Let me paint a picture for you. It’s Saturday night, three single girlfriends duck out of the main room at a party, to go spruce up in the bathroom. Here’s what was going on: I was taking a baby wipe out of my purse to freshen up my downstairs area. My friend was rummaging through her purse for deodorant, while my other friend was opening our host’s medicine cabinet, to find some toothpaste to squeeze into her mouth and swish around. In short, (and I’ll put this nicely) we were preparing to give ourselves to a lover for the night!
It’s not often I’ve deliberated the sentiment “careful what you wish for” – because for too long, what I wished for never came. The men of yesteryear had left us jaded, unhopeful, and tired. For a year or so after our last long-term relationships, we were desperately single, in every way possible.
“How hard is it to get laid????” we complain on Sunday afternoon after striking out – laying splayed on our couches eating humus like a triad of cliches. “We are pretty girls, aren’t guys complaining about how EASY it is for us to get laid?” Well look at us now a-holes, sitting here with our proverbial dicks in our proverbial male hands.
One night, we sit in a circle and turn all the lights off. One of us lights a “mystic love candle” she bought 5 years ago in Topanga Canyon. It’s February 15th, the day after a solemn single Valentines Day. We sit in a circle on the ground around my coffee table, listening to a Spotify playlist called “Thunderstorms”. What the fuck were we doing? Honey, we were manifesting.
A quick Google search told us that all we had to do to manifest our wildest hopes and dreams was to sit in silence, praying to Mother Moon or whatever, for what we wanted, before sharing our desires with the group. After a quick deliberation, we went in a circle, (clockwise, of course) sharing what turned out to be a universal wish: to finally move on from our garbage exes with an amazing guy we can love. We blew out the candle, and in that moment, a Freaky Friday like earthquake happened and we all blacked out and woke up with rich, well-endowed husbands.
Kidding. But something like that did happen.
Fast-forward to the party I was telling you about in the first paragraph. It’s 4 months later. I met a guy through my friends work. My other friend had run in with an old high school crush and was meeting up with him. The third friend had drunkenly heckled a guy at a bar, who’s house party we were now at (and who’s toothpaste we were now using). All insanely nice, successful, intelligent, sexy men.
We broke off to do our thing. I went home with my current fling and had a fine time. The next morning, I woke up in his bed feeling nostalgic for a time when this sort of thing was exciting. I remembered waking up in a boys bed in first or second year university, feeling like a European sex goddess, hair messy (but still somehow beautiful) after a night of passionate lovemaking, the sheets draped strategically over my naked body, a natural morning beauty — I imagined I looked one of the Bond girls the morning after 007 screws me over a balcony in Tuscany.
I looked at the guy I was seeing, asleep, and thought nothing. In the past, I would look at a lover and feel either full of excitement (or alternatively) full of disgust and an immediate urge/need to leave. This morning, I felt whatever. I washed my face, went back to sleep, woke up, he asked if I wanted to get breakfast. Sure.
We had a nice time. He was funny, he paid and did everything I complained about being impossible to find. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. Maybe nothing? Maybe this was just getting older and looking at things realistically. There isn’t always a dramatic love story, sometimes you just enjoy spending time with someone and it’s not like an intense shit show? I didn’t know.
When I got home, the girls came over to debrief over Sunday coffee. To my surprise, I wasn’t alone in this confusing feeling.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I think I might be dead inside,” my one friend says, “Is it just me, or has this aspect of our lives become less important?”
“Agreed.” Said friend 2. “Either that or these guys just aren’t the ones for us.”
“It’s not like I’m not having fun…” I say, “It’s just that… I don’t care that much? Or at least as much as I used to.”
“I’m out here thinking about how much fun I had with my ex-boyfriend, and I don’t ever want to see my ex-boyfriend again… I don’t know what it is, I just-”
I interrupted her, “You miss how excited you used to be.”
While we were leaving the party the night before, the guy I was seeing picked me up during a parting conversation with my friends. We dispersed in front of the apartment with a very “Alright, let’s see how this shit goes!” attitude.
On our walk to his apartment, he jokingly said, “You and your friends are a bunch of players, eh?”
Enter the three theories that were developed over Sunday’s afternoon coffee:
1) We are a bunch of players (eh).
2) With age and maturity, we look at love with less excitement, and more extreme caution and the expectation of failure. Another aspect of aging is that other things (money, career, apartment) become more important.
3) We just haven’t met the right people, and one day we are going to meet someone that wakes up the excited child inside of us, a being that was present when we were younger and newly experiencing love, unknowing of all the damage it could do…
I myself have not found an answer to this conundrum, but what I do know is that more and more women I have spoken to can relate to this.
I brought it up to my roommate while she was studying for an exam. She put down her criminology textbook, stared at me dryly, and said,
“Who can blame us? We are exhausted. We were promised and told our whole lives that men were supposed to act one way, and they don’t. The gender dynamics are switching, so what we expect is NOT what they do. We are harder on these men, as we are starkly against accepting the behavior we once tolerated; thus creating a dichotomy of thoughts: accepting nothing less than being treated like a princess, without ever expecting that to actually happen. So we use these guys for what they’re good for: sex and a distraction from the millions of things that are actually important.”
There’s truth in all of it. In my circle of friends, we have been let down. We are older (than we were before). Other things are more important. And the gender roles are changing into less rigid categories. Women are getting more woke. So are men! It also true that these could just not be the right guys for us— and perhaps when we were younger any guy that showed interest was the right guy for us. But which factor is the actual culprit?
I have no idea. I guess “time will tell” And although I’m sure many women and men are trying to navigate the current confusing dating climate, there is one constant I know to be true, a rule that gets me through any interaction I partake in moving forward: If I’m having fun, who cares if it’s not in the way I thought it would be? Like many things in our twenties, you have to throw your expectations of what you thought would happen out the window. Maybe this is the guy for me, maybe he’s just a good time, maybe he’ll grow on me. Maybe the “women are becoming men” – as long as we are having a good time, does it matter?