Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Some girls aim too high, some girls cash out low

But really, I don’t intend to rewrite the Stones. At least not today. I will confess to being amidst a Mick jag, though. And one thing I like about the Stones — though I like the Beatles too — is that they seem to have more truth dropped in amidst the dirty swagger and driving licks than did the Four. Maybe it’s ’cause they absorbed the blues more deeply. I mean, say what you will, but “All you need is love” sounds trite and impotent soon enough, while “You can’t always get what you want (but you get what you need)” still has the power to needle even once its ecstatic finish no longer makes your feet come to (and frankly I’m not sure any Beatles line quite beats, “I ran 20 red lights in His honor”).

It’s truth like that I see Blogfather slowly recognizing. His latest Nondating Life post, for instance, describes his recognition that too much of the man-whore life can be a bad thing. While it might seem to be the pursuit of all a man wants, it may not provide — may even disrupt attaining — the things he really needs. One rarely reaches realizations like this very readily or without plenty mishaps and regrets. But for me there’ve been a lot of such revelations lately — perhaps since I don’t spend much time in bars these days.

At first you have to notice that the water of your life is murky with different colors — some of which you can explain, some which you can’t. But gradually if you let it and you’re watching, some clod of dye you didn’t know was in there bobs to the surface where you can break it up to intensify the color, or fish it out and discard it. Life-water isn’t stagnant: though dyes may take their time to fade away, the stain of lies can surely pale — just as can truth, if you reject it. Lately I’ve been tossing lots of clods so I am eager to see how the water color changes. Long-time readers may even have noticed fading hues themselves. It started with the idea that short-term decisions (and consumptions) did not affect things in the long-term. But as anyone inclined to holiday nibbling knows well, short-term truffles here and fruitcakes there can lead to long-term pounds caked on defiantly (bear in mind I speak as one who once weighed 40-45 pounds more than I do now). And so I realized I might be slowly flirting my way to spinsterhood. I cut out dating the freaked-by-Jesus and settled in to see what sort of Jesus freak awaited.

But that did not curtail habitual pining — which begs the question, why choose dreaming over reality? A long time I thought I was left to merely pining for the “good” men since they never liked me back, while only those wrong for me pursued. How could I help that? Then I found Alain de Botton’s chapter on love as romantic Marxism:
We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. But what if such a perfect being should one day turn around and decide they will love us back? We can only be somewhat shocked — how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us? ...

Perhaps the origins of a certain kind of love lie in an impulse to escape ourselves and our weaknesses by an amorous alliance with the beautiful or the powerful — God, the club, Her/Him. But if the beloved loves us back [if God answers our prayer, if membership is extended], we are forced to return to ourselves and are hence reminded of the things that had driven us into love in the first place. Perhaps it was not love we wanted after all; perhaps it was simply someone in whom to believe ... (On Love, p. 53, 59)
Aha! So while I thought I believed in God as what was most beautiful, good and true, I more believed in sex and marriage to fill my need and save me from my emptiness. But de Botton goes on:
Marxists feel their core self to be so deeply unacceptable that intimacy will necessarily reveal them to be charlatans ... Though from a position of unrequited love they long to see their love returned, Marxists would unconsciously prefer to see their dreams remain in the realm of fantasy. (p. 59-60)
And this the pining/pursuit split reinforced. It was as if men saw just one of either two Broadway profiles: bright, sexy knitwit who bakes a mean pie (whom they then pursued), or too-needy woman a nightmare to trust (whom they swiftly shunned). The truth, of course, is that most women are a combination: talent and brokenness, beauty and need. About which most of us are myopic one of two ways: either we think too much of our strengths (as Blogfather rightly castigated some months back), or we’re so consumed with need we think a need partly filled with an otherwise wrong-for-us man is better than a need unfilled at all (by a man, anyway). But truthfully, I don’t think singleness itself is really so bad on a moment-by-moment basis; it’s the fear that somehow by consenting to it now you indicate a proclivity for it — a fondness, even — which might persuade the love gods to just leave you here forever since you complain less. That is a lot of rot which, once you get past it and if you have a healthy circle of good friends — single and married alike — accounts for most of the misery singleness supposedly contains.

So while I realize it’s a bit early to be trotting out resolutions, here’s mine: to be both humble about my brokenness and weaknesses, and confident enough in who I am to trust that if I’m meant to have a husband, he will be someone who pursues despite parental grilling and despite the times my tongue’s too sharp or I too dull and needy. Because, doggone it, I’m good enough (though broken) and smart enough (though vain) ... and some men actually like me! Well, you get the idea. ;)

And for you, dear readers, I hope this is a season and year in which you have the courage to toss out some of the lies you’ve been living out of. See what truth is like. At first you may feel colder without the natural coat the fat of those lies gave you, but what warms us up can often weigh us down. Me, I wouldn’t trade shivering as a skinny girl for one second of the warmth and grief my former padding gave me.

A chance to give back
Finally ... some of you may remember the Love > Revenge party I mentioned a few weeks back. Well, it turns out the money Cosmo donated on our behalf is helping send a Louisiana middle school girls’ dance team to state competition! Otherwise they couldn’t have afforded to do so. If you would like to help further defray their costs (so far covered by their coach), or send along some fun gift you think 10 girls could use (10 bottles of nail polish, maybe), make a donation using the Paypal button below, designating your gift as for the dance team, or email me for the address to which you can send your material gift. I’ll send all monetary gifts their way.

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