Seriously, I am wondering if I should change the name of this blog to “Happily Single In the Odyssey Years.” Because, I have to tell you, I cannot recall a time when I felt so completely okay with my singledom and disinterested in dating as I have in the last week and a half. I recognize the irony that obsessing about relationships should make me less preoccupied with finding one. I’m sure it will pass. Wait, I think I just felt it pass–just now, as I was writing these words. There it goes: it’s gone. Nevermind.
That thought, though, is what went through my head yesterday as I was walking to my therapy appointment. That, and how pathetic it was that I felt genuinely eager about bragging to him about my new blog and NPR commentary: that, I thought, is why I have a mother. What can I say. Not unlike another writer whose name we shall not mention, I am a sucker for validation.
It had been several weeks since our last meeting: I had a lot to catch him up on. The last time I saw him, I was in the throes of agonizing over The Guy Before My Latest Hiccup (don’t worry, I won’t make it an acronym–I’m not giving up on him yet). And of course I had to fill him in on MLH–about whom I have now been commenting for longer than we were actually seeing each other, which is just embarrassing. Last post, promise.
My therapist was horrified by my stories. This is why I like this therapist: he discourages me from blaming myself (I have my writing teacher for that), and encourages me to find fault with the men I date. Once he said he would pray for me. My friend S couldn’t believe that I didn’t get up immediately: I explained that it’s okay because he makes me feel, well, validated.
I haven’t been especially focussed on how these guys made me feel –disinterested in dating as I’ve lately felt–but once we started talking it came back. And I returned to this question of how I can prevent myself from getting hurt again. “What do I have to do to protect myself??” I asked.
“Well,” he replied. “This last time, what do you think you could have done differently?”
I started musing about how things transpired with MLH, and told him, sincerely, that I wasn’t sure I’d done anything I’d take back. “He made all the first moves!” I exclaimed.
He then asked me, specifically, what moves he made-at which point I remembered that I was the one who kissed him on our first date. I decided not to mention that.
“So you meet, you talk for hours at this bar…and then he calls you, what, the next night?”
I fessed up to the fact that he actually didn’t ask for my number when we met and it was only upon both of us talking to our mutual friend the next day that he bothered to get my email. And emailed me. Five days later. And wrote that he “hoped our paths crossed again some time.”
“OK,” he said, gently. “And then what did you do?”
“Um, wrote back and asked if he wanted to hang out on Sunday?”
(Really, it didn’t feel so desperate at the time.)
“Huh. And what do you think would’ve happened if you hadn’t done that? If you’d just said ‘I hope so too’?”
“Um, he would’ve had to make an effort!” I actually thought this was a sound justification of my response. “He might not have written back!”
“Exactly!” my therapist replied, triumphant. “And you would’ve spared yourself the whole thing!”
Huh, I thought. Generally, I take issue with the whole “he’s just not that into you” approach to dating. I think guys these days are generally pretty chicken, and sometimes need a little help. Generally, I think if I waited for guys to make all the first moves, I might, actually spend life single.
My friend A in Washington is constantly battling against this. She is southern, and always advises me that I cannot call, or write back, or ever act at all interested. Usually, I ignore her. And, usually–as we all know by now–I get hurt.
I think it is time I start listening.
“You have to make like the birds,” my therapist said.
I was lost. “Wait, I have to act like a bird?”
“Well, really, these men have to act like birds. You know, perform for you: do some work.”
The image of a multi-colored peacock dancing for my benefit was all I needed: I was sold.
And so, my friends, I present my new Golden Rule of dating: If you want to date me, you must make, a little bit, like a bird.