by Ms. Jennifer
I am in love with love or the idea of love, the fantasy of its hopeful promise. Sounds grand. In reality (statistically speaking) it consistently fails. And I’ve spent my whole life chasing the dream like Narcissus who couldn’t stop steering at his reflection, my drug is the earnest and urgent search for the other… “my soul mate.”
Of course, I’m a modern day, independent woman, I don’t need some man to complete me or take care of me, but I do want a man to fill me. The problem with this sexy equation is the price tag. Control/power often becomes the bargaining chip. Love becomes a chess match transaction disguised as a romance novel or porn film rather than a fluid, creative process, and pathway to knowing oneself in relation to another. And let’s face it…fantasy is always going to looks better than reality. Have you looked in the mirror lately? lol. So how do we ever really get there or, more importantly, stay there, because the reality of love isn’t sexy or easy.
Love, like any drug, starts off intoxicating (“new relationship energy”) but the crash is inevitable. The reality sets in, the expectations, the control, the manipulations– still it doesn’t matter we want the drug again! But we don’t get to go backwards. The fantasy is dead and we can choose to get to work or we can choose to start all over again and find another “drug.”
So let me tell you a little story about my latest relapse. Wait, I thought only alcoholics and drug addicts had relapses? I mean despite growing up with it all around me, I thought I beat the odds, right? Oh, how smug I was! Not arrogant, I believed in the pursuit of self-knowledge as one of human’s important virtues, along with activism, always striving to make myself and the world, just a little bit sweeter, but relapse? That was for those other people!
A “love addiction” is like a food addiction–you need it to survive– so it’s tricky business, but I realize my entire life the focus has been on the other. I was trained early and well-being a child of alcoholic parents was boot camp, professionally as a social worker and later as a mother. The recipe made me, if I say so myself, a master at loving (and fixing) the other, but there’s a problem no matter how self-effacing I may pretend to be there was always the secret agenda: control!
My amazing, profound, deep love comes with a price tag! You can’t leave because my orbit isn’t my own…it’s yours! This makes me sound like a pathetic creature, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Like my female friends, we all struggle to some extent and every one of us is a powerhouse. I love like a pit bull and that can be a good thing and that can be not such a good thing.
Does all this boil down to being female? Objectively, if you look at why a woman may give so much and, instead of this being honored or rewarded, it’s seen as a weakness. Is all this just to avoid feeling lonely and, if so, why is being alone so terrifying? Is that the reason I have refused to let go of the fantasy? Yes, we were fed a steady diet of Prince Charming when we were little. Is it all reduced to female conditioning? This fear-based and fierce love dichotomy?
Biology? The love of a child is inexplicable. The symbiotic attachment that only women knows– are we trying to find it again with “the one?”
Cultural? Despite its pejorative connotations we are rewarded not typically through money/power/prestige (what a capitalist culture respects) but with ambivalent flattery and attention for the menial. I mean someone has to do the dishes and watch the children…is that kind of like the migrant workers who pick our strawberries. We love the strawberries, but not the person who picks them for us.
Conditioning? Growing up on a steady dose of Disney we saw over and over again that our highest purpose, a successful life, is having a Prince (heterosexual privilege) and not following that formula, like deciding not to have children, it’s all rather suspect. But it’s more than how the outside world views us, we’ve internalized this fantasy and, even when I KNOW this isn’t a requirement for a happy life, I secretly still cling to it.
And here’s the bad news–it can be easily exploited that secret (or not so secret) needy part of me that needs to be loved/special that makes me vulnerable to the, let’s call it, elements—the flattery, the manipulation, and the lies.
During my dating career I often wondered how to keep my heart open while being cautious simultaneously. The key was to shift the focus back to myself, but it’s hard to take a sober look when you’re “high” on your love possibility! Still Tinder sobered me over and over again, like a spanking that hurt so bad, but I couldn’t seem to stay away. That’s sick and I don’t mean “sic” the way the young people use it nowadays. lol.
Anyway, I promised you an example. I met artist Kim at a Jazz Festival. I instantly felt the hit (is this what cocaine feels like?) and the problem with being “high” is it colors your perception. Did he really like me back or was it just convenient (an “easy lay”)? How to know? But when I reached out to him after discussing his ceramic art (mostly of naked women and masks with the occasional fish thrown in) he got right back to me.
I was excited (!) OMG, I didn’t have to go through the awful meet and greet Tinder inspection… our “chemistry” was ignited. It was perfect in the beginning-enough text messages sprinkled the occasional phone calls, but it was never over the top.
Then Kim asked for the sexy photos, but I reasoned this was just one of the many ways we were getting to know each other. Besides I’m a hip, cool, uninhibited, chick. And the dude turned me on. This in and of itself was exciting after feeling like my body had been in hibernation.
The first red flag was my saying no to a dick pic and he sent it anyway. In hindsight, I wasn’t the only one with an agenda. He wanted sex and I wanted a relationship and instead of talking about it directly, I accommodated his need to keep things “simple” and “spontaneous.” Talking about our expectations would have been “too complicated,” but there is useless naval gazing conversations and there is the reality of real and honest communication, but deception (rather than finding agreements) is quicker and more likely to get what you want. Because like me, Kim was doing fantasy (we were just on opposite sides of the same coin) so could we find ourselves REALLY naked without our agendas?
Kim wanted uncomplicated sex, but I hadn’t shown up to meet his dick. I showed up to meet all of him and this was the problem.
In the end, my ego was bruised. If all he wanted was pussy, what a naive stupid fuck I was. There were moments when Kim and I hit something vulnerable and real and dropped our agendas, but like someone lighting a match it went out quickly.
Keep in mind this is all under a backdrop (TV was on) of 21 people being murdered in Uvalde, TX. And both of us probably exhausted from traveling. It’s not to make excuses rather to realize there are many variables at play. Kim wanted simple sex (and it can be, but if he wanted to guarantee that outcome then a blow-up doll would have been a better choice). lol
Kim drove me to the airport and while dropping me off said: “I’ll call you” but I was doubtful. By waiting to have sex I felt like I could slow thing down, not lose my equilibrium and keep my agenda in check. What if we had both met without our agenda’s that’s how Kim presented, but the man was on a mission. Still, I understood that driven part of him (and in many ways admire it), but he needed to dance rather than direct. And that’s the problem with these “romantic” relationships sooner or later someone fails and disappoints.
He told me someone surprised him once and asked to see his “real art” and I get it, I came to find not just the real artist, but the real man behind his masks. Is sex a good way to discover the real man or just a distraction? It can be either. In the end what we need is time, but in this swipe world we live in who has time for time? We don’t have time to meet the person behind the mask so we accept the mask. But eventually the mask will crack and then what do we do?
Anyway, instead of putting my energy into “my drug”, it’s time re-discover my passions. I must be self-directed to the point that anyone outside myself doesn’t really matter. In that way, Kim inspired me. Funny, again we are opposite sides of the same coin. He’s got his creative life down yet doesn’t seem to have the room for anyone else, while I haven’t protected my creative life, because I’ve been too busy trying find “the one.”
I always scoffed at a FWB (friends with benefits) relationship; I looked down on it as inferior to “soul mates.” I thought it was shallow, but I’m realizing it can allow people to reveal their true selves while allowing them the freedom that we all actually want. How can this not increase the intimacy and connection without all the demands, pressure, and secret agendas?
But what about romance! I don’t just want a friend. I want the seduction, the wooing, the enrapture. But isn’t that MY drug of choice and wont it ultimately disappoint? I have to believe freedom is ultimately better than fantasy.
So, I’m pleased to announce I’m hanging up (or trying anyways) “the one” fantasy and my ruthless search for it (and subsequent depression) for thinking I found it, to only discover the fantasy (like coming down off the high) never lived up to my hopes and expectations. And let’s not talk about the latest fad “polyamory” because finding MORE does not solve the problem. It’s not a numbers problem, it a focus problem. It’s about finding it within (if that’s true then more people means more distractions).
If I am no longer looking for “the one” I can make myself my own “queen” (hate that expression) rather than depending on some guy to crown me. And if Kim is still interested in applying for the job (lol) then he going to have to make good on his promise (something to do with his tongue…lol). Hell, if I’m not working on becoming the “the one” that may free me up sexually…I’m going to give more attention to my vagina and less attention to pleasing someone else that’s for damn sure.
When I shared my problem of having to give up “the one” fantasy with a friend, she suggested “romance novels,” but I am not a voyeur. I want to be in the story, rather than read about it vicariously. Actually, I think the answer is to rescue a dog they absolutely give the devotion and loyalty and love that us “love addicts” crave. It’s never “too much” with a rescue dog and you saved a live.
Postscript: I don’t fuck around; after Kim I actually contacted an old potential FWB. A HOT guy who picked me up at the airport a few months back. He was suspicious. Why hadn’t I taken him up on his earlier offer. Honestly, mostly because I hadn’t been sure or taken it seriously, because he was way too young to meet my BF standards, but I tried to explain my new outlook on life. He remained suspicious. I explained that woman aren’t necessarily playing “games,” sometimes we are working things through. Woman have been used for sex a lot so why is it that difficult to understand the hesitation? I guess he didn’t understand the concept that its FRIENDS before the benefits (all friendship takes some time/investment) because otherwise it’s just “fuck buddies.” He still wasn’t buying it.
Then, just in case I wasn’t getting it this time, he told me he would pick me up. He wasn’t “old school” so that meant not giving out his address. Uh? Needless to say, his fine ass self didn’t get the job. Friendly sex without the “demands” of a girlfriend should be easy. right? But the key is not losing myself in the process. So, wish me well, y’all, as I always do you. Meanwhile, self-expression is based on excavating and experiencing… so who knows what treasures are ahead…look for me there that’s where I hope you’ll find me.