I’m a very open person; I tend to think that if an action requires being hidden, then maybe I need to rethink that action. But there is a difference between openness and candor, and in writing this blog I’ve questioned where that line lays. Being honest about myself and to myself in real life, and pouring my guts out to an unknown audience are not equal. There is a line of stupidity there, and I think using a blog as a confessional is crossing that line.
However, what is on my mind is a very human concern, broader than myself, and in that way is not intimate at all. So, I’ll think out loud.
Do we need romantic partners? Why? We live in a society where romantic love is the subject of hyper focus, and made to seem a necessity and the ultimate life goal. But is it? While almost half of adults live singly, there is a certain attitude about singledom; that it is a state to be avoided, that it is the result of being unwanted or unattractive, that it is made necessary because one is unfit for pairing in some way.
We are drawn to pairing up, if for no other reason than to satisfy our physical drives. We are compelled for reasons of companionship and emotional intimacy as well, and I think we are often unrealistic about the ability of romantic partnership to meet any of these needs. For every need met, partnership presents a challenge of its own, for better or worse.
I’ve been dating for a number of years (oh honey, I’ve dated half the single men in North Carolina), and have met some wonderful men, and some not-so-wonderful men. Part of me would love a man in my life, but that broad, ideal “man in my life” is never clean and easy. Intimacy brings out some oooooddd stuff, y’all. I’ve never been more miserable than when paired up, I’ve never been happier, and I’ve never been more devastated than by the hurt an intimate partner can inflict.
That spectrum can be exhausting, and takes a toll on the other facets of my life. I’m distracted by love. My attention is fractured, and frankly? After years of being a stay-at-home Mom and devoting my attention to family, I’m feeling a bit selfish. As my kids become more independent and require less of my attention, I’ve put that new- found surplus of brain power towards the pursuit of creative and professional success, and hell if I’m going to be distracted from the path I waited so long to walk down, and feel so passionately about.
I also wonder if my little puzzle-piece of self is so battered around the edges that it will never interlock well with another. Love has turned me inside-out on more than one occasion, and maybe my reticence is only that I’ve finally developed some armor over the heart I’ve always worn on my sleeve. Maybe this is just what armor feels like? Maybe my lack of interest is healthy, and those other poor sods, gunning to pair up, are misguided.
I’ve lived deeply in many ways, and I’m very much an individual. I’ve noticed a strong tendency in many men I’ve dated to push me to conform in different ways, and I find it controlling, and a distasteful expectation. In the instances where I felt men would need to conform to meet my needs, I’ve walked away, and I know I’ve hurt men in that way. Asking for tweaking is part of life, but it seems very different from expecting conformity. But am I being unrealistic? Is it healthy to expect some conformity? I was definitely more malleable when I was younger, and while that made pairing-up easier, I’m not sure it was such a good idea in the long run.
In my perfect world I get to be me, and he gets to be him, we’re happy to adjust a bit here and there, and just very much want each other’s company. And short of that, whether conformity is healthy or not, I’m not sure I’m interested.
I’m at a crossroads, and know that my ability to step back and question this is, maybe, indicative of jadedness and cynicism. I don’t know if giving up on the idea of dating is cowardice, or selfishness, or denying myself an opportunity for growth. But I do know that I just don’t feel interested.
Reading back through what I’ve just written, I think I realize what this conglomerate of ideas is; who the author of these thoughts is. I’m 41. I’m a grown-up, and I’m pretty important in my little world. I think I’m beginning to realize just how valuable I am; how strong and how fragile I am. Perhaps I could have arrived at this state while in a marriage, but I didn’t and I’m single. This life I’ve built, the boat I’m in, is pretty precious, and I’m not willing to rock it for just anything.