I have quite a lot of experience and a lot to say on the subject of dating / male-female dynamics / sexual politics – whatever you wish to call the very elusive and enigmatic subject of what happens when girl meets boy.
I am eternally single, having spent the bulk of my life single. I had one long term relationship that was 2 and a bit years of acrimonious incompatibility. He didn’t get me, he didn’t like to live life like me, and I also happen to have been existing in a state of crazed anxiety for which I would only start seeking help for six years later… I digress.
The perks of being single are that you get to flit your way from one unsuitable and unsustainable lover to the next. It’s an adventure. It makes for great stories. And, your friends, who are shackled to stale relationships, get to live vicariously through you. But, ultimately, you are the one who comes out worse.
Biology is a fierce thing to fight against. When a woman has great sex with a man, a little devil called oxytocin – the bonding hormone – is released in her which makes her think that this is the man for her. She lives in a state of crazed infatuation and longing for anything up to 2 weeks – nausea, racing heart, anxiety and confused thoughts cause havoc and what was once a strong woman is reduced to a teenage girl the day before her very first period. And, full sex doesn’t even need to take place for oxytocin to cast its spell! Meanwhile the man goes about his daily business, unable to conceive of anything except what is directly in front of him at the time. A cruel, cruel imbalance of power, that causes the woman not only immense pain but feelings of guilt and worthlessness at her current conundrum – unless, that is, the man deigns to call her, come over, and keep the sex and romance hormones topped up.
As to the above, I speak for myself and for at least some of the female population out there. There are the Samantha Joneses among us who can have great sex and then walk away like a man. But for me, great sex can only happen when there is something deeper than the physical. And when there is something deeper than the physical, I start thinking that maybe this could blossom into something more than No Strings sex. I also suffer from a condition whereby love and lust get entwined, and I cannot always tell the difference. Maybe I mistake that “something deeper” for something purely physical, in reality. Perhaps I have been dressing my lust up as something I perceive to be “better”. If that is the case, what do I have against lust? Maybe my Catholic upbringing sabotaged my ability to have pain-free sex.
I don’t have a type. I like to think of myself as the ultimate equal opportunities woman. I have dated all sorts: from toffs in England to gang members from LA; chunky hairy ones, to small soft skinned ones. I feel like in such a great array of men, I always manage to find a small facet of myself in each and every one: something to relate to, something we share in common. And, I love that. But, it is tiring. Especially with such convention in the world, such expectation that dictates we must settle down and eventually find a long term partner with which to mate for life. If you are a guy you have it easy – being a bachelor is a good look. Being a single woman over the age of 25 is not. Unfortunately, mindsets and social convention do not change as speedily as the world does…
Well over a decade of men later and I have heard the same lines of comfort offered me by friends and strangers alike… Myths about the way in which relationships work and fail. And, I have come to realise that it is all bollocks. True, these maxims can offer some comfort in the moment post-rejection, but are not air tight in the bigger picture.
Myth #1: You’re too good for him/her.
At first, this boosts the confidence. We feel great, believing that the other person is not worthy of us. That they are missing out and that one day (hopefully pretty darn soon) they will realise what a mistake they have made and they will forever more remember us as ‘the one that got away’. In reality, there is not such thing as “good enough”.
First, that implies that any of us is better than the other. This isn’t true. We all have good sides and all have bad sides. And, anyway, with what measuring stick do we quantify “good”? How much we earn? What we wear? Our ethics? Our looks? We are just people. What really matters is whether we fit each other.
Another reason why I reject this hypothesis is that we could go through the whole of our life thinking every man or woman we encounter isn’t good enough for us (Not to say we should settle for someone who makes us unhappy). That voice saying they aren’t good enough for us – pure ego. A more balanced view is that the time and the person didn’t fit: we were two jigsaw puzzle pieces that didn’t happen to be built for each other. Neither is better than the other. But we are both lovely little pieces in a beautiful bigger picture.
Myth #2: It’s their loss.
No, it really is ours. We are losing because we want them and they don’t want us. End of. It would be their loss if we rejected them. But, probably it isn’t a loss from either side; more like the closing of a door that will bring about an opening of a more lovely window later one.
Myth #3: If you sleep with someone on the first date, you will only be seen as good for sex and nothing else.
This is one of the largest sweeping statements ever. It is based on assumptions and values that are far, far out dated. If you buy this, you also buy the notion of no sex before marriage. Yes, some people may place lovers into boxes labeled Sex, Friend, Girlfriend Material. But, if we flip the myth on its head and ask: “how many couples who are currently in long term relationships slept together on the first date?”, very likely over 50% will have slept together this early on, disproving this “rule”.
One thing I have learned about relationships – all kinds – is that each one is unique and follows its own laws of physics. But, as human beings full of fear and misunderstanding, we love to apply rules to everything in the world: that’s why we live in an age of science. It makes us feel as if we understand the universe, but really we don’t know jack. We like to make rules like “if he doesn’t text you make in x amount of time he isn’t interested and you should act like an angry bitch towards him”. We set these inane and very limited rules and then use them to determine what is going on in the mind of another person. It’s ludicrous.
Myth #4: You can only love yourself first before another loves you.
The pursuit of self-love and then obtaining it is a very, very hard thing. It is an ongoing process and one can always go further. Some people say you have to love yourself first before another can and before you can love another. Yes, I agree that being in love with yourself will make you oh so much more lovely to another. And, it is only until you know how to love yourself that you can give some of this overflowing love to another. However, if only the self-loved got into relationships, 90% of the world would still be single. I rest my case.