly in the middle of a huge negative spiral without knowing how you got there. As the relationship develops and matures you both develop habits together on how to handle them.

          This was our first major relationship problem and in the moment it caught both of us totally off-guard. It had nothing to do with the answer to her question, but had actually been building up for some time beforehand. But yes, things did recover very well with some work and a lot of communication.

          • Koanic

            4 months ago

            Yes, these are the times when everything that’s been building suddenly counts.

            But it’s still possible and desirable, in a relationship with unavoidable externally-imposed high tension issues, to greatly improve quality of life by avoiding triggers and performing rapid damage control.

            Obviously the larger the issues, the more sensitive her trigger threshold becomes, and the more difficult damage control gets.

            It’s an art I’ve carried to a high level of refinement through necessity, but not as important for relationships already drenched in male hand, strong pre-screening, and good connection. In other words, mostly a defensive art, like anti-cheating Game, but not as severe.

            So my only disagreement would be that the answer to the question had nothing to do with it. I think it’s better to work out relationship issues outside of negative spirals. That requires paying attention to the advance warning signs, tightening up your Game to avoid crashes, and then dealing with it when she’s pliable.

            But again, for someone like you it’s not something you need to pay attention to. For a married guy with kids, it might be a lifesaver.

        • Reply

          Mark

          4 months ago

          Oh, and I think I edited the comment as you were replying.

      • Reply

        Jaynee

        6 weeks ago

        I really enjoy this style of writing from you.

  • Reply

    Nicholas

    4 months ago

    The structure kind of reminds me of Haruki Murakami “On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl…” I loved that story. Maybe a bit of overreach here, power to weight ratio a little high? But a good effort and indicative of fearlessness. Do you have an editor? Maybe riff on the theme of avoidance, but please do “avoid” psycho talk – from the gut.

    Much respect, dude

  • Reply

    Nicholas

    4 months ago

    @Koanic – Although it is hard to induce the whole of your philosophy from what you write here I am immediately put-off by your comments. Humourless, self-satisfied and rattling around in your own mind is what occurs to me. Hay-Zeus, man? Lighten the eff up Francis.

  • Reply

    SexyBack

    4 months ago

    Oh boy… checked out Koanic’s site. Wish I hadn’t. Your mind is a different place man. Warped image of women you have too. I hope you will one day find a woman who will motivate you to figure out who you are. Which should allow you to start living.

  • Reply

    raphael

    4 months ago

    haha, totally missed the point of the story due to shitty english… let´s call my comment an experience of vulnerability :-p

  • Reply

    Aaron

    4 months ago

    damn – that’s some excellent writing there.

  • Reply

    Jake

    4 months ago

    Wow, sometimes I forget you can write this well when you want to.

  • Reply

    Jack

    4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing a moment in time with us Mark. It was poetic.

  • Reply

    Samson

    4 months ago

    Lol, what a drama bomb. Why’d she start crying? I woulda kicked her out for that…Beautiful writing, friend. I just found your site today and love it.

    “Then you compounded it with “apologies and explanations”. The correct solution when things start spiraling downwards with logical questions and demands is a freeze out and reassertion of alpha. You failed the followup tests, and the love bubble was lost.”

    that’s kinda true, it’s not manipulation, it’s discourse and dialogue, it’s social functioning.

    • Reply

      möbius dick

      3 months ago

      More specifically, it’s knowing in advance when discourse must cease and dialogue will fail. That is a higher level of social functioning yet. It may have the appearance of alpha assertion, but it’s driven by intelligence and sensitivity rather than instinct and role.

  • Reply

    Guy Guides

    4 months ago

    This post really resonates with me. I’ve always been a girlfriend type of person, but have reframed from relationships as I start on my personal development journey with business and becoming good with women.

    Poetic writing, it was just the right length. My Disney-programmed mind wants a future post with a happy ending :)

  • Reply

    Zach

    3 months ago

    Damn. I thought I was the only one who ever had to answer the question “what are you thinking about?”

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