When You Least Expect It: The Catch 22 of Dating
Yes, there are people who enjoy being single! But there are those who don’t. I, for one, prefer being in a committed relationship. I’ve been single again for the last several years and I hate it. I don't hate it because I'm lonely. I don’t hate it because I am co-dependent. I don’t hate it because I need someone to give my life meaning. I just happen to enjoy companionship. I enjoy listening to someone tell me about their day. I like having someone to cuddle with when I watch a sad movie -- someone to roast chestnuts with.
My friends are quick to give me trite consolation. "Don’t worry, someone will come along when you least expect it." Well, I hope so! If I told the next guy I meet I’ve been expecting him, I’m sure he would do the double-skoot boogie. Love is like stepping in poop -- you don’t know it until the stuff is all over the bottom of your shoe. The ‘least expect it’ remark is a figurative attempt at saying "if you stop looking, he’ll come along." But is this fail proof? Let’s suppose I do adopt the attitude that I’m NOT in the market for Mr. Right. It’s conceivable that I could miss him altogether. I’d hate to hear myself telling Mr. Right -- "I’m sorry. I’m not looking for a relationship right now." To be safe in the act of not looking, perhaps I should only go out with men I detest.
My friend Page gives sage advice. "Once you are comfortable with being alone, you’ll find someone -- you have to be happy with yourself first."
Did I say I wasn’t happy with myself? I’m simply honest enough to admit I’d like to have a meaningful relationship -- what’s wrong with that? I think there’s as much honor in admitting you’d prefer having a mate, as there is in admitting you didn’t actually have that orgasm.
This leads me to the popular psycho analysis gig. Psychologists would to love to run the meter while they advise me to outline the characteristics of Mr. Right on paper. The purpose of this exercise -- to make sure I don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t measure up to my expectations. This allegedly prevents me from falling for the wrong guy (synonymously, co-dependence,) but what it really does is keep me from falling in love. It hardly sounds like love when you turn someone away because they don’t comply with items b. and l. of your spec list. Where I come from relationships are an act of give and take, and that includes ‘taking’ the good with the bad. Do psychologist’s actually believe there is a perfect male or female? Why don’t I just have the science lab clone someone? But who?
Frankly, the age old spec list is exactly why love requires commitment. I think psychologist’s are suggesting that it takes more than the initial attraction to keep the motor running when the fuel gage is on empty, but no one ever meets all your expectations. If you think they do initially, once that honeymoon is over, you’re going to find out you were wrong. Once he or she deviates from the wish list, then something else has to kick in and take over -- I’m old fashioned enough to call it commitment.
Here is the greatest non-consoling remark of all, "You’re knight in shining armor is right around the corner," a derivative of the "least expect it" cliché’ with psychic overtones, and obviously skewed by psychological advice. Who’s looking for a knight? I need a man. So what if he’s got a couple of vices? So do I. The question is, can I live with them? Can he live with mine? Do we have what it takes to make a go of it? Will love prevail, and when it wanes, will commitment take over?
Kaye, who is in a committed relationship, brought me an article about being single. The article suggested that women can be single and enjoy it the ‘same way men do.’ Well, I agree with that -- women can enjoy being single. But it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy being single long term, and that’s where I fail miserably. I appreciate her attempts to restore my hope, but the recommendation that I can enjoy being single precludes one small detail -- sex. Enjoying singledom means I enjoy sex without a committed relationship. Well, I enjoy sex, but I hate it when it’s solely for gratification. It loses that element of intimacy that makes it important to begin with.
It is my impression that women or men who tout the singles life either hate sex, enjoy sex with meaningless (and probably multiple) partners, or they are in one of those relationships that infinitely linger without any substance. Forgive me if I sound skeptical, but of those options, I’ll opt for a glass of wine and a game of computer chess. At least I have a chance of winning.
All advice considered, I like my brother-in-law’s point of view best. He says the simple truth is I just haven’t met Mr. Right yet. As pop artist, Karla Bonoff sings it, "I hope I’ll know him if he’s ever near."
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