July 16, 2010

Day 350-Taking a Lesson From the Guys

During happy hour last week, I found myself getting to know a nice guy from E's birthday entourage. Between sips of Bud Light, I answered his general questions about work, neighborhood, etc. I'm in publishing. You're in finance? You know how it goes... Then he threw a random one my way: "So where does the boyfriend live?"

I don't have a boyfriend-I have a blog!

As soon as I said it, I immediately wanted to take back my answer. And seeing his shocked look at my response, I couldn't blame the poor guy for squirming on his barstool. With no other way to delicately extract myself from the conversation, I took a deep breath, a big sip of liquid courage, and proceeded to explain it all. The catalyst-a hurtful breakup, losing myself, discovering bad relationship patterns. The solution-a yearlong vacation from boyfriends, relationships, exclusivity. I finished my spill and waited calmly for his response.

I have to say, I was surprised when I got an "AWESOME!" followed by a high five. What a relief-I was true to myself and got some positive feedback from the opposite sex (my guy friends find the revelations of a single girl's mind entertaining, but they are not convinced I can fulfill my yearlong term).

But since that day, I've thought back to that conversation and my new friend's response. Did he really think it was awesome that I was taking the time I needed for myself? Or was he the one that was relieved? Here was this girl sitting across him, drinking no less, who practically gave him a green light to pursue without the worries of a relationship/marriage clause hanging over his head. Talk about relieving the pressure. He was a nice guy so deserves the benefit of the doubt, but I know a lot of NYC fellas who would have seen my little exclamation as a unique, no strings attached opportunity.

Now I know all women aren't on the prowl for marriage-potentials, and there does exist a special pool of guys who do want to be in a relationship (note that I didn't mention anything about settling-that simple word sends all types running!). I'm certainly generalizing here. But there's something about city guys, in particular-they seem to be a special breed that wants to avoid commitment at all costs, even sacrificing the girl that deep down they really do like, the pleasure of getting to know someone on an emotionally intimate level, partnership, etc. A 2008 Newsweek article called it eternal adolescence or even better, "Peter Pan Syndrome." (I'd link to the piece but they haven't caught up with other media outlets in archiving). More recently, a Glamour feature in this month's issue tracks two women traveling across 48 states on a relationship journey of their own. Their findings? While some guys do seek monogomous companionship, there's something to the theory that coastal guys, NYC males among the bunch, are in no rush for anything more than having a pretty face sitting across the dinner table, occasionally.

I get it. It's a prime time for indulging yourself in every selfish way possible. Focusing on your career. Spending all your money in bars because you can. Or not choosing to stock toiletpaper in the bathroom because a girl will never be kept around long enough to need any. I speak from experience....Yet, maybe these guys are on to something. Did you know the human brain doesn't finish developing until you're in your 30's? Perhaps these males, in limbo between childhood and manhood, are just more honest than their female counterparts. I certainly have fouled up myself a time or two-especially when I forced myself to be in a relationship when I just wasn't ready. Great guy for me, really bad timing for me. I don't regret anything, but had I been more in tune with my needs, I could have saved us both some heartache in the end. So perhaps our own coastal guys know what they're talking about after all. And most of the time, they're upfront with their intentions at least through their actions, though one guy straight up told me he was bad at commitment. After somehow hearing I was the exception, I'm now learning to be a better listener.

Meanwhile, the institution (I hate that word) of marriage is certainly on the media's radar right now. In fact, a new book, Last One Down the Aisle Wins, was recently featured in SC's own Post and Courier for its theory that waiting longer can have more benefits than just a larger diamond (I believe for every year older, you get an upgraded ring). You can find their argument here: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/jul/09/be-late-down-the-aisle/

But if you're married and reading this, this isn't intended to sound holier than thou or cause alarm. As a result of your early maturity, and most of you are the most unselfish people I know, I hope you continue to reap the benefits of marriage while the rest of us suffer from various versions of commitment-phobia. Nowadays, I'm just trying to be honest myself. Being off the market isn't so bad! At least at the moment. I've already become more relaxed when meeting new people. Like my new friend, I've relieved some pressure on myself for a change. Not to mention, I've now mastered my blog vs. boyfriend story if there's a situation where I choose not to be pursued. :-)

When I first told my parents about my plans, my dad immediately suggested staying off the market for 10 years. Ok, a bit of a stretch for me, but I have trashed my internal timetable for love. And honestly? I'm just too busy living in the mean time.

I'm off the market & in the moment!

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