After a recent encounter of the Canadian (and tall, successful, charming, sexy) kind, I found myself trying to decipher the enigma between the text messages on my phone late Monday night. My faithful friends, readily available to nod thoroughly through the major and minor obsessions, reassured me there wasn’t anything to figure out, that Mr. Maple Leaf was genuinely (perhaps profoundly!) into me. (Spoiler alert: yes, he’s “into me,” but doesn’t want a relationship, the same ole’ song of nearly every man I meet and actually like.)
So in a fit of irritation that flooded an entire Gchat box expanded full screen, I angrily declared – not so eloquently – that men completely, totally suck and that I’m over it. (There may have been a few obligatory curse words for effect and I might have let out an audible mini-scream, too.) After fully executing my adult, 20-something tantrum, I heaved and sighed, attempting to let go of my frustration, when I suddenly felt a wave of regret for what I typed. And for the amount of analysis I put into a guy that – let’s be honest – I’ve seen twice. I re-read my message to R and for whatever reason, I decided to read it out loud. I wanted to hear it outside of my head, away from the fog of obsession, what did it sound like? How did I sound? What language was I speaking about my (mostly non-existent, annoying) dating life?
Apparently, a rather negative, if not (admittedly) pretty annoying one.
My words were drenched in a lot of bad, cliche adjectives and sweeping statements about sour predictions of male intentions. I could hear my distaste and my anxiety, seeping through the sentences, falling out of my mouth and into the universe, in an angry, harsh cloud of smoke. I suddenly felt embarrassed by my compulsion, and especially by my exasperation. Had I really dropped so low that the only thing I could muster is a (incorrect) stereotype about the men of Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens…)? Have I adopted –and spread – the rumors that love is a dying idealism in the gray city streets that never sleep, but sleep with everybody? Have I become so disengaged by the dates I’ve had and the caliber of men I find, that not only am I bored, but I’m judgmental and difficult to please?
Who is that girl on Gchat? I surely thought I was better — and maybe older — than that. I thought I was past the phase where I cared about every little thing a guy did or said and I had moved on to the greener pastures, where my give a damn is broken, and my head is held higher than the jerks who aren’t crazy about me.
And if so – maybe that’s my problem. Maybe guys are, well, assholes because I keep saying they are.
My theory that a good one doesn’t come along very often (he doesn’t) and that most guys are in for a good time (but sometimes, so am I?) isn’t too far off base. And the more you fling yourself out into the world of eligibility, the more you get disappointed and frustrated by what’s actually eligible. I understand why my language is uninspired and desperate, but I’m also starting to understand that maybe I’m my own worst enemy. That I might just be the culprit in the dating blame game. I think it’s less in the water we’re drinking in this big ol’ place and more in the dialect we keep speaking in.
I think we’re all talking ourselves out of love.
Not directly of course — if you ask any of my single friends, they all hope for (and put themselves out there for) a chance at a genuine relationship. We all want to meet some guy that proves all of those other dates necessary, one to come along and bring clarity to the trials, one to hold our hand instead of grabbing our ass (except when we want him to, of course). But when we talk about relationships — with the couples or the singles, we all discuss how hard it is. How annoying and patronizing and demeaning it all feels. How we get our hopes up and our spirits high, shave our legs and put on lipstick to snag this imaginary person. How it feels like so much work except when it’s fun and when it’s fun, it feels like it only last so long before it all falls apart, and then we regret the whole thing. We talk about how much we want to give up and how badly it sucks, two (or three or five) years later, to still sleep in a massive bed, all by ourselves, night after night. It’s not a fairytale, we say, it’s a nightmare. And even if everyone tells us that dating should be fun and we should be positive – it stops being enjoyable once history continues o repeat itself.
So, even though I’m the queen of analyzing and obsession and reading in between lines that probably aren’t actually there to begin with, I want to challenge you – and myself – to stop talking about it.
Or at least, to change the way we talk about it. If we change our narrative to be positive, instead of defeating, then maybe we can change the ending. If we can take each date, each possible mate with a grain of salt (no matter how much we think we could like them), and focus on learning about a new person (not a new man) then maybe we’ll gain something more than another horror story to tell our friends at brunch. If we stop preoccupying ourselves with how f***ing long it’s taking to meet our next boyfriend (or husband), and instead think about how truly awesome it’ll feel when it happens, then we might have a little more hope, rather than hate for the process.
Because if I think about it, most of the guys that I’ve went out with haven’t been bad people, I just knew they weren’t a person for me. Or the chemistry was off. And though I don’t truly believe timing is the most important part of a relationship, sometimes, people just aren’t in the right place to give you what you need. And yes, of course, some men are profoundly assholes, no doubt about it.
But if I continue to damn my love life because it’s not shaping out in the way I thought or hoped it would, and thus damning the entire male population that I’m trying to date – then maybe I’m an asshole, too.