I know that I’m more than halfway to forty, but I felt a break was in order. “Forty matches to finding myself” implies a level of self-reflection that I feel has been lacking in the last few posts.
After about 7 months of relentlessly dating, matching, and messaging, I took a step back and asked myself what the hell I was doing. Was I happy with the status quo? What was the end game? Did I see any patterns in my choices? What were my motives?
To the first question, my answer was and still is that I’m experiencing the world alongside a rotating cast of strangers. Some of them charm or amuse me and may stick around for a bit, while others fall somewhere between fascination and horror. Perhaps my pace is unconventional. Perhaps my willingness to act on (rather than just tout) my newly-dusted-off attitude toward my own sexuality is a bit subversive. But while I’ve pondered the social implications of my choices, it’s always been with detachment. I’m moving steadily toward I-don’t-give-a-fuck territory when it comes to my personal life.
Of course dating comes with its inherent headaches and annoyances, but this season, this process, doesn’t define me. I value and practice creative expression and fulfillment that comes from things other than sex. I’m comfortable with my imperfect body and view its current status with objective interest that rarely touches my emotions. I have healthy friendships and a strong support system. I’m busy and well-liked and affirmed. So am I happy? I’d say so.
How to answer the rest of it, though? I started going through my running tally of matches that had culminated in at least one face-to-face meeting. I singled out the seven matches with whom I’d developed some degree of [romantic] emotional attachment (So far, I’ve written about six of them here) and identified their most salient positive and negative attributes. I was looking for patterns, and I noticed that two things they almost all had in common were kindness and unavailability (physical or emotional). The Confidante suggested that perhaps I choose men who bring less to the table than I do so that I maintain some sort of advantage. I think he said that I was “the catch” (the more desirable half of the equation), so the stakes were low for me when things didn’t work out.
He believes if I were to match with someone as emotionally intelligent as I am, who’s available in every sense, and who clicks with me on a personal/sexual/romantic level, then my own disqualifiers (my children, to be precise) wouldn’t matter. To the right person, they won’t be a barrier, he tells me. It sounds so logical, and reasonable, and tempting. I want to believe it, but I recognize that my cynicism has grown in proportion with the number of dates I’ve been on. Until this mythical unicorn of a man appears, I’m going to have to relegate him to imaginary status (but it doesn’t mean that I’m giving up entirely on looking for him).
As far as my motives are concerned, there’s a tiny part of me that feels entitled to chase my whims after so many years of marital fidelity with someone who didn’t share my scruples. Once things really started to heat up, around month three, my choice to keep up the pace had more to do with practicality. Naturally, my rate of consumption, so to speak, has slowed over time. But I’m still seeing multiple people, and I have yet to discuss dating exclusivity with anyone except The Manager. The prospect of cutting the field down to one is somewhat unappealing, not so much because my options would be limited but because I’m not sure that I want a long-term relationship anymore (more on this in another post).