I’m on a mission to winnow out my mounds of books, and I started weeding through them today. It can be a strange thing to look at a bunch of books that I labeled my favorites and realize that I’ve moved past many of them. There are others that I still think of fondly, but many of them I put in the give away pile. The unofficial ratio seems to be one book kept for every eight or nine I’m giving away. One bad thing about books is that they were made with cheap material back in the day, so they can get moldy or grimy and feel tacky.
Anyway, I was going through a box of books, and I came across a few cards from an ex. I scanned them, and they were filled with billing and cooing, and I felt…nothing. That’s not exactly true. I felt a bit of regret, disgust, and shame. The regret wasn’t that we had broken up, though, but that we had hooked up in the first place. We were both messed up, and we were friends first. We shouldn’t have gotten together, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. In addition, because I was with him, there was a path not taken that I deeply regret. I was musing about it on Twitter last night because, well, sit back and grab a cold beverage. This is going to be unwieldy because that’s the way my brain works.
I was waxing poetic about how Mike Ness from Social Distortion would have terrified the 22-year old me, but that’s he’s insanely hot. It reminded me of a bartender I had met while I lived in the East Bay who looked a lot like Mike Ness with tats and nipple piercings to match. He was one of the hottest guys I’d ever met in my life. We hit it off, and he asked me out. Unfortunately, I was dating the aforementioned ex, and while we were technically open*, we had to talk about it before doing it. I turned the Mike Ness lookalike down with deep regrets, and I was tweeting about how one of my biggest regrets was that I never fucked him. The bartender, I mean. Mike Ness, too, but that was never an option. We probably wouldn’t have lasted, but my god, he was so fucking hot.
Back to the ex. In the cards, he said I was his whole life and that he never felt as good as he did while he was with me, blah, blah, blah. I have no doubt he meant it at the time, but I haven’t talked to him in at least a decade, so ultimately, his words meant nothing. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been reading Captain Awkward on the regular, and it’s really making me disinclined to embark on a romantic relationship. I realize that people don’t write to an advice columnist when things are going swimmingly in their lives, but my god. Reading about the problems in romantic relationships makes me TIRED. Like:
It’s strange because I’m in my mid-forties, and I always assumed back when I was in my twenties that I would be settled down with someone by now. Then, I had one failed relationship after another with my last one being simultaneously the worst and the fastest I got out of it, but not without being severely burned. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with this person, and then I realized that if I stayed, I would have shut down my personality completely not to trigger him and his various issues. It was also a long distance relationship, and he dumped me when I wouldn’t conform to how he thought I should be. I was heartbroken, but more for the loss of a dream than the actual loss of him.
This was six years ago, and I haven’t dated anyone since. You know what? I don’t miss it at all. I do miss the ‘I have a crush on someone’ high, and the sex, but the ins and outs of being in a romantic relationship? Nope. Not one little bit. I don’t like to cuddle after sex, and I don’t like to sleep next to someone. I like doing whatever I want whenever I want, and I don’t like having to consult someone else to do something. I don’t like America’s obsession with being in a romantic relationship (preferably marriage) as the ultimate goal, and I’ve realized over time that I don’t actually want to be in one.
Captain Awkward’s site has also been helpful for me because there are several people in the commentariat who classify themselves as aromantic, and it’s gotten me thinking. I don’t need yet another label for my sexuality, but it did resonate with me. Let me blunt. I’m a shitty girlfriend for many reasons. I get way too into the relationship at the cost of other important people in my life. I have codependency issues, and while I’m better at them now than I have been in the past, they make it difficult for me to be a healthy person in a romantic relationship.
I like my space. A lot. When I’m in a romantic relationship, I feel like I’m not allowed to want that space. Not just from my partner, but also from myself. I feel as if I should want to be with the other person all the time. Then, I get panicky if the other person shows they want to spend time apart. I have so many toxic ideas of how romantic relationships should go, and I have a hard time stopping myself for acting them out. I’m a strong independent woman, and yet, when I’m in a relationship, I might as well be June Cleaver. Except I don’t cook; I don’t do housework; and I’m not popping Valium 24/7. You know what I mean, though.
It may sound obvious to say that I don’t have to be in a relationship, but it’s only a recent revelation. If you grow up in America, you kind of assume you’re going to be in a romantic relationship as part of being a grownup. I shed the notion of having kids in my early twenty. I decided I didn’t want to get married in my late twenties/early thirties. I have no idea why the thought that I had to be in a romantic relationship had hold of me for so long. It’s an indication how embedded it is in our society that when you’re adult, you should couple up.
I joke with my brother sometimes about how I wish there was a Costco for singles, but it’s not really a joke. Our society is so couple-oriented, being a single can seem like you’ve failed at life. Even with savvy advice columnists, there’s an underlying assumption that being single is a temporary state and that your end goal should be to be with another person. I’ve resigned myself to not being in a romantic relationship for the past few years, but it’s only in the last few months that I’m starting to think that’s my preferred state.
Let me emphasize that it’s not me giving up. It’s not me looking around me and saying, “Oh, well. There’s no one out there for me. I guess I’ll be alone for the rest of my life.” I spent many years thinking that. Now, however, I’m realizing that I don’t want to be with one person for the rest of my life. I’ve said it before, but I just want someone I can laugh with, maybe watch a game with, fuck their brains out, then send them home. I wouldn’t even mind if it was more than one person, but I don’t want to be in a primary relationship with one person.
In addition, in most of my romantic relationships, I’m very honest about what I want sexually, and I rarely get the same in return from dudes. I’ve spent many years figuring out why this is true, and the best I can come up with is that guys are used to women who aren’t completely honest about how much they want sex, either because they don’t know it themselves or because they think it’s what their boyfriends want to hear. When I say I want sex a lot, I mean every day. When dudes hear that, they think I mean three to four times a week, which is what ‘a lot’ would mean to their exes. Even when I’m explicit that I can have sex every day, dudes don’t believe me.
It’s frustrating not to be believed when I’m saying exactly what I mean. In addition, some dudes feel emasculated if I still want more sex once they’re done. I’m never pushy about it, and I try to convey that even if I can have more, it doesn’t mean I’m dissatisfied with what we just had. It’s just a morass of bullshit that I don’t want to deal with on a regular basis.
I also need to pick better partners because I tend to fall for controlling, emotionally withholding, alcohol-driven (from dependent to alcoholic), fucked up people. I want someone who is understanding and accepting of me with all my multitude of flaws, but what I get are people who want to change everything about me. It makes sense because I hated myself for so long. I wanted to change everything about me, so why shouldn’t someone else?
I’ve reached the point where I’ve accepted some of my flaws (not all of them), and I have no desire to change some of them. In addition, I’ve realized that everyone has flaws, so I’m not alone in that. In other words, if a partner wants to change me, well, then they’re fair game for me to change as well. And, I have a psychology background, so I really know how to make it hurt.
I’m happy as a single person, and I probably will be for the foreseeable future.
*My ex wanted to be open, and I reluctantly agreed. It turns out that what he actually wanted was for him to be able to fuck around, but for me to sit at home (metaphorically. We were in a long distance relationship), twiddling my thumbs and waiting for him to sow his wild oats. He did not take it very well when I told him about the hot bartender.