Well, single-ish. Mostly. It’s gray. A ghostly fog sort of gray.
And here’s the thing… I am thirty, and single. I’ve never had a romantic relationship longer than 4 months. I like to say that I am intolerant of mediocre relationships. But obviously its prooobably more complicated than that. So many times, I have asked the cards, “why am I always single,” and “is [this person] my mate,” and most especially, “dammit, why do all those other jerks out there get to have perfectly good dysfunctional relationships and co-dependently happy endings? I want one toooooo!” I know, it’s more complicated than that… but you try explaining that to the petulant 13yo girl inside me who just wants to kiss boys and hold their hands and have babies and live happily ever after. She is loud. Ignoring her doesn’t make her go away, it only makes her try harder to get my attention, until she’s shouting in my ear, making me do the sorts of crazy things that get talked about in the Cosmo “10 ways to chase away the man of your dreams” article. I have LOTS of insecurities about this – both the thing itself, and also the insecurity about the thing. The thing being the fact that I’m a thirty year old spinster. Is that established well enough?
Aaanyways… every time I ask a divination tool (you know, tarot, ouija board, praying), every time I ask those questions, I get back robotically smug whisper… “that would be unproductive” … “that is not your work” … “shut up and go away, or come up with a more interesting question – oooh, I’ll tell you all about your shadow work, would you like to hear about your shadow work?” [eyeroll] It’s VERY ANNOYING. I don’t know if the spirit guide voices in your head are sarcastic jerks, but the ones in my head sure as heck are. [whisper to the side of my hand] I blame my ego.
SO I’M A THIRTY YEAR OLD SPINSTER. The 12yo girl in me is worried about this (I’m pretty sure she’s a troll bot, created by advertising agencies, for the purpose of convincing me to buy specific products and obey cultural norms. She is self-conscious and very concerned about when or whether I’m ever going to meet the father of my children! OH MY, I’M GETTING OLD. Except, I feel fuckin’ awesome. I am happier now than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Like, for real. Better than when I was a kid. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my entire life when I wasn’t depressed, except right now. I have lots of thoughts about what that’s about – but that’s another blog post.
Being 30 is supremely freeing. I have this new found sense of authority and power. I just don’t give a fuck anymore. “You, you over there with your bossypants and your ‘shoulds’ and your ‘well actuallies’, you know what? YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! I’m thirty. I do what I want!”
Much of the reason for my current state of awesomness and well-being is a direct result of the bucketfulls of work I have been doing to heal my relationship with my father. iit was hard. To being with, there was not trust. But even harden than not having trust, is realizing that there is no trust. To get to a point where I could even feel safe around my dad, I had to do a lot of work. And he had to do a lot of work. Bucketfulls of work. It’s still a work in progress. That is also a’nother essay.
But working on my relationship with my dad has been immensely rewarding. And for some inexplicably mysterious [sarcasm] reason, working to understand my dad’s perspective, helps me get to the point safe around him. Because if I take the step of working to understand him, it’s easier for him to take the step of working to understand me. Feeling like I could be my most authentic self – the self I save for sharing around the campfires of magical hippy travellers who both impress and delight and inspire me, whom I feel at home with, whom I feel like I can expand and most authentically embody my favourite and unfettered version of myself – that’s the goal. Well we’re definitely not quite there yet, but I can safely confide in him when I everything feel shitty, and he’s stopped trying so hard to fix things for me, and he’s learning how to just listen and empathise! Making progress on that work, helps me let go of the anxiety and insecurity that haunt my relationships. I can let go of attachment to romantic attention. I can feel into and appreciate each of my friends as important and special people in my life. I have more energy. I gain the ability to be friends with someone I’m attracted to without compulsively plotting our future lives together.
And on the other side of the equasion are the male people I get to cuddle with right now. Roughly nine months ago, as I was consolidating the lessons I had learned from time spent doing focused spiritual work, I wrote this following statement:
I pursue open and intimate relationships with people I am attracted to, WITHOUT a sexual agenda.
I wrote this, not so much as an observation, but as a “fake it ’till you make it” sort of affirmation. It was an assignment to myself. And then I promptly forgot about it. And oh dear, I am not always very good at the “not having a sexual agenda” part. Because I still have all of these Movie Romance Scripts in my head (which, I might assert, can be almost as damaging to someone’s ability to be emotionally present with their partner as a porn addiction). Because I am a melodramatic sort of person with big, strong emotions that tend to overtake me when I get excited about a new person in my life.
But if I’m reject that movie romance skript of dating as an activity with a specific goal, what is the point of dating? Aside from moralistic judgements, meaningless sex with strangers really just gets to be no fun. Sex really is better with someone you love. And don’t get me wrong, I really do want a partner and babies and have a family with someone. But for me… that agenda is just so goal oriented. And, well, I’m just not a goal oriented sort of person. I am a meanderer. It just doesn’t work for me to obsess over some theoretical desired norm that I’m supposed to be conspiring myself into. What works for me is to craft clever affirmations about where I would like to get to, whisper them into the wind, and then forget about it and see what happens.
That is exactly what I did here. And it worked! I did all of that work with my dad – which might have seemed like a sideline to my original goal if I had been thinking about it. But I manifested new relationships with people who are helping me learn the lesson that I asked to learn.
More specifically, I have managed to manifest cuddly relationships with people I am attracted to, and whom I admire, but who do not want to have sex with me. The individual journeys of how I got to this point in my relationship-friendships is convoluted and meandering (of course). But I’m here.
I could be indignant about it; indeed, there are moments of petulance: “Gaaa, I don’t need another shifty bum for a lover, I need a partner, dude.” And brave dude says (telepathically… ), “But I just don’t have that in me right now, and we barely know each other, and can’t we just be good friends for a long time and assume that we’re going to do all of the awesome projects we want to do together as friends? Why do we have to put all of this romantic pressure on things?” Right, that’s the version of him that lives in my head saying that, but I double checked with the real person and he said, “yeah, pretty much” with a smile, and he relaxed some of his guard and gave me a hug and kiss on the forehead.
Don’t get me wrong, every relationship I’ve ever had has been melodramatic. Melodramatic with my neurotic anxiety about figuring out whether or not this guy is The ONE. The perfect mate, soul mate, partner in crime… Everyone one of them. And the relationships with my most recent snuggle buddies have been no different. The difference now is that I let the energy of the relationship shift, after I got the melodramatic infatuation part out of the way. And I let my perspective of the purpose of my dating life shift as well. It shifted from thinking I was searching for The ONE, to thinking that everyone I meet is The ONE. To assuming that the people I feel that pull – that attraction for – they have important contributions to make in my life, but that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be my partner.
Just because it’s meant to be, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be forever.
We are attracted to people for a reason. Most often, we’re attracted to people the media tells us are beautiful and desirable. I am not immune to that. But for me, “real” attraction is usually much deeper. For me, it actually has nothing to do with romance, or sexual desire (those things are secondary). It has to do with feeling a magnetic pull. The pull of connection. The pull of “This is a person I like. I want this person to be part life.” For me, I get this feeling on a regular basis, and it is extremely reliable. These are often the sort of friendships that don’t need tending. They just are. You can completely ignore each other for months, or even years, but whenever you are together, it is comfortable and easy. Mostly you keep in touch out of genuine enjoyment of each other’s thoughts. I have more of these relationships than I can count, and now every one of them feels like a soul mate. Unfortunately, I meet most of these people through travelling, and they are all in different places around the world.
But back to that whole romantic/sexual thing… sexual feelings often destroys that easy comfort! I feel like I am attracted to people when they have something to teach me. I feel the most desire for people I want to learn from. I mean that their very being, the essence of the way they go about life, pulls at me as something I am interested in embracing and amplifying. To put it more specifically, the feeling I feel is something akin to “I WANT TO DO A VULCAN MIND MELD WITH YOU!” But having a sexual agenda just gets right in the way of actually getting to get to know this exciting new person by throwing all kinds of stupid awkwardness and anxiety into the mix.
For me, once the relationship implodes, I often realize that my infatuation was based on an illusion (usually one that I made up in my head), and that this person is not actually someone I want to expend any more energy on. That usually happened because I was too insecure to do critical thinking or pay attention to my instincts. Let’s establish now that in all of my current and recent relationships, the initial infatuation and excitement was entirely mutual, and that the illusion gave way to reveal foundations of actual awesomeness (just not dating compatibility). And now I get to be close friends with them folks.
If the gender roles were switched, I might be a dude bemoaning getting “friend-zoneded” by the datable women in his life. Getting friend-zoneded is a thing that’s supposed to be bad. I am totally getting friend-zoneded. And I’m really happy about it. To one friend I say, “Have I told you recently how much better I like our relationships now, than when we were dating?”
And these dudes, they teach me about good boundaries. Admission: I get horny when cuddling with someone I find attractive. This is usually how cuddling leads to sex, and even when there are no mind-altering substances involved, the thrill of the release of oxitocin is intoxicating enough, and the momentous pull of that movie storyline is strong. This is usually where, despite my most noble intentions, cuddling with a dude turns into sex. And here’s the thing: I don’t like that! This reality is in direct contradiction with my “higher” self. The higher self who knows that I desperately need LOTS and LOTS of safe, non-sexual cuddling in order to maintain proper brain function. The self of me who desperately wants to be more openly physical and affectionate with everyone I know, but who doesn’t know how to navigate the compulsive tendency to put all physical intimacy into a sexual context. Doesn’t know how to deal with the weird societal compulsion against casual touch that can make even the slightest accidental brush a thrill that ignites every nerve.
What I need is a safe space to work through this contadiction in myself. What I need are people who want to cuddle intimately, smell each other’s moods, caress each other’s bodies, snuzzle our noses in each other’s necks, but do not want this to lead to sex. Not just wouldn’t mind if it didn’t lead to sex, but actively not wanting any of the above to be sexual.
And that is exactly what I have. It’s lovely. And the less I worry about finding the right partner to help me manifest my grand projects, and the more I see every person I meet as a precious soul mate who is here to help me get to where I’m going, the more powerful and confident I become. The more able I am to completely embody the awesomest version of myself at any given moment. And thanks, Dad. Thanks for being game for all that work I made you do.
So yes. I am a 30 year old single woman. And you know what? I FUCKING ROCK.
Do-du-dooo, doin’ the do-du-dooo dance.