Posts Tagged ‘dating’

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Unconfirmed Bias

January 14, 2014

When I was a kid, sitting on our family room floor with my large box of mixed Legos, and I needed a particular color, I had a fun little trick I’d play with my brain. I thought I was special or magical; probably everyone does this. I’d tell my brain to only see Red, say, or Blue, soften my focus, and with just a little concentration, I could make all the Red or Blue pieces pop to the front of my vision in the big mixed bin. As long as I knew what I was looking for, I could make it stand out from the pack.

It’s sort of a kid/Lego version of Confirmation Bias, right? I’ve decided what I want to see, and therefore see it, in sharp contrast to the rest of its surroundings. So what happens, then, if you’re looking for something, but have no idea what the thing you’re looking for looks like?

I recently had a buoyant but intense conversation with a former lover, debriefing what had happened between us a year prior. It became clear over the course of our talk that I had fallen into a problematic pattern I’ve enacted with more than one man in my life – conflating, without mutual understanding, sex and romance.  

The word Romance was his, not one that easily rolls of my tongue, because, I realize now, I haven’t got a clue what that word means. I mean, I understand what he was getting at – in his head we were friends who were fucking, in mine – especially where I was in the midst of some external emotional stresses from which I was seeking escape in his arms – a switch had flipped and I found myself fabricating a different story of our relationship. He’s right. I can’t argue with it. But what I’m realizing more than anything is that I’ve never known anything else.

My sex life started late. Wicked late. I was 24 before I not only lost my virginity, but had my First Time with a lot of other behaviors I think most people dispose with in their teens (use your imagination). Without recapping the entirety of my analysis the short answer is, I don’t know why. There were lots of factors, not the least of which was a horrible relationship to my own body, which I’ve written about plenty. I finally learned how to let sex into my life, but I don’t know that I ever learned what it means to seek out love, to seek out romance, to seek out partnership – sex always struck me as the only gateway to love, romance and partnership.  All I seem to know is if a guy I’m interested in is interested back, I better jump into bed before he disappears, give all my power away, and cling desperately until he breaks my heart.

I mean, that’s rough, but it’s been pretty status quo for almost a decade.

I don’t know what romance means. I don’t know what love means. So how do I go looking for it? How do I make the particular human color palette I seek and deserve pop out from the white noise in the back, if I have no Bias to Confirm. The thing is, I’m not convinced any of us have a really solid idea of what the hell these terms mean.  Maybe people stumble into various situations then label their experiences “love” and that’s what that means for them. I googled “What is romance?” and got a fascinating definition: “A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” I mean, the word mystery is built right into that shit!

They tell you to marry your best friend, but don’t wind up in the friend zone! You can be a friend with benefits, as long as those benefits don’t include intimacy. And you can be fuck buddies as long as you don’t pal around on the side. Is this just me? Am I the only one completely confused by what all this adds up to? I have no idea what a real partnership will look like, I haven’t had it yet. And the problem goes both ways – I neither know the shape and nature of the Lego I seek, nor the shape and nature of the space it has to fill. That is to say, I don’t know what I am in a true partnership, I don’t know how a man fits into the space of my life.

Did other people get manuals I didn’t get? I often feel that way. That there was a “How To Be A Straight Woman For Dummies” to which this Dummy was never privy. I wasn’t asked what my prince would look like as a child. I was asked what I would be. What I would do. How I would use my brain. This is a great thing. But at what point did my womanhood in relation to someone else’s manhood get obscured by the pursuit of all my other ‘hoods?

If I don’t know even know what spaceship I’m trying to build, will I ever be able to find the piece I’m missing?

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On The Road Again

May 21, 2009

So here I go again. For the third time in my life, I’ve quit drinking. Just like last time I hope it’s for good… but then again there was a Last Time.

Many have questioned why I have to give it up completely, why I can’t place my aim on a less ascetic goal. But the problem with drinking even just a little, is that alcohol is inextricably linked to sex for me. Even when it isn’t – when it’s just sharing a glass with my mother or a pint with a friend – that one drink sends my mind into that spiral of longing which I’ve found ultimately leads to more drinking.

It certainly makes sense. Where, to date, my sex life has almost exclusively happened in the context of alcohol, alcohol, then, always makes me think of sex: of how long it’s been since I’ve had it and of where it might come from next. And then, as the night gets darker, or perhaps upon the hang over in the morning, the thoughts further sour to how my sex life till the present has been loveless, to how I’ve only once had sex sober, to the irrational but overwhelming fear that it will never happen again, and in general to that desperate longing for something more.

Ok, well the fact is I kind of have all those thoughts all the time; alcohol just makes it about a thousand times worse. Unfortunately, the soul-sucking effect sobriety has had on my already arid romantic life just makes things worse. They don’t call it “drying out” for nothin’… It feels like the social life of a single 20-something is staunchly predicated on bars and booze, and even if I’m comfortable toting my water bottle around a party, I can sense the discomfort of the drinkers around me with my abstinence. People just don’t like being around the chick who isn’t drinking. I get the sense I make them nervous, angry, self-aware; perhaps that’s projection, but after spending a couple occasions standing around alone at parties, my suspicions have been buoyed if not exactly confirmed.

Furthermore, guys don’t hit on The Sober Girl. Not that I’m all that good at recognizing when I’m being hit on at all, but I can certainly spot when there is a complete void of attention. I mean, shouldn’t I be text-book low hanging fruit: the bored girl sitting by herself watching the world go by? Isn’t that every creep’s dream? But I think they can smell a clear head a mile away, and I can imagine what I’m projecting – misery and loneliness as I watch my friends become more confusing and less intelligently capable – isn’t exactly an aphrodisiac.

Ultimately, the problem is I’m outgrowing this boozing culture, without knowing what to grow into. It’s hard to find new friends who don’t drink, I don’t know what you do on a Friday night instead of belly up to a bar, and I don’t have a Central Perk at which to plunk down and know my witty friend Chandler and wacky friend Phoebe will eventually arrive for a Saturday night latte. What’s most disconcerting is I’m scared I don’t really know what “I had such a great time last night” means when it doesn’t involve alcohol. I have to redefine completely for myself what “fun” is.

So, I’m calling in the big guns – I’m going to AA. Believe me, there’s almost nothing that feels more ridiculous than the idea of raising my hand and saying “Hi, my name is Lynne, and I’m not an alcoholic, but…” but I’ve been assured by friends who have traveled this path that I wouldn’t be the first. My only hope for the third time really being the Last Time is if I find a community with whom to share the struggles that come with choosing this road in this world. Even if I one day decide to have the occasional single drink (I really, really love wine), not returning to multiple drinks on multiple nights will take a significant change in my social sphere.

Of course, I’d be lying if I denied an ulterior motive: if alcohol offered sex with a lack of love, then maybe a lack of alcohol could offer sex with love…hell you can’t get less than the none I have now so at least I have nothing to lose. So yeah, I admit, I’m hoping to meet a man at AA. Or at least I’m hoping to meet a man in some connection to AA – whether that be specifically in a meeting, or in discussions about the subject, say, at a tea tasting or yoga class.

To this effect, I’ve made a funny little deal with myself: I’ve decided I will not have that single glass of wine I think I can handle, until I find myself in a relationship which I believe has forward momentum, for at least a month. That could be a loooong time from now; the way things have gone to date I may be waiting till my 40th birthday. Or, it could happen within the year and I’ll decide to skip the glass anyway, content in my abstinence.  I must say, having begun AA, there’s a lot of motivation never to drink again.  But… I mean. Wine is such a great art….

All I know is my next partner has to arrive in my life independent of any sort of intoxication, and I have to figure out attraction, confidence and sexuality outside of the bottle. If my life is just a huge map of First Times and Last Times, I’m hoping drinking is I-84, and healthy love life is the Pike.

Yeah. I don’t know either.