I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about loneliness. She has just experienced romantic success (I described it as “living the dream” – you go girl!) and another of our friends is in a steady committed relationship as well. We talked about another friend who is actively dating and navigating that world. And then we talked about me. We talked about loneliness.
While I am single, my friend said she didn’t think I was one of those people who was “desperately lonely,” who can’t function on their own. I said I would call myself “moderately lonely.” But the thing is, the other day I was riding the subway and a woman sat down next to me. She kept nodding off and her arm eventually slumped into mine. And I didn’t pull away because I liked the feeling of her arm against mine. I liked the feeling of human contact and, well that sounds pretty damn lonely to me.
Then, because I am me, my brain launched into a future scenario where I’m riding the subway home with the person I’m seeing and I lean into them because I can just slump into their arm whenever I want. I can touch them whenever I want because they’re mine and I am theirs. And I relished in the knowledge that we were going home together. Oh, how lovely. That sounds like home. But alas, I rode the subway home alone and tried to engross myself in my book because when people engage me on the subway they are never Prince(ss) Charming and they are usually asking me for money.
But even though my book is very good (Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro), my brain launched into another scenario where I’m also riding the subway home but this time I am alone. I have several stops to go before home, but I look out the window and we’re pulling into the stop closest to where my person lives. In a split-second decision, I propel myself out the doors and rush out onto the street. I race to their apartment (it may or may not be raining) and ring their buzzer. They don’t answer (not because they’re not home, but we’re in some fight or other), so I ring all the buzzers until someone lets me in. I pound on their door, disturbing all their neighbors, but I don’t care. When they finally open the door, I kiss them or confess my love or something equally dramatic and grand. I’ve always been one for grand gestures. We make up and live happily ever after.
But this is crap. It’s all nonsense because, as I also discussed with my friend and several others, I have not been attracted to anyone in a really long time. Our conversation came in the wake of someone who identified as straight implying she was attracted to me, if only momentarily. While part of me wanted to pat myself on the back like, Yeah, still got it, the other part was solidly uninterested. That’s the problem; I am generally just disinterested. I mean, I certainly still see people who I think are attractive, but I am not attracted to them. The last time I had a new, exciting attraction to someone that I actually wanted to pursue was about two and a half years ago. Now, I know people go through dry spells, but that is a long time. So yeah, I’d say I’m moderate-to-desperately lonely.
I’ve been emailing back and forth with this really nice guy I met on OkCupid (yeah, I know I said I’d quit), but after a few exchanges I lost interest. He’s a really interesting guy too, he’s well-traveled and he speaks a bunch of languages; we’ve talked a lot about books and movies and we seem to have similar tastes. The poor guy has been waiting for my reply for probably over a week now, but I’ve just lost interest. I’ve told myself it’s because I’m not in the place to meet someone that way, that I’d need to become friends with someone in real life first and then gradually transition into something more (that’s the same excuse I gave when my friend asked me if I’d tried going to any gay clubs since moving to the city), but how can you know a thing like that? Relationships can come out of left field, but you can’t sit around waiting for them to happen. Also that tactic would require, you know, making new friends. I think deep down I’m scared that no matter where I look, online, in a club, or in a friendship, I’ll never find someone I want to be with. And that, my friends, is a very lonely thought.
What I cruel joke, a particularly harsh irony; a romantic without attraction is just a dreamer, never a lover.