I didn’t want to write this post because it is wide-open vulnerability and not everything needs to be out there on the internet. But when someone asked recently, I wanted to give him the usual, canned answer:
dating in LA is hard,
the men act like children…
I could tell you all the horror stories if you want me to…
I’ve been really busy working on surviving in this town
I had bad taste in men and now I’m really picky…
And all of those answers are true so I said something similar to those reasons and changed the subject. But for some reason – I don’t know if it’s my age or my personal growth or a rite of passage, but I knew that wasn’t completely the truth. So for the next week I asked myself that question:
“How am I still single? How am I still single? How am I still single?”
I didn’t ask in the normal, self-righteous tone that I usually use; I asked in a curious way and the answer that came to me was an eye opener.
I have unrealistic expectations. In my mind no man will ever be good enough, they will always disappoint me and it is my job to figure out how they are going to disappoint me, before they actually do, so I can leave before I get hurt. So when I date a person, instead of seeing the amazing things he does for me like making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, and packing some up for me to take to work tomorrow, all I can think about is the dental floss he flushed down the toilet instead of putting it in the trash can. I don’t see that he makes sure my purse is closed when we’re at a bar, instead I’m obsessed with his bad taste in sunglasses. These are exaggerations but they are great examples of what I would do. I make that person feel bad about himself because he doesn’t live up to my perfect standards. I make men feel bad.
That’s how I’m single.
And I’m not the only one. I have a friend who was doing the same thing as me, but on the opposite end of the spectrum; instead of the man being her worst nightmare, she tried to make him become her perfect fantasy. For her, the guy would be the knight in shining armor, the perfect gentleman, he would be a homeowner, have investments, and a retirement, just like her. He would play tennis and golf and be perfect. But guy after guy would prove to her over and over the same thing they proved to me. They are not perfect. Her fantasy would crumble, she would sometimes try to fix them, but oftentimes abandon the guy. And we would both start the dance over again. Her building them up, me tearing them down.
It’s easy to see someone else’s problem and their solution. I told that friend she had to stop living in a fantasy because no man would ever be able to fulfill it, and they shouldn’t have to. Something clicked with her that day and she started therapy. My friend always said she had a three-month curse – nothing lasted longer than three months, but today she is with someone and she believes he is The One. She said she let it unfold naturally, at its own pace and that she took him as he was. Even when he made a distasteful joke at the beginning of their relationship, which would have normally been a deal breaker, she gracefully gave him a pass.
And now here I am telling myself the same thing: I have to stop living the nightmare because no man would ever fulfill it, and he shouldn’t have to.
That being said, all the reasons I gave to that guy were true. It IS hard to date here. It feels like everyone is looking over your shoulder for the next best thing, it feels like they don’t have time because they’re working so hard on their goals and their dreams they don’t have time to be in a relationship, and I have also dated the worst of the worst. I went on a date with a guy who showed up on a motorcycle without asking me if I was comfortable with that – and he forgot my helmet. I went on a date with another guy who used the “C” word in reference to women in LA. It was our first date, he was 48 years old and worked in tech at Amazon.
This post was scary for me. It’s hard to be this open about this because we’re supposed to hide our “crazy”. The fears, the over-thinking, the triggers…we’re supposed to act like it’s not happening, but it is. But when I realized what I was doing, how bad I was making men feel, I knew I never wanted to do that again. I do not want to make someone feel bad for who they are, I do not want to make someone feel like they have to be perfect in order to be accepted and moreover, I don’t want to be perfect. I want someone to accept me for who I am, with all my flaws and imperfections. How on Earth can I ask someone to do that, when I’m not able to do that for him?
I can blame my parents, I can say I didn’t have a good model to work off of, and that would be true as well but I don’t need to blame my parents, it doesn’t do me any good. Listen, when you don’t take responsibility for your life nothing changes. And I want changes. I want big, loving, messy, flawed changes. I want someone to exist as he is, next to me, as I am.