As you know, I like to recognize patterns in my love life. More specifically, I like to recognize patterns and then continue them. It interests me; it amuses me; it gives me material. Also, I can’t seem to help it.
My most notable pattern is surely the tendency to convince myself that someone who another, more discerning and less romantic person might not trust to watch their handbag in a bar, is in fact an ideal boyfriend. Not just an ideal boyfriend in general terms, but an ideal boyfriend for me. And, of course, an ideal boyfriend for me right now and urgently. So urgently that I cannot wait for him to call, I must call him–thereby ensuring that he will not stick around long enough for my radical idealization of him to be disturbed.
Are you getting bored with that pattern? I am. Let’s talk about another one.
When I worked in journalism we frequently half-joked that three stories qualified as a national trend (I say half-joked because often, they did). So I feel confident in deeming something a pattern now that I’ve done it three times.
What I’ve done is attempted, and–of course–failed, to date the relatively degenerate male relatives of women I know and respect. Each time, in addition to feeling bitter toward these men for not being my boyfriend, I have felt bitter toward them for not helping to further my relationship with the more well-adjusted women in their lives.
The first time was the brother of a colleague I always liked, who I encountered at the company Christmas party–back when said company could afford to have Christmas parties. He was charming and rugged and quirkily handsome and I was hardly surprised when his sister warned me–or rather, told me after the fact–that he had historically not been a terrific boyfriend. I cannot attest to this. All I can attest is that he vanished from contact (to his credit, he did live in another city) until sending me a text six months later telling me how good it was to meet me. I’m actually not joking.
I was disappointed in his flakiness, surely–but I was also disappointed that he denied me the excuse to spend more time getting to know his cool, unexpectedly deadpan sister.
A while later I tried dating the son of a family friend who had long been convinced that her offspring and I were meant for each other because both of us were writers and she and I got along. I gave it a chance even after realizing that he was a serious pothead and had the emotional maturity of a thimble–partially because he was cute, and partially because I quite liked the idea of her being my mother-in-law. Too bad, I soon realized, it would have to involve being married to him.
And, most recently, I tried going out with the son of a woman I know professionally. She is accomplished and smart and one of the most efficient people I know. Her son is a different story: flaky, lost, not sure in his late 20’s what he wants to do with himself.
With each of these guys, the fact that I knew–and liked!–these women somehow justified my interest. As though their evident flaws in personality and addiction ought to be rendered moot because they were so-and-so’s sister: how bad could they be?
The thing is, though, that most people who do not deserve to be your boyfriend probably have some higher quality relatives around somewhere; you just don’t often get the opportunity to know them first. As much as one would like to think that smart, savvy sisters and mothers produce siblings and offspring of similar stock, it is often not the case.
I should add that it often is: perhaps one day these guys will grow up and turn out to be reliable, driven and upstanding citizens. Perhaps someday they’ll find something–a woman, a job, religion–that will motivate them to do so.
All I know is that–sadly for me and for their respective relatives who I like so much–I, and they, are not it.