Often, I feel lonely. I crave a friend for the night, and I crave a lover for the week.
Overall, throughout my life, I haven't been especially successful in the field of love. My longest relationship was also my first, spanning six months March 2006 - September 2006, and I ended it because I moved. I was fifteen years old. My next one was about two to three months in the fall of 2007. (I've had a hard time calculating how long this one actually lasted. For a long time, I considered it three months long, simply because that's how long it felt. Recently, I tried to count the exact number of weeks we were together, it seems closer to two months or perhaps even a month and a half, half the length I anticipated. I even discussed this with my ex, and he also guessed it was about three to four months and was surprised when he realized it was actually a lot shorter. Strange how these things work.) I ended that one as well, because my feelings had changed. My last relationship was also my shortest, and lasted a month in the spring of 2008. I don't remember who ended this one, but it was a rough, immature relationship that meant very little to me.
As you can see, there's a trend: downward spiral, eventually leading to a long, lonely span of two consecutive single years.
However, in those years, my love life hasn't been entirely dormant. I've loved and been loved, though it was always different people. (I use a very vague definition of love, for I've yet to figure out what love really is). I've learned a lot, and I've experienced intimacy, butterflies, and heartbreak. I've gone on dates. I've had casual sex with many men. (I've had very good experiences with casual sex. It always came at the right time in my life, and it was always enjoyable, entertaining, and comforting. Casual sex seldom created a backlash for me, for I've never felt emotionally threatened by it, and I continue to have good relationships with the men I've slept with; it did, though, cause a problems between me and my gal friends. Silly girls. However, perhaps because I am asexual, I never got much out of it sexually or romantically.)
Somewhat recently, as I was getting to know a new friend, she asked me about my past relationships. "I ask because I think a person's exes tell the most about the person," she told me. That really got me thinking. I disagree, and I really don't feel like my exes say very much about me at all. In fact, I feel that my past has been dictated much more by chance than by choice. (Personally, I decided that the single factor I believe tells the most about a person is their childhood.) In fact, I often feel ashamed talking about my romantic past, because my best relationship happened when I was just a child (fifteen years old!). I'm so much older now, and still I look back to that first boyfriend when I think about what I want out of my love life.
Love is arbitrary, random, and illogical. I posted a facebook status on January 13 at 1:16PM (yes, I did just scroll way back on my wall to find it) that went like this:
"Some have lovers and still feel alone. To some, it doesn't matter, somehow. Some are perfect yet lonely, we all wonder why. Some go from one to the next and hate their life and others envy them. Some are heartbroken because they know love, and some are crying because they've never known heartbreak. Some are lucky and happy for years to come while some people fall for the wrong guy at the wrong time over and over again.I loved this status, and felt that it really captured how I see romance. There really is no reason that things work for some and not for others, and that's just something we have to live with.
I've always lived by the philosophy of "Someone will come along eventually." It's worked well for me in the past: it's really kept me optimistic and prevented me from experiencing the I'll-be-single-forever phobia, which I personally find really frustrating. However, recently I've rethought this perspective. I've been following an asexual blog called a sexy beast. Often, this blog discusses ideas such as singlehood and loneliness. One quote that really got me thinking was this:
In our culture, there is always hope that a single person will marry, regardless of the situation. "Don't worry, you'll find someone." But will we? Asking that question can feel like staring into a cultural abyss. If I was "holding out hope" for doing anything else that has the same odds of two asexuals marrying, I'd be called crazy. But when it comes to romance, it seems, no odds are too small. (here)Naturally, some people have a much smaller dating pool than others. Theoretically speaking, I probably have a larger potential dating pool than most: I am panromantic, and thus not restricted by gender; I am comfortable with both monogamous and polyamorous relationships; I am a sexually active gray-a sexual, open to a relationship with any level of sex and physical intimacy from very little to very much (although, I'd never had a relationship with both sex and emotional intimacy at the same time, and I'm unsure how I would feel in such a relationship or whether I would be comfortable). In fact, it would appear that there are almost no restrictions on who I am willing to date. Still, I don't think the calculated dating pool alone can determine the chance someone has at getting hitched. After all, if love is as random as I just suggest it is, then anyone could find themselves single long-term. I don't consider myself someone who has been single long-term, and I think my love life is more active and healthy than many people's. Still, as a potential relationship comes to an end, I am cautious to look forward and say "someday, another one will come along". I mean, what if it doesn't? And, although this may seem very depressing, I find this perspective no less cheerful than the one I held before.
I've also been thinking a lot about how media perceptions of relationships impact my loneliness. I have no doubt that our culture really pushes us to get in a relationship. Love is constructed as important, essential, even, often, as the meaning of life. If this were not the case, I doubt most of us would feel as lonely being single, although we would still experience some romantic frustration. (What if our culture didn't have a concept of romantic relationships?) Interestingly, I often measure my romantic success not from my personal feelings, but from the way I would imagine it would appear from the outside. For example, one reason I've found casual sex satisfying is because it's made me feel less unwanted and undateable, and made me more certain that I am not entirely alone. I analyze these situations entirely from the outside, as if I were someone else looking in. I have no doubt that a big factor concerning how I experience loneliness is society's pressure not to be alone.
Whenever I feel lonely, platonic loneliness and romantic loneliness tend to happen side by side. Platonic loneliness is the more powerful by the two, and it has the most control over how lonely I feel in general. Except in cases of heartbreak, if I feel platonically content, I do not experience romantic loneliness, and, if I do, it's brief and insignificant. Likewise, whenever I feel platonically isolated, I always get romantically lonely and desperate. Not only is friendship a lot more important to me than romance, but friendship also influences my love life, for, when I have more friends, I meet more people, get to know more people, and am thus more likely to get close to more people. Platonic loneliness kills me so much and makes me very jealous of other people. I wonder whether my friendships are as plentiful, as close, as intense. In fact, ever since I became interested in friendship, this has become a constant stressor for me. I compare myself to others constantly and I am always trying to measure my platonic success. Every little thing someone tells me, every time I spend a night with someone or get invited to a party, every time someone texts me or comments on my status, I throw a little party with myself. Every time I spend a night alone or realize that someone is texting more often that I am, I feel empty and lost. This social insecurity, I believe, is mostly a result of my childhood and my autistic tendencies.
As I've grown, loneliness has become constant. Although, at times, it's very stressful and painful, most of the time, it's just a fact of life that doesn't bother me. After all, loneliness itself really means nothing until we lend it meaning. Besides, once I stop counting and weighing things out and just listen to my heart, I can tell, I'm really not doing so bad.