Rather than get hurt for the millionth time, I’ve decided to turn my feelings off. I’ve given up the idea that I’ll find a person who will make me feel all mushy inside.
I know what you’re thinking: “Stop being so dramatic.” But the truth is, usually, I like it better this way. You know that Lady Antebellum song “Need You Now”? There’s a lyric that goes, “Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.” I don’t buy that anymore; I’m tired of being hurt. So, instead of complaining about my perpetual loneliness, I decided to turn my feelings off.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of sociopath who’s incapable of feelings. I just refuse to let myself get attached to a member of the opposite sex. For a long time I’ve maintained mutual “friends with benefits” types of relationships with various partners over the years. These are people who I generally like, but would never date for one reason or another. These guys, let’s call them “man friends,” are typically people I see periodically for several years. We have a mutual understanding that nothing serious will happen. There are no dates on the weekends, texts during the week, and very rarely will a sleepover occur.
As the years have gone on, my routine for entering into this type of relationship with a new man friend usually goes like this. We establish that something is going to happen and I lay down my ground rules. The rules are pretty much this: no texting me during the week, no feelings, no public excursions, and no butt stuff. I also expect a certain level of respect from these men. I make it very clear early on: if I text you and ask to hang out, I expect you to respond even if you can’t. I also expect you to display a certain level of discretion. What goes on between us does not necessarily have to be a secret, but I always expect some details to remain between us.
For the most part, most of these man friends have played by the rules. Usually we have a decent relationship. It’s not weird for me to squeeze in a round of Mario Kart with him or ask him to pick me up Chipotle on his way over. If they don’t play by the rules, I just delete their number and move onto the next one.
The primary goal of these interactions is to “scratch an itch,” if you will. Companionship, attention, and forming attachments are not factors. This is the closest thing I will have to any sort of “relationship.” People who know about my circumstances often offer unsolicited advice or opinions. “Why don’t you just like… not sleep with people right away?” Oh my gawd, yas! How could I not have thought of that?! The truth is, I’ve been single for seven years. Turning my feelings off is my way of coping with the reality that I might always be single. I’ve constantly questioned what I’ve been doing wrong. I can’t be one of those girls who thinks that every guy is the problem and there’s ~*nothing*~ wrong with me. For the last few years there have been times I’ve waited to be intimate with guys.
I’ve waited until three dates had passed before letting them kiss me. And I mean legit dates, not the standard “Netflix and Chill.” I kept in contact with them whenever we weren’t together. As a person who loathes constant texting, this was a tough one for me.
But I did it, in the name of possibly becoming someone’s girlfriend. I did thoughtful things, like baking him something “just because” or paying our tab at the bar when he went to the bathroom. And yet, weeks or months later, it would always come to light that this guy, whoever he was, did not want something serious with me. Sometimes, in an attempt to spare my feelings, they might say something like they “weren’t looking for a relationship right now.” And typically, a few months later, I would feel even more broken when they posted a picture with their new girlfriend on Instagram. And I would look at her and wonder, “Why is she so much better than me? What does she have that I don’t?”
And so, there it is. Seven years of being cheated on, lied to, and lead on have turned me into the empty person I have become. In general, when people ask why, I say, “If you go into things with zero expectations, you’ll never be disappointed.” To which people usually say I’m depressing or too negative about my outlook. Maybe that’s true, but since I’ve decided to shut things off, I haven’t gotten hurt. And that’s enough for me.