Monday, May 31, 2010

"Something More," Said The Clock.

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what makes a perfectly functional and happy person decide to throw their lot in with another person and want to be in a relationship. Not being a big fan of relationships or the institution of commitment myself, I was recently horrified to hear the first audible "tick" of what I previously thought was my busted biological clock. Maybe it's the fact that a close friend with whom I played wing-woman for has now reached past the 1 year anniversary with said boyfriend I did the winging maneuvers for and are vacationing and cohabitating together, or the fact that I'm watching people I grew up with planning for their long-term serious relationships, weddings, and even babies, or maybe it's just the fact that I have done the "I'm so not serious about you I'm going to do everything to prove to you I think this is a lark and self-sabotage this whole state of affairs" thing for the past 5 years, and now with a landmark birthday approaching I'm realizing I should be acting as old as I'm getting and I'm ready to give it a rest for awhile. Whatever the reason, the ending thought remains the same: Scary.

I think as graduates of first grade, we can all agree on the fact that 1 + 1= 2. So why, then, do proponents of love and the Hallmark company seem so hell-bent on convincing us that two people in a relationship are one entity?

I've found myself wondering where my extremely colorful past fits in with my new desires. What about all of a woman's past relationships? Are they now halves? What happens after the union, no matter what sort it was, how serious or how tenuous it was, is gone? How can anyone be expected to deal with so much continuous disappointment? Are we trying to be martyrs, or can we just not get out of our own way? As long as there are women, there will always be women who fall for the wrong guy. Women with a predilection for the Bad Boys. Women who have convinced themselves that if she just loses that last 5 pounds, if she never says "no", if she can change her inner desires to be less demanding and more like him, he will somehow realize that she is perfect, just perfect, for him. These are also the same women who often end up finding just the sort of man who is not perfect for them. (Guilty as charged.) Usually, if anything, I'm over-confident. Most of the time, I am pretty sure I could rule the world single-handed if all the nation's leaders suddenly all came down with a deadly infectious disease at a U.N meeting and keeled over. But for some reason, when it comes to men, all bets are off. Maybe it's because women really have no idea, past a good steak and a blowjob, what men really want. Maybe, if they talked about it, like women have a tendency to do (myself not included here, as I would usually rather extract my own wisdom teeth sans Percocet than talk about my feelings), we could all be a lot more clear and a lot less confused and apt to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on someone, just to realize that they are never going to change. At least, not for us.

Which brings us to why men like some women and not others. Frankly, I cannot understand what anyone sees in me. And I am not being self-depreciating here. At times, I want a divorce from myself. I have altogether too many flaws and personality quirks to be consider either easy to live with, enjoyable, or sane. When I see a guy look at me like he adores me, I want to shake him and ask, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? DO YOU ENJOY BEING RUN RAGGED? BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I DO!" Because no matter how crazy women can get at men and relationships and love and how delusional we can make ourselves, there is that-- that ONE MOMENT-- where you watch him watching you, and you are hit over the head with it like a two-by-four that he likes you. Not, "I think you're entertaining" likes you. Not, "I'm imagining you naked right now" likes you. But that often sought-after and rarely found moment where the guard goes completely down behind his eyes and you catch that look and instead of what most men would assume, you do not go "There is the answer to all my dreams and desires!" but instead think, "OH. SHIT. That's real."

While I may make a good friend and a fun time, I really cannot see what would make me captivating to a member of the opposite sex. Maybe this is a great example of why love and infatuation are random and women need to stop comparing themselves to other women and asking "Why her, and not me?" Maybe there is no reason. There are other people out there, other women and other men, who are not going to demand a single thing from you, but in the long run, are they really the sort of person you want to be with? Shouldn't you want to be with someone who wants you to be the best you possible? I'm apt to believe this, especially when faced the with realization that despite all my bullshit, there are people out there with a soft-spot for me a mile wide. That would be the only explanation. But the problem with a connection like that with someone else is despite all of your warning signs and pros and cons lists, you're loathe to let them go. It's not, believe me, that you are so unlovable that you will never find someone else who will look at you that way again or make you feel the same. It's just that nothing will ever be exactly like that connection, and that connection may just be the one that you need, questions, hard work, disappointment, and all.

I'm getting old enough to realize that despite my parent's fairy tale, love is not easy. Loving someone, in fact, is one of the hardest things in the world, because loving who they really are, and not who you'd like them to be, requires a nearly Gandhi sense of acceptance. And there are times-- when the trash is spewing forth from the garbage can because it hasn't been taken out in over two weeks, when he forgets meeting with you for the second time in a week, when their tongue is in someone else's mouth-- that love and acceptance seem damn near impossible. And that's the hardest part-- keeping that love despite all of someone's faults. I'm tempted to say that we fall for who we do because they're difficult. It's said that nothing worth having is even gotten easily, and I think we'd become more quickly bored if it were so easy and simple. And when we get bored is when we hop onto the next slowly passing train, or person.

"A human's desire to mate, the pair up, to be part of a couple, will never change. But the way we go about it, how badly we need it, what we are willing to sacrifice for it, most definitely does" (Liz Tuccillo, intro to her novel, "How To Be Single"). That's the problem: what two people want is rarely the same thing. How people manage to "work it out" is beyond me. I used to be a status-quo girl. Most days, I still am. I'm content to share a bed, share some time, share a few meals, and otherwise, be on my own. I don't demand much, time- and commitment-wise. A friend of mine who just got out of a three-year relationship asked me how I do it, how I maintain my life when trying to juggle it with someone else's. The real answer to this, and the answer that is not quite the most flattering in the world in regards to the whole "selflessness" item, is that even when I'm in a relationship, my mentality is still that of a Single Girl. I can't separate the Independent Me from the Someone's Girl Me. I've lived far too much of my life being my own girl that I don't think I can, or would, ever want to lose that part of me.

I'll admit, some of it may also be the fact that I do not have a stellar retention rate, either for keeping relationships, keeping an interest in one man, or actually doing things By The Book: dating, commitment, relationship, a satisfactory amount of time, clean break-up. I tend to operate outside of the lines of public dating decency. That's just the way my stripes run. I am tempted to say, "It's not long long you were with someone that matters; it's the effort you put in," but then again, I have also never stayed with one person any longer than six months. As Tuccillo writes, "I have dates, I have flings, I have "situations." But I don't have men, one after another, whom I cart around as my boyfriend, and then break up with for some reason or another and say later to my friends "What was I thinking?"" (Tuccillo, 197).

But the more I see of the world and of other people, the girl who used to be content to sit on your sofa and order in starts to wonder, "Is there more than this?"

I'm tempted to say that there has to be. I'm tempted to say that despite people's fundamental differences, there is something that is akin to the look in someone's eye that makes them willing to stretch who they are and what they can do for someone else. I'm tempted to say that, because if I don't, I'm pretty much admitting defeat right here and right now. I'm also tempted to say it because we cannot live with all of our bullshit intact for the rest of our lives. We're all pretty ridiculous people who start out one way, and gradually change because of our love for someone else that is not ourselves. That is the only way we're ever going to get better than we are this very second. One day, there is going to be a guy who will look at me and say, "I'm not trying to clip your wings, so just fucking stand still with me for awhile more than a month or 6 months. It's not so horrible. If you keep trying to run, I'm just going to let you go." And if I care about him as much as I should, that will be the day that I should get smart enough to slow my roll and start thinking about someone other than just myself. And if I don't, or if you don't, then we really are all just helpless fools when it comes to love. So best of luck.


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