May 28, 2009

This Is Why I'm Single

"Now, this is why you're single..."

A guy got kicked out of a bar for telling me that. It helps that he was pretty drunk.

The "this" he was referring to was the fact that I didn't swoon at his aggressive advances, that I didn't immediately give him my phone number and accept his invitations for lunch, dinner, drinks, a sleepover, and anything else he had in mind.

So is he postulating that by not succumbing to every drunk hit-on that comes my way, I'm closing myself off to true love? There was a time when I did succumb to every advance, and I still was single then. Even when I thought I was dating someone, it turns out I was still single, even THEN.

The nature of my single status is the age-old question that has plagued me since puberty. Actually it started during puberty when my Aunt Betty and Uncle Glenn would call and the first thing they would ask was, "Do you have a boyfriend yet?" When the answer was always a guilty "No...", the question evolved into, "Why are you single?" And then it seemed like everyone was asking it.

For a long time, I could blame my circumstances: my parents lock me in a tower, Colgate is a hook-up school not a dating school, I just moved to NYC, I'm working too hard...But when you start to realize that you have enough time and you are interested in a relationship and you have lived here long enough to socialize with a lot of people, you also realize: everyone around you is taken.

So by age 33, I've tried a few times to make it work, mostly with musicians and DJs and other music biz folks that didn't want to be a boyfriend (and then married the next girl they dated) or didn't have any money or were too obsessed with their own lives to think of anyone else. But now all those guys have someone else. Some of them even have babies.

Does that mean I've missed the boat?

At this point, when people ask me why I'm single, it sounds like an accusation. My cable guy spent a long time telling me what I need to do to attract a man. The drunk guy in the bar last weekend saw himself as Everyman, so that if I was turning him down, I must turn down every guy that comes my way, therefore putting me in a self-inflicted mode of perpetual singlehood. Others think I just must be too picky or looking for someone in the wrong places. Everybody's got advice.

But when you're approaching your mid-30s and you have never had a serious relationship (at least one that was serious on both sides of it), your friends try to be supportive and tell you that you're too good for most guys, too smart, too pretty, too successful, too intimidating. And although it's meant to be encouraging, it still sounds like a criticism. What's wrong with me is that I'm too much of a catch. Can that be right? There must be some guy out there that's as amazing as I am. Or some guy who's somewhat less amazing but brave enough to make up for the difference. Or how about some guy who's even more amazing and doesn't mind slumming it a bit?

Quite frankly, the reason I'm single right now is again circumstantial. My year-long existential crisis has eclipsed my need for nookie. My Peace Corps recruiter warned me against getting into a serious relationship before being shipped off to Central Asia. And, given the stresses I've been under, I've preferred sitting alone in a bar with a nice bottle glass of wine than talking to drunk dudes who try to take me home and then never call.

The moment I found out that Peace Corps didn't accept me in the final rounds of the application process, I kind of thought, "Huh, well at least I can try to date again." But now I've booked a trip to spend the summer in Joshua Tree, CA, and something tells me I won't find my prince in the next two weeks before I leave.

Will I find him out West? Maybe. As my friend John says, I need an adventurer. I haven't come across many of those in the Northeast.

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