“Remember when you lived in Washington DC and were really interested in politics?” my father asked me last night over dinner, by way of gentle counsel that I need not spend the rest of my writing career so focused on relationships.
“Vaguely,” I replied.
(It turns out to be true what what’s going on in Washington is far more interesting when one is living in Washington that it is when one isn’t.)
“I mean, it’s great for now,” my mother joined in. “But, you know, you might, at some point, decide that you want to have a little mystery.”
Ah yes, I thought. Mystery. I’ve been contemplating this word a lot lately–namely, in relation to the fact that I don’t have any.
It came up a few days ago when my guy friends and I were free associating in our effort to pinpoint the nature of femininity. We concluded that it might be in the mix, but that truly mystery is something both men and women look for and are drawn to.
Either way–since I do, on occasion, like to actually attract members of the opposite sex–this reminder causes me some pause.
I feel like I should be able to attract people by being myself, not by emulating a set of qualities deemed necessary for the purpose. But I don’t want to be an idiot, either, and risk alienating people I might otherwise click with if not for a stubborn refusal to behave appropriately.
My openness is something that I value in myself: I connect with people easily and make good friends wherever I go. Some people are skilled at drawing, I’m skilled at learning the details of strangers’ romantic histories. It’s who I am, and it’s hard for me to mask that–even as I know, and have learned repeatedly, how much of a danger it can be when it comes to relationships.
I know it’s true that mystery is attractive, not just in courtship but in long-term relationships. I think it’s why opposites do often attract: there’s something exciting about being with someone who has qualities that you must continually reach to fully comprehend.
And of course it’s also true that when you’re getting to know someone, there needs to be intrigue. What’s the fun in flirting when everything has already been revealed?
I know this. And yet, it is my inate tendency to constantly reveal too much: both in my writing life (in case you haven’t noticed) and in my dating life. And don’t I want to be honest about who I am?
The other night a friend suggested that it’s possible to strike a balance: that I can find a compromise between being myself and some degree of caution.
I told him I’m trying. That, while I am wont to immediately share my entire personal, ancestral and sexual history with a new interest, I’ve lately been trying not to: to take things more slowly.
“Does that feel weird for you?” he asked. “Is it hard?”
I looked at him plaintively before I nodded, and said, with a high level of volume and enthusiasm: “Yes!”