For a good chunk of my twenties, I lived by Lady Gaga’s quote, “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” I absolutely refused to let my guard down.
I dismissed any and all ideas people had about letting a man into my life as a significant other. To let my guard down was not an option. If there was a love song on the radio, I changed the station. If the movie was based on a love story or was a romantic comedy, I watched on, puzzled. I wondered why anyone would want to engage in behavior that seemed tantamount to being enslaved. This is honestly what I thought being in a relationship was about.
Mind you, I wasn’t always that jaded. As a teenager, I was starry-eyed and excited about the notion of falling in love. It was all everyone ever talked about, and I wanted in on the action. Then came the heartbreakers. I was mistreated by more than a few men, and soon after them, my defenses became bulletproof. No one could touch me if I stayed behind the proverbial wall I’d built.
I always had a theory that every asshole was a former good guy. There was some bitch who catalyzed their assholedom, a woman who did them wrong along the way. The same seems to be true for most women. We’re either taught to be mean to men, or at some point, someone in our past treated us so horribly that we relinquished our sweetness. For years, I put all my energy and abilities into doing well in school and working my ass off by developing strategies I felt the world needed. My passion was diffused into the voice with which I wrote in order to help others feel that they aren’t alone, because I knew that I always was. I chose to be alone. No one could convince me to let my guard down.
I evolved into a serial dater, maneater, fembot, manizer, [insert like moniker here]. No man could ever get to me. I was happily alone and didn’t allow myself to feel lonely. I was happy. Although very few people believed that I could feel as fulfilled as I did while single. I was happy. I did feel fulfilled. I never felt that I was defined by relationships I had with men, nor by my lack of them.
Then, he came around. I’d met him once before, when I was a bitchy teenager and he was an awkward, sweet, quiet adolescent who was a year and a half younger than me. We were re-introduced at my best friend’s wedding and quickly became close friends. I had no intentions of embarking upon a new relationship, and strangely enough, I still looked at him as her younger cousin and no one more. Before I knew what hit me, I became smitten by him. I spent about a week with him, and I could not stop thinking about him whenever we were apart.
Of course, at first I was in denial. The inclination to be my usual “love him then leave him” self nearly tempted me into forfeiting having anything meaningful with this lovely young man. I was comfortable being the solo bitch. But then…