dating and singlehood

valentine’s series 4: gotta keep’m separated

I love people. I do. I can’t help it. A friend of mine once said to me that for all I’ve been through and for all the crap people have put me through, you would think I’d be a bit more bitter and suspicious and well, bitchy. It isn’t that I don’t have my moments or that there aren’t times I get overwhelmingly angry and frustrated with people. I definitely do, and you can tell because my New Yawk accent comes out, which doesn’t happen very often.  But for the most part, I really see the best in people. I want the most for them, to be happier, more fulfilled, better, stronger, faster… better than they were before.

But sometimes that gets me into trouble. It has happened where my encouragement and interest in a person’s life is interpreted as something a step beyond just friendship and solidarity. I have long been an advocate of creating strong friendships with many people, and ideally, mutual admiration and respect develops, even attraction in some ways. But what gets distorted so often in our society is that this mutual attraction has only one track usually leading into the bedroom or the altar or both, but not at the same time, uh obviously. Our pop culture is based on it, endless pining (whining) over the friend you want as more than a friend – sexual tension between the main characters of movies or TV shows, neither person wanting to be the first to admit it. Without the tension, the series seems a little less interesting, and without some kind of payoff it feels unfufilling. I was relieved when X-Files ended and Scully and Mulder had never really crossed entirely inappropriate lines. To me, putting them in bed together was a major shark jumping, though according to many a message board I was in the minority. Uhhhh not that I read many message boards or anything… I’m just guessing…

So anyway, what I’m trying to think about today is how our friendships are often closed off to us because we are either afraid of crossing some imaginary line into “relationship” territory for fear of having to backtrack at some point and risk the loss of any interaction in the future (when it doesn’t work out) or we plunge on ahead ignoring any signs that maybe this relationship isn’t designed that way and every attraction you feel doesn’t need to be explored.

There’s an inherent danger in exploring all attractions. Yesterday I wrote about the nature and mystery of attraction and that undeniable tug we feel over someone who intrigues us. Somewhere along the way to the modern era, we collectively decided that no stone should be left unturned and we launched full on to the concept of “dating.” Historically speaking, this is a fairly new concept. Like trying on multiple pairs of jeans to find just the right fit, we find ourselves with multiple trips to the fitting room and a pile of not quite right styles dumped into the sales clerk’s “to be restocked” rack.

Now I’ve known many friends who date several different people simultaneously and according to The Rules, you do this so that you don’t (1) waste any time waiting for a “loser” and (2) make sure you have the best candidates in rotation at all times. The authors actually use the word “rotation” in that you have at least 3 people in your date cycle and when one is obviously out of the running, you replace him/her.

For me, I tended to keep things fairly shallow, since my last very significant breakup, about 5 years ago. (wow i just realized it was that long ago wow.) Up until very recently, I really wasnt sure what I was all about and what I wanted in life, so I couldn’t see getting serious about any one relationship.  I’ve often said that I felt like I needed to be absolutely swept off my feet and feel like this person is mind-blowingly brilliant and amazing and I can’t live without him.

This is dangerous I know. For several reasons. For one, I feel fairly confident that I will die single as a result. and for another, if I ever do in fact meet someone who qualifies he will inevitably fall from grace at some point (see my earlier post about pedestals and museum quality men) and that may very well be too much to ask of anyone. Even Neil Gaiman has broken my heart and he was darn near perfect. I know I know. I have to let it go… sigh.


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