Let me backtrack here. I'm a woman of reasonable attractiveness. I'm almost 50 but I don't look it. I'm fun, maybe a little too flirtatious, somewhat "extra" at times, kind-hearted, sassy, always have something interesting to say or some weird project idea for saving the world. I'm intelligent and insightful. I have not a lick of trouble getting dates, and I (sorta) pride myself on being the middle aged version of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" : I go on too many dates, but I can't make 'em stay... (we'll return to that later when you will see how I totally change my own mind.) However, I didn't always feel wanted or with options.
There was also the usual amount of catty girl junk, never fitting in ANYWHERE in ANY social situation, adding to my feelings of an ugly duckling who never gets to find out she is a swan. Socially awkward..you betcha.
On top of that, my mom got remarried, I had last name and parents-in-court drama, I got my first "C" and we are talking grades, not cup sizes. Gee, no wonder I still have body dysmorphia.
My point is, middle school for me was BRUTAL, just brutal.
Fast forward now, to me, working with middle schoolers in a place that cultivates respect and values humanity, and models restorative justice. It's miles away from the 80's meat grinder I went through and the kids are relatively nice to one another.
Still, I overheard a very telling conversation. A girl was speaking about how her boyfriend broke up with her without telling her. My ears perked up. Then she said she wasn't sure if they were dating or not.
But still. He didn't tell her they'd broken up. Somehow he opened that "we're dating" door, because obviously, she would not have been confused if he'd closed it completely.
It was an immediate big drama in one little sentence, and completely in keeping with what middle schoolers do.
The sad thing is, I completely understood this conversation not because I'd experienced it from any boy in middle school and knew what that was like in the good old days. Heck, boys didn't even know I was alive until I was 22.
It was because it was almost an exact replay of what happened to me LAST MONTH only with a middle-aged man. Only his breaking up with me was more "adult" in that he did it by unknowingly having my friend notice he was back shopping on a dating site, while he was simultaneously ignoring my texts. You know, ignoring calls and texts..that thing you reserve for telemarketers and people you hate. Without so much as a clarification conversation or acknowledgement that we'd been dating for several months.
Even sadder, this was the second time something like this has happened to me. In middle age.
Which brings me back to making him addicted to you. Why would you want someone, who for all intents and purposes is a seventh grader, to be addicted to you?
And in reality, why would you want ANYONE to be addicted to you?
Addiction is for those who believe in unicorns. Addiction is for middle schoolers who want drama and troubles. By the time you get to middle age, you've been relationally dinged up quite badly in many cases. Or, you've perhaps ravaged some hearts. Real, grown-up love is for middle age, and it means that in growing up, you can take those dings and fears and mistakes and turn them the fuck around. Make your own fucking soulmates...don't wait for someone who will eventually be completely unsuitable to fire you up. Addiction is not going to turn anything around. Hard work is. Becoming more self-aware and compassionate is. Not losing your faith and hope is. Being more loving is going to save you.
I get it. All of those kinds of "Rules" variations are really in the service of having self-respect. But if you have self-respect, you won't try to "make" anyone addicted to you. A person you have to manipulate into loving you is not going to love you back the way you need to be loved.
Avoiding that pitfall takes maturity...more altruism...less self-centered egoism.
So, "I go on too many dates, but I can't make 'em stay." Oh, wait, now I hear the Principal on the intercom during homeroom: "Middle-aged woman, you can't make them stay because they run away like little boys. Look at their history. They stayed with NO one and have nary a clue about their patterns. They need therapy. You go on too many dates because you haven't grown yourself enough to weed out the boys from the men. MIDDLE SCHOOL IS OVER. LEAVE NOW.
(well, but in my defense, sir, middle aged men(-tal middle schoolers) will take me to nice restaurants and buy me cocktails. I won't lie. I like that. And I can take my middle school humor there-just not any middle school lack of empathy. So just for fun, there is no such thing as "too many dates")
I think that's where the phrase "you do you." comes in handy. And why I'm hard on online dating and hard on my own fine self these days. This is why I've complained so bitterly about online dating and the men I've chosen. Because middle school sucks, and hanging around with adults who act like the mean girls and boys in middle school sucks even more. SO much more. I don't want to be reminded of the horrors of not fitting in or being snubbed in the hallway or being rejected over and over and over. ( by the way, this is not meant to give middle schoolers a bad rap, because I've been around them and most of them are kinder and more aware than the middle-aged adults I'm talking about.)
The great thing about growing up with all those dings is the ability to walk away knowing you will be just fine. It isn't devastating any more like it was in middle school. And as an adult, you realize life is so much richer with people who are banged up and beautifully imperfect in their quirky, loving hearts.
Besides, there are people to grow and love and there is a world that needs more heart, more encouragement, and way more kindness.
That's my place to belong.
|me and my oldest daughter💗|