This is the only emotionally naked thing I have ever done on GT, so if you need to be an asshole can you take it out on the Jez or Gawker MP, please?
I was commenting on Twitter that a reasonable, nice seeming gentleman on OKC has been messaging me and I, honestly, don't know what to do with that. On one hand, I feel bad because it seems to personify the "women like assholes" trope and, on the other hand, it makes me acknowledge how trained I have been to expect a sexual advance that I am bored and intellectually distanced from a platonic approach. Seriously, it's like getting letters from your kid at camp when he writes to me. Overwhelmingly, it tells me that I am not looking to generally date.
What I realized from posting about this is that there is some expectation when you are in a quandary with a potential suitor that you are looking for encouragement to stick it out. But, I date like I shop. If I am not intrigued or amused in five minutes (sometimes not even that long), I am out the door. Is this an effective approach? That depends entirely on your goal. I may miss out on lovely men, just as I might miss out on a great dress. Ultimately, all things in my life boil down to emotional economics. Am I having to extend myself in a way that exceeds the pleasure I am getting from a situation? Sure, even if I speed, I may end up at the same light as a slower driver, but did I have more fun getting there?
The other realization is the one that always makes me feel othered. I don't want what other people want and, because of that, finding what I want is much harder. It's uncomfortable to rub up against the majority reality and have to acknowledge being an outlier sometimes, despite the fact that I take great pleasure in being weird. I have never lived with one of my partners and I don't want to. Ever. My happy ending involves a duplex. I don't want to share a bed, except for sex and marathon Netflix binges. In a society in which that is not the depicted norm and actually directly contradicts it, finding a partner is insanely difficult. I will give you head in a bar bathroom, but you aren't crashing at my house. I don't want you in my space and I don't want to share. Thinking about it makes me punch-y.
An aspect of single, teen mothers (and often older single mothers) that gets overlooked in hysterical fear about the state of modern families is that they don't develop "normal" dating habits. For the first ten years of my son's life, I didn't have any sex. The boyfriend that got me pregnant wasn't always great about consent. I was never violently assaulted or "legitimately" raped, but I was involved in sex that I wasn't conscious enough to say yes to, either because I woke up mid coitus or had been jumped by five men and was holding a cloth to the part of my head that was bleeding.
I didn't know how to negotiate that so I told later people I dated that I was not going to have intercourse at the start of the conversation. Is this all single mothers? Nope. But, I think we all have a hard time negotiating relationships given the depictions of motherhood that are prevalent and the expectations inherent in our situations. I never wanted a father for my child or to be the lady with multiple kids by multiple dudes because I was aware enough to see what those tropes invited. Being a single, teen mom was enough to grapple with. I only started dating again because my boss pointed out I should be modeling relationships for my son. I ended up being a shit model.
When I was younger, all I really wanted was a boyfriend that lived in my closet. There was a movie in the 80s called The Electric Grandmother with Maureen Stapleton and she played a robot grandmother that was hired by a family that had lost the mother through some terrible situation that was likely played for maximum emotional impact. I loved the concept of being able to purchase a family member. They wouldn't ever leave you, they wouldn't hurt you, they wouldn't prioritize their friends or their needs over you, they wouldn't scream at you or hit you. They could be all the things in my life that no one who claimed to love me could or ever had been. I wanted that.
As I got older, I developed a compartmentalization process. I would fuck really questionable people I hated and date really sweet, smart people. I could only get really dirty with people I couldn't ever love. I ended up meeting this clever British man that was smart and funny and although not conventionally attractive, attractive enough not to send children screaming to their parents. I have talked about him on here before; he was the man that ended up being married the whole time we were together, but I didn't know. Before I met him, I made myself consciously be less distrusting and more open. I haven't seriously dated anyone since. I have been mourning this relationship longer than I was in it at this point. But, I know the reason: this was the first person I met who made me feel like he loved me, just me. It wasn't about how I made him feel or what I could do for him. I believed that he liked me for my light and not for the glow it reflected on him.
Now, I find myself somewhat directionless because I don't have a model in any of this. When society turns stories of single moms into Chocolat (hated that mom) and The Gilmore Girls (where Lorilai is an awesome mom, which is what buys her credibility, but Rory is a good girl because she abstains, thus shaming her mom to some extent), how can a person who has been a single mother longer than they have been an adult learn to function and trust? The only way that I found was to not engage at all.
I flirt like I am tending bar at a wild west bordello, but I don't have a lot of sex. I feel alone sometimes when I drink or get sick, but I am fine the rest of the time...mostly. When I first meet certain men, they are ecstatic and want to call all the time and talk or message and I do, but I feel overwhelmed and I don't trust. By the time I do, they have disengaged because I am so shallow about all of it. Ultimately, it reinforces that permanent quiet voice of doubt that has told me since childhood that I am selfish and irresponsible. To compensate, I have made my life about other people's needs, but all that does is make people take advantage or take me for granted. In friendships, I give and give and give to heal people's booboos because I am afraid if I show them mine, they will leave.
I know that I will be OK and I know that I am awesome; seriously, I do. I am smart and I am pretty and I am caring. But, I am not equipped to trust. I am not equipped to send numerous platonic emails. I am not equipped to go through all that beginning of a relationship shit. I hate it. When you have a kid and you don't trust or let people come to your house, there isn't a butterflies/first kiss/isn't he cute? window of time. If this means I have to accept being alone until I die, that's cool. I just wish tonight I could see that as a proud moment for not being willing to settle and not exhibit A for why I am unlovable.