Wednesday, August 15, 2018

She Hates Being Single

Call her a casualty of therapy. She dubs herself “Single and Hating It.” She writes to New York Magazine advice columnist Ask Polly to complain about being single. Fortunately, for our purposes, Polly is more vapid than usual. We do best by ignoring her turgid rant, so we will.

The letter, however, exposes what really happens in far too much therapy. SAHI has learned to love herself. She loves herself a lot. She enjoys her own company. And yet, she is alone. She doesn't like being alone. She should not be alone. Therapy has told her, whether explicitly or implicitly, that once she loves herself sufficiently, a man will magically appear to love her for herself. Apparently, it hasn’t happened, so SAHI is dazed and confused.

As normally happens in such letters, we are presented with a steaming pile of sentiment. I feel this. I feel that. You feel what you feel and not what I feel. Your feelings are not my feelings… and so on, ad infinitum. The letter writers rarely present enough specific information for us to understand anything about their lives. This leads us to conclude that they have been taught to detach from reality in order to wallow in their emotions. And then they wonder why they are alone. Huh?

In her opening gambit, SAHI describes how much she likes herself. Solipsism, anyone?

As a diehard introvert, there are few things I cherish more than my precious alone time. I’m no stranger to solitude. I run alone. I read alone. I paint alone. I like to sit and relax and think about my life alone. At no point is there a running dialogue of “I wish I were more like this …” or “I hate this about me …” None of that. I like myself.

We are all happy to discover that she likes herself. She has no sense of how silly and jejeune that sounds, so we can safely conclude that she is mouthing what her therapist told her.

Of course, if you are in love with yourself you are, by definition an idealistic romantic. SAHI confirms our suspicions:

I have an idealistic romantic side, and yes, I love being showered with adoration. I love to shower them back tenfold. I love intimacy. I love sex. I love cuddling. I love doing nice things for my partner to make them feel appreciated. For me, love is what makes life worth living. Without it, I feel completely lost. This was not always the case, but my feelings have changed. I want to find my partner, build a family, a life.

Obviously, Polly reads this and absurdly concludes that SAHI does not believe in love. In truth, it’s all that SAHI believes in. She has no sense of the reality of conducting a relationship. It’s not all sex and cuddles. Do I need to explain this to adult women? Apparently, if they suffered enough therapy, I do.

SAHI explains that the love of her life, the “one,” the man of her dreams… was cheating on her. She seems, in her account, to suggest that lying about infidelity was the worst part of the infidelity. She could have forgiven the infidelity, but not the lies. This feels like displacement. She has every right to accept or reject whatever she wants to accept or reject. And yet, if “the one” is constantly cheating on you, he is probably not “the one.” I admit, you need to think beyond your sentimental attachment to arrive at such a conclusion, but still?

After 2.5 years with a partner who I thought was “the one,” it turns out that he was not. It was a life-altering breakup, and it was sudden. I lost my home. I lost my dog. I lost my best friend. The year before I lost my father, suddenly, to a heart attack. The weight of it all has been too much. I’ve been going to therapy every week for months. I’ve tried my best to keep up appearances that “everything is fine” so I can function at work and continue being a good friend and dutiful daughter. But the truth is that the unbearable emptiness is eating away at me every single day. I take responsibility for my own faults that contributed to the dissolution of my relationship, but the larger issues were beyond my control. Fidelity was not his bag. The numerous lies involved to cover up those infidelities were a deal-breaker.

Apparently, “the one” was considerably older. He was also not entirely committed to her. After a decent interval she moved on to a younger man. SAHI is 33. Her new paramour was in his 20s. Examine her description of the relationship. She thought he was attractive. They looked like a cute sporty couple. Really? Is that what makes for a great relationship?

After dating a considerably older man, I was excited by the prospect of dating a man a few years younger than me, still in his 20s. He was fit and active. We had so much fun outdoors. We looked like such a cute sporty couple. But appearances aside, I gradually realized that he was grossly immature and had some pretty low opinions of women. The cracks began to show in unpleasant ways.

And then, along came the deal breaker… period sex. Surely, this is much more than we want to know. A minimum sense of modesty would have prevented her from explaining it all in such agonizing detail. It suggests that her lack of discretion is a bigger problem than she thinks.

Of course, SAHI and Polly gang up against the man in question. Apparently, he reacted badly upon discovering his virile organ covered in blood. In their eyes, he is an immature self-serving misogynist, incapable of dealing with a real woman.

Here is SAHI’s description of the incident that broke their relationship:

And once I thought my period was over, we jumped right into bed. About 15 minutes into it, I see a disgusted look on his face. He said, “EWW, you smell like blood!” and then ran to the bathroom to wash his penis for what felt like an eternity. I. Was. Mortified. I have had sex on my period before with previous partners, and it was no big deal at all. And I can respect any person’s wishes to not partake in period sex. But he body-shamed me at one of the most vulnerable moments possible. I got dressed, left his apartment, and I broke things off. It was too indicative of what was to come. I was, and still am, extremely disappointed.

I will leave the biology to other people, but apparently she did not know that she was still on her period. Or perhaps there is another explanation that we will scrupulously avoid. She might have warned him in advance and asked how he felt about the issue. If she did not know, she has a good reason for not having told him. Which makes it convenient for her to think that she was mistaken.

And then, her shame is such that runs screaming from the room and from his life. She might have apologized. She might have said something. She might even have discussed what happened. No, her emotional resilience is so lacking that she fell apart on the spot and concluded that the man was a hopeless misogynist. Let’s just say that her own relationship skills are somewhat lacking.

So, she has gotten to this point:

I feel stuck. I’m almost 33, and I’m craving a monogamous, stable relationship so bad I can taste it. But after dipping my toe into the online dating world, and then suffering through a series of really awful dates, I’m starting to panic. I was baffled by the men who seemed so normal but talked only about themselves on dates, clearly only interested in hooking up even though their profiles suggest otherwise. It was like they were so concerned with selling themselves that they forgot to ask about me. These are grown-ass men! I deleted the dating apps. I’m so sick with disappointment that I am closing the book on dating until, well, when? How much time do I really have to build this family that I so badly want? Please keep in mind that this family does not even need to involve children. A stable, loving partner comes first. If children happen, great. If not, I can deal. I’m not desperately trying to meet someone so I can have a baby. I want to meet someone to share my life with. Why is this so hard?

Ah yes, the contemporary app-driven dating scene. I would not want to wish it on anyone, especially anyone female. Given the number of women who want nothing more than to hook up, it should not be surprising that men’s expectations should veer in that direction.

Now, it seems that men talk only about themselves… perhaps that means that they too have suffered through too much therapy and have mastered the art of talking to walls. Perhaps they are taking advice from behavioral economists. Of course, thanks to her therapy SAHI is also deeply into herself. You have to wonder how much she has left to offer to any man. And you certainly have to wonder about her own social skills, her own dating skills.

She is 33. She is beginning to panic. She and her smart beautiful friends bought the idea that if only they were independent and autonomous the men would be flocking to their doors. They imagined that if they loved themselves, men would love them. No one bothered to tell them that, when you are a woman, age is not your friend. And much younger men are generally a bad bet. It would be nice if SAHI could free herself from her fairy tale and start functioning in the real world.

As mentioned above, yes, I am an introvert. But I get out. I’m involved in clubs and organizations, and I love hanging with my friends. But I’m not meeting anyone. What do I do with this lost, empty feeling? Why am I, and so many of my smart, beautiful, successful friends, struggling to meet decent men? As much as everyone’s “take time off and find yourself” advice is a nice thought, I’ve already found her and she’s great. I’m ready to meet my equal. Until that happens, how do I deal with this intense loneliness and longing?


MikeyParks said...

If you love yourself and are dextrous enough to do something about it, why would you need a man? To fix your flat tire? Could it be that you're wired to want a man?

Sal said...

You mean SAHI

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I did... thanks for correcting it... changes now made.

David Foster said...

"It was like they were so concerned with selling themselves that they forgot to ask about me"

If that is really the case, then the men in question weren't really very good salesman.

Joe Y said...

How's this for identical twins raised in different environments:

Anonymous said...

This woman has the self-knowledge of a stick. She's an introvert, which is fine (BTW, introverts do enjoy their own company), but doesn't has no grasp of the consequences of this in an extroverted world. Her online dating experience is telling: Yes, the talkers. Most people talk over each other. Introverts never do this and therefore become passive listeners without even knowing why, unless they are particularly observant. (Give introverts the moment they need to initiate speaking, don't interrupt, and they will speak plenty.) In her case, she has learned that when she has negative experiences like this, it's because of THEM. Popular media/culture helps out by supplying lots of approved "-ists" to choose from, depending on the occasion. For example, she had recourse to "misogynist" for one of her encounters. I think she needs to learn that what she wants will be different than for most (the extrovert/outside world does seem boorish at times), but she'll have get past her "self-love" to do it.