Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Love is Not a Spectator Sport

"Kind of like an alcoholic Cagney and Lacey" - @MartynKelly

A few months ago @Oh_Merde (who is pictured above) inquired about how I cope with this "single and dating thing". Fairly fresh faced when it comes to singledom, she was hoping to obtain some insightful relief from let's be honest, a veteran. However at the time I was hardly feeling particularly wise. I had been applying hair removal cream on my upper lip and decided that a little dab of it on my sideburns wouldn't hurt. When I received the What'sApp message from her I was mortified and peering at what looked like the remains of a vacant patch of carpet next to my ear. So I absent-mindedly replied with, "I don't. This is why I've given up and am spending my Friday evening essentially shaving my face." (For the record, I now spend every second Saturday afternoon at House of Fraser, where a woman named Vera threads my face).

But I was reminded of her question today, while shackled to my desk during one of my wistful daydreams over unrequited situations of the past. And it led me to the realisation that I have a coping mechanism which I implement these days without even thinking about it. Pessimism. Or is it realism? I'm torn at the moment and a little worried that my past experiences of rejection have caused this irrevocably jaded outlook on my romantic life. Because the result is total and utter ambivalence towards relationships and men in general. Don't get me wrong, I go out on dates and spend a lot of time (OK all of my time) drinking raucously with friends at various watering holes. What I'm trying to assert here is that I could have sex (and more importantly a life outside of hair removal) if I desired it. 

But it's not that I don't have the opportunity for romantic endeavours to flourish, I just don't have the inclination to capitalise on them. Some people are starving for emotion, I on the other hand am fasting. All this time I thought I'd been dusting myself off, moving on and being better for it. But I appear to be simply repeating the same mistakes with different people. I don't cope, I just put distance between myself and whatever it is that has hurt me. Evidently this method of pushing negative emotions to the back of my mind and letting them quietly fester as a mental illness have manifested as a somber cloud over my love life. 

I've cast my mind back over the last twelve months and the highlights are more than a little comedic. There was the one-date wonder who revealed he had just being diagnosed with clinical depression, a guy who proceeded to have sex with a girl immediately after me while I remained a prisoner in his house, a younger one who commented that I hadn't taught him anything despite being an older woman and a wholly dysfunctional infatuation with someone I've never actually met. But what's really enlightened me is my reaction to these failed scenarios. Or the lack of a reaction more like. Except of course to derive humour from them. 

Which is my ultimate coping mechanism, otherwise known as my armour. If in doubt I go on the offensive with a joke. But I'm getting increasingly weary of the one-woman show and now I'm not so sure that it's been good for me. I've been of the opinion that it's detrimental to get upset and laughing through the pain of being unwanted was surely the best remedy. Some people are too frightened to experience new relationships because past pain acts as a deterrent. I've been too frightened to experience the pain at all. Which is exactly the problem. I've been under the false impression that I'm immune to being hurt. But just because germs are invisible doesn't mean they're not there. And ignoring them has led me to a bedridden state of romantic apathy. 

But there's a glimmer of hopeful light on the horizon. Last weekend I succumbed to revealing my feelings to someone. Well sort of, in my own little flirty digital way. It totally backfired on me however and I was thrown the ultimate curve ball: the revelation that he now has a girlfriend. Who is apparently completely perfect for him. And it hurt. But it's good. Because it affected me and I'm OK. The clarity of the situation is a relief actually. Uncertainty is acutely treacherous and the real detriment here, not pain. In fact, the experience has awakened a flicker of desire for intimacy with someone and I know that eventually someone will set it alight. Taking solace from that knowledge is keeping me warm and for the time being that's really all I need.