I’ve been thinking lately a lot about dating. Why? I don’t really know, but I’ve discussed it with friends to try to puzzle out my feelings. I’ve written before about how I realized in my early twenties that I didn’t want children. That’s also roughly the same time I realized I was sexually attracted to women as well as men. In my late twenties, early thirties, I decided I didn’t want to get married. It’s only recently that I’ve questioned whether I want to be an a monogamous dyad relationship or not. I’ve been in an open relationship before, but it was more because that’s what my boyfriend wanted than because we both agreed, so I don’t really count it when calculating my metrics about what I want from a relationship. I also realized in my mid-twenties that I was more comfortable with casual sex than are many women, but I didn’t really know what to do with it.
Now, I’m questioning whether I want a traditional romantic relationship or not. I’ve been reading a shit-ton of Captain Awkward, and I must admit that the letters she gets makes me very disinclined to date. Intellectually, I understand that she’s seeing the worst of the worst because you don’t write to an advice columnist if your relationship is peachy keen. However, the steady stream of women (let’s face it. A vast majority of the emotional labor done in a heteronormative relationship is done by the woman) writing in with horror stories that curl the very straight Asian hairs on the back of my neck confirm my bias for just snuggling down on the couch with a good book, a mug of tea, and my cat instead of venturing into the dating world.
I hate dating. I always have. I know most people don’t love it, but I hate it to the point of revulsion. I don’t like making small talk with people I know, let alone people I don’t, and there’s the possibility of rejection constantly hovering in the back of my mind. It’s hard to not feel as if I’m auditioning for the role of girlfriend, and it’s only recently that I’ve realized I have veto rights in a relationship, too. In other words, I’m not just auditioning for them–they’re doing the same for me. Even so, the thought of having awkward conversation with someone while sipping coffee makes me cringe. When I used to meet people online for dating (read, sex) purposes, I was very comfortable with the emailing portion of the ‘courting’. I’m a writer, and my strength is in my words. I can be witty, vibrant, intelligent, and fearless in my writing. It’s quite different when I actually open my mouth. It’s the same with me and my Twitter persona. No, I’m not being someone different, but I’m being a more confident, more brash me. I’m sure if people on Twitter met me in real life, they would be slightly (or not so slightly) disappointed that I wasn’t as dynamic as I am online. Also weird–I swear way more in writing than I do in real life.
The real me is low-key to the point of inertia. I have low energy, and it takes a great deal for me to do something that it outside my norm. Take going out dancing with my bestie, for example (when she used to live here). We would set a day to go to First Ave. I’d be up for it when we set the date. Then, when the day arrived, I would think, “I don’t want to get dressed and leave the house. I have to drive to bestie’s house, which, ugh. Then, I have to dance around people I don’t know and maybe fend off unwanted advances. Then, I’d have to drive home again in the wee hours of the night.” I didn’t want to do any of it in the moment, and I’d have to force myself step by step. I had a great time when I went, and I love spending time with my bestie, but my depression makes it seem like going out is a mountain when it’s really a molehill.
I go through all that when it’s an event with someone I love and am always glad to see. It’s worse when there are elements of uncertainty in play, such as evaluating someone for future sexytimes. In addition, as someone who is not in the mainstream by any metric, it can be daunting to put myself out there. I’m fat. I’m Taiwanese American. I’m bisexual. I’m unmarried. I don’t have kids. I’m not religious. I don’t care for most pop culture markers. I don’t have a job outside the home. I’m not a big fan of tradition or societal norms, but the one thing they do is grease the wheels of societal interaction. I don’t have kids and don’t want to date someone with kids. Since I prefer to date people older than I am, this is problematic. I also don’t want to date someone who drinks, which is an even bigger problem. In fact, when I add up all the things I’d like and not like in a partner, well, the prospects grow depressingly small.
I also know there are several reasons that I’m a bad girlfriend. I’m codependent, and I tend to disappear into my partner when I’m in a relationship. Yes, I know there are several people who would be thrilled with this, but it’s not a healthy dynamic, and it’s not good for me. I’m much better about exerting my own wants and needs today, but I still have a long way to go. I know the kind of person I’m attracted to (and who is bad for me), but I’m not certain that I won’t fall into that trap again. Sadly, I’m attracted to those who are bad for me, and I’m not attracted to those who are good for me. It’s because of childhood trauma which I’ve detailed before, and it’s happened time and time again. I will say, I’ve changed a great deal since I last dated someone, and I’m curious how that would play out in a dating situation,
I said I don’t want a traditional monogamous dyad romantic situation, but I don’t know what I want, exactly. I want sex. That much is abundantly clear. It’s been too long, and I miss it so much. I love sex and could have it every day, so abstaining from it creates an emptiness inside me. I’m not saying it’s overwhelming or that I go around thinking about sex all the time, but it’s there. I can’t deny that, and I’d be lying to say I don’t ever think of it. I want someone who’ll come over to take care of me when I’m sick. I want someone who’ll lug out the old furniture so I don’t have to. I’ve joked that the one good reason for having a guy around is to do the heavy lifting, but it’s not entirely a joke. I like being single most of the time, but it’s difficult always to only rely on myself. I remember when I was suffering a horrid sinus issue and just wishing someone would make me a cup of ginger tea so I didn’t have to. I knew my cat wasn’t going to get off his fat (but cute and fluffy) ass to do it, damn it! I want to snuggle while we’re both on our respective computers checking our social media. I want to go to the local noodle shop, then come back for a good fucking. Then, I want that person to go home.
I lean towards thinking I want a fuck buddy who’s also a good friend, but it could also be I want a partner by a different name. I don’t want to live together. I’ve never lived with a romantic partner, but I think it would be stifling. I could see living in duplexes or just seeing each other a few days a week, but I do not want to be tripping over their underwear on the floor. I only want to trip over MY underwear, thank you very much. I also want to be able to have sex with other people if I want. (They can do it, too.) I don’t want to be joined at the hip. I don’t want a shared Facebook page. I want to be able to hang out with my other friends without getting hassled about it 9or time by myself!), and I want to be able to fuck other people. I can’t emphasize this enough. I don’t want to be sexually monogamous, even if I’m emotionally tied to one person. I hesitate to call myself polyamorous, however, because I don’t think I properly fit. Discouragingly (but not surprisingly), there seem to be as many strictures for being a good polyamorous person as there are for every other category. You can’t/must have rules. You can’t/absolutely should have veto power (over metamours). You shouldn’t have/must have hierarchies among your paramours. We human beings certainly love our gods no matter what form they come in, don’t we?
For me, I would have a primary partner with hard veto power that has to be used sparingly. I would say we had to discuss any potential partner beforehand, but that if a use it or lose it opportunity came up (i.e., a one-night stand) it wouldn’t be a big deal. I am not a big fan of if you don’t trust someone, you shouldn’t be with them. I think boundaries are a good thing. When I said to my last therapist something disparaging about ultimatums, she said people are allowed to have hard limits. The more I think about it, the more I agree. Ultimatums get a bad rap, but we all have that line. I wouldn’t date someone who voted for this president. I wouldn’t date someone who thinks all Muslims need to get out of the country.
Anyway. What I’m trying to say is that it might be time to dip my toe in the dating pool again. Right after I finish this book.