Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: marriage

How I want to play the dating game

i'm on the edge.
On the edge of a broken heart.

I was reading my stories yesterday (Ask A Manager weekend thread), and there was someone asking for some outside perspective on her relationship and whether she should leave. The issue was that her common-law husband would never admit he was wrong, and it came to a head when she was out of town for a wedding, and he went out with friends. That wasn’t the issue. What was the issue was that he had a flirty friend (FF) he’s known forever, and she and another friend spent the night with hubby. FF wore his boxers and slept in the spare room. Hubby didn’t tell his wife, and she found out from someone else.

The OP (original poster) kept stressing that she wasn’t the jealous type and how fine she would have been if he had just told her–though maybe not about the boxers part. It was interesting to see the responses. Some took her at face value at her not being the jealous type, some questioned her on that. Some didn’t see the boxers as a big deal, but most did. Some gently told her she didn’t need to have a reason to get out, and others mused that by focusing so much on how the message was delivered (by a third party), she might be not owning her hurt feelings. Still others pointed out how her husband brushing away her feelings is the real issue and how he probably won’t change. One person suggested he might be trying to push her to leave (because the behaviors have been escalating, and they’d already tried couples counseling for a few sessions until he quit).

By the time I finished reading the post, I was exhausted, and I was on the side of leave him. Not because of the incident itself, necessarily (though I am on the side of wearing someone’s boxers being too intimate. You couldn’t give her shorts or sweats? And not telling your wife isn’t good either), but because the OP sounded done with the relationship, but not sure she had a good enough reason to walk away.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading advice columns, it’s that you can end a relationship at any time. You don’t need what other people would consider a good reason–but because our society is so invested in the narrative of coupledom and that you’re not a complete person without someone attached to your hip (especially as a het woman, even in 2019), and you still here how a bird in the hand, etc., etc., etc., it’s no wonder that people hold onto relationships for way past their expiration date. Not to mention sunken cost fallacy, and it’s understandable.

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What is ‘normal’ isn’t universal

run, run away.
Just looking at her makes me tired.

It’s wearing to always be the weird one. I have to get that out there before I start blathering about whatever is on my mind. Fair warning: I woke up feeling as if I was hit by a dump truck (not as bad as a Mack truck, but still), and I’m slightly dizzy and nauseated. So, I’m going to write until my brain gives out, which could be in five minutes or it could be in an hour.

One common wisdom people give about depression is to write about your feelings as a way of tracking them. It makes sense, but I refuse to do it. Why? Because I write a lot on a regular basis, and I don’t want to make it a chore, rather than something I enjoy doing. Telling myself that I have to jot down every feeling I feel is a sure way to make me not want to write. I do it, anyway, in these posts, so making myself journal seems excessive to me.

Another common wisdom to counter depression is to get some sun and to exercise. I’ve heard the latter so much, it’s embedded in my brain. My experience with exercise, however, begs to differ.

Side Note: I have SAD in the summer instead of winter, which is yet another way in which I am not normal. I love winter. I roll down the windows in my car until it’s zero degrees. I used to do it sub-zero, but I’m more sensitive to cold now that I’m an Old. My thermostat is set at 62º during the day and 60º during the night. I did not wear a coat all of last winter, but I also didn’t go out during the coldest days. I think we reached something like  -50º including the windchill, which is cold, even for me. I do appreciate the sun, but in small doses. I like it better than gloomy weather, but it has to be paired with cold.

Back to exercise. I’ve heard it all my life, and I’m sure you have, too. “Exercise drives away the depression!” Well, no. That’s not true. I found that it didn’t make my mood worse, but it didn’t help, either. No endorphin boost for me, except when I did dancing as exercise. Fast walking (and I used to do four miles a day) just made me actively angry, in part because I was getting hot and sweaty while doing it. I sweat. A lot. More than most people. I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s not fun to be bathing in it. Also, being in the heat makes me actively angry. Anything over seventy is not my happy place. I read about the office temperature wars, and I have to shake my head. Most people seem to think 70º to 75º is the comfort zone. In fact, women in general prefer a higher temp than men do. Me, I would cuss everybody out if I had to be that hot every day.

People who like it warmer complain that they have to cater to people who like colder temps, but it’s because at some point, we can’t take off any more clothing. One person on this temp war thread said their dad started a new job at a place where a woman kept the thermometer cranked to 85+º. Eighty-fucking-five. PLUS. The commenter said their dad almost fainted, and I would have fainted. The dad also kept his thermostat at 62º during the winter, so he’s my kind of people.

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Becoming what I feared

When I was in my twenties, I used to joke that I was attracted to the exact wrong person for me. Gay men, straight women, anyone who was taken, or someone who was simply not interested in me*. If I walked into a room with 100 people and 99 were eligible dating partners, I would inevitably beeline towards the one who wasn’t.

In my late 20s/early 30s, I declared stridently that I didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was an independent woman, damn it! I didn’t need no (wo)man to make me complete. Of course, underneath it was my terrifying hunger to be in a relationship. I was told all my life it was the only thing that mattered, well, along with squirting out children, of course. It was confusing because I was also told I WOULD go to college, but at the end of the day, I better be married and have children.

Side note: When I turned 26, my mother started pushing me to have children. It reached the point where I began dreading talking to her because she would bring it up. Once summer when she visited, she mentioned it every goddamn fucking day. Her comment when I turned 26 was that she had my brother at that age. My immediate (internal) response was, “I’m not you, thank god.” I have been fortunate that I realized fairly early (21 or 22) that I did not want children. It was such a relief when I finally truly realized I did not have to spawn, I nearly cried. My mother did not stop trying to get me knocked up for the next fifteen years. I only relate this to underscore how much pressure I felt to marry (implicit in the preggers convos) and have children. The only time I ever had an impulse to have children was after my mom had been nagging me for days about it, and I thought, “I should have a kid just to shut her up.” Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that having a child to please my mom would be a recipe for disaster.

I want to be clear. I was not a great girlfriend back in the day. I was too clingy and too eager to merge into one being. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of social support for a woman offering endless emotional support without receiving any in return, especially twenty years ago. In addition, there is the idea that you’re supposed to be the ‘cool girlfriend’ who is ‘chill’ and doesn’t get upset about, well, anything. It’s a neat way of keeping a woman firmly in her place (in a het relationship). Still. I fell into many of the traps of het relationships of that time, and I was not my best self in those relationships.

Many times, I was just desperate to be in a relationship, any relationship, because my self-worth hung on what my partner thought of me. I put up with a lot of shit that I shouldn’t have because I thought I didn’t deserve better. It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Hell, I wasn’t even aware of the problems for a long time. Once I became aware of my own issues, it was hard not to see it in myself all the damn time. I worked hard on it through a lot of therapy, but some of the issues are so deep.


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I have a dream…of being a normie

a lonely, friendless path.
The road less traveled….

Still sick. Got better, up to feeling 75% or so, and then I plummeted back down to roughly 40% two nights ago. I’m hovering around that same point right now, and it’s fucking annoying. I think it’s time to actually go to the doctor and/or try Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Ugh.

So, on one of the advice forums I read, there was someone asking how does someone know if they are ready to have children (indeed, if they should have them at all). Someone responded with a classic column from Dear Sugar in which she counsels the LW to imagine a ‘sister ship’ to the life he is leading (in this case, he’s a childfree man contemplating having children) and to see what that sparks in him.

I’ve been thinking about that since rereading the column. I don’t know if I agree with how she ultimately made her decision (feeling like she’d slightly regret it more if she didn’t have kids than if she did), but I think there’s merit in imagining an alternative life. So. Let’s try it out. I don’t have any qualms about my decision not to have children (and never have. The only decision I’ve consciously made in my life that I haven’t second-guessed), but there are plenty of things in my life that I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken another path.

In addition, it can be alienating to be so persistently on the fringes, but not completely alternative. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my blog, so I’ll write about it again if I want to. Nothing about me is ‘normal’–unmarried, gleefully childfree, agnostic, freelancer, bisexual, Taiwanese, non-movie lover, etc. Something that makes me fringe from both normies and freaks is that I’m completely straight-edged when it comes to drinking/drugs. I don’t do any of that, and I have little patience for it. It’s not fun being the only sober person in a group of drunk/high people, which, unfortunately, many artistic people are.

Then, there’s sex and relationships. In my teens, I was determined to wait until I was married to have sex because–church. The problem was, sexytimes were AW HELL YES times. It felt goddamn good, like, really fucking good, and I became what I later called a TV (technical virgin). I did everything up to PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, and that’s how I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking my Christian vows, as it were. Even though I never really believed in God with a capital G, I tried so goddamn hard. But, sexy stuff felt amazing, and it got harder and harder for me to abstain from penetrative sex.

In my twenties, I realized I was bisexual, but I denied it for several years. I was already an Asian woman in America–did I really need to throw another label that would make life harder for me into the mix? I couldn’t deny it forever, however, and I came out with some fanfare. It took me roughly a decade to adjust to that, and I also had what I fondly refer to as my slutty years in my late twenties. I did a lot of experimenting, and while it got messy from time to time, it was a lot of fun, too.

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Unconventional Love

stop. crying. baby.
My darkest nightmare.

I never played with baby dolls when I was a little girl. They never appealed to me, nor did actual babies. They were screaming, squalling, dribbling balls of snot, and I didn’t like them at all. I also never pretend-played having a wedding with my Barbies. I know many little girls dream of their perfect wedding, but I didn’t care about it at all. The only thing I did with my Barbies was cut their hair after coloring it black, and I made them have sex with each other. All that girly shit didn’t matter to me, and it wasn’t until a decade and a half later that I realized I was supposed to care deeply about these issues. When I was twenty, I realized that I didn’t want children. At all. It was a weird revelation because I just assumed I had to have them, given the societal pressure as well as the maternal pressure. When it ht me that I didn’t have to have them, a feeling of relief overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to have kids! It was as if a life sentence I didn’t know I was under had been lifted. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I started telling other people, and I was met with a range of reactions from disbelief to condescension to anger. That’s when I realized that what I did with my body was deemed to be communal property, and I heartily rebelled against that. I also bristled at the idea that I didn’t know my own mind, that my biological clock would one day overwhelm me, and that all I would be able to think about was squeezing out babies Duggar-style. It made me indignant that other people thought they knew me better than I knew myself, and even if it was true that I would change my mind at some point, why couldn’t they accept that at the time, I didn’t want to have kids?

As it was, I never changed my mind. I’m forty-five years old, and the only time I had even an inkling to have a kid was when my mother wouldn’t stop pushing me to procreate. It got so bad, I thought of having a kid just to shut her up. Fortunately, I realized that was a phenomenally stupid reason to have children, and I never thought about it again. It’s hard not to say this without sounding defensive, but the only time I think about not having kids is when someone else brings it up. I love not having kids with a glee that is unbecoming. It’s not because I hate kids; I don’t. I just never wanted them. Plus, I knew I’d be a bad mother, though I’m a pretty great ‘crazy aunt’. Once I hit forty, the question of my fertility became a moot point, much to my relief. I did have an impulse to send out cards to people who were sure I’d have kids gloating over my child-free state. It passed, thankfully, and I went on my merry way.

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