what is so enchanting about the smallest fragment of attention from the most mediocre men that is enough to sustain my interest in them for far too long? : a history
What I confused for masochism, an unabashed gluttony for continuously getting hurt despite knowing better, is what I’ve now realized is actually hedonism. My everlasting lust for whatever makes me feel good, even in the slightest, that is so absolute that my boundaries for bullshit is near infinite.
[…] We start to crave the activity and experience withdrawal when it’s not available. […] People become more preoccupied with the pain of withdrawal than the activity itself. This theory could explain why some people hire someone to beat them or burn themselves with cigarettes, or why they are only attracted to people who hurt them. Fear and aversion, in some perverse way, can be transformed into pleasure.¹
Most of it can be attributed to two things:
- My innate fear and ongoing self-consciousness of being perceived as high-maintenance.
- My distaste for all characteristics feminine. (surprised? yeah me too.)
I’ve never really been great at expressing emotions, this is something I’ve actively learned how to do later in life with considerable dedication and effort. I would go years without crying and now I’ll honestly cry at anything and that is a badge I wear proudly.
Until a few years ago, I prided myself on being more logical than emotional, my Myers-Briggs was a T instead of F, more commonly known as The Debater .
Part of this was because my parents weren’t that emotionally intuitive or emotionally intelligent, of no fault of their own (generational trauma has now entered the chat) and secondly, seeing how women were portrayed in media and in my own life, and when they simply expressed themselves was often characterized as hysterical.
And I wanted no part in it.
It seemed because of me being emotionally out of touch (read stunted) combined with my all-round male energy, I had earned a secret passageway into the boys’ world. After all, I did and still do make poop jokes and talk about buttholes on a semi-regular basis.
Growing up I played with Hot Wheels, and collected rocks, and as soon as I was allowed to choose my own clothes decided on a variety of sweatpants or tear-aways and hoodies as my uniform - despite my Indian mom’s protestations. I was comfortable in this world, and the more I grew up in it, the more I wanted to alienate myself from other women. “You’re not like other girls” was a phrase I considered a compliment, now I’ll damn near bite someone’s head off if they said that to me.
Having passageway to a very male-dominated friend circle all my life also conditioned me in my dating life, and low and behold stunted me there too. I would hear about how women expected too much of them, wanting their time and effort, how reprehensible it was for women to want to have the dreaded “what are we” talk, …. and so I learned.
I learned to not talk about my feelings, never to ask what are we, to never expect too much from them despite what I wanted or needed emotionally… or sexually. I learned that if I wanted to continue to engage with them, this was it, take it or leave it. I would change my expectations because god forbid anyone describe me as high-maintenance or demanding.
So here we are years later, after a multitude of pseudo-relationships of which I can’t completely call real even though they felt real, because out of the paranoia of seeming needy, I would evade asking if they were in fact my boyfriend, even after several months of spending time and sleeping with them.
I’ve lowered the bar so low, and yet my love life is six feet under. I’ve come to expect so little, and yet still be disappointed.
As I write this on the first day of 2022 and thoughts of realizations are looming in the air, I will break my rule of having regrets and resolutions this one time:
I regret not believing anyone I’ve chased that said they weren’t ready.
They’re not. Leave it alone.
I resolve to never put my own feelings on the back burner, for friends and lovers, it is entirely reasonable to expect those people to be there for you and check in on you if you do for them. I have a stupid amount of love to offer, and it is not a weakness (thank you Brené Brown) but an attribute.
author’s note: A couple of articles that really hit close to home that are also worth a read.
¹ A., Van der Kolk Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, 32. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2015.