This morning on the subway, a quasi-cute guy offered to switch spots with me so I could lean against the wall instead of standing in the middle of the connecting section between cars. I usually go stand in that area because most people don’t, and there is always more space there than, say, near the doors, where everyone feels the need to congregate. For reasons I don’t understand.
I had my headphones on and had moved to stand in between the two guys who were already in the connecting section of that part of the train, as usual. I was reading headlines over people’s shoulders, gawking at the various ads placed around my part of the train, and vaguely listening to whatever was playing on my headphones. Just thinking and riding along, as I do.
All of a sudden, the guy behind me kind of waved his hand to one side of me – not in an annoying way, just in a way that suggested he may have been trying to get my attention, or that he was possibly just stretching. I turned my head toward his hand, and he lifted his phone up next to me and pointed at it. He’d opened his notepad on there and typed, “Would you like to stand against the wall for support?”
Since the new trains have been in play, I can’t remember anyone ever offering me that spot before. Occasionally I get offered a seat, but never the wall, nor even a doorway.
I turned to look at him, and smiled as I thanked him but declined, and he smiled back in such a way as to make him cuter than he perhaps actually was. I don’t mean that in a cruel way – I just wasn’t sure how else to word it. In essence, it was a very sweet smile, and engaging, if only for a fleeting moment, in this case. I think that’s one of the things that I like about people; when they smile at me nice. It makes them stand out to me, more than someone who is just kind of there. It makes them seem more present, or something.
I resumed my transit reverie, and not long after, I read a headline over someone’s shoulder that caught my eye. It said something about listing 5 honest reasons why the writer was on a dating hiatus, or something. I’m often curious as to why some people choose to be single (I mean, this article was obviously written by a woman, though I never confirmed it, to be honest), especially when I want to see if any of their reasons align with what mine might be.
None of the reasons listed this time did, however.
The writer stated that they were in their early 30’s, or so (bless), and seemed to be in that stage of life where all of your friends are marrying and having children, and you’re not, so you start thinking about whether or not you want to do that, too. Or something. I can’t really remember what I was thinking back then.
At any rate, there were the usual reasons like, “I don’t like the options I have to choose from” and “I’m tired of having sex with someone I like rather than someone I love”. Those kinds of things. I can’t even remember all five reasons right now.
Rather than try to read more of it over a fellow traveller’s shoulder, I started thinking about why I’m on a dating hiatus myself. I don’t think I ever would have called it that, for starters. I say simply, “I don’t date”, but I guess that’s not entirely true, either. I think I would date, if I happened to bump into someone who intrigued me. I’m just not in the mood to go out looking for someone to intrigue me. I’m lazy like that these days.
Obviously, the main reason I choose not to date right now is because I have feelings for someone who isn’t able to reciprocate them in the same way, and there isn’t really a way to replace that person with someone else. Rather, another person will come along someday who intrigues me in a different way, and that’s where my heart will go. But I don’t think it can be forced. Whenever I’ve tried in the past, I wind up feeling angry at myself for trying so hard to “settle for less” – or at least for trying to force myself to ignore my actual feelings and feign other ones. Plus, it’s obvious to me in those situations that I’m not giving it my all, and while the other person may or may not deserve more of me, that I’m not giving it means whatever it is will be destined to fail, anyway.
And that’s something, too – the people I potentially want to get to know better don’t usually feel the same way about me, and those who do are often of no interest to me. I realize that could devolve into a “poor me” melodramatic situation (and it has before), but for me right now, as I write this, it’s more just frustrating, and tiring, and not something I’m interested in diving into the thick of at this point in my life. I’d rather go home to the dog and cats and be content than try to force myself to feel differently about anyone.
I can make up all the “reasons” in the world – I don’t have time, I don’t like people, I’m focused on other things, I want to stay home with the animals, people are stupid, I’m tired, I’m broke, I lose myself in relationships and I’m just beginning to like myself again, I’m still in love with my ex, I don’t want to date just for the sake of dating, I’m complicated and no one really gets me so I’d rather be alone, I am a rock, I am an island…wait…scratch that last part. At any rate, all of those things hold at least a grain of truth, and there are still more not listed. But the simple fact is that dating hasn’t gone well for me so far – it’s difficult, and consuming and I’m not good at it and inevitably wind up feeling like a failure in life, and who wants to feel that all the time? Who wants to feel like a disappointment to someone they care about?
I don’t, and I can’t even stop feeling like I let my friends down constantly, let alone someone with whom I am in a romantic relationship. I mean, it’s never all bad, of course. Sometimes it’s amazing, to feel connected to someone else. It’s amazing to feel like I’m in love, and that I am loved in return. It’s amazing to not feel alone in the world sometimes. But when those feelings go away, what replaces them feels worse, usually.
I think mainly I don’t date because I’m afraid of feeling all that again. Which I realize I’ve written to seem like it’s a reason, but I know that – like the entire above list – is not a reason so much as it is an excuse.
And for now, I am fine with that. Not great, but also not forever. For now, though, I am fine with making excuses. When that changes – and it will – I’ll make the choice to do things differently again. But it’ll be my choice, and therein is where I find my satisfaction.
Because the understanding that I am actually okay either way is perhaps the most amazing feeling of all.