Guest Column: Dating Online Series. Vulnerable? by Ms. Jennifer

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea that I’m living in the 1950’s.  Oh, and before I forget, no, I didn’t hear back from Bad Boy. The most interesting conversation we had was his research on places to live and possibly retire other than this country.  That appeals to me (I’m leaving if “daddy” Trump is re-elected. Insecurity and hate are in the hearts of Republicans if you listen to conservative talk radio about the VP).  The naughty talk was less inspiring.  The “bad boy” is starting to bore me. What’s there to figure out—their needs dominate? Like the guys who send a dick shot or porn to shock or tantalizing. Please I don’t care about your tool unless I own it. LOL.

Being vulnerable, being honest, knowing yourself, that engages my brain.  Something more than a spew or squirt… that’s easy.  My problem is I think I need a new rule since the last law was broken. The reason I was in a long term, monogamous relationship was because it offered me some protection.  Not just from a STD (which I’m paranoid about after watching my brother’s slow death from AIDS), but some false notion of security.  I was so dependent on his love, like I needed it to give me purpose, like without him not that I would be “nothing,” or “incomplete” but as my drug of choice it gave my life direction. That sort of dependence is suffocating.  I thought I just loved him passionately, but now I’m seeing more the weight of it.  

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t clingy.  I did my own things a lot, but I expected too much (especially from someone who was commitment phobic) and the “co-dependent” part of me became more obsessed with fixing him that I lost myself.  For the last year and a half, I’ve been collecting myself back.   Online dating has been the eye of the storm to see if, among all the insanity, I can keep my center and not get lost in the whirling mass of bullshit and possibility.  Each person has allowed me to practice entering a new orbit and, no matter how strong the orbital pull, to not loose myself.  Where I could see myself falling in love with them (and there have been a few) or they tried to shit on me (you are a worthless bitch, etc.) the point is to stay on my planet.  It’s been a very important lesson.   

My emotions no longer lead.   Maybe I’m learning the skill of having a heart, but loving it enough to keep it not exactly under lock and key but being more careful with her.  Intellectually understanding now, a “one and done” is probably all that is really on the table and to enjoy it for what it is (not what I might want it to be).  “Dating myself” means I stay on my planet until someone worthwhile comes along, but is that really a 1950’s concept?  Are words like devotion, commitment, monogamous really antiquated or relevant?  

Maybe it’s really about fluidity, like as sex and gender have become more fluid, I need to keep my expectations more fluid.   I’ve been looking for “rules,” especially around sex.  Like you don’t have sex on a first date because if you “give it up” they will lose interest.  You will be “easy”, and men want the challenge.   Have those 1950’s construct really changed?  I think living without rules scares me. It’s that feeling of being out of control although maybe it really is just a more honest way to live since every relationship or encounter is different.  

BB did say I was looking for guarantees and I told him that shit when out the window with my last boyfriend, but there is some truth to that and why I wanted the rules so I could say “see you broke the rules,” but where did that truth get me exactly?  But it gets me focused on being a police officer rather than a lover.  It means I’m more focus on (removed him) controlling him, checking up on him or trying to please him rather than what I want.  So, I’m “dating myself” now, but I’m discovering I’m having trouble hearing myself.  One because I’m out of practice and because I’m living with the insanity of dementia which is worse that living with a crying infant.   It’s not just the noise it’s the emotional volatility and words that have no rhyme or reason.   This morning it’s about dying.  I bring him an Ensure and some cookies to change the subject. HE did tell the caregiver this morning “Who gave you authorization” as the caregiver was wiping his ass. And added, “I wanna see my lawyer.”  

That’s funny but, I need more than that?  I think about my own pleasure and how I’ve complicated it.  How I can’t ever fully let go and how can learn to surrender?  The old tape is stuck in a loop.  I can’t get over the old trauma that if I lose control some really bad shit is going to happen, but that lie no longer works because bad shit can happen whether or not I’m “on guard.”  Maybe that bad shit should mean quit wasting time. I met Davis last night, a chocolate man who grew up in the Chicago project on the south side.   Being Black and surviving the projects reminds him daily nothing is guaranteed. Instead of anxiety and rumination he runs towards his freedom every day.  So, what’S my problem as a white person of privilege why do I have the luxury of being stuck?   

I’m not sure if it’s psychological or physical, but only I can make myself cum.  It’s one of the ways I’ve told myself I’m broken or that my body isn’t right, but this is another lie I’ve told myself.   It’s just more who I am at this moment.  And I suspect there are lots of people who lie to themselves rather than simply say “this is who I am,” or “this is who I am right now.”   Something is more permanent (“I’m gay”) and some are strong preferences, but what the parts that are more fluid or negotiable?   Things were more rigid than in the 1950’s where race, class and gender determined things, right?  How much has that changed? Hiding ourselves created a lot of unnecessary stress and pain.  But what has become of “old fashion” romance?   What happened to time, effort, hard work, commitment?   

I still love that notion of being pursued, courted, romanced, but that hasn’t happened (and isn’t sustainable).   With so much perceived choice and the culture moving at such a fast pace does anyone have time for that?  We have more access than ever before and with more options/choice we refused to stick around if it’s not working for us.  I just learned a family member is leaving his marriage of 30 years.  I didn’t think they had a very dynamic marriage, but I thought they were compatible.  But he refuses to give up his life any longer.  Where is the sweet spot of really committing to someone and doing the hard work of a long-term relationship, but then not staying too long and giving up the life you really want to have?  I understand this well, because when I left my sexless marriage, I was the one who was the asshole.  And that pressure to not be “selfish” is very strong especially for a A-plus codependent.  

We have to live somewhere between these two places of self-hood and selflessness.  Today the pendulum has swung to swipe.  And yet why should someone stay in a loveless marriage and be miserable out of some duty and obligation?  Whatever Prince Charming fantasy I had that shit has hopefully been completely removed like my dog’s tumors.  (We go tomorrow to see if the cancer has spread.)  And that leaves me grasping for what are the rules now or what if there are no rules and that feels “out of control” and that is not something I do well with.  On the other hand, there must be some sort of boundaries and understanding between people–it’s like safety and fluidity must learn to co-exist.  

Maybe we all want the rules and why we come out with rigid stereotype particular around race, gender and sexuality and explained how is it possible that we elected someone like Trump (because big Daddy tells us what to do and reassures us it will all be okay) instead of sitting in these murky waters trying to find out own liberation and live our own questions, but without using or lying to someone else.  It’s hard to be honest and open when you don’t know who you are, or what you want, or feel you have to hide yourself. 

Like now realizing my finding “the one” is antiquated or at least hasn’t happened, what do I want to do? Maybe it’s time to experiment more rather than waiting on these old notions.  Maybe my friend is right and I need multiple partners out of necessary.  Because right now that’s simply what life has presented me.  I’m talking with a married man and have told him I will not “cheat,” but he’s a musician and a thinker.  So he’s offering intimacy without the sex (unless he loses interest when he finds out I’m serious or I decide to break my rule…lol).   Maybe it like Jazz.  He played from “the great songbook, 1910- 1970 when the last great strides in jazz happened then.  The spirit of that time is interesting.  There was more Magic in the music…when the world worked, and songs reflected it.”  Getting older means having this sort of perspective or understanding it not only about collecting experiences, but “studying” and “learning how to hear correctly.”   Some things just take time.

So, with that in mind, I’m (sorta) making peace with my FWB.  I’m trying to hear what is rather than what I want to hear, maybe that what meant by “hearing correctly.”   My FWB is a workaholic, but I understand this is how he makes sense of the world and give himself a sense of security.   He figures he’s young (40) and will work for a long as he can (no one else will take care of him, in fact he’s Mexican so knows at any moment he can be kicked out of the country). 

He refuses to plan so there are no disappointments/expectations and I get that, and it also drives me nuts adding to the chaos I already feel living in a construction zone and with dementia.   But when the boy goes to fucking let’s just say he gets very focused.  Possibly too focused, but he fucks me good. He tells me to wrap my hands around his neck and he picks me up off the bed.  Should I be telling you this?   I mean isn’t this private?   I’m not an exhibitionist.  I’m actually rather shy, but really there is something really good about getting fucked good.  I mean I feel full and satiated.  

And, for the most part, I seem to be able to accept it for what it is.   Sometimes when he leaves I feel lonely or I want more.  Other times I simply turn on Netflix and am glad I can decide whether or not I want to stay up late watching some ridiculous dating show or America’s Got Talent.   I also told him that I am dating and he’s starting to understand he doesn’t get it both ways.  I’m not going to be “loyal” to him if he’s rarely available.   I get to keep looking while we still keep fucking.   He knows I’m going to say “adios” when/if I meet someone whose more available for a relationship.   

I did meet someone at the park last week.   He’s lives only a few blocks from me.   My “tenant” and I (an adorable– wish I was 30 years younger– sax player) went to hear some live music in the hood (yes, we social distanced) and decided to meet this guy.  We didn’t get off to a good start:

I live around the corner and I’ll be drunk yes!

Ok, well, I’ll be sober.

What color is your hair.

Wet brown.  I’m wearing a goofy hat and dress.

I’m sitting down.  Are you standing me up?

Sitting on the park bench.

Eyeing little girls with bad intent.

Should I try and find you.

No.  

This is how he starts off. 

And I am so underwhelmed and unimpressed I almost don’t go and find him.  When I stumble upon him sitting in a chair with a hat on he’s with a younger woman (it turns out they are neighbors). I text my tenant to come here and before I know it they are sitting together deep in conversation while Mr. A and are I playing badminton.  I have flip flops on and he tells me to take them off and I do and something about running in the grass is like eating ice cream.   I feel that competitive part of me waking up and I find that amusing.  I want to make him run…suddenly we both seem more interested.   

He plays the guitar and dances and so we make plans to have a jam session including my sax playing tenant and his new gf for the weekend.  The next morning, I get a text:

“What are you doing?”  He wants me to come over after I’m done working, but I’m not ready for that.  

“The heat is bothering me.  Making me dizzy.  Maybe it’s the wine I had yesterday, chickens don’t lay when it is or cold.  They don’t know what it means to lay an egg yet.”

“How do yo u teach a chicken to lay an egg?”

“I put two golf balls in there.  That didn’t work…. I told them they are in trouble if I don’t see an egg in a couple of months.”

A couple days later Mr. A, my sweet and sexy tenant, and his new girlfriend are hanging outside, and the boys create music.  And when Mr. A sings I hear a vulnerability that I hadn’t heard before.   His bravado had taken a mushroom and his entire self is softer.   He’s brought over a tiki torch and as the day dies and the moon resurrects the four of us began to open up and share some delicate intimacies.   Mr. A asks if he can brush my hair and be begins caressing my body and I start to melt.  I wasn’t ready to touch him or maybe I just needed someone to nurture me.  But I can sense A needs it, too.

At the park he was wearing some tight white pants and the rumor was he was gay, but I think it’s more complicated than that.  I’m cool with a “cuddle buddy” because that’s all he seems to be looking for.  Then there’s Davis.  We’ve been having some really interesting conversations and I was supposed to meet him last Thursday, but two days in a row my caregiver didn’t show up and I had to cancel on him.   The last time I said you “must think I’m a guy living in India about now” and he wrote back saying “I didn’t think India or Nigeria for the fact you haven’t asked for money.”   lol.  And then after many conversations (he loves music and manages a live music venues) we are to meet today.   At first he didn’t respond to my message that the caregiver is “here!”  This time I was surprised since he’s been so available, but I didn’t make any shit up.  I just waited.  I gave him my phone number and he just called.   He just woke up so we are finally going to meet.  I also just heard from the married guy.   We are to meet on Thursday after I had to cancel on him last week, too.

Dealing with dementia is really fucking up my social life.

Anyway, I have to hop in the shower and get myself together to meet Davis.   I am actually feeling a little bit excited about this one.  I know I’m supposed to be all chill and not let this thing fuck with my moods, but I’m only being honest.  Stay tuned!