How I Became a Cat-Lady

It’s becoming very hard for a guy who doesn’t date to write about dating.

I’ve been struggling with this ever since I decided to resurrect TMP and begin writing again. It’s part of the reason I decided to expand the scope of this blog from being primarily about relationships to being about whatever is on my mind. Still, negotiating interpersonal relationships is a minefield and we’re all doing it without a map, so it tends to be what I think about most often.

For example, I was trying to analyze why I have literally zero luck in the romance department anymore. Have I changed? Has the “dating world” changed? Have I just been the victim of an extremely long unlucky streak or have I just completely forgotten what the hell I’m doing?

Or maybe it’s all of the above… combined with the fact that I never knew what I was doing in the first place.

One of the things that I’ve realized is that my heart has been put through the ringer lately (physically and metaphorically, as it happens) and it has turned me into the emotional equivalent of a cat at bath time. Run and hide, then kick, claw, and scratch whenever someone tries to get me near the tub.

While it has changed quite a bit over the years, we still live in a world where (at least in the mainstream part of it), men are expected to be the aggressors; we’re expected to make the first move… and most of the subsequent ones, as well. There is so much wrong with that dynamic that I don’t even know where to start, but it won’t be in this post. I’ll save that for later. One of the things, though, is that it forces a gun-shy guy to take a shot or risk becoming a cat-lady. And that is terrifying for someone who lives in fear of feels.

What I wouldn’t give for a woman to just walk up to me, say hi, and ask me out on a date.

Well, a woman I’m attracted to, that is. Otherwise, it puts me in the awkward position of having to explain why I’m declining the date. Oh, and a woman who will hold my interest for longer than the time it takes to have dinner. So yeah, not boring would be good. Oh, and not pushy, either. Sub is fun once in a while, but it’s just a role I like to play sometimes, not a lifestyle choice for me. And she should also be…

Okay, I just realized how many limitations I’m putting on this simple wish of mine and it makes me wonder how women have survived it all for so long! Why did I ever enter the dating scene in the first place?!?

Oh yeah, it’s for when I do manage to make a real, meaningful connection. Maybe I’m just a romantic at heart, but I believe that the types of interpersonal connections I yearn for are what makes life worth living. It’s not hiding behind a computer screen or living with your nose buried in a smart phone or tablet, it’s being able to look into someone’s eyes, feel their touch, and lose yourself in the type of rare intimacy that only happens to people who open themselves up to it and who let it sweep them away on the ride of a lifetime.

A ride I am no longer willing to take… which is, I guess, how I’ve changed.

Please save the platitudes, by the way. This wasn’t a call to arms for the Pity Patrol, just a mere statement of fact. For example, I was recently at a bar for a euchre night (yes, I currently live in Michigan) and the waitress was flirting pretty heavily with me. The old me would have recognized the signs and asked her out without hesitation. As you might imagine, I did not.

A few days before that, I was at a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show (look up your local shadow cast troupe if you’ve never been because it’s quite an experience) and sat next to a stunning fellow show-goer. I started talking and it turns out she was really interesting, intelligent, and seemed to be super fun. Also, unless I horribly misread the situation, she was responding favorably to my comments and we had a quite interesting conversation for the 4+ hours we sat next to each other.

At the end, I should have asked if she wanted to hang out together sometime. Exchange numbers. Hell, even handing her a note reading “I like you. Do you like me? Check box below” would have been better than what I did; which was nothing.

This is what I’m talking about. I’m not suggesting that either of these two people would have had any remote interest in getting to know me outside of the limited context in which we had met, but there is one thing I can assure you of. I’ll never find out because I never asked.

So this is where I am right now. I’m a man who is dying of thirst while standing in the middle of an arctic spring and complaining about how wet it is.

We live in a world that expects men and women to behave in certain ways. Those ways can be very stifling, though, and they can seriously get in the way of your happiness. But if you force yourself out of your routine, you’re just forcing it. I sincerely believe that people respond better to people who are true to who they are and don’t put on a show for the world. We are our truest selves when we let ourselves be most vulnerable. Although, we’re also at our most vulnerable.

Look, there isn’t a formula or anything. Nobody can tell you how to act and what to do in order to be happy. That comes from within you and the only way to figure it out is to do some serious, raw introspection and be honest with yourself about who you are, what you feel is right and wrong, and what you really want in your life outside of the material, then to act accordingly. Bouncing ideas off of non-judgmental people you trust is not a bad idea, but it ultimately has to come from you.

For me, I’ve been down that road and I’ve been trying to live that best life for me, but it hasn’t been working out. So I shut myself up in my house and write blogs about life because that’s all I can handle at the moment.

Maybe all of us can work through this together, though, and make some progress in our journey toward happiness.

Just know that I’m with you every step of the way.

You are not alone.

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