“You’re going to be single forever if you don’t lower your standards,” my friend cautioned me one afternoon this summer.
Fresh from a break-up, I had spent the last couple of hours griping to him — about why I never seemed to meet anyone who was just right, why no one excited me anymore, why I thought that I was incapable of liking anyone as deeply as I once had…so much explosive angst that the words coming out of my mouth could have been lyrics in a Hawthorne Heights song.
I had just ended a quick, casual fling with someone who was, by all accounts, very nice — probably too nice for me, in fact.
He was polite — the kind of guy who always offered to carry groceries or pay for dinner, even when it was unnecessary and even after I consistently refused to let him. He tried hard to get along with my roommates — some of whom made it no secret that they disliked him. He was caring, attentive, and considerate. He was intelligent. He was sweet. He had a bottle of Tabasco sauce tattooed on his thigh (a bit of lagniappe that shocked my friends and made me feel “edgy” by proxy). He had quality taste in music and read as often as he could. He was physically attractive — at least, I thought so.
However, after a while, I realized that there was some key element missing — which had become increasingly blatant as time progressed.
I didn’t think my standards were too high, as my friend suggested. If anything, the only qualities that I actively seek in partners are kindness and a lively sense of humor (if you can’t laugh at yourself, frequently and heartily, we are probably fundamentally incompatible).
Lately, though, it seemed that my interest in people fizzled almost as quickly as it began. Like a few others before it, I couldn’t keep that relationship going when I knew that it would eventually lead nowhere. As it goes, I was starting to feel suffocated more than anything else.
What I wanted was passion.
I wanted to like someone so much that I couldn’t keep my hands off of him. I wanted someone who was so exhilarating to be around that I couldn’t wait to spend time with him — someone with whom conversation was fun and invigorating and interesting. I wanted someone who made me want to be the best version of myself, who kept me on my toes, and who made me think. I wanted to grow with someone rather than stay stagnant with him.
After the initial thrill of meeting a fresh prospect or cultivating a new fling, I quickly grew bored and my feelings became less genuine than they were simply force of habit. I didn’t want my relationships to continue devolving into complacency, as they had.
Maybe I’ve read too many romance novels.
Maybe I’ve watched and re-watched Garden State way too many times.
Maybe I am unrealistic and will end up alone — in an apartment full of cats while Alanis Morisette plays in the background on infinite loop. Who knows?
But, I didn’t want to settle, and I don’t want to settle.
Still, I’m afraid that once the honeymoon period of any relationship ends, there isn’t much left.