In Defense Of Dating, Part Two

Could this be an arm around my waist?
Well surely the hand contains a knife…
-Morrissey, “I’m Ok By Myself”

A disturbing trend has revealed itself to me, my dear faithful internets.  I’ve been trotting along my merry way, dating here and dating there.  Gathering ye rosebuds as I may, so to speak.  Now me, I have a pretty regular pattern when navigating murky dating waters: Relationship ends.  I enter period of celibate mourning.  I feel better after a variable amount of time and commence dating, ready to find the next serious relationship.  I’m not saying it’s the best, or the most effective, or even the pattern I would choose were I able.  But it’s what works for me, and that’s pretty much that.  Every relationship I’ve had has been better, healthier than the last, and I have learned valuable lessons with each one.  Binge dating, one night stands, empty sex just have never appealed to me.  Well, not *really*.  I have my moments, I mean GOD.  I’m only human. But anyway…

This time around, there is a term that has cropped up again and again, not just in my experiences, but those of my friends as well.  I had not personally encountered this term in the past, but now it seems to be pervasive:  This thing called “emotionally unavailable”.

Now this might surprise you but
I find I’m ok by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your morality
To save me
No no no no no

My reaction to this term has always been negative.  Consider the premise upon which I function:  That a person’s natural inclination, emotional entropy, if you will, is to find that one person that completes them.  It might be for a few years, or forever.  It is generally not possible for someone to connect this deeply with more than one person at a time; they can come close, but there is the desire to have that one partner, that one companion who is above all others.  A soul mate, for lack of a better term.  The urge to create connections, to bond, is stronger than all others.

This might disturb you but
I find I’m ok by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your benevolence
To make sense
No no no no

Based on that premise, I concluded that the only reasons someone could have for claiming this state of emotional unavailability are twofold; either they are unwilling to be truthful about the real reason they don’t want to connect (“She’s just not that into you”) or they have succumbed to the fear of being hurt, and are unwilling to face that fear – a cop out, in my view.  But I had never truly investigated that stance outside my own admittedly flawed brain, and decided to start asking around.  Determine if perhaps there were other reasons, or if the reasons I had were valid.  Time for some investigative blogging!  I was surprised, somewhat, by what I discovered.

After all these years
I find I’m ok by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your homespun philosophy
No no no no

What I found during my highly unscientific in-depth investigation is that while those reasons are quite valid, there is a different way to view the second one, and a third one I had not considered.

A short word on the first one:  If you’re just using someone for the sex, or to fill time, then say so.  To do otherwise is to lead someone on, and that is never ok in the world of the human heart.  That’s all I think I need to say about that.

We have all been hurt, except for all those perfect couples of which there are OH SO VERY MANY, and perhaps some yogis sitting on a mountain in Tibet.  And I’m sure there’s been squabbles over yak milk there, too.  But I’m talking about being heartbroken – that pain is hard to risk again.  I seem to be somewhat risk immune to it, but whatever.  Not everyone is so lucky, I guess.  So saying you’re emotionally unavailable could be construed as a way of keeping the definitions vague, thereby saving us from having to make a choice.  Which is not a bad thing; sometimes we need to scope out the situation for a while.  But in this case, I maintain that the use of the term is misleading.  Instead, let’s perhaps say that ‘I’m keeping my options open’, or ‘I’m not ready to commit to anything’.  Emotionally unavailable gives the impression of being inflexible.

This might make you flop in your bed
I’m ok by myself
And I don’t need you
And I never have
I never have
No no no no no

The third reason I found were those people who have not yet recovered from that heartbreak.  The ones who are still damaged, who are going through repairs.  They cannot even contemplate any sort of emotional connection.  The difference, and probably the reason I did not consider it, is that when I am in that state I turn into a hermit.  You don’t see me.  I don’t go out.  I sit in my house and heal, I do things for myself, I hug my pets.  I do not, however, eat pints of ice cream – I’m more likely to grill up a steak.  Gotta watch that waistli…um…yeah.  I may go out and see friends occasionally, but I’d much prefer they visit me.  And I do not date anyone, see anyone, sleep with anyone.  I couldn’t comprehend the thought of someone else touching me, or me being at all interested in touching anyone else, which saves me from having to explain that at that moment, I am emotionally unavailable.  Other people embark upon a game of conquest, sleeping with everyone who catches their eye and is willing, but refusing to apply or entertain any meaning to it.  These people heal however they may, but they most certainly have no business trying to enter into another serious relationship until the damage has been healed.  They then use the term to explain the situation, which is probably its most correct usage.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is how to love and be loved in return.
-Eden Ahbez, “Nature Boy” (1948)

I guess in closing, what I’m discovering is that the term “emotionally unavailable” has become a blanket term for a host of different things, and in the case of close interpersonal relationships, I suggest that a more descriptive term of the actual situation be employed, if possible – realizing that the line between the second and third reasons are very cloudy at best.  I also think that it is not something you are, it is something you become.  It is a reaction to an external input, and as it goes against the initial premise, it is not something to be content with indefinitely.  Much as I use Morrissey’s song as an effective tool at maintaining emotional distance, it is a temporary state – behind the walls, underneath the facade, my truth is the line from Eden Ahbez.  Of course, my initial premise may be wrong, or just my own; but I find that emotionally, we are so very much alike in so many different ways.  More love, more commitment, more honesty, more passion.  These are the things I seek and treasure, and hope for everyone.

Mental fortitude, or how to pretend bad stuff didn’t happen

A very very bad thing happened to me last night.  A gruesome, bone-chilling thing.

Allow me to set the scene.

One of the things I love about my house is warm nights on my front porch.  Sitting in my low lawn chair with a tasty drink, watching the ebb and flow of the night take hold of my little neighborhood, I can feel the knots in my head and heart loosen, the constrictions ease.

Last night was the first time it was warm enough for me to partake in this little ritual of mine.  I sat on my porch with my trusty little pooch (No, I don’t want to play frisbee.  No, I don’t want to play fetch.  No, I don’t want to play frisbee…etc).  Tasty drink in hand, my own little summer concoction of OJ, Malibu and 7-up (very refreshing!), I settled in to watch the night slowly creep down my street.  Little did I realize, I would soon be coming face to face with something so horrible, so terrible…dare I go on?  Dare I retell this story?

I do.

As usual, I finally gave in to my pup’s insistence that I play with her.  (Really, it’s not hard.  I’m such a pushover for that dog.)  I step off the porch, over to the grass to play with her.  That’s when it happened.

I stepped on something.

Did I not mention I was barefoot?  Yeah, barefoot.  And I stepped on something.  Squishy.  Gooey.  Slimy.

And then…the horrible part happened.  Even now, the thought gives me chills.

Whatever I stepped on, whatever gooey slimy squishy nasty thing it was…moved.

On my bare foot.

Squishy gooey nasty slimy MOVING thing*.  ON MY BARE FOOT.

Of course, my first instinct was what any sensible girl would do:  Start leaping about screaming bloody carnage-drenched murder while frantically sandpapering my foot with gravel and rocks and dirt and …probably actual sandpaper too.  Yeah, it was that bad.  But not me, my friends.  Not me.

Because I have a mental constitution of IRON.  I am IRON BRAINED GIRL.  I keep cool under pressure.  I don’t sweat.  I don’t break down.

All that breaking down, freaking out, crying panicking overreacting girly stuff – I just save it up for later.

(What?  Sheesh I’m only human!)

What I did do, is instead of all that ZOMG THAT IS SO GROSS EWW EWW EWW EWW that my brain starting queueing up, instead of that I said this:

“lalallalalalalalalalala that didn’t just happen that didn’t just happen lalalalalalalalalala i’m just gonna calmly scrape my foot on this here welcome mat that feels like sandpaper LALALALALALALALALAAAAAA”.

And then I went back inside and took a shower.  And finished my drink.  And attempted to completely erase the memory of that gooey slimy squishy MOVING thing on my foot.

I am a rock of mental fortitude.

*Ok you and I both know it was a slug.  In fact, I’ve been finding them lurking by that area since it’s close to the garage, where my cat’s food is.  I’ve even found a couple of them in her food bowl, chowing down.  FYI:  I’ve never been a big fan of slugs, but now….now I hate them just that much more.