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Life Without a Man: Worthless. February 11, 2008

Posted by Jae in Hearts & Butterflies & Cupcakes, Stupid News.
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Every now and then, I wonder if I should start dating. In my life I’ve had a few romantic entanglements, but certainly nothing like you’d see in the movies…unless the movies you go to feature mostly awkward twosomes who end their dates with a handshake, and I enjoy the tingly feeling that comes along with a crush and the shameless flirting and the blushing like a twelve-year-old, but for a multitude of reasons relationships and I remain mostly at odds. Sure, I get a little lonely every now and then. I browse dating sites or chit-chat with the cute, curly-haired guy who works in the building next door, and I wonder if I’m not missing out on something.

Because honestly, I spent most of my teenage years obsessing over the idea of a Boyfriend, someone who would swoop into my life and erase my own personal drama and make me feel normal. He would not just provide love and support, but he’d fix all my problems: I would not only be comfortable with my body, but once he was around it would transform into the kind of body I fantasized about. He would make me confident and out-going. He would make it so I never had another sad, empty moment so long as I lived.

And then I grew up. I realized that a partner is not the magic cure-all for life’s miseries. It’s someone to share your life with, the miseries and the joys, the movies and the concerts, the take-out and the funny stories. It’s someone to take out the garbage because they know you hate doing it. It’s someone to run out and get you Nyquil when you’ve got the flu. It’s someone who is going to forgive you for the nasty, sarcastic things you say when you’re fighting. It’s someone who is going to expect the same in return from you. It’s someone who you actually won’t mind returning the favor for. It something pretty special to find that person, and something that seems worth waiting for.

Apparently though, according to Lori Gottlieb, I’ve got it wrong again. For those of you playing the home game who can’t stomach the idea of finishing the article I’ll sum it up for you: Ladies, especially those over 30 (but you gals in your 20’s should probably pay attention too), settle and settle now. Find the nearest man you can and marry him, even if he bores you (because married people don’t talk anyway) or he repulses you (because we all know unless the little woman is ovulating, there is no sex inside marriage) or you suspect he’s gay, because if you don’t you will die old and alone, and you’ll be sorry. And if you don’t already know that you’ll be sorry you are in denial or a great big Pinocchio.

When I read this my head nearly exploded, not just because it’s utter bullshit, but because it is utter bullshit that could seriously push a gal on the brink over the edge*. Like I said, I’m single and while I don’t love it, I don’t hate it either. I am genuinely happy. I have great friends and a great family. I love my apartment, especially now that the decorating thing is finally coming together. I have a job that well…that’s probably the one area marked “needs improvement,” but even at that, it isn’t a bad situation; I’ve got great friends there and it leaves me with a lot of free-time. For the first time in my life, I actually working on not hating the holy hell out of my body, so sometimes I even feel a little confident. And even when I don’t, I’m finally not a neurotic teenager, so I’ve learned how to handle it. I wouldn’t trade all this for a boyfriend, capital B or otherwise.

But a couple of years ago I didn’t think any of this was possible if I didn’t have a steady Friday night date, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. In fact, a former friend of mine has spent the past four years chasing after a guy who was a few grand gestures and not much else because she doesn’t want to be alone, and she’s been nothing but miserable the entire time. She’s tried settling down with other guys, something which I imagine Gottlieb would encourage her to try, but it never lasts because she still feels empty. The hole that’s inside her, that’s inside so many people, will never be filled by another human being. The only prayer anyone ever has of filling it is to do it themselves.

That’s what I’m trying to do, and so far it’s working a lot better than any half-hearted relationship. I’m exploring my hobbies. I’m having fun nights out with friends. I’m enjoying sleeping in the middle of the bed and not sharing the covers. I’m doing all my own home improvement and feeling like a kick-ass woman. In short, I’m living my life. And if that special someone wanders in…fantastic. But if not, I probably will be too busy planning a trip with my best friend to notice.

*Nevermind the fact that this Gottlieb seems oblivious to the fact that there are a great many women out there who never, ever want children; that’s an insulting assumption for another post. I suppose she would say that they, like women who claim not to care about being married, are in denial.

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Comments»

1. alwaysthatgirl - February 11, 2008

Loved what you had to say. I agree wholeheartedly. We have to fill ourselves before someone else can offer us anything. However, part of human nature is to always want more and we assume that we will get more if we have someone else beside us.

Excellent post.

2. sparklepants - February 11, 2008

I’ve been thinking of making a post about that article, too. I was appalled by it and of course, overthought the entire thing and wondered, albeit briefly, if maybe I was just lying to myself. Then my best friend punched me in the face and brought me back to reality. Oh yeah, wait! I *am* happy! So happy. When I think about settling down, it makes me almost physically ill. There is one person I’d settle down with and right now, it’s not going to happen, so I’m not going to waste my time. I might keep the company of a few attractive (and dare I say younger than me?! I shall! I dare say it! They are YOUNGER!) men but I am not dating any of them, nor do I have any romantic notions toward them. I find that my guy friends are pretty much a satisfactory stand-in for lifelong-partner material, for the time being.

Argh. It’s Monday morning and my thoughts are in 20 different places.

Were you a little concerned that she got impregnated during a “fit of self-empowerment”?

3. jamboree - February 11, 2008

Excellent post. Desperately wanting a boyfriend to magically cure my insecurities was a constant theme of my life for many years. The only real peace and joy we can find in life is what we make for ourselves. Relationships with others is just icing on the cake.

4. Jae - February 12, 2008

Loved what you had to say. I agree wholeheartedly. We have to fill ourselves before someone else can offer us anything. However, part of human nature is to always want more and we assume that we will get more if we have someone else beside us.

Excellent post.

Thank you! I agree that there is definitely a part of us that instinctively believes that the key to getting more out of life is to look within someone else.

Excellent post. Desperately wanting a boyfriend to magically cure my insecurities was a constant theme of my life for many years. The only real peace and joy we can find in life is what we make for ourselves. Relationships with others is just icing on the cake.

That was exactly what I had in mind, only in a million fewer words.


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