This year marks the seventh anniversary of my divorce. I married a struggling actor when I was 24, and a little more than two years later, on a cruise celebrating my parents’ thirtieth anniversary, we decided to call it quits. (You thought I was going to say “jump ship,” didn’t you? A little credit, please.)
He met the woman he’s now married to shortly after we separated. I, on the other hand, have been single ever since.
We were over each other before it amicably ended and very much ready to date other people. And I have. There have been flings and first dates and flirtatious, undefined, long-distance friendships. But no boyfriends.
I came close a couple of times, most notably in early 2009 with a guy named Joey. We dated for a couple of very intense months. Then, on the way home from my thirtieth birthday party, in the late-night drive-thru at Taco Bell, he told me he didn’t think we should see each other anymore. I never got a clear reason because he always chalked up his decisions, including this one, to the teachings of the mystic Osho.
So, yeah, it was probably for the best.
Anyway, I don’t care about that reason anymore. I’m more concerned with figuring out the reason(s) I haven’t had a serious relationship since my marriage. I’ve been single more than thrice as long as I was married.
I wouldn’t care if I didn’t care, but I care, so I care, you know?
I’ve been wanting to really think through all of the plausible explanations for why I can’t seem to break out of singleness, so when Emily invited to me write something other than beauty articles
for xoJane, I immediately told her I wanted to work this shit out in an article. (Also, I can say “shit” on xoJane but not on xoVain.
I often wear this $5 thrift-store find on first dates. That’s not one of the reasons, I don’t think.
I’m an open (and self-deprecating) book.
There are a lot of things I’m bad at, but being mysterious is probably the talent I’m most detrimentally lacking. I can keep everyone’s secrets but my own, and I tend to interpret the notion of being myself as being forthcoming about myself.
Everyone has issues and quirks, past and present, and they’re bound to come out when you enter into a relationship with someone. Or, in my case, they’re bound to come out on the first date.
Over our first drinks, I’ll draw attention to my weird, clubbed thumbs. When we order the second round, I’ll make a flirtatious quip about how, after 10 years and as many antidepressants, I switched to Cymbalta and have been on it ever since. By the third, I’ll have found a humorous way to tell you I was raped in college.
Sometimes I think I put my dark stuff out there -- albeit in an adorable, hey-I-just-met-you kind of way -- as a challenge. Like, listen, I’m not perfect and I don’t want you to have any illusions that I am, so decide right now if you’re comfortable with my flaws, and if you’re not, we don’t need to hang out again.
And we usually don’t.
My issues aren’t the only thing I’m open about. I’ve found myself borderline-sexting with guys from OkCupid before we even meet, and I’ve hooked up on first and second dates pretty often. But that doesn’t mean that’s all I’m looking for.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised about the way the male mind works this far into my life, but unless I act demure (and I'm not even sure how to do that), the guys I go on dates with just want sex. I want sex, too, but I want it with one guy on a regular basis for months or years between nonsexual gestures of love and friendship.
And just to clarify any assumptions you may be reasonably making: no, I don’t go on first dates blatantly, desperately looking for love. I’m ambivalent about marriage and children. I really just want to find someone I enjoy hanging out with recurrently to see if it could go somewhere sort of special.
When you haven’t had an S.O. for three-quarters of a decade, you get used to it. I definitely get lonely -- sometimes painfully. But usually, I’m just alone and indifferent on my couch with my dogs, who are cute and male, but not really boyfriend material.
It’s great to have proven to myself and others that I’m truly independent, but that autonomy has made me lazy. I’ve let my apartment get so messy that even if I wanted to invite someone over, I wouldn’t because it’s not presentable enough for company. (There’s probably a subconscious self-sabotage element in there, not unlike how I put my perceived issues on the table right away.)
I don’t mean I’m tired of anything in particular -- I’m just tired. When I say I’m on the couch with my dogs, it’s because I don’t have the energy to do much else when I get home from work or at the end of the week.
I have autoimmune issues (which I've been known to bring up on first dates), and I’m always achy and exhausted. Consequently, I pretty much never go out unless it’s on a date I’ve arranged on OkCupid. Spontaneity is not an option.
Seldom do I find the energy to go out just for the sake of going out, and I’m probably missing a kabillion opportunities to meet single guys. Not that I’d approach the right ones…
I’m unable to tell how old guys are.
On the rare occasion that I’m out socializing, if I hit it off with someone, the night usually ends with the realization that he was in sixth grade when I was interning at Letterman. It’s like my mind was cryogenically frozen when I got married, and I’m still drawn to guys I would’ve dated back then.
I admit, I’m attracted to scruffy, skinny guys who look like they play one of the primary rock-band instruments, but they can’t all be in their 20s, can they? CAN THEY?!
I’m open to dating someone a few years younger than me, but it’s unlikely that someone much younger than me is as ready for a relationship as I am. And if he thinks he is, he’s probably as misguided as I was when I got married 10 years ago.
I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been.
Don’t yell at me.
Honestly, I don’t know exactly how -- and how much -- my weight plays a part in my being single, but I believe it does. I’ve heard many opinions on this particular theory, and some make more sense than others.
A few people genuinely believe that my being not-skinny is the main reason I’m alone, and those people -- I know -- are wrong. People of every body type and weight find loving, long-term relationships with partners who adore their skinny, fat and in-between bodies.
One person said that my OkCupid profile pictures may be too flattering, which could lead to disappointment upon meeting. Maybe?
Other people have suggested that perhaps the specific guys I’ve been interested in just happen to not be into curvy women -- that I somehow keep managing to develop crushes on guys who find my big boobs (which, FYI, are big regardless of my weight) as exciting as my clubbed thumbs (which are clubbed regardless of my weight).
I get attention from guys I’m not interested in, so I know my body isn’t universally unattractive; and I just said seven paragraphs ago that I’m attracted to skinny guys, so I’d be a hypocrite to deny men body-type preferences. But it really does seem like most of the guys I’m attracted to just aren’t attracted to me; and I’m not about to date someone I’m not attracted to just because they’re attracted to me. (Do people do that?)
If my weight truly is playing a preventative part in this dating shitshow, it’s probably not the number itself or how it looks on my frame. It’s the insecurity that has come with not feeling I look my personal best.
So, I'm not sure if any of these surmises are really the reason(s) I’ve been single for so long, and even if they are, I don’t know if I can or should change those things. I don’t want to have to be different than my natural self in order to be appealing to someone who appeals to me.
I’m open to suggestions -- and by “suggestions” I mean advice and specific guys you suggest I date. xoJane readers probably have some awesome friends, brothers, cousins, etc. Go ahead and share this article on the Facebook timeline of any cute guy in the NYC area who’s at least 29, appreciates some foibles, isn't religious, and prefers Joan’s body to pre-thyroid-crap Betty’s. (I don’t even watch "Mad Men" -- did that reference make sense?)
Let’s see what happens.