“I mean…what’s your goal? You should have a mission statement.”
Since I’m driving about 70mph on the New York State Thruway, I can’t turn to give my (male) friend the Slow Blink™. I instead stare uncomfortably out at the traffic in front of me, struggling with what to say, but feeling a very familiar pressure building in my chest…
It isn’t acid reflux, not this time. No, this would be my old friend, Resistance.
Should I? Why should I? Do I have to? All of these questions are racing through my mind when my bestie (also, coincidentally, partner of the aforementioned male friend) swoops in to rescue me from the backseat.
“Baby, no. That’s not what this is about. She’s putting herself out there…”
He persisted. “Yeah, but what’s the point?”
It’s now a week later, and I’m paraphrasing. But clearly, his questions hit a nerve, and I’m still struggling with the answer.
I’ve written about my reasons for joining Tinder before (boredom, a need to take more initiative and step outside my comfort zone, blah, blah, blah…). But if my reasons are so definitive, why would I feel so threatened when a trusted friend asks a question that I should be able to easily answer?
Could it be that I, who openly disdain the current “hang-out/hookup” culture of dating and pooh-pooh non-committal plans and men, have actually become a closet commitment-phobe? If so, how did I get that way? And when did it happen? Certainly, it wasn’t always the case.
Once upon a time, I was as die-hard a romantic as any Disney princess. Surely, one day my Prince would come—as soon as I finished kissing all of these frogs. Admittedly, many a knight did arrive, often bearing promise and potential—but no happy endings (at least, not with me…but Godspeed, y’all.).
The funny thing is, for as uniquely heartbreaking as some of those endings might have been, I feel absolutely nothing as I write about them now. Not even a flicker of emotion. In fact, the act of revealing my apathy to you is stirring up more of an emotional response than recalling men I loved, committed to, made plans with and often grieved over. It’s not satisfying; it’s terrifying.
You know that feeling: the rare occasion you wake to find you’ve slept on your arm, and it hangs lifeless at your side, flopping about without sensation and completely beyond your control. Though your rational mind knows that the sense of touch will return with your circulation, for a horrifying moment or two, you can’t help but wonder if it’ll stay that way…
That is how this feels. My apathy is beginning to terrify me.
Now, it could simply be that I just haven’t had the right stimulation; you know, that magical kiss meant to save me from an endless sleep. But I, being a full-grown woman of (mostly) sound mind and body, also have to take some responsibility here.
In recent years, I have become exceptionally skilled at keeping my distance, even while being held close (at least physically). The idea of allowing someone to enter—let alone, possibly disrupt—this carefully rebuilt and well-guarded sanctuary I call my heart is no longer the stuff of fairytales; it’s real life.
And frankly, it’s real scary. So scary that, if I’m being as honest as I claim to be, I chose Tinder exclusively because I knew I wouldn’t take it seriously enough to have an endgame. There would be no detailed and deeply personal questionnaires; no pairing of values and hobbies and pet peeves; no hopes, no plans, no expectations of a happy ending—and hopefully, no grief.
But now, I wonder (as I wander) if refusing to take this seriously reflects an unwillingness to take myself seriously—not as someone searching for love (because I still cringe at the thought), but as someone who, if/when I encounter it, is well-equipped to handle the vulnerability that is required to fully engage.
Otherwise, as my friend asked, what’s the point? Specifically, what’s the point in building all this muscle if it just turns out to have been scar tissue all along?
Clearly, I’m still searching for answers, so I’m going to meditate on it and report back soon. I’m also going to thank the man who inspired me to meditate. Though we never met, he brought me–and countless others–a lot of unexpected comfort and insight during the past decade or so.
Have fun on your next adventure, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer—and thanks for the enlightenment.