“Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” Mr. Rogers
I am a certified loverboy. I am a romantic. I am believer in the all powerful nature of love. Never have I ever been in love. When I started writing this blog I was 17 years-old, and now I am 30. What a life that has been lived and one with so much left to experience. There is so much discourse about how love, relationships, dating, etc. have changed as generations take the helm of those experiences and the introduction of technology both in dating apps, and social media has radically changed our access to people and information about them. Is it supposed to be easier? Has social media and the endless barrage of swipes, taps, likes, messages, etc. changed our love lives for the better or has it made us gutted connections leaving vapid exchanges in their place? To be this age and to not had that seemingly major human experience can be anxiety-inducing. Part of me cares (enough to write this post), and another part of me is unbothered by it. Those questions swirl around incessantly - is there something wrong with me, is that experience not meant for me, will it ever happen, am I doing something wrong, why does it seem so much easier for other people, am I getting too old, is there a person out there for me, will they ever arrive, am I being dramatic, etc.
I have seen so many women talk about how it has felt to be a late bloomer or to not have had those hallmark experiences that seemingly everyone else has. We know men talk less, and specifically talk about the emotional toll of their life experiences. I can tell you it really does ebb and flow. Most of the time I don't think about it but it's obviously clear to me that I fill my time up so much that would otherwise be filled with people. Then there are moments where I notice how quiet it is, that I laughed to myself, that I had too many leftovers, or that I needed help taking boxes to the recycling center. That sharing of experiences with someone else - that whole doing of life - is something profound. What a powerful gift to be able to always have someone in your corner, a partner, a person, in perpetuity. Part of me wonders if I have been shielded from the heaviest parts of the continual search for "the one" because I don't know what I'm missing? Another part is reminded at every wedding, every birthday retreat, and every dinner party that I am single and have been so for the overwhelming part of my life.
One the things about sexism is that no one is really concerned too deeply about my love life or the possibility of fatherhood for me - not in the ways I see others being berated about nonsensical reproductive clocks and the corresponding value of heterosexual women based on their desirability to men. The platitudes abound. You're great. You're too good for them anyone. If I was single I would choose you. Your self-love is enough. You just gotta be open. It'll happen when you least expect it. The thing is I expected whatever "it" is to happen by now. It feels like a race and I'm falling behind - one I didn't know I was competing in. The dichotomy of being told you're wanted and the reality of not being pursued as such can be jarring. Which is it?
Timing is everything. People are getting married. People are having children and building their own families. People are engaged in the very serious work of love. If I met the proverbial love of my life tomorrow how long or how much of a relationship would we have to forge before we would even get to those milestones. There's no set timeline for how we live our lives but we would be lying if we said we did not compare our lives to that of others around us, especially those we share kinship with. I have never gotten to the point of normalizing a person in my life. Dating has long been this elusive rite of passage that seems to evade me. It happens on a rare occasion and then it fizzles. It seems like a novelty and then it wears off. I am never really passionate about people. I'm definitely queer in so many ways in that regard. I thought I was asexual for quite some time. I have probably watched too many rom-coms to have realistic expectations of how I should feel about people. I just know it should more than just indifferent tolerance.
I think I have felt the precursor infatuation to "love" twice. Most recently was last May. I did a little swiping and matched with who I quickly realized my ideal person was. The conversation did me in. The sincerity, banter, thoroughness, and shared similarities of how we viewed the world, community, family, parenthood, etc. struck me. I was floored. I had never felt like that before. I was excited. I was energized. I was giddy. Is this how other people feel? If this is how it was supposed to be then I had definitely been doing it wrong, and finally got the hype of all the sacrosanct love ballads. For the time first time I had a clear vision of who the amorphous person could be. How could someone understand me so quickly? How could the conversation flow so effortlessly? How could I already have enough questions to ask to sustain a lifetime? Someone you want to know and to be known by intimately, wildly, and endlessly. Is that what "love" is - or at least to me - an infinite stream of questions to fill a life with? How could this person's existence validate all that I had ever wanted and didn't know I would want? Maybe I wasn't asking for too much, being too picky, or having my standards too high. Maybe the love, care, and benevolence I strive to gift others was coming back to me in human form. And then the ghosting. Probably being delusional but I had to choose someone out of all the people I have met in my life it would be the merman. I have never envisioned or dreamed of someone actually being part of my life until now. Alas, the prospect of a person does not replace being purposeful in communicating effectively. We process and never pine.
I know I am a loverboy. I am most myself when I am trusting, safe, and adored. I transform from prim, proper, and practically perfect to silly, goofy, and downright ridiculous. I become more carefree and less cautious. I tell more stories and gain this insatiable curiosity about the other. I go above and beyond. Everything is part of the mystery of figuring other people out. It's birthdays and significant moments, taking note of favorite things, listening with painstaking attention to detail, and showing up as brightly as possible. I somehow get larger than life more than I already am. I simultaneously get more personal and less put together. I become more radically me. That person has been spotted oh so few times I almost forget he existed. I know who I am. I love I get to be. I most of all am grateful for who I have become. I like the life I have been gifted and strove to create for myself. I am the person I would want most to be partnered with. There is room for someone compatible to co-create a memorable life with. Will they make themselves known? Would I know if they were right in front of my face? Have we already met? Is that a guarantee? All I know is I am prepared to build if it happens, until then I will continue to demonstrate to myself the kindness and grace that I have to offer.