butterflies are a drug and I’m in rehab

Inevitably I fly high into romance on the wings of butterflies.

Yet I plot – and make – cautious exits well-marked by righteousness and reason. I watch, wait, evaluate and think my way through break-ups.



I question butterflies. I like them. They don’t happen to me a lot. What’s that all about?

Romance novels and chick flicks and Disney movies and even Isabel Allende (I just made fervent  sign of the cross over my literate, magic-loving heart and any time I mention her name, you should do the same) make it seem like love is lightning bolt.

Or a flock of butterflies.

– Which is why, when they happen to me, I get very stupid. I hook into a myth that tells me This Is IT.

– Which is also why – beyond the obvious sexism of the cruder versions –  I had a profoundly emotional reaction to the Seduction Community. I felt like PUAs were teaching men how to game the myth – and that this was wildly unfair. Society makes good and sure most women get socialized into thinking that butterflies are a precursor to The Big Love That Was Meant To Be – and to embrace them. Then PUAs come along and tell guys how to induce the butterflies, to hook into the myth – and therefore the romanticized decision-making that accompanies the invoking of that myth – without actually delivering the outcome the myth promises. So women making decisions based on romance and myth and butterflies are malleable – and easily screwed*, both by PUAs and our own stories.

– Because they are our own stories. Women write them, tell them, buy them.

So. Back to butterflies. In my most recent romance – with a very sweet man I actually called “my boyfriend” (very rare occurrence) AND introduced to my friends (very, very rare occurrence) –  we both worried that we lacked butterflies.

What did that mean? What did it our future hold if the beginning lacked butterflies? We certainly didn’t lack for hot sex (oh yeah),  great conversation and easy company. But the stomach-flips? Nope.

Let’s flip that.

When we were little, my sister was a word-scrambler. At Disneyland, she saw the monorail, and shrieked “Look, look the runamail!”

She got excited by butterflies and called them “flutterbys”.

Maybe that’s just about right.


Last year was My Year of Unavailable Men.

I know, I know. They’re all toxic and commitment phobic.

I’m not buying that. Most of us – men and women – fall in love and get married** at some point in our lives, which suggests to me that most of us – men and women – get to a wanting-love place and find a person with whom to share that place.

I don’t think the problem is men. I think the problem is my screening process and the fact that I was trying to force my reality to match fantasy.

Fantasy is good. Excellent. Delicious.

It  is simply not a great place from which to launch life-altering decisions.


The fantasy:

the one. meant to be. predestined. love at first sight. butterflies.

that attraction means something more than “I’m attracted to you”

The white hot truth:

There is no soul mate. I know, this is particularly hard news to take because you are longing for The One 24-7. But, guess what, The One is The One because you say he/she is. And that’s way more liberating and empowering than anything preordained or supposedly destined.

Choice. Chosen. Decided, deciding, every day.



A word that keeps coming up in my hypnotherapy sessions is selection. I’m actually more passive than active with romantic selection (hence: not the right kinds of men). I often reward persistence. I have been moved by the force of another’s (apparent) desire for me. I have valued The Relationship and The Relationship Products instead of weighing the worth of the person in front of me. I have made decisions based on emotion. I almost always enter into romance hastily, and on pure emotion. I have made decisions based on potential. I have bought a LOT of fixer-uppers and then, once, fully moved in and committed to the renovation, realized: I can’t live like this.

I have lied to myself. I have spent a lot of time wishing and a-hoping and a-praying that something wasn’t true.

Like my Very Bad Lying Man.

On our first date, he said and signalled things that were food to a hungry soul. He showed he was attracted to me. He made me laugh. He was clear from the drop that he knew what he wanted and what he wanted was me. He walked me to my car and noticed my headlights weren’t bright enough and said he’d help me switch them out for shinier ones. Who doesn’t want more shine? He kissed me passionately and well. He called me to make sure I arrived home safely. I felt desired, respected and protected.

Heady stuff.

And that sweet stuff, even for the decidedly unsweet person, is easy to do (and fake) on a first date: a few well-chosen words, touches on the arm and the small of the back, holding doors open, offer to help solve a problem, a steamy kiss, a quick and caring call.



“I want something, and you’re here” is not selection.

And so I return to  my sister’s childhood wisdom and name butterflies for what they are: pretty, fleeting, flitting flutterbys.

Clean closets are my revolution.


*Please note that I don’t have any issue with the carnal connotation of “screwing”. Really and truly. In fact, I like that sort of thing. I just don’t like when we lie and trick and bullshit our way into people’s affections and elicit implicit expectations in order to get laid.

**using “married” and “marriage” as a short-hand for deep, loving, intimate committed relationship. Marriage can be a symptom of such a thing or a condition thereof. But not always.


this note is part of a series outlining the story of the Very Bad Lying Man, a few months after the fact:

December 2009. The thin line – cleavage, even – between vulnerability as strength and just out-and-out stupidity.

Here are the breadcrumbs. Bits of the Very Bad Lying Man fell into these posts while the un-love story was happening:

August 2009. Vacation. Day 1. I am THAT Scene in When Harry Met Sally, but It Is Real. And Better.

August 2009. On Being a Needy Girlfriend and What IT SHOULD Teach You

August 2009. When Tough Love Turns Poetic. In a blood, guts, and broken-ego kinda way.

September 2009. On Harm, Healing, Ceilings and How Absent Apologies are the Pits – The Sorry Series, #1

September 2009. How To Receive an Apology. How To Accept an Apology. How To Forgive. Or Maybe Not. – The Sorry Series, #4

December 2009. ask and ye shall…well just ask, anyways.

January 2010. I am the female Bluebeard of suburban Vancouver and I am running out of closet space.

February 2010. Love is a Compass.

February 2010. sexifesto

March 2010. butterflies are a drug and I’m in rehab

March 2010. hearsay brilliance: “Only go when the light is green”

About the author

Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer. I've written for Salon, Jezebel, XO Jane, Problogger, Write to Done and more. I'm currently working on a book about The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. Interested? Please subscribe to my newsletter and I'll share more thoughts and chapters with you as I write them. You can also find me on Facebook and yes please, please do.