Wednesday, December 20, 2017

5 Ways I'm Really Good at Being Single (and 5 Ways I'm Not)

I haven't done a GTKY post in a long while, and particularly one related to my dating life, so I figured I'd give this a shot.  We're going to make this a bit of a sweet and the bitter situation, because that's what I've been feeling a lot in my personal life lately-the sweet and the bitter (I'm also, for the record, in a bad mood right now because of reasons I'm not going to get into, but if I come off a tad negative, chalk it up to that).  To try and deter me a bit in that regard, we'll start off with...

5 Ways I'm Really Good at Being Single

1. I'm very regimented

I frequently tell people "I'm the most Type A person you will ever meet," and it is indeed quite accurate.  I can tell you nearly every single day what I plan on doing that day, what the main goals are, when I'll do them.  I am a creature of habit, and who tackles problems, old and new with a near constant vigor.  I wake up at the same time, I am very used to the same clockwork-style life.  And I'm comfortable with this-most people would look at my life and say it's too strict, too routine, too staid, but I'm fine with that.  I've always been someone who craves consistency and who truly loathes surprises.  Being single, where you're the arbiter of most of your decisions, results in you avoiding most surprises.  One of the things that is perhaps the biggest humps I have to get over when I'm in a relationship is letting someone else make my decisions on occasion, or trusting them to plan a night or pick where we're going on a date, as I'm so used to it always being my decision.  Single life in this way suits me very well.

2. I'm very independent

The last date I went on, I remember the guy saying multiple times to me "wow, you're really independent."  At the time, I couldn't quite tell if he meant it as a compliment or a red flag, but he was right.  I don't need someone to do things with to have a fulfilling life.  I travel alone, eat out alone, go to movies alone, and I have routines and traditions I honor each year by myself.  Tonight I will put up my Christmas tree and watch The Grinch and it'll be lovely-I'm very capable of being by myself in a way that I don't think a lot of other people naturally can do.  Most of the single people I know are deeply reliant on a friend group to do most of these things with, de facto having them as a relationship crutch to get to go to brunch or enjoy a glass of wine.  That's not fact, I might go and pour myself a glass of wine once I finish this paragraph.

3. I'm deeply introverted

(He now has chardonnay) I think when someone first meets me, they might confuse me for an extrovert.  I'm someone who is very at ease with social settings that are mandated by society, because I've trained myself to be.  First dates, meeting business colleagues, professional meetings-these are all things that I do well.  I know the cadence, I can make a quick connection to someone, and it works well.  Know me for about a month, though, and you'll notice that it rarely, if ever, gets past that, because I'm very at home in introversion.  I get my energy from projects and tasks and contemplation, not necessarily relationships or parties.  I think it would be very difficult to be single for extended periods of time while also being extroverted.  Thankfully, that's not a hill I have to climb.

4. I don't get bored easily

I oftentimes think of myself as probably boring to chat with, particularly if you don't like the minutia of day-to-day life.  But I find learning, and doing a wormhole into a new subject fascinating, and I don't get bored easily (or, really, ever).  Pick a subject, and as long as it's not college football, I'll probably be into discussing it at length and for hours.  I think that a lot of people look at something that is not extremely familiar to them as something that can be easily dismissed, but I view it as a challenge.  As a result, I'm very good at entertaining myself.

5. I am extremely goal-oriented

I kind of think this might be the defining characteristic I portray to the world.  I am someone who loves tackling a problem, or accomplishing a To Do list.  In fact, most of my life is dictated by To Do lists.  I regularly will comb through my goals, thoughtfully parcelling through why one specific item on my Bucket List is not progressing, or devoting hours if not days to ensure that it sees the light.  I think establishing goals for yourself is really hard when you don't have someone there to support you in the form of a romantic partner, but I have friends that push me on this, and more importantly an inner-drive that is undeniable.  This helps me to fill my time with something I find meaningful, which I think is a struggle for people when they're alone.

5 Ways I'm Bad at Being Single

1. I'm Very Self-Conscious About My Dating Success

When people ask about my dating life, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end.  It's partially because I've had relatively little success in terms of dating, though.  I haven't had a boyfriend for an extended period of time (I've never celebrated Christmas or my June birthday with a boyfriend, put it that way...though I've done weirdly well by Thanksgivings), and take it personally (and am also aware it signals massive red flags when I'm on dates, so I try and avoid the conversation, or occasionally just straight up fib about the length of my longest relationships to get out of the talk).  I don't like this about myself, and take it as a bit of a personal failing even when it wasn't my fault (or solely my fault) when the breakup happened that would have continued the relationship.  As a result, I hate discussing, especially in a group setting, my romantic life as this question will rear its head and I will feel my self-worth just plummeting the longer the chat goes along.

2. I Trust Easily...and Then Lose Trust Pretty Quickly

I don't lie very often (except for when it comes to #1 on this list).  I used to when I was younger, due to self-preservation (when I was in the closet), but I just don't do it very often anymore, and when I do it's usually pretty white lies (like, "your baby looks cute" or "I totally agree-he was completely in the wrong").  As a result, I don't expect other people to lie to me, and as a result I'm someone that gets burned pretty quickly by people.  I've had multiple boyfriends cheat on me, completely unbeknownst to me (or were in relationships that I didn't know about, and it turns on I was the one they were cheating with), and as a result it hurts a lot more when I get dumped or have to break up because it wasn't something I was suspecting.

I'm also hard to regain trust with-if you make a promise to me and don't deliver, I'm going to assume (based on past experience) that that's what you're always going to do.  If a guy or even a friend stands me up for a hang out without some sort of advance warning, I'm not saying it's never happening again, but I will probably not make the first effort, forcing them to come to me a little.  As a shy, lonely kid I sort of got used to people taking advantage of me, and so I sort of have to have thick lines over what behavior I put up with so I don't risk going back to treating myself like a doormat.

3. I'm Not Great with Loneliness

I am not always bummed about being single.  Most of the time, I will admit, I don't notice it because my universe is so focused and so structured, it's hard to imagine that I am missing something.  But there are times when it peers out, like when I don't have someone to take a holiday card with or when I am on vacation and I see a couple being happy, or perhaps more so when I see people who I used to measure myself against (relatives, schoolmates, longtime coworkers), and realize how far they made it in their lives when I didn't get to those points (a house, wedding, children, etc).  When this happens, I get very lonely, and I'm not good at being lonely.  I try very hard not to talk to people when I'm lonely, because so often people want to fix it, not just support, and that makes it worse, and also because occasionally I'm lonely out of jealousy and that's a feeling that's hardly "socially-acceptable."  I also struggle talking to people because they are so far-removed from being single that they don't get how painful it can occasionally be.  I don't feel this one all the time, but when I do I struggle to know how to shake it other than just waiting for it to pass.

4. I Don't Have Great Self-Esteem

Perhaps the most lasting effect of being in the closet is that you are conditioned, for years, to hate yourself.  I grew up being taught that being different was wrong, that what I was was a sin, and that if I did feel anything, I should shut up about it; this wasn't from my parents, but instead by from the entire world around me.  I spent years trying to trick myself into being straight, and hating myself (strong word, but an accurate one) for not being able to change that about myself.  That feeling has dissipated over time, but it doesn't go away-you can't spend decades of your life hating yourself and not have that be a lasting shadow on your self-esteem, and there are frequently times I look in the mirror and don't like the person on the other side.  I have to train myself, catch myself, from saying truly awful things about myself I would punch someone for saying about other people I care about, but I'll admit that persistent rejection in dating is very hard to get over, and as a result it's definitely affected how I view myself.  That's unpleasant to say out loud, but the truth is occasionally unpleasant.

5. I Don't Want to Be Single

I think perhaps the most damning thing against me, in terms of not being good at single, is that I don't want to be single.  I frequently will get people who say "you're so lucky to have the night off to do X or Y," and I'm like "that's great, but that's what you want for your evening-I want a quiet evening in with a boyfriend."  I don't know that I have ever been so impossibly, completely, blissfully happy as the day my first real boyfriend (no pretenses, no clauses), asked me to be his boyfriend.  I drove home that day just listening to The Ronettes "Be My Baby" on repeat and crying and laughing and...I'd never been so happy, it felt like it radiated from my toes.  That's frequently how I feel in relationships-I feel full.  Not that I'm incomplete, but that I'm so joyous that someone actually cares about me to the point where they think about me first thing when they wake up, or when they have a funny story to tell or want to see a movie.  It's a lovely feeling.

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