I used to say I was going to write a book on relationships titled The Cyborg’s Guide to Human Dating. There, I would finally share all of my dating tips, quips and rules of the road as I learned to navigate the world of human romantic relationships. You see, for the longest time I have felt like a robot when it comes to emotions, especially ones like looooove. Almost every personality test seems to confirm this. The Enneagram tells me that my key motivation is to “possess knowledge, to understand the environment, and to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.” See? Robot.
I got a very late start to traditional dating. You know the story–too shy and awkward in high school, too hyper religious in college, blah blah blah. Before I knew it, I was in my mid-twenties with nary a relationship under my belt. I decided to approach this aspect of my life like I approach most things–read books, ask questions, and amass as much knowledge as possible until I was ready to jump in with both feet. I found a fella, asked him to a Yankees/Red Sox game and it was a disaster. I apparently skipped all the chapters that address how to deal with douchebags who threaten to leave you alone in the Bronx during a rain delay. I waited around for guys who never wanted anything but my good friendship. I dove into the murky waters of online dating, and you all know how that turned out (scroll through this site if you aren’t up to speed). This robot was frustrated.
For years I was accused of being too picky and having unrealistic expectations about love. I was advised that I needed to try to put myself “out there more” and “kiss a few frogs.” I was instructed to give men who were all wrong for me more chances in the name of good practice for the real thing. Someone actually advised that 3:00 am last calls were great target practice, and that I’d feel a little better if I just had some good old-fashioned casual sex with strangers. I simply drove myself nuts trying to heed some of their well-intentioned advice. That casual sex advice was never entertained, but there was something to be said about making myself available to what life had to offer instead of hiding behind my sarcastic and guarded persona that had grown so comfortable over the years. I learned a lot from this process, and I have no regrets. I can safely say now that dating no longer scares the bejeezus out of me which is a wonderful thing; however, about six months ago, I decided to stop “trying.” Do not be confused, I have not given up, but I have stopped doing all these ridiculous things like online dating and figuring out the appropriate amount of hair tossing to attract a suitable mate. Occasionally, I get a little bored and still test that hair-tossing theory as was the case recently. What can I say? I’ve been having a good hair month.
Instead of beating myself up about how terrible I am at this basic human interaction, I have started to think long and hard about what I actually believe about romance and what I really desire in a future partner. I could wax on and on about what I’ve learned from this emotional journey and the sort of man I hope to find. Maybe one day I will, but for now, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes on the matter that sums up a lot of my feelings here:
“The first time you fall in love, it’s such a transcendental feeling, you know? It’s like eating pizza-flavored ice cream. Your brain can’t even process that level of joy. And love makes people do crazy things, like kill people, or shop at Crate & Barrel. It makes us all a little delusional. I think our whole lives, no matter how low our self-esteem gets, there’s some part of us that thinks, ‘I have a secret special skill that no one knows about, and if they knew, they’d be amazed.’ And eventually, we meet someone who’s like, ‘You have a secret special skill!’ And you’re like, ‘I know! So do you!’ And they’re like, ‘I know!’ And then you’re like, ‘We should eat pizza ice cream together.’ And that’s what love is. It’s this mountain of pizza ice cream and delusion.”
-Mike Birbiglia, Sleepwalk With Me
Though I rely heavily on logic and reason, I am someone that has always made her best decisions when she abandons all of that and goes with her gut instincts. My gut tells me that I know what I am worth, and settling for less will never make me happy. My gut tells me that I am not picky, but rather that I possess enough self-awareness to know what works for me, and that pizza flavored ice cream is worth the wait. This is ultimately why I know I am not a robot….robots don’t have stomachs.