For reasons completely unrelated to my romantic life, this afternoon I read an article on a Jewish dating site about dating over 35. Since I, uh, am 35 and currently dating and have always felt a cultural affinity for Jews, I was curious (after a search for “how to help someone who is angry” led me to the site in question)… and while I didn’t much relate to the parts about studying Torah and “practicing” Judaism (though I guess I could in the sense that dating outside of the program feels a bit like sacrilege at this point), I did get quite a bit out of the article. The basic point? That while we should all be quite happy with our lives as they are, we shouldn’t run around saying “oh, I love being single! it’s the best thing EVER!” if what we’re really working toward is a long-term relationship (perhaps ending in marriage?) because then we set ourselves up to a lifetime of being single. Whereas if we view ourselves as someone who could be one-half of a really great partnership, we can prepare ourselves for the sort of compromise, connection, and openness that come with being in a real, adult, fulfilling relationship. Part of that whole creative visualization thing, perhaps?
It kinda shocked me to realize I agree… and that, without really realizing it, this is a transformation I’ve gradually been making over the past few weeks, after it occurred to me that I’m tired of wasting my time with people who are — don’t get me wrong — fun and easy-going and all that jazz, but (probably?) not guys who I saw myself in a partnership with. I’m still undecided on that whole marriage thing — get back to me next week and you’ll get a different answer than right now — but I do know that the Julie Delpy character in 2 Days in Paris resonated with me 100% when, at the end of the film, she says
It always fascinated me how people go from loving you madly to nothing at all, nothing. It hurts so much. When I feel someone is going to leave me, I have a tendency to break up first before I get to hear the whole thing. Here it is. One more, one less. Another wasted love story. I really love this one. When I think that its over, that I’ll never see him again like this… well yes, I’ll bump into him, we’ll meet our new boyfriend and girlfriend, act as if we had never been together, then we’ll slowly think of each other less and less until we forget each other completely. Almost. Always the same for me. Break up, break down. Drunk up, fool around. Meet one guy, then another, fuck around. Forget the one and only. Then after a few months of total emptiness start again to look for true love, desperately look everywhere and after two years of loneliness meet a new love and swear it is the one, until that one is gone as well. There’s a moment in life where you can’t recover any more from another break-up. And even if this person bugs you sixty percent of the time, well you still can’t live without him. And even if he wakes you up every day by sneezing right in your face, well you love his sneezes more than anyone else’s kisses.
Because that’s exactly how I felt after The Goofball disappeared and left me with more questions than answers. Not that I wanted him back, but that I couldn’t recover from another break-up. That I wanted something real, and tangible, and worth waiting (and fighting) for. I’m at the point where I’m done wasting time, fooling around, pretending that the choices I make don’t matter because I “like” being single, because I am “happy” with my life as it is. And not because I’m lying when I say I like it and am happy (because I’m not, and I am!) but because all of this working-on-myself and getting to the point where I am 100% satisfied with me is not just so I can finally become a whole person, but also so I can be a whole person who meshes well with someone else. All the time in the rooms of the program, I see married couples — some married for 50 years, others who met in the rooms and have been together less than five, or one — and in addition to wanting what they have found in sobriety, I find myself wanting what they have found because of sobriety: the ability to finally commit to someone (and something) outside of themselves. And as I sit on the precipice of celebrating a year of sobriety (and find myself on another, equally scary precipice, of my first healthy relationship), I am grateful that I’ve changed my perspective on things. I have no idea where life will take me, but I can see what that Jewish website was talking about: I’ve got to start thinking of the possibilities or else I’ll be trapped forever in what could have been. What an exciting prospect! Namaste.