When I first agreed to write Dater X, there were several things I accepted from the get-go: I knew that this column would require me to reveal intimate details about my personal life to complete strangers. I understood that in doing so, my sharing would be therapeutic, as I’ve always been someone who learns, heals and grows by sharing my stories—especially the most painful and heartbreaking ones. I also came to terms with the fact that my weekly musings would be met with various opinions and judgments, and that not everything I wrote would be well received. Above all, I felt confident that, despite any criticism that might come my way, I was ready for all of it; including the part where I find love at the end of this whole thing (fingers crossed).
After last week’s post, I was browsing through the comments when one response made me second guess all of that. Here’s an excerpt:
“From the few posts I’ve read of yours, you sound a little lost? Do you feel that way right now? These read very differently from the last dater x. They read as though you’re not really in a place to be looking for the one, but someone gave you the column so you feel the need to go out there and have experiences with men, but you don’t really have anything substantial (i.e. a class or activity or job that allows you to naturally meet quality men) so you’re sort of throwing the proverbial spaghetti noodle against the bar wall and telling us about it. I got some advice that I believe holds true for everyone and is extremely practical and honest…What do YOU bring to the table? What is it about YOU that makes a quality guy look at you and ask himself, ‘Why is it never the girls like that?’ As it stands right now from what I hear, you haven’t had much relationship experience. You seem to hold looks at the top of the priority checklist. You’re a bit green and lost, perhaps. What kinds of books do you read? Do you have a fulfilling and/or interesting career? What kinds of hobbies are you into? Are you an amazing guitar player or poet? Do you just wow people in the kitchen? Are you insightful and kind, honest and intuitive? Do you ask guys interesting questions and actually listen to their answers and thoughts? Do you give great advice?”
Despite the fact that I’ve been writing about my love life, which is definitely a clusterfuck at the moment, I was forced consider the validity of the comment. In love, I admit that often I feel like I’m wandering through a labyrinth. But in life? I’m far from lost. I know my strengths and weaknesses and am not afraid to acknowledge them. I have dreams and goals that I’m working toward achieving. I have a sturdy support system of lifelong friends and close-knit family members. And I’m as in tune with myself, my soul and my needs as I’ve ever been. Isn’t that enough to make me ready to have love in my life? I think it is.
At first, I felt offended. I didn’t understand how, from only the few pieces I’d written, someone could assume that I bring nothing to the table that would allow me to meet a quality partner — that I am essentially a desperate dud of a woman. And then, after a few moments spent taking deep breaths and resisting the urge to get defensive, I realized that it was my fault. I’ve only shared a small sliver of my whole being with you. So, I haven’t given you any reason to think otherwise. You only know of me what I’ve told you, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t make you aware of the confident, stable, intelligent and strong woman that I am. It’s my past relationships, deep self-knowledge, varied interests and accomplishments (not to toot my own horn, or anything) that I bring to the table. Here’s a few more things you should probably know about me that, in my opinion, make me ready for love:
1. I’m not a green dater. I’ve had multiple meaningful relationships in my lifetime— some lasting only a few short months and others spanning several years— all of which have taught me something about myself and about what I want in a significant other. They didn’t all end badly either, like the one with Patrick Bateman. One of my most intimate relationships was with a good friend who I wasn’t initially attracted to. I fell in love with him over time, due to his kindness, generosity and ability to make me smile. He also happened to be African American. As a bi-racial couple, we faced a lot of hardships: disapproving family members and friends, glares from strangers on the street and cultural differences, to name a few. But there was nothing superficial about our love. To us, the only looks that mattered were the ones we exchanged with each other. Things ultimately didn’t work out between us because he had some unresolved childhood issues he needed to address. But from our relationship, I learned how to stand strong in my beliefs, even in the face of adversity. To me, the wisdom I’ve taken away from my few strong partnerships, including that one, have made me anything but green when it comes to dating.
2. I have many interests in and hobbies. I am a lover of sentimental stories and crime fiction. I’m glued to anything written by Jodi Picoult and John Grisham. When it comes to movies, I could snuggle up to a chick flick as easily I could a horror flick. “The Shining” will always be my favorite. I love to try new foods, and I’m lucky enough to have traveled all over the world. I’ve eaten pizza and sipped Prosecco in Italy, dug my toes into the beaches of the Caribbean and admired the beautiful ruins in Prague. I’m teaching myself how to cook, learning Pilates and plan to embark on an “Eat, Pray, Love”-type journey in the next few years. When I’m not thinking about the book I plan to write someday, you can find me camping with friends, tailgating at NFL games, attending wine and music festivals, scrapbooking and hunting for the best cup of cappuccino in the city.
3. I’m very dedicated to my career. It is true that my line of work makes a bit harder for me to meet men than say, someone in the construction business. I work for a women’s television network, so there’s certainly been a lack of testosterone in my daily nine to five. But that doesn’t matter because my line of work and skill set have provided me opportunities many 26-year olds would be thrilled to have. I’ve interviewed celebrities and field experts about their trades, taught teams of people how to use new technology, and have attended red carpet events where I’ve found myself schmoozing with award-winning actors and musicians. I’ve advocated for issues that are important to me, and am eager to get to work every morning, which I’m truly grateful for.
4. I am loved (just not by a significant other at the moment). I’m a loyal friend, always quick to crack a joke. I’m a shrink when my friends need advice, a shoulder to cry on when family members are down and an entertainer when you get me in the right setting. I know me. I love me. Now I’m ready for someone else to love me, too.
[Photo from Shutterstock]