(At a certain age you get asked that. A lot.)
I met this guy right after Element 11. He’s a friend of my campmate, and joined us at Crystal Hot Springs after the festival. He’s great. He lives out of town, but comes to Salt Lake all the time.
All was well. I was excited to see him. Then yesterday, as plain as a voice, I knew I would never love him. And it really bummed me out. This is that guy! This is the keeper.
But not for me.
He will never get my sense of humor. I found myself explaining, “I’m just being silly,” all the time. (To every frivolous thing I said he replied, “It’s okay. Everyone’s unique. Everyone’s perspective is valid … [this, that] ….”)
It was patronizing and weird, like he wanted to be seen as sage, wise, a leader, expansive and accepting of all. When I finally grew annoyed enough to notice the strange rift in communication, I understood that it was a fundamental difference of personality. Simple.
And dead in the water.
Yeah, I like to have deep conversations, too. Our first was wonderful. I was giddy to find a thinker who’s fun. I’m so impressed by him. I have tremendous respect for his integrity, commitment to his work, to fitness, his sense of adventure, his love of nature, art, humanity. I love his curiosity about the world. He asks serious questions.
But sometimes I’m ridiculous for its own sake. I can’t have a partner compelled to force every facet of my person into a compartment he understands completely. Let that piece be mine, if it doesn’t mirror you precisely. Guess what? If my sense of play is sometimes different from yours… “It’s okay!”
We seemed to match, with similar interests and talents. He seemed playful. But why must he turn every trivial thing I say into something profound, an opportunity to support me? Obviously, I’m not serious. Obviously, I’m playing. Obviously, based on other conversations and things I’ve said in this conversation, I think my progress through life is just fine. Every time I teased myself or poked fun at the foibles of humankind, he apologized for me.
Apologizing for a woman is another way of dismissing her. “It’s okay” so often means “shut up.”
I think much more highly of him than that. Nonetheless, I hate it when guys think they have to fix things. Do I act like I need fixing? When I’m laughing over a nice meal?
It’s bad enough when they do it and all a girl needed was to unload. At least then, I appreciate the intention, or the confusion, even. I know there’s a real difference between men and women, inasmuch as men don’t seem to understand or can’t get comfortable with the fact that sometimes the solution is just getting the words out. If a woman wants your help, you’ll know. Not because she’s raging; because she’ll ask. What we mean by “I want to feel heard” is “I want your companionship.” Be there.
And to comfort me when I’m laughing? It made no sense. In fact, I understand a little better now, my irritation. It was the opposite of being heard.
It made me fight for foolishness. Lighten up! It was the most bizarre sense of jovial aggravation. How can you be defensive and silly? I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was all I could do not to scream, “Dude! Just let me play!”
I was so excited to see him. We started the evening with a wonderful embrace, and went to a fantastic restaurant. But I couldn’t say one thing without being smothered by validation. “It’s okay” was the theme of the evening.
Now, based on my murderous feelings yesterday, I have to recognize the likelihood that this is simply a bitchy mood swing, right? (I’m not premenstrual.) But I’m looking back over our previous dates and realizing that I’ve never heard him laugh out loud. A chortle. A chuckle. Pleasant amusement. That’s fine for some people. Some people dislike the snorting guffaw that is my personality. I’m obnoxious. I’m fine with that. But I need to know that my partner and I will laugh so hard some nights that we fall off the couch, lose our voices or bladders, and beg the other to stop being so damned funny, I might die from funny! I need it. I need to know he laughs his ass off regularly. I need him to think I’m funny. The man of my dreams thinks I’m hilarious because he is, and people tend to match in these things.
Last night’s date and I, do not.
It’s such an insufferable bummer, and I’m so over it! Everything else checks off on paper. Am I simply determined to not get what I say I want, by finding flaws where none exist? I could have it all with him! Everything I’ve dreamed of, the chance to grow a family, to be a mother, to build a stable home, beautiful and warm, filled with music. To share my life!
I don’t actually find any flaws here. We simply don’t match.
That’s not all. Last night, he crashed at my place. He has before. We don’t have sex yet, both preferring to wait for trust and intimacy. This one is special, the real deal, and I want something lasting, so for now we make out and talk and fall asleep. It’s nice.
But last night, the way he touched me drove me nuts. So respectful. So timid. I begin to understand that the constant reassurance I get from him has been the coping mechanism he’s developed to get through his own challenges, and I honor that. He succeeded! He’s constructed a life he loves. It is okay, and his internal monologue is how it got that way. He’s simply continuing what he’s found to work in his own life.
He’s also a music teacher of young children, who need nurturing and validation, and he has it to spare. He’s such a good man. Kind and gentle. A conscientious and loving man. A real man. And a great musician. He’s one of those teachers, whom dozens upon dozens of people, for the rest of their lives, will talk about. He’s the one who made the difference. It’s beautiful! He’s powerful.
So own that! Be that. Take that! You earned it. And take me, too, godammit. I want to feel desired, sure, but more disastrous was the utter lack of arousal his gentle ministrations inspired. Gross. I want to know that when the time comes, raw passion will split the world and when we finally shut the door together, we won’t reemerge for months!
Instead, I wanted him to stop touching me.
Every kiss was tender, each caress polite. That’s nice, too, but we’ve done that several times now. We know sex isn’t happening tonight, so relax and have some fun! Kiss me! Sometimes he’d migrate from my mouth to my neck but it was like he’d seen in movies he’s supposed to kiss me there, not as though he wanted to devour me.
I’m a passionate woman. I believe I can have voracious sexual satisfaction with a deeply good, courageous, honest man. I want a man with an absurd sense of humor and profound respect for life and meaning. Why should the love of philosophical thought preclude adoration of the ridiculous? All women want a man who really cares, but why has experience told me that none of those guys is good in bed? MANhandle me!
God, what next? Do I give up on family and go for a man set to retire in 10, who wants an attractive, intelligent companion to travel the world with? Could being grandmother to grown step-children’s babies satisfy me? Of course I’ll love and enjoy them, but truly satisfied? It may seem draconian but if the answer is no, I’d rather strike out on my own, forever, roam independently, never worry. There’s real beauty in the freedom I enjoy.
It’s not about babies, necessarily. It’s about being a mother. It’s who I am. I feel it so deeply. I’ve always known. I waited and waited because I knew I had to get myself out of the way – like my mother couldn’t as a teen mom – so that my life was about them at that point, not me. I wanted me resolved. So I got blind drunk for a decade(plus). Give me a break, I was violently abused. I hate to be common, but most of us escape through addiction. I got out of it, entirely on my own. Does it cost me everything?
I want a family.
Has it been that the only reason I ever wanted a man was for my baby?
Perhaps that’s why I’ve never found him. Men are worth more than their donation. There’s karmic irony. I’ve resented my whole life that women, especially in my culture, are seen merely as vessels to produce offspring, to clean and manage everything afterwards. Domestic servants. Keep your mouth shut and let Man exercise the power, little lady. Gross. Now I see a man only for what he can do for me. I don’t think that’s true anymore. If all I wanted was a sperm donor, I’ve met a million. I want a lover, a partner, a husband, a father, a playmate, a friend, a companion. I want my man! I want to LOVE someone! And I can’t love less than what I need.
I am who I am. High demand, I guess. But I’d rather be alone than settle. Someone might die if I settled, and I can’t guarantee it would be me.