I don’t need your permission

As someone who occasionally (okay often) delves into the online dating world, I get my fair share of messages that drive me crazy.  The catalyst for this particular post was the following exchange:

Unimportant pre-banter…

  • Guy: Must mean you’re smart and beautiful ūüôā
  • Me: I am ūüôā
  • Guy: And confident! Very hot. haha

So here’s what grinds my gears. ¬†He laughed at me. ¬†His expectation was that I would be flattered that he thinks I’m smart and beautiful. ¬†That I should brush or blush off that compliment and accept his opinion modestly. ¬†But fuck that. ¬†I am smart. ¬†I am beautiful. ¬†And I know it. ¬†I’m not always confident in myself, but I am confident that I don’t need a stranger to judge me smart and beautiful to know that I am those things. ¬†And to add to it, apparently being aware of my strengths makes me hot. ¬†So what does that imply me? or more importantly, what does that imply about him?

Let me say this unequivocally: online dating sucks. ¬†Being judged by (and judging) strangers is an inherently necessary part of the process, but it’s not a fun thing. ¬†We’re all looking for people who recognize the best parts of us and trying to suss out those people without being weird. ¬†For me, I place a high value on my intelligence and my attractiveness. ¬†So on one hand, it’s nice to be¬†recognized for the traits that I value in myself. ¬†However, I also don’t want to be dismissed with a “haha” when I confirm a compliment. ¬†I don’t need someone’s permission to be smart and pretty. ¬†I just am those things.

I spent a good portion of my adolescence awkwardly blushing at compliments that I was beautiful. ¬†I just didn’t know what to do with that information. ¬†I’d usually say something like “oh stop” or “you don’t mean that” or mostly just fumble my words in a truly teenage way because I wasn’t confident in myself. ¬†But not being confident didn’t make me not pretty or smart. ¬†It just made me unaware of the fact that I was pretty and smart. ¬†But I’m not an awkward teen anymore. ¬†I’m a fully grown, independent woman who is still intelligent and attractive. ¬†I don’t need to be confident to be those things. ¬†Even on my least confident days, I am those things. ¬†I don’t want to be made to feel bad about the fact that I’m aware of it now.

 

But maybe I’m being far too quick to jump down this guy’s throat. ¬†It’s hard to know what to respond when someone takes a compliment at face value. ¬†We’re not taught to do that, and we’re certainly not taught how to respond when someone does it. ¬†I’m sure he meant well. ¬†But I can’t help being an angry feminist sometimes. ¬†Because I shouldn’t have to temper how I feel about myself to make a man more comfortable.

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It speaks to me (and so do cliches)

Every once in a while, authors and poets and musicians write pieces that speak to people on such a personal level that their audience is certain it must have been written for them. ¬†I’m sure one day I’ll look back at this poem by Neil Hilborn and laugh at myself for seeing my experience in his words. ¬†I’ll think, gee I was super naive and sad and I’m glad I’m not in that place anymore. ¬†But for now, it speaks to me. ¬†And that might be because it’s 2 in the morning and I just finished watching¬†How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. ¬†But it also just might be where I’m at right now. ¬†Who knows.

“Try to fall asleep without her…./
She can’t sleep without noise.
You can’t sleep without noise
but noise will sound like her whispering you into the world
of lights and breakfast”

So I was (am?) trying to fall asleep after my go-to sappy rom com and this part of the poem popped into my head. ¬†I used to always sleep with a fan on. ¬†Or music. ¬†Or often both. ¬†And I’ll admit I sleep better with the fan. ¬†But most nights now, I’ll still try to fall asleep without it. ¬†Like it’s a metaphor for the “getting over it” journey I’m on. ¬†Neither is going particularly well.

“Don’t be alone.¬†
When you’re alone, you won’t do anything you’d do with her
So you won’t do anything.”

Aside from the masochistic fan thing, I spend a lot of time thinking about all the things I’d be doing if my ex were not my ex. ¬†I spend a lot of time thinking about the adventures we were supposed to go on and all the places we wanted to go. ¬†It was safe and easy to imagine traveling with another someone who I enjoyed so much. ¬†I think about travel a lot now but I have neither the financial resource, the vacation days, nor the courage to go it alone. ¬†So I sit in my room and write about the sappy cliches that apparently now make up my single life. ¬†That’s fun too I guess. ¬†The kicker for me is that he’s still doing these things and probably traveling a lot more than we would if we were still together. It kinda sucks when you feel like the other person is still living their life when you have trouble motivating yourself to leave the apartment on the weekends.

“She who made you someone
who could make himself into someone.
She made you want to live more than anything else
and now she makes you want to leave the world.
Because you’ve seen it”

This bit here really feels like Neil reached into my brain and stole part of it. ¬†I had said for a long time that being with my ex didn’t make me want to change who I am, but he did make me want to be the best version of myself. ¬†He gave me the courage to be more than I was, while still being true to myself. ¬†I felt empowered to be extroverted and to try new things. ¬†And I’m certainly not suicidal, I do want to make that clear. ¬†My life is, objectively, pretty fantastic right now. ¬†But it just doesn’t seem quite as full or fulfilling as it was. ¬†And there are only so many times a day I can force the cat to snuggle me before he gets annoyed, which I guess was also true of my ex, except he’s not as prone to biting as Crash.

“You will remind yourself,
she will remind you,
you will remind each other that this is for the best,
that you are physically incapable of loving one another
and in those moments you will be lying.
Your heart screaming I CAN, I CAN, I CAN
but you’ll stay silent
because of her
because she asked for this
because she filled something in you that’s still full
even though she’s gone”

I also spend a lot of time in hypothetical conversations with myself. ¬†What would I do if he said he wanted me back. ¬†He won’t. ¬†And I know this. ¬†But I also know that I’ll see him in a few months (okay more than a few months, but anyway) and we’ll likely have a conversation and my inner monologue will sound a lot like this part of the poem. ¬†Except I’ll be Neil. ¬†I’ll have to remind myself that this is for the best because we’re never going to be on the same page. ¬†I was always the one who wanted to stay and be grounded while he wanted to explore and wander. ¬†So he asked for this. ¬†Because I’m not what he needs and he’s not what I need.¬† It was hard for both of us. ¬†But it was still his choice and not mine, though I probably would have gotten to the same conclusion eventually.

I don’t know what I will say or do when I see him next. ¬†I’m sure I’ll change my mind dozens more times before October comes around just as I’m sure that whatever I plan to say is almost certainly not what’s going to come out of my mouth at the end of the day. ¬†In the meantime, I’ll keep seeing myself in poems about unrequited love and writing a blog no one reads (cause I haven’t told anyone about it) with super cliche titles and sappy posts about not being able to sleep. ¬†So at least there’s that.