“Are you dating anyone?” My friend who was visiting from New York asked me last weekend while she, her boyfriend, and I were lounging by the pool at The Standard Hotel.
“Nope,” I replied simply.
“Why not? That’s so surprising. You’re such a catch. You’re so pretty and cool and fun to hang out with!” I thanked her for her compliments and then shrugged my shoulders and gave her some bullshit that sounded like a good enough response as to why someone like me, who isn’t a troll and has a decent personality, could possibly be without a mate. The horror!
Her reaction made me want to cringe because I’m currently only seven months out of a relationship. Seven months. Not seven years. And it was a long, hard, exhausting relationship at that and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what happened and what I learned. Does nobody mourn relationships anymore? Are we all just supposed to jump from one guy to the next without breathing room in between? I may need to lick my wounds for another seven months or so, who knows?
It’s not that I’m irreparably damaged or something, but I do have PTSD, or, more accurately, PTRD (Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder.) I just want to sit inside of my little protective cocoon and not have to deal with men for just a little while.
People in relationships seem to get amnesia when they are around their poor, unfortunate, single friends. They can no longer imagine a reality where they would have to go to social functions alone and not have someone to fuck on the regular. So when they hear that you are, for any amount of time longer than a couple of weeks it seems, they have a reaction filled with such pity.
I’m fine, I’m okay, and I don’t need anyone. Do I want someone? Yeah, at some point. At some point when I’m done hating an entire gender’s worth of people. I’m obviously projecting onto her my own issues and insecurities, but seriously why does everyone want to try and “fix” your “problem.” She sure isn’t the first person to react that way and she won’t be the last.
Maybe she’s never experienced PTRD and just doesn’t understand what it’s like. That grossed out feeling that you get when someone tries to hit on you or ask you out. The way that you recoil when someone tries to touch you in any sort of romantic or flirty way. Any expression of desire, especially sexually, makes you SO angry. You can’t put down the defensive shield of armor no matter how hard you try. You want to give someone else a chance but the thought of kissing someone new seems so unpleasant and scary.
A twenty-three year old girl that I work with couldn’t fathom the idea that I hadn’t had sex in seven whole months. “When I first get out of a relationship I sleep with everyone,” she said with a giggle. Yeah, when I was twenty fucking three I did too. Because relationships weren’t as serious then. We weren’t gambling away our best years on someone who we thought could go the distance with us just to find out that they were never going to live up to that potential. When those dreams get dashed you’d be lucky to sacrifice your body (and subsequently maybe your heart) to a man ever again.
Maybe my fear of vulnerability is just stronger than it is for most people. To ask me to break down my walls and be intimate and share all of my hopes and dreams with someone new all over again so soon is a tall order. How many times can a human heart even break before it’s shattered beyond repair? I’ve put the pieces back together too many times and I don’t know if there is glue strong enough anymore to reconstruct it.
PTRD is not something that you can just bury down deep inside and forget about. You have no choice but to make your way through it slowly and with as much time as you need. There is no recommendation that I know of for how to combat disinterest and apathy this strong. I’m in a thick fog that won’t lift no matter how hard I try to force things or grin and bear it.
I’m legitimately happy in other areas of my life. I’m not depressed, no. This is different. It’s like I’m a mosquito and every man I meet is wearing bug repellant. They’re all poisonous and I’m just not gonna go there. It’s like, because I was so stupid before and ended up with someone so toxic, I have gone the opposite direction and find faults and red flags in literally everyone. Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. None of you will be good enough until I get through this PTRD haze. So don’t even waste your time.
I’ll get through this, I know. (I hope?) Just leave me be with my indifference and let me be alone for as long as I want and need to. I’m not going to quickly partner up with someone so that you can understand me better or feel more comfortable around me. I don’t need you to set me up, I’m not going to join a dating app, and I will turn down as many dates as I fucking want to in order to heal first.