relationships

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Single By Choice?

Published January 6, 2014 by auddity

Happy New Year! I took an unintentional hiatus, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get back into this blog. I love writing it and I hope some people out there still enjoy reading it! Anyway, here’s to 2014. I’m coming back with a vengeance!

You know what’s a really stupid question? I mean, besides that one. When I tell someone I’m single and they ask me if it’s by choice. What the hell kind of question is that?! Oh yes, I get marriage proposals all the time, but I shrug them off because I’m single by choice. I understand where the question comes from, but it really puts a lot of pressure on me to answer positively. Because who wants to admit that they are single not by choice? If I absolutely must dignify that question with an answer, I usually go with “Kind of,” or “Yes and no,” but it’s really a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. If I say yes, then while I may come off as being independent or content in my singledom, I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth. Because the truth is that it would certainly be nice to have a sig oth. If I say no, well then I’m sad and lonely and pathetic, aren’t I?

But it’s not even that. I can handle being seen as independent or lonely, respectively, because I am certainly a little bit of both. What bothers me about the “by choice” question, is that it very subtly takes the idea of “choice” away from me. It implies that it is so damn easy to find a person you want to be with that if you don’t already have one, you must not want one. Surprise! We can’t all just walk out the door and bump into the love of our life like they do in the movies. I really wish people would stop talking about relationships like they happen that way. The idea of single by choice forces my hand; either I am unhappily single and my fulfillment is dependent on another (albeit absent) person, or I am happily single and not interested in the human connection that comes from being in a relationship. Neither of these is a completely damnable condition. However, neither of them describes me, not completely anyway. I do thrive on human connections, but I am also pretty content. Yes, I am single and while I’d really prefer not to be, finding someone to date is also not the focus of my life right now.

Single by choice also implies responsibility – like it’s “my fault” that I’m single. I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough to rope myself a partner. My bad! I jest, but every time someone asks me this question I do start to doubt myself a bit. Should I go out more? Am I too timid? Am I wasting time not intentionally looking for someone? Why don’t I go to more gay clubs? What if I missed my chance at happiness and now it’s all downhill from here?? It sounds crazy, right? That’s because it is. We put so much pressure on ourselves and on each other with the way we talk about love and relationships. What’s so wrong with just being single? It’s like how people used to ask me if I was a virgin by choice. Every time I had that conversation with someone it made me feel ashamed – it highlighted the fact that it wasn’t my decision to remain a virgin. It left me feeling out of control. And if I took ownership for it, if I told them it was a conscious decision to wait, then I was praised for being “strong-willed,” or “moral,” or even “lucky” – when all I really felt was young. So, so young and inexperienced and left out of a club that one by one everyone around me was joining. Since finishing college I don’t get asked that question so much anymore. People aren’t so forward out in the real world. They just ask me about my dating life and make their own inferences from that.

I didn’t mention that the most recent “single by choice?” was prefaced by the always interesting “do you have a boyfriend?” question. People are not as forward post-college, but they are also not as forward-thinking. And I don’t feel as safe coming out as I used to. That could’ve been a prime coming-out opportunity. Impromptu New Year’s Resolution: I will do my best to take advantage of those opportunities in the future. There was a time where I would’ve seized that opportunity without hesitation; this time I saw it and watched it float by. But it could have been a really good teaching moment, or even a bonding moment if that person was queer! Part of my personal brand of queer is to be an ambassador as well as an ally, regardless of whether I am single or virginal or neither or both.

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The Other L Word

Published August 27, 2013 by auddity

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.

A Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Your Ghosts

Published August 13, 2013 by auddity

There are several people with whom I have long and complicated histories. Maybe it’s me; maybe I attract this kind of dramatic relationship. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Regardless, when you have such an emotionally charged relationship, as I did with these people, it usually ends badly. With all the layers, everything tangled up and twisted in on itself, it’s hard to straighten it all out by the end. For everyone’s sake it’s best to just leave the tangled mess alone, just let it lie. But we as humans – or maybe this is just me – just can’t leave well enough alone. We can’t bare the idea that it was all for nothing. That all that crying and fighting and caring and love didn’t amount to anything but the memory of when things were good, when you used to be close.

My own personal rule for myself is to not contact these people. No matter how tempting it is to check up on them, to test the waters just to see if it was real, what we had, and if it still exists in some form, I do not initiate contact. Little things are okay: a facebook comment here, a status ‘like’ there, but absolutely no texting unless they initiate it. No email, no phone calls, nothing that directly addresses them or our history. Unless something major happens, like a death or serious illness, I stick to these rules – because underneath it all, I still care about them, obviously, or these rules wouldn’t be necessary.

After a while, the urge to reach out lessens, until it’s just the ghost of an urge, like an echo, like a scar that’s healed but still occasionally itches.

I don’t need to know if the impulse is one-sided; I just assume it is. If they have their own rules about contacting me then we’re in unspoken agreement that we shouldn’t dredge up old memories, and if they don’t, well, then it means they’ve succeeding in moving on where I haven’t yet. There are people I used to feel this way about, who I don’t now. They slipped out of my life, and where speaking or not speaking to them used to be of the utmost importance, now I simply don’t care. I guess there’s a turning point somewhere where enough silence leads to indifference. But the opposite of love is indifference, and I still care, no matter how hard I try not to. I don’t necessarily care to speak to them or even whether they still care about me; but I care what happens to them and I care enough to still have to check myself every now and then. Is this crossing a line? Is this? I don’t think I’ll ever totally reach indifference with these particular people. There’s still too much there, even after all of the silence. And that’s okay. We all have our ghosts, right?

How to Care for Your Ghosts:

  1. Don’t blame them for your choices. It may be very tempting to blame them for your shortcomings, but it’s you who stalked your ex’s photos for hours on end last night and so it’s your fault you got to work late, not not your ghosts’. They may influence you while they’re around, but at the end of the day, they’re just reminders of the past, you’re the one living in the present.
  2. Don’t try to banish them. They’re there for a reason. You’re obviously working through some shit, and they’re just there to aid in the process. When it’s time for them to leave, you’ll know, but until then don’t be a jerk. Make them feel welcome; indulge them a little, maybe give them a snack – haunting you is probably hard work!
  3. Get to know them. You’ll never move on if you don’t understand your ghosts: why they’re there, what they mean, what they’re trying to tell you. Spend some quality time with them. Take them out to dinner and a movie. Ask them about themselves, really listen when they answer you. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself along the way.
  4. Appreciate them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. You might find you miss them when they go. Don’t take them for granted while you have them around.Take time out to acknowledge them – it isn’t all about you. They’re here for you, after all, the least you could do is return the favor.
  5. You’re not crazy. Everyone has ghosts. Own it; listen, learn, understand. Just, maybe don’t talk to them out loud in public. That’s crossing a line.

The Language of Love (For Non-Native Speakers)

Published August 6, 2013 by auddity

I spend a large amount of my time trying not to let on to anybody how scared I am. I’m sure many people experience this, but to me it seems like everyone else at least has the capacity to suck it up and get their shit together when they’re afraid. Meanwhile I’m huddled in the corner obsessing about things that in all probability will work themselves out whether I obsess about them or not: I will meet new people. I will find a job. I will not be homeless. I will adjust and adapt because I have to. I just have to breathe and let things happen. Well, obviously I can’t just let the universe move around me and hope for the best; I have be proactive. But I have to have faith that my efforts will produce results and realize that stressing out to the point of not sleeping or not eating is not going to help anyone, least of all me.

I just wonder if other people get scared like this? Scared of the unknown, even though the unknown can be as breathtaking as it is terrifying. Scared of little things, like talking on the phone to people I don’t know, trying new restaurants, going to the post office, receptionist jobs (actually just all office jobs), asking for help, doctors’ offices, living with people I don’t know.

You could chalk it up to my recent move, getting used to new people in a new place with a new way of life. (Oh yeah ps, I moved to New York!) And I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. I’m actually hoping that this move makes me more independent and helps me to get over some of my ridiculous fears that seem to plague my every day recently. I’m also afraid of the big things though. Things that don’t have to do with the move, like sex and love and intimacy and family and having children and accidentally fucking them up. I used to know I wanted to have kids, in fact, one of the first things I assured my mom after I came out to her (the first time) is that she’d still have grandchildren. But now I’m not so sure. Maybe it was working at a daycare and seeing all the work that goes into raising a child. No, that’s not it. Because I know if I had a child the work would so be worth it. I think it’s more of the why, why do I want a child? Is it simply for the joy they’d bring me? And if so, isn’t that a little selfish? Or is it simply to continue my legacy? But what’s the point when my child will most likely not be the biological child of my partner? These are questions I had not thought to ask myself a year ago, but they are important things to consider.

I also always thought I would get married, or at least have a committed, monogamous relationship if I couldn’t get married legally, but I find myself questioning that as well. I think part of it is that I’m at a point in my life where I really can’t picture who I’ll end up with. Like, I have no idea. And that scares me. It is extremely frustrating because I don’t even know what I’m looking for in this big wide vast-as-fuck world, and how will I ever find someone if I have to sort through everybody?!? And another part of it is that I don’t know if I want to be tied down to the same person for the rest of my life. In the past five years – that is not a lot of time – I have gone through several different transformations and how can I expect one person to weather all that and still like me at the end of everything? That’s just not realistic. Maybe I like the idea that if I wanted to, and I’m not saying I would necessarily, I could pick up and leave after having been in a seriously long-term relationship with someone without there being legal repercussions. And of course, if we were to have children then that would complicate things. Do you see my dilemma??

I’m also scared of being alone. But how stupid is that? I am simultaneously scared of being alone and not being alone. I claim that the thing I want most is to love and be loved by somebody, but the idea of being that close with someone terrifies me. Or, to be more exact, the idea of being that close with someone and losing them for whatever reason terrifies me. I think that’s what’s held me back thus far. I’ve been looking for that perfect someone, but if I ever found that person who was absolutely perfect for me I know I would be terrified of losing them. And until now I’ve struck out with just about everyone; either I knew they weren’t perfect or I thought they were and it turned out they weren’t. Maybe there is no perfect person. If I had wanted to be with someone it could’ve happened by now. But is it too much to ask to not want to settle for someone I’m not into? Or should I have just bit the bullet and at least gotten some experience under my belt (lol, punz)?

As I grow older, I’m feeling like romance is a foreign language that everyone else seems to have picked up besides me. Seriously, between school and work and friends and growing up, when did you guys find time to learn all this vocab??? Dating, hooking up, sex, love, all these are nonsensical to me. I must have missed those days in class. You know what, I’ve never been very good at languages anyway, so maybe it’s just me. Can someone find me a tutor??

A Break-Up Letter to OkCupid

Published June 4, 2013 by auddity

Seeing you again has made me realize how boring I am. I mean, I knew I was boring. I work all the time and don’t go out and all I want to do when I get a few hours of free time is either eat, sleep, write, or watch tv. And occasionally I’ll do laundry, but only when it gets really bad. I’m an interesting person but the life I’m leading right now is exceedingly uninteresting.

I first met you when my life was VERY interesting, at the end of my senior year of college after a series of catastrophic romantic endeavours with real life people who also happened to be good friends of mine. I figured, if I couldn’t make it work the old fashioned way, why not try meeting someone online? And while you can be a little sketchy sometimes, once I set some boundaries and established some privacy, maybe true love really was possible, or at least some flirty conversation. I continued our relationship when I moved back home after graduation, although it didn’t result in any dates. It wasn’t until I visited my alma mater that October that I realized I wasn’t looking to date anyone. On my return home I promptly broke it off with you, threw myself into work, and have had zero love life since. I viewed myself as being “Closed for Repairs,” that I was temporarily shut down but would reopen at some point in the not too distant future.

A couple weeks ago I went back to my former school to see some good friends before they graduated. I also saw some of the key players from my previous debacles that got me out of the love game in the first place. And I was thoroughly okay with it. So when I came home this time, I decided it was time to put myself out there again and to see what was going on in your world. It’s interesting that visiting a place where I was such a social being (versus at home where I am a borderline recluse) was the trigger for me to both break up with you and rekindle what we had. Anyway now I’m trying to get back into it and I find I’ve forgotten how to talk to people, or at least how to talk to you. But maybe it’s simply because I have so little to talk about.

In my mind when I was involved with you a year ago, I was consistently (though certainly not constantly) meeting new people with you, getting to know what you had to offer, and even discovering things about myself here and there. Since we got back together, we’ve only had a few meaningful conversations. Maybe it’s because I’m boring now, or maybe it’s that there are so many fish in the sea, and I shouldn’t limit myself to someone I met online. It’s not about them, though. The problem is really that I’m not interested in meeting people online. I don’t want to go on dates, I don’t even really want to make new friends. I think I am dissatisfied with my (social) life right now but don’t particularly want to put the effort into changing it. I don’t want a potential sig. other to judge me on where I am in my life and so I am shutting the door on that possibility altogether. Let them flock to me when I’m successful and independent and loving life, but not now. You can’t always look your best though, and you can’t stop people from looking when you’re not.

Maybe it’s time I broke up with you once and for all. I’m not interested in actively looking for anyone (although I probably wouldn’t say no if someone happened to find me) and that’s okay. My mind is telling me that my biological clock is ticking and I’d better get on that, but it’s not my own clock I hear, it’s society’s worn-out, dusty metronome, ticking away the same outdated philosophy that a girl in her twenties should be looking to settle down and fast. All around me my peers are dropping like flies, entering “adult” relationships, getting married, having kids. How can a child like me keep up with all that? I feel like I’ve missed the boat, and I’m beginning to realize that the last thing I should do is to launch myself into the ocean of online dating. So OkCupid, thank you. Thanks for showing me that boring is okay, but forcing yourself to have a love life, even a virtual one, is not. We may meet again OKC, but this is goodbye for now.

Sexual Disorientation: Warning, May Cause Dizziness, Nausea, And Existential Crises

Published January 18, 2013 by auddity

I identify as pansexual because that’s the word that I think most closely describes my sexual orientation, but I don’t actually think that I am pansexual. Can you even be pansexual without the sex part?? Probably, but sometimes it feels like I can’t really know how I identify until I’ve had sex. “Pan” means “all” or “every,” but I’m not attracted to everyone. I know that’s not what pansexual means – obviously pansexual people aren’t attracted to everyone – but when I am attracted to someone, I am only attracted to that one person. When I am not interested in any one person, it almost feels like I’m attracted to no one. Not in an asexual way (although maybe???), but more like my sexual orientation is a compass. When I am attracted to someone, really attracted – emotionally, physically, sexually, romantically – not just a passing attraction, my internal compass orients itself. But when I don’t have someone in my life it just kind of spins and spins and doesn’t point anywhere. It is disoriented. Is there a word for that? Does there have to be?

Being in a state of disorientation is exactly as it sounds, very disorienting. You don’t realize how heavily we define ourselves by our sexual orientation until you don’t have one. When you picture your future, who are you supposed to picture it with? When you talk crushes with your friends, how can you accurately express that while you may find people attractive, you’re not actually attracted to anyone right now, man or woman, gay or straight, cis or trans, not even in a theoretical way. Not even in a silly, in-your-wildest-dreams celebrity crush kind of way. It is very hard to put into words, because for most people, even if they aren’t seeing anyone, they are attracted to people. At this point in my life I don’t feel that I am.

Does that mean that I am just waiting for the next person to come along who will awaken some kind of sexual attraction in me? I’m not sure I like the idea that my sexual orientation is contingent on someone else. Shouldn’t that be a thing that is uniquely mine? There’s a sense of dependency in that – a sense of powerlessness. I don’t want to be a radio, that every once in a while broadcasts a song clearly as it is tuned back and forth, but otherwise only transmits ever-changing variations of static. Who is tuning the dial in this scenario? I don’t think it’s me.

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