“Monogamy is impossible, but anything else is worse.”
No, I haven’t tried everything else…but close.
Puppy love exclusivity, casual one-of-the-bros longterm girlfriend, open relationship with, I thought, the long distance love-of-my-22-year-life. I’ve been the other woman, the rebound, a girl’s first girl, the youngest one at the orgy, the businessman’s release, and a drug-addled whenever-you-want-it baby. Not to mention the one who is slowly sleeping with everyone of your friends.
I’m not saying that everything else is, case by case, worse. If I could spend every night in a group sex pile with intelligent and open people, maybe I would. But that’s not what it’s like out there. Not for me, anyway.
Falling in love took my identity and smashed it to pieces. After a few failed longterm relationships, I was looking forward to at least a decade of sleeping around. When I’d been in “love” before, it had turned me to a sniveling pile of fluff who only smiled when her boyfriend called her. The rest of my days I’d spend distant from anyone else around me, trapped in a boyfriend fog that I’m embarrassed to think about now. Some of that I brought onto myself. Codependency seemed such a disgusting state, so to avoid it I encouraged boyfriends not to call me, coddle me, or love me. We could have sex, we could be companions, but if the word “love” dropped, it would be with a wink and a sense of irony.
This never worked out for me. The slightly younger me took every gap of attention as a sign of disinterest. A lesser problem, that. More importantly, whenever something went wrong, I told myself that it was my fault for being so lax. Sure, it would be nice if I got to see my down-the-street-boo more than once every two weeks, but he was busy. Naturally, I told him I didn’t mind. Maybe I also would have liked if a certain so-and-so didn’t need to ask me to borrow $2 to buy himself a taco once in a while. After all, when he did get money, he’d spend it all on me. Really, all of it!
Then sometimes the wrong love would consume me. Alcohol or other might spin me toward spitting “love” to someone I appreciated, adored, admired, or respected. The word “love” trapped me once. When some say it they mean it. You can’t just utter it in response in a dizzy moment of elation and expect your partner to know what you mean. Maybe I meant “I love you like a friend” when I said it to him on that first blurry night. As the bond between him and I, the wronged love, carried on, I felt a shift toward “I love you like a mother.” Time passed and I loved him more, but not in the way he needed me to do. No one had made him feel loved for a long time. It was dark inside, and it might not have mattered if it was me or anyone who said it. But it was me, and I did take on the burden of loving him, and it broke me. When we broke it was nasty for him, and hard for me to watch.
By that point I was ready to let my heels carry me toward a string of affairs, fucks, and flirtations. There’s a mean streak in me, and I channelled it when marching from bedroom to bedroom, racking up partners and thriving off the heady rush only a nerd on a sexual rampage knows.
As part of my commitment to the single life, I tried to stamp out any signs of a “cute meet” before even pursuing a hook-up. Being drunk for any chance encounter with the opposite sex helped. Reminding the lucky guy that we met while I spilled my Manhattan on his lap or telling text messaging suitors that I didn’t remember meeting them helped. For P, it was a bit tricky. His brother had been telling me for weeks that P and I would be a perfect match. Love, marriage, the works were in the bag. And I could tell from a few chance meetings that P was someone I hoped to know better. High risk for monogamy there, I thought, especially as all of this was occurring during cold, snuggly December.
When I finally asked P to come home with me, it was closing time at the bar and neither of us was sober. Have a smoke at my place, I offered. Details matter less here. Maybe I’ll share them another time. I’ll only say that after months of trying so desperately not to, I melted.
Love mellows me out. I don’t need the throbbing bass and the elevated BAC that I did to have fun before. In that way it makes me feel much older. I used to worry that my brain chemistry would betray me, that I’d age into a dull adult before I had the chance to really enjoy myself and observe all the life I could. In some sense, love does that, but I’ve never felt bad about that. Instead, I feel more alert than I ever did, and certainly more “myself”. I’ve never been more sincere. No part of me is performing for anyone, and least of all for him. He knows me in my barest state.
In an interview with The Hairpin, Caitlin Moran explained this state best:
You know when you’ve met the right person because there’s nothing really to say. I’ve noticed that time and time again, every time one of my girlfriends goes “I’ve met this guy,” and it just goes on forever in the G+ circles I’m in, and there will be pages and pages filled with like five or six of us debating what he said and what he did, and you’re going “Well he did this, and he did that, what does it mean?” And then suddenly that person will disappear, and they’ve met someone else and they’ll just resurface five weeks later and you go “What’s going on?” and they’re like “I just found a man.” And they just stop talking about it. That is generally the key, the point where you stop talking about it, because there is nothing to say when you’re happy.
She’s right, I’m happy now, and I have nothing more to say about that.