Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chronic Monogamy, or, "Hi, I'm Super Lame"

I've been getting a lot of questions (some emailed and some not so nice) about WHY I made a Hitch List, why I've put what are several "well, DUH" items on the list, why I left someone I loved to do it.

First off, I’m somewhat dismayed by the standard “if you could even picture kissing another human, you didn’t love him” default many people revert to. Love, as my longtime gay wingman pointed out recently, is not black and white, nor is it concrete, especially in the cases of people who have been together for half a decade or more. (PS: Limerence, the 1-2 year chemical love high kicked into action by the brain, feels concrete. But it’s not. I still see lots of people mistaking the two daily.) My 90-year-old grandmother confirmed this after I confessed I’d been taking abuse from snark-sharks who said that I couldn’t have been in love if I left, and that I had been taking the snark to heart. Grandma, who is very wise and very Catholic, said simply that “realistic love” is transient, and the people who can’t recognize that are the ones who become rigid and unlovable. She then berated me for caring what other people think. (Point taken, Grandma.)

Obviously something as personal as the reasons behind leaving and hitch listing will be different for everyone. I certainly don't expect anyone who's from a more traditional, white-picket-fence-mindset to even remotely understand the selfish, all-about-me nature of listing.

But for clarification’s sake, I can say FOR ME it is a much needed codependency treatment, one that will ideally cure me of a potentially fatal (socially and romantically) illness: Super Lameness, clinically known (in the clinic that is our halfway-house of an apartment) as Chronic Monogamy Syndrome.

Like generations of men, women and sitcom characters before me, I like the single life. It's sexy. It’s fun. You don't have to answer to anyone. You can pick up and go study the art of prayer flag making in Tibet. You can go on Puckish adventures into the outer-boroughs for anything you want--underground dances parties, thin-sliced pizza, bohemian guitar circles, green tea, make-out sessions with random lead singers of bands you accidentally picked up after even more random concerts (I'm looking at you, Red...). Anything's possible when you don’t have someone else to consider. Nights can end at 6am with your partner in crime at your side, both of you smelling like gin and lime and high off the heady violation of every cardinal rule of proper behavior. Or you can just sit alone contentedly blogging without being called antisocial. (Though I recommend debauchery. It all goes in a memoir someday, and if your memoir's too boring too read you’re wasting the precious gifts of life and genitals.)

But like everyone who’s ridden singledom already knows, eventually loneliness sets in...followed by self-doubt, social paranoia, the fear that if you die no one will come looking for you until the dog eats your face, and that gnawing, irrational need to be spooned by a warm body which holds you tightly. That warm body completely validates you: you’re pretty enough, smart enough, interesting enough, worthy enough for companionship, and you’ve got proof!

For Chronic Monogamers, this can become the relentless, insecure driving force behind jumps from long-term relationship to long-term relationship.

This is super lame.

Example: I have a background in wanting to be partnered so badly that I fall in love too easily, forgiving glaring personality flaws (long histories of womanizing, lack of direction in life, non-reciprocating oral sexers) en route to the next level of companionship. That eventually resulted in a failed engagement to a douche who was clearly a douche, and the purchase of 25 stone wedding centerpieces which are still sitting, like a bizarre graveyard, in my parent’s basement.

Far worse is that I blow off friends as soon as the signing bonus on new relationship goes through. I’m nesting. I’m sexing. I’m entwined with my lover, happily absorbing their nuances like a sponge, purring and lolling about in togetherness like an overweight cat in a featherbed. I become defined by the relationship, which leads to monophobia outside of the relationship.

This is all incredibly humiliating to have to admit, because it reveals just how insecure and cringe-inducingly awkward I am at my lowest. But I do know through countless conversations and shameless evesdropping that I’m not an isolated case. I’ve seen it: normally rational, fun, strong people fading into their chains of band-aid relationships, losing touch with themselves as they go. We’ve all watched enough disturbingly codependent relationships sink into the tar pits because at least one person can't admit to this, and it’s ugly enough to make me want to suck it up and deal with it now.

So, I left. Not because my lover was a douche (this one was and is a decided catch, loved and approved of by everyone from Grandma to our social circle’s bitchy-I-hate-everyone-Godfather-of-the-Gays) but because I might be...or might become one down the road if I didn’t take some time to sort out all the glaring flaws I’d never addressed because I haven’t been alone since I was 19.

By making a list, forcing myself to go independent, learning to have fun without a partner or date in tow and reconnecting with all the friends I abandoned when nesting (or failed to meet by not going out), I just might become the kind of person I want to marry.

I may end up something besides super lame.

And I think that's just swell.


Chef Green said...

This is delicious and completes me

Thomas said...

Being single is a stage of life that we all pass through and visit for awhile.

inflammatory writ said...

I see this with my friends a lot - they go from relationship to relationship and seem to make the same mistakes over and over again.

As for monogamy in general - it works for me and my relationship, but I don't think it works for everyone. That is, however, in part due to aforementioned mistakes rather than "nature" (the most common excuse for infidelity), since it's not in our nature to wear clothing and go to Starbucks either. It's all about choices. I found my partner when I was young and have been coupled through all of my 20's. I wouldn't have it any other way, but that is only because I found the right person by accident. He is also 100% fine with my going out with friends and being out until 4 am drinking - without him. That was one of my conditions.

This is rambling - but the whole point is that all choices are valid, as long as your eyes are wide, wide open.

Erin said...

I completely understand where you are coming from with this. I have done the same thing in the past, but I always ended up realizing that wanting to be on my own was a symptom of a larger problem- not wanting to be with the person I was with. I believe that it's not the case for you, but I also doubt that you can have total independence and self-realization while hanging to a reported "catch."

I look forward to reading about your journey. You don't have to justify yourself. I think that this is something you need to do for yourself (since you think so too) and it will make you a better partner for someone in the future.

Lauren Modery said...

wow. i felt like i was reading something i wrote to myself.

theweightofitall said...

You continue to amaze me. You just described all of me in this post (I intend to link to this post from my blog, citing "This is who I am." just fyi).

I'm sorry people can't understand what you're doing - or see that your ex is trying to do the same thing (where is the update on his list?) and that by doing these things now (since you're young) you may both have stories for each other when you're older.

I'm a member of the Lame party. I have dated 3 guys in the last 7 years. All of them failed because they have "long histories of womanizing, [or] lack of direction in life, [or are] non-reciprocating oral sexers." Hands down, I just need someone, anyone, to make me feel that I am worth something that I just...cave.

But no one can know your worth except for you, which is why I find this project so inspiring. If you ever need a pep talk, please talk to me because I think this endeavor is really a wonderful journey of self-realization, and I think your Ex is a great guy for allowing you to figure it out.

THAT is love. Having the strength able to ask for space, and being given it.

...sorry for the novel comment.

Abi Grace said...

I think this is a really important topic for young, independent women, and a lot of us are dealing with it in different ways.

I definitely struggle with a lot of the same insecurities you are working though even though I haven't been a chronic monogamist(mostly because I'm a musician, and I date musicians, and monogamy+musicians in their early 20s=not happening). I feel like I grew up being fed the idea that falling in love was going to be the most important event of my life, and that having a boyfriend would some how validate who I was in a way that being single didn't Even now, and this is embarrassing to admit, I catch myself fantasizing about potential romance more then creative or adventurous advances.

So thank you so much for writing this blog. Not only are you an amazing writer and it's a pleasure to read your posts, but it's good to have those struggles out and open for conversation. Also: People are going to criticize you because what you say reminds them of their own discontent in regards to choices they've made.

Kimberly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ConfessionsOfMyConfusion said...

Codependency defines me... and I hate myself for it. I left a man I loved too. Unfortunately, I put in the time and the money and made it official before I knew. I didn't want to hurt anyones' feelings. Especially not his. I got scared and tried to run before the wedding and he called my mom who lassoed me back and told me I was just having cold feet.

Let the sayers and snarkers do as they must. Your life is yours, no one else can walk in your shoes or feel the blisters on your feet. Appreciate your choice, because only you can know if it was the right one. I think you've shown you know.

I applaud you and your list. You are brave in my eyes!

M said...

I had never heard of limerence before reading this, and now that I know what it is I will never compared my future relationships to my first, high school, OMIGODI'MSOINLOVEWITHYOU relationship. I realize it wasn't really love, just limerence.

I love your writing. It's honest and well done and funny and heartfelt. And it's comforting to know that someone else is going through this stage of life where you had a really great man, but you knew deep inside that you needed something else for a while. Everyone else might think you're crazy for leaving him, but I *completely understand. Props.

Red said...

Awww. Thanks Polly. I love you, too. Hahaha!