It’s hard being a single, 30 something female in the south. Particularly in Texas. Particularly when all my friends are having babies… Including my baby brother who’s a good 10+ years younger than me.
And particularly, especially around the holidays!
There’s the questioning glances from family to look forward to, the unspoken “what’s wrong with you?”
Almost worse is the attempt to make me feel better when someone says “you just haven’t found the right one yet,” or “he’s out there, don’t give up.” It’s this judgement that I’m not complete yet, that the better half of me is still out there waiting to be found so that I can be a whole person.
It belittles all of my struggles to date. It means that being a teacher doesn’t count for anything, and all the good I’ve done there is only partial good. It’s not enough of a purpose for me to help my students. I need some man to want me in order for me to be a valid, complete person. I need that final stamp of approval in order to acknowledge success!
I know that’s not what anyone means when they say it. I even know that most people, when they say it, are only doing so because they know that I’m lonely and they don’t like to see me this way.
And I am.
Lonely, that is.
I am very lonely some days. I get very saddened by the fact that these people I’ve met on Tinder, the ones that have promise, aren’t willing or able to spend the night. I’m tired of going to sleep alone and waking up alone, and feeling that emptiness in my life.
I’ve been tired for a very long time, tired of this feeling that the only value people see in me is for a sexual purpose. I’m not good enough to keep. But I’m exotic. A novelty to be experienced and then bragged about, but not worthy of keeping. Like a trophy to be won, and if I suggest that I’m unhappy with that view of myself, they lie to try to get that anyway.
If I am willing to discuss that possibility, the possibility of just the physical, men assume that me trying to negotiate terms is indicative of trying to get them into a relationship. I can’t possibly be able to disconnect the emotion from the physical act, and want to negotiate terms like a proper business deal. I shouldn’t be able to be as callous as they are.
Then I’m just a bitch.
Meanwhile, the people who see me as worthy of keeping don’t want me for the physical reasons. (Cue the Boy.)
It’s a constant conundrum I have.
But, for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying being single. I’m enjoying dating around. A lot! I think I’m having the wild crazy dating life that I should have had in college, but I was so worried about trying to find myself that I wasn’t ready to find who I was with other people. Or rather, I was so convinced that I understood myself that I was always giving the wrong signals.
I was stronger then than I am now. I was less likely to get my feelings hurt. I had that attitude where if you didn’t like me, I didn’t care. There were plenty of other people out there. I didn’t need you for my approval. The only person whose approval I really craved was my mother. I wanted her to accept me even though I wasn’t like her. I needed to know that who I was was good enough, even though I couldn’t live up to her standard of… well, most things!
My sense of virtue isn’t the same as hers. She was one of those who waited until marriage, like in the old days, and I never had any doubts that I wouldn’t be that person. My drive where that is concerned is too strong. And, as some people who know me better (or as you may have noted above), I think more like a guy in that particular regard.
My sense of duty isn’t as strong as hers either. I crater and crash as soon as I feel like I’ve lost control. If I’m not somehow in control of a situation, if I can’t regain control relatively soon, I get overwhelmed and I shut down.
Now I know it’s because of the Asperger’s, but before, I thought there was something just wrong with me. I’d tell people that it’s like I’m living two lives: my real life, and my spiritual life, and very often my spiritual life gets in the way of real real life. I’d focus on the things I felt I had control over, the things I could fix, and sleep the rest of my life away.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s what happened when things fell apart with the Boy. Everything in my life was falling apart. Everything. And he was the thing I thought I could fix because we had been so perfectly wonderfully comfortable with each other in the beginning. I knew I could fix it because it was obviously meant to be.
Occasionally I still fall into that belief because he is still there. He keeps “showing up,” so there’s still hope. If only he could see or remember what I saw, then maybe he’d stop slamming shut a door that doesn’t need to be shut.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be open, but he’s closed it based on a faulty premise, and that annoys me to no end. I hate that he closed it because of a misunderstanding and that he has sealed it with cement because he’s more stubborn than I am.
It’s one of the reasons we fight, because he keeps trying to force me down a path that he is sure is the correct one, and I’m not so certain. I’m not willing to commit to a set goal until he and I are comfortable with each other again… Mostly because I think that if we get back to that comfortable place, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll find an end goal that works for both of us instead of one that just works for one or the other of us.
So what brought this up today?
Last night he told me that the reason why I didn’t want to go out with him was because I was so convinced that I was destined to be alone that I wasn’t willing to let anyone in. He was convinced that to me, the very idea of being with someone was terrifying. And, well, sometimes, yeah. Not in his case, but sometimes, yeah.
I’m not jumping into things anymore is all. I did that when I was younger, when I should have been dating and enjoying being single. Instead, I would jump from one major relationship to another, ending in at least two proposals, and more than a few broken hearts… not always mine.
In fact, many of the people that I’ve dated have accused me of using them for the purely physical because I jump so fast into something serious that I don’t get to know them, and then when I realize that they bore me because they can’t keep up with me mentally, I get the only thing that I can from them.
It’s like the date with the Comedian, where every time he said something that wasn’t funny I took a swig of tea. When I’m dating someone I am starting to lose interest in, every time they say something that I think is dumb, I get physical with them.
So, I’ve decided that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. Yes, I am lonely, but I can be lonely in a room full of people, which is kind of what the Gentleman was proposing last night. See, he was convinced that I was giving up on life because I didn’t want to go out drinking and dancing on a Saturday night. We’d agreed to the movies today (which we’re still supposedly doing, but he’s not here to pick me up yet… we’re late), and I didn’t want to go out and put on my mask two days in a row.
He is a salesman, and so, like with the Married Guy, I have to wait for him to get comfortable with me so that I can see who he really is. It means that if I get overwhelmed when I’m around a whole bunch of people I can’t lean on him if I need to. The Boy, I know who he is beneath the mask, so when we’re in public, I can lean on him and not worry about it. I trust him… although he constantly reminds me that I’ve told him that I don’t (a defense mechanism since I never know if/when he’s going to get tired of me like before).
The Gentleman, not so much. Going out with him would mean I have to keep the mask on for him and for all the people he might introduce me to, and I won’t be able to trust him to give me a signal if I’m doing something wrong. I don’t know his signals yet, and so I can’t read him. And he’s always got his mask on anyway, so it’s really uncomfortable. It’s why I wasn’t really excited about going out with him the first time he suggested we go out to party.
And he pushes. He doesn’t like to be told no. And I don’t like to be manipulated, which he tries. A lot.
The movie is safe, but his insinuation that I’m keeping him at arm’s length because I’m not willing to take a chance on a relationship when we basically just met is too fast, too soon, and I’m not making that mistake again! I’m past the age of jumping from relationship to relationship!
I’m not looking for instant monogamy, which is what I can’t get my friends to understand when they tell me why don’t I say I’m looking for romance on Tinder. People read that as I’m looking to settle down immediately and they don’t give me a chance to decide if I like them first. I’m insanely picky. Stop pushing me, people!