Since I left my husband I have been unable to do a number of things -- the most frustrating lost skill is the ability to date. After nine years in a committed relationship, I have extreme difficulty navigating the nuanced dance that is dating. I have learned I can't be too direct, eager, needy, desperate, clingy, emotional, commitment pressuring, or baby daddy seeking. I also have to avoid looking cold, aloof, bitchy, mean, shallow, negative or distant. And of course I can't even talk about my ex, even if the past nine years of my life was living and working with him! Then there are the crazy games of when to text, email or call, when to answer immediately, when to act interested or disinterested and when to completely blow them off. As a person who is by nature very direct and to the point, dating is a mystery trapped in a puzzle, tucked in a fireproof safe thrown down a mineshaft. I just can't figure it out. But the most distressing behavior is the casual sex hook-up mating habits that dominate New York City, a city that I adore and call my home.
I am a committed relationship type of gal. I make no illusions to being anything but this, and I do not judge others with different lifestyles. If a polyamorous life of multiple lovers or a string of emotionally detached one-night stands with perfect strangers is satisfying to a person, then they should be doing exactly that. But I know there are others like me that aren't wired this way, and seek something with some level of greater commitment both emotionally and sexually. I have a myriad of friends who complain all the time:
"I am not slutty enough for New York."
And I can relate. I have made failed attempts of hooking up with partners for something casual, but every time the results have been disastrous. For the most part I am let down by an experience that was supposed to be fun, and which ends up making my life more complicated. I had one man who kept calling me for months, another who rudely told me about his other women -- and yes there is a polite way to handle this -- and yet another who had a mild breakdown in my apartment about how he couldn't handle the "gray area". So I realized, I am not this person, I need to be true to myself so I went back to my committed relationship roots. But no matter how much I keep trying to go for a relationship, the hook-up scenario keeps rearing its ugly head. I might start talking to a guy only to see him leave with a woman who has made it perfectly clear that a hook-up is about to happen. A situation I like to call survival of the sluttiest.
It is just sort of expected by many that you start the physical part of the relationship first, and then see if either partner wants to continue after the fact, sort of a try before you buy situation. Sex before emotional attachment, sex before any form of relationship, sex before everything.
• The guy will call or text when he wants to hookup but that is about it.
• You are supposed to be on call to wait for the opportunity to see him
• Don't reveal too much about yourself, but listen to him complain
• Don't expect commitment, or exclusivity
• Don't expect any emotional bonding
• Don't expect much effort on his part to impress you
• Don't expect him to make you feel important in his life
Not exactly what I call fun, but again everyone is different and for some people this situation is ideal. What I find frustrating is that if you really want to get to know a guy first before having sex with him, it seems like there is no end to the women who will jump into bed with them. And this isn't to say that only men do this, as women engage in the same behavior as do people of all sexual orientations and gender identifications.
I didn't think that in order to try to have a healthy sustained relationship with a person I am supposed to have sex with them hours or even minutes after meeting them. It seems more like long-term relationship suicide.
I know there a plenty of men and women who are frustrated like myself out there. But what are we supposed to do when everyone around us seems to be whoring it up? And if people can so easily get no-strings attached sex, and then never see the person again if they choose, why would they try for anything else?
There are no real rules with relationships and sometimes sleeping with a stranger leads to years of coupled bliss, but it is rare when that happens. And in a city where pretty much anyone can become anonymous overnight, promiscuous behavior dominates. How did this become the ideal lifestyle? And is there a place for people like myself who want something more traditional? I don't want to move, but I am really getting tired of being alone.
Follow Juliet Jeske on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JulietJeske