This is What I Need

There are several theories that say women talk three times more than men. There are other studies that contradict that finding. I’m don’t really believe either, as I think it really depends on the person, and my mother has partly convinced me it is reliant on their sun sign (Geminis are apparently the most talky). Nevertheless, after having a discussion with my roommate and friend, A, after we both bickered with the leading man of our lives – I’ve concluded that in arguments, maybe the ladies do use their words more.

I’m not an argumentative person and it takes something pretty drastic to anger me. I tend to be pretty level-headed and understanding, and while I may be emotional from time to time, I’m hardly ever furious. But when I get pushed to that point or when something happens that makes me rationally (or irrationally) rationalize anger, I have this uncontrollable urge to work it out. Mainly because, I don’t really like to be upset. And really, I don’t like to have a lingering disagreement above my head or worse yet, above the bed. Intimacy and connections don’t build on tangled sheets and dysfunctioning thoughts.

As we commiserated over our shared current state, we talked about how men often just want to shut off, shut down, and let the problem or the discussion come to a stammering halt, and then pick up the next day, as if nothing happened. They throw out accusations that we’re being “too much” or we’re “overreacting” or we’re being “emotional” – when it reality, we’re just trying to express how we feel. Perhaps we show our stress differently than they do, and maybe there is evidence to claim we go overboard from time to time, but that doesn’t make us women, that makes us human.

So when we’re not getting the answer we want or the reaction we need, we ask the question a different way. We try a new approach. Healthy or not, we play off what we know will get them, what we know will evoke a response, and we go from there. And as it always does, the conversation prolongs, the issue persists and expands, and we’re left thirty minutes later, crying and frustrated – yet damned and determined to put this sad baby to bed. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure your exes have told you the same things they’ve all told me: “I can’t do this right now, we’re just talking in circles, let’s let this go for now.”

Even though I recognize the never-ending circular pattern, for whatever reason, I can never release tension until it is resolved. Worse than that though, I can never get myself to say five simple words:

This is what I need.

I’m not the only woman who feels this way. As women do and as A and I did recently, we talk to one another. We talk and talk, analyze and dissect, reach conclusions, make notes and plans, and share in our experiences together, no matter how significant or minute. And yet with all that jabbering and going around and around – we can never just flat-out, blatantly say what we need from someone.

Why is that?

Why is it so difficult to emotionlessly express exactly and precisely what we need? Why do we feel guilty for requesting more out of a man? Have we all been through so many bad relationships, guys who leave without notice, guys who end solid foundations over silly bumps, guys who aren’t worthy of our time in the first place, that we’re all so scared to do the wrong thing or ask for too much… that we never really demand anything?

It really is alright to need something.

And the men I’ve dated never seem to have issue telling me exactly what they need from me or what makes them happy. Shouldn’t I do the same? If relationships are equal partnerships, if we’re playing on the same level field, and going at it 50/50 – why can’t I be clear about what matters to me?

After all, if a guy can’t provide the things or the support that you need as an individual, he’ll never be able to be a functioning, giving, and dependable mate. So why put all the energy into resolving something or being available, when the other party doesn’t put in as much effort?

So, I’m challenging myself. I’ll continue to be understanding. Continue to be open and honest. Continue to be independent and self-efficient. Continue to love myself, even when I’m “too much” or “overreacting.” Continue to talk.

But instead of going around in circles without an ending point in sight, I’ll start being frank about what I need. After all, don’t I frankly give a damn?

The Wingman Who Wants to Want

Regardless if we claim (or admit) to be interested by the company of a predetermined Mr. Wonderful- somewhere, deep down, in even the most cynical, sarcastic, and bitter of hearts -lives a tiny inkling of desire for true love to prove it exists. That after the darkest of nights, there is always the hope for a dawn that (or who) will lighten up our hearts and free us from the rips and tears that haunted us since the last man who dwelt there. Even in our most independent, most sassy, and most vibrant pair of single shoes – it is against all tricks and trials of nature to not become somewhat intrigued when we notice a simple glance or curling lip from a new face in the distance.

Perhaps on the way to self-love, we learn that the appetite for passion, for partnership, isn’t really one that can be fulfilled by being single.

For a while, I became convinced that if I was going to fall in love with myself, I needed to stop being in love with the idea of love. That I needed to quench any thirst, any hope, any inclination of possibility, and focus entirely on myself. This meant dreams of happily ever after, notions of romance I eagerly wanted to experience, and seemingly meaningful moments with handsome strangers needed to fall to the wayside, and in return, I had to propel myself to the forefront.

But as life often does, a chance encounter, a meeting with someone who could spark something new in you, makes you think of the whole process in a different way. For me, this person wasn’t in a romantic sense or really even a career pursuit, but rather – just someone who has a similar story to mine.

Meet The Professional Wingman, or as I will call him, Mr. Hitch.

A few years ago, Mr. Hitch discovered his girlfriend was cheating on him. This revelation and break-up made him decide to take  a step back and start focusing his attention on becoming a better person – not for a woman, or for anyone else, but for himself. To hold himself accountable and to actually stick to his guns, he created a blog that chronicled his life and what he was learning. After a short amount of time, he started receiving comments and traffic, and before long, people were asking him for advice about relationships, love, and how to make their overall quality of life and self better. And so, he came up with the idea to help others by being a dating coach, or a wingman, who helps them attract the type of people they want to meet. From there, it’s been history and he recently moved to New York to expand his clientele.

I was introduced to Mr. Hitch from one of my freelance columnist positions, and after the interview, I knew I had to meet him in person. I mean, minus being a “wingwoman” (not so sure I’d be good at that) -I started this blog for the same reason: to really fall in love with myself and not base that admiration on any outside person. And so, once I proclaimed I was the female version of him, he gladly agreed to meet up for a drink. I invited one of my great gal friends, C, to come along too.

We started out the evening at a sportsbar chatting and within an hour, he deemed me someone who probably wasn’t in need of his wingman services. That really, I was a woman who knew what she was doing – so well, in fact, he casually joked about me becoming a member of his soon-to-be team. At least I think he was joking.

Nevertheless, as we discussed our backgrounds, horrendous (and amazing) dating stories, and our desire to make a difference in the lives of singles everywhere – I realized something profound in what he was doing. Just because he was determined to grow his own confidence and stop obsessing about relationships, he didn’t lose sight of the beauty of love. In fact, his job is now to encourage others to be more secure in the dating scene so they ultimately will encounter someone who is not just what they want, but what they deserve. Like me, he has an absolutely “no settling” policy, and I dig it.

Not being obsessed with love doesn’t mean I have to not have any desires for a partner. The thirst for love is natural, is human, is healthy.  It is only when it becomes the number one priority of our lives and when we condemn ourselves because we don’t have that tall drink of water, that it becomes an issue.

Really, it is a difference between wanting and needing, as Mr. Hitch taught me.

Being the true romantic I am at heart, I had to ask him if his winging ended up winning him a lady. And as the happy ending goes, of course it did. She, like him, aids others in the never-ending search for love – but instead of joining dudes and chicks at bars, she helps them weave through the online dating jungle. Both experts at the game, they somehow found their match (pun intended) and when he spoke of her, his face lit up with an admiration that no one could ever deny. As a follow-up question towards the end of the evening on the way to the train, I asked him, “What’s something that you love about her, that’s out of the ordinary?” With a quick grin and his cool, classy swagger, he replied, “She doesn’t really need me, but she wants me. If I were to leave or something was to happen, she’d be fine. But she chooses to stay with me and depend on me, just a little.” Another guy who values independence – let’s just say the North is miles ahead of the South on priding women for more than their ovaries and their signature meatloaf.

Maybe being single, even vibrantly satisfied flying solo, will never rid of the anticipation of a love to come, but having that confidence will attract the right kind of partner. The one who is worth giving up some part of our freedom that we so enjoy. When instead of thinking we must have a man to call our own, save the dates in the mail, and someone to tuck our cold toes under at night, we realize that those are things we want, but not necessairly need, is where we find our peace.

And though at times, I may feel like I shouldn’t still want those things or want to be held or want to walk hand-in-hand in the park or sit side-by-side at Dunkin’ Donuts on a blistering Saturday morning – I know that it’s okay to have those desires. It doesn’t make me weak or dependent on someone else, but rather, admitting I do still have romantic dreams gives me strength to own how they affect me. To realize that though I don’t have to insist, to myself, to him, or to others that I must be in a relationship to be happy, I can say proudly, that one day, there will be a man who brings me tremendous joy. I won’t need him to need me, but I’ll want him to want me, and love him to love me.

And he, like Mr. Hitch, will know that I don’t really need him, but I do want him in my life. That I do choose him to be lucky enough to stand by my side. What’s more…he’ll want me to feel that way, and he’ll love it.

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