It’s been another spell of writer’s block for me – it happens every time. Every time new people fess up to reading. Whether through a comment, a “like” on Facebook, a well-thought out private message that leads to a lengthy discussion of the post and the societal implications in general, or in passing over champagne and cake at a wedding… it freaks me out. Good friend, complete stranger, college acquaintance I’m seeing for the first time in three years or someone I’ve met once… it’s intimidating. Obviously, I write because I love to write. And I publish it to the blog because I want people to read it. But it still makes me stop short every time I learn that someone else has been reading. I feel an increased sense of pressure, I feel anxious to write more, better.
And ya know what? Sometimes I’m just not feeling all that poignant. Sometimes I want to tweet about my lunch or apply song lyrics to my life or have a gossip session with my best friends about the latest male of interest. Sometimes I don’t want to relate it all back to something other people can relate to.
And that’s fine.
But then there are times when I realize that the things I’m going through – the emotions I either suppress or express, the worries, concerns and doubts, the things that make me smile and the things that make me cry – are things we all can relate to. I hear it from my friends and I read about it elsewhere.
I’ve learned lately a lot more about the male mind than I previously knew. And about the male heart, for that matter. The menfolk have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve had male friends over the years who would occasionally open up and share their thoughts and feelings with me (mostly under the influence of alcohol), but for the most part, we never broached these topics.
All these years that I’ve tortured myself about whoever my latest crush was (uhhh starting in like 4th grade when I thought Bradley G was the man I was meant to marry), I always thought that guys had it so easy. Surely they didn’t get all riled up about these matters! They didn’t care about whether the person they were interested in knew they existed. They knew how to approach her, how to move forward in the dating scenario. Check yes or no, it was as simple as that! And if she checked no, they moved on. No heartbreak, no worry that they’re not good enough, no nights spent alone wanting to do nothing but eat Ben & Jerry’s and watch a romcom.
I’m learning that’s not true. From the dates I’ve gone on recently to conversations with guy friends – I’m learning they’re just as clueless and tortured sometimes. They get invested in the potential relationship – in the “what if”s and the “what next”s and drive themselves crazy with overanalysis too. Which, honestly, makes me feel so much better about this thing called Life.
Because now I know… we’re all on even ground here. We’re all trying to put our best selves out there, fearing that our best is never enough. We’re all trying to find someone to share our interests, our beliefs, our passions and hey, if it all goes well, our lives. We’re all a little awkward in the beginning – we’re not sure how aggressive to be, whether we’ll come off as self-confident or a self-centered ass. We’re not sure how to get around inconvenient circumstances – timing, distance, not seeing eye to eye on a make-or-break topic. We’re not sure how much texting is too much – or not enough. What says “available” versus what says “pathetic, no-life loser.” And hell, for our generation, we have no earthly idea how to talk on the phone or date in the traditional sense of dating.
When our parents were growing up – it was kind of the same. Our moms sat around staring at the phone waiting for it to ring with Mr. Could-Be-Right on the other end. Their hearts would jump into their throats when it rang and their stomachs would suddenly have butterflies.
Isn’t that what we do now with our iPhones? Only it’s worse. Our phones are with us basically 24/7. We check it…and check it again. And again. Our hearts stop when we get a text – until we see it’s “just” our best friend. But rather than the sound of a voice making you blush, it’s an emoticon or a carefully crafted (and probably heavily edited) witty reply. And we’ve added this other complexity to it. Because now, we can see tweets. Facebook statuses. Foursquare check-ins. Instagram posts. We can tell when the object of our affection has been active in this world of communications – and yet they’re not communicating with us.
So that makes us – all of us, male or female, don’t even lie – make up these crazy scenarios in our heads. We make up excuses for them, sob stories for ourselves. We ride this emotional rollercoaster through all the peaks and valleys until we are ready to hurl our artfully Instagrammed lunch over the side.
And then that text message comes and your stomach feels ill in another way. The butterflies are back and even though you want to stand your ground and play the game, you want to respond even more.
It would be so much easier if we would all stop playing the damn game. If you feel a connection with someone, a feeling when you’re with them or talking to them that you want to explore as a possible relationship, go for it. Be honest. State your intentions. Say, “I like you. Can I take you out sometime?”
That goes for us too, ladies. We can say that too – it’s not up to the men all the time. It’s not like going on a date means it’s forever – hell, going out for a year doesn’t mean it’s forever. But you’ll never find that forever if you don’t start with today.