It’s funny. Seeing the photos and headlines from World Pride Week in Toronto, I – a straight male who’s as conventional as they come – find my thoughts drifting back to love, singlehood, marriage, and the journey I’ve had over the past 4.5 years.
Right now, in Toronto, there are literally tens of thousands of people from around the world celebrating their authentic selves and fighting for their freedom and power to love who they want. Meanwhile, I’m here, forty minutes away, present to the reality that one of my biggest obstacles to finding a relationship is fear of losing the power I’ve acquired from being single.
The reality for me is that four-and-a-half years out of the end of my marriage, I have not been in a single romantic relationship. I’ve not had a girlfriend. Not one. I’ve dated, had simple and complicated experiences with women I’ve met, but almost all of it’s been a sideshow to the greater spectacle that has been the ongoing work on Jody Aberdeen 4.0.
The thing is, as much as I have these feelings of longing for intimate connections with a woman, I’m becoming present to the fact they’re really no different than any other natural longings that crop up from time to time: hunger, thirst, rest, et cetera.
It really is only natural to want social connection of some sort, regardless of how that connection manifests. And it’s also true that a relationship can also be a huge distraction from bigger things that I could be (and am) doing with my time and energy. The main difference between this need and the others is that I won’t actually die if I don’t have this one met.
When Jody 3.0 was released four-and-a-half years ago, there was one dominant fear: that I’d be alone forever, and I wouldn’t be able to take it. I’m still not entirely comfortable with being alone at times – again, same way I can’t quite stay on a diet or go all night without getting drowsy – but I’m not terrified of it any more. In fact, I welcome it at times because I get to re-charge, to try out new things without looking over my shoulder for the silent or loud judgements of other people.
Then I thought I was ready, over the hurt, and I dated here and there for a time, but they didn’t go anywhere. There was something not quite there, a level of commitment to the possibility of an actual relationship that is a prerequisite to any intimate experience. I haven’t been on an actual date in a year now. I’ve only been on a handful of them since becoming single in 2010. A lot of that has been because of fear of being hurt again, but stepping out of that, I find now that I care more about having the access to the ability to start a relationship than actually having the relationship.
Think about it. If you’re like me and you haven’t dated a lot, or you’re just bad at it, or otherwise not like the people we know in our lives who can find a mate the same way you and I can just pick up a carton of eggs at the grocery store, having the access to the ability is something that matters a great deal. We want to feel that it really is the case that “I can do that, I choose not to” I want my bachelorhood to be a choice, not that I’m alone because I suck at talking to women I’m attracted to.
On top of that, I don’t want to distract myself with making finding a girlfriend a main goal. I have too much at stake right now in my writing career, way too much. The very fact that having a girlfriend and having the life I want show up for me as being in conflict says a lot about why, despite my confidence of the past few months, I don’t go up to women to talk as much, even if they catch my attention. I just want to know I have the option, at any time, to just get dressed up, go out with the lads to a place with a lot of ladies, and strike up a conversation from a place of authentic power that could lead to something bigger. I just want the access.
Or could this just be fear of hurt manifesting itself as practicality?
In any case, the main thing for me these days is that whoever I meet needs to be someone along the path I’m walking towards the goal I set myself. Any girl who appears in my line of sight who meets my twenty criteria (yes, I have a list: what else could you expect from the author of “Convergence”?) needs to somehow contribute to that greater version of my life. On the flip side, from her perspective, I’d also have some utility to whatever she has going on for herself. As unromantic as it may sound, we should be useful to each other. Otherwise, we will diminish each other.
Anyway, I suppose this is just a way of emptying my head so that tomorrow, when I do head back out in the world to build the future I’m creating for myself, I won’t get stuck in my head with all of these limiting thoughts if I do see someone that catches my interest. This way, I can actually have a conversation and see what opens up beyond her just having a pretty face.
And for those thousands, forty minutes away to the north east, who are finding power, expression, and freedom in love, I wish them the best, and hope that for myself, I will find love that will empower me in much the same way.