Dating is not all that it is cracked up to be. After just a couple of them, I can now understand why it is the theme of so many sitcoms. It's funny.
Well, it's funny in a sort of sad and bizarre way. Laughing about it keeps you from crying, but you can always look at it as a social experiment if that helps.
Not only have I given it up, I've come to look at it like a job interview - with all the jangled nerves and little possibility of a better income. The questions are designed to be revealing, but the answers are more like a marketing campaign gone completely wild, because suddenly you find yourself selling yourself, not to the guy across the table, but to yourself. What's revealed is what you discover about yourself.
“So, how long have you worked at the library?”
“Four and a half years.”
“Do you like it?”
“I love my job.”
“Isn't it kind of boring?”
“What could possibly be exciting about working in a library?”
“Pretty much everything. The books, the people, the ideas. It's a very challenging and creative job.”
And here's where things get tricky. You already know that the guy thinks your job is stupid. You can be fairly certain that you are not going to convince him that managing a library is interesting. You want to tell him exactly how challenging and creative your job is, but how do you explain that buying books, scheduling, bookkeeping, budgeting, organizing, designing, planning, dreaming, building partnerships, solving problems, answering questions and interacting with a diverse range of people is in any way a great way to make a living?
So you say, “I know 307 ways to shush people.”
Okay, the date is pretty much over. If he catches the sarcasm, he'll be offended. If he doesn't, you'll fake an emergency call on your cell phone that is set to vibrate and make a hasty retreat. Having discovered that you are defensive about your career to the point of saying such an inane thing and that you really don't find the stereotype amusing, you blame him for being an idiot and call it done. (See? Revealing!)
My problem is that I really don't want to start from scratch. I don't have the energy or the desire to get to know someone, learn all their faults and foibles and try to blend that into my life. I keep imagining the toothpaste cap not being screwed on and the dirty socks left lying on the floor and having to cook. And my chest tightens and I can't breath and then I think about having to meet the family and little spots start floating across my diminishing vision... It isn't pretty.
My other problem is that my heart already belongs to someone who is – and probably always will be – very special to me. As crazy as he drives me, I cannot seem to cut the heart strings. There just isn't a knife big enough or sharp enough to sever the connection that I feel with this man. From the very first moment I laid eyes on him some 25 years ago, I've always known that we were meant to somehow be... Well, I don't know exactly what we are supposed to be. I just know that there's something there that, after 9 years of friendship, 14 ½ years in a relationship and 1 ½ years in a weirdly fascinating and frustrating state of limboship, can't just be turned off because he lives there and I live here and we don't see eye-to-eye on almost everything.
Some may call it co-dependence. He used to call it chemistry. I call it stubborn optimism amid dynamic, evolutionary personal and spiritual developmental coexistence. Our paths have diverged, but we can still wave at each other over the bushes. Who knows if they will ever converge again? I don't. What I do know is that, in spite of both of our faults and foibles, this guy still makes the butterflies in my tummy take flight every time I see him. And I'm good with that.
I have realized that I don't need a man. I want one (in particular), but I don't need one. What I do need is to be able to live my life, pursue my dreams, learn, grow, laugh, cry and be me. The way I want to be. And I'm doing that. And I'm good with that, too.
The other day I came across this quote:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” Rick Warren.
Ah! A wee epiphany sprouted from this bit of wisdom and, like the fertile meditation it truly is, I gained a whole new perspective on relationships in particular and life in general. Crikey, but the mental head-slap almost left a bruise!
I am not a very compassionate person. I'm highly empathic, but my general philosophy is: Suck it up, Princess! Life is simple, but it isn't always easy. Happiness is a choice.
I don't really care if people like me or not. I am what I am and while I can usually accept differences between myself and others, I take great exception to not being accepted for who I am. It doesn't matter to me if you disagree with me. Just don't tell me I'm wrong. If I am wrong, I'm perfectly willing to concede the fact. But you damn well better have something to back up your position that holds enough water to be – at minimum - plausible. Make me curious enough to Google it at least. Give me something that I can sink my teeth into, because I'm gonna have questions and I need to care enough to look for answers. I don't take anything on faith. And when I do Google it (and by Google, I mean research. I don't just Google things.) there better be more than one reference and the references had better be credible. Credible is worth pondering, if not buying into.
So we come to the crux of things, albeit via a circuitous and somewhat winding route. I'm single because I'm not compassionate enough to let it go when someone springs a wowie on me. I'm too up-for-the-challenge. Tell me something that I can't quite wrap my head around and you might as well have thrown down a gauntlet I simply cannot resist picking up, examining, dissecting, theorizing over, studying, debating and analyzing – quite likely to death – not because I'm being difficult, but because I'm curious and I want to understanding it. It's the way I'm wired. I really do not mean any offense.
Some people find this intimidating. Some people find it exhausting. Some people think I'm a complete wing nut. I dare say that the object of my unrequited love could and would verify all of the above.
My minor brush with the dating scene has taught me a lot: A. It's not a gauntlet I care to pick up at the moment; B. I know what I want and I'm prepared for whatever outcome the Universe decides is in my best interest; C. I don't have to compromise my principles for anyone; D. I need to work on being more compassionate and; E. I really do need to get some more work done on my yard. (Okay that was a complete diversion and I do apologize for the lack of continuity, but I had to throw an E in there – just because sometimes I do enjoy being a little bit difficult.)