Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LOSS OF ATTRACTION

During my sophomore year in college, my roommate liked to interrupt his Abnormal Psychology readings to pepper me with questions. (I’d like to think there was no link with the subject matter.) He was fascinated with my complete lack of a dating life. What in the world was I looking for?

I was seventeen and still hadn’t fully worked through my sexuality so every week I’d have to offer something new, something to appease him so he would go back to reading about psychopaths. The “I’m younger than everyone else” failed when he kept naming freshman girls within our social circle. The “too picky” stance never stuck as I clearly had no reason to be—not as long as I remained muscle-free, zit-faced and hopelessly big-haired. (Ginger ‘fros never caught on in Texas. Or, I’m guessing, anywhere.)

What finally stuck was “I’m voluntarily celibate.” Why not choose to be asexual for awhile? We could all have more empathy toward earthworms. And from then on, I became more fascinating to David than all the deviants they could cram into his textbook. Voluntarily celibate?! I held firm during all subsequent grillings.

Years passed, I came to terms with being gay and tossed the shtick. Well, actually, it evolved. For long periods of my adult life, I’ve been involuntarily celibate. Sigh. Is it a curse that goes back to deceiving a pesky roommate? Or am I just that easy to overlook, even after the acne and hair became tamed? Given the options, I think it is healthier for me to believe in curses.

I’ve been solidly single for nine years now and the longing for a partner has subsided. I remain open to the possibility, sometimes even hopeful, but life is not on hold until Mr. Right finally ends an unhealthy relationship and wanders my way.

My most recent date played out as all of them have over the past eighteen months. No spark, no match, just a prolonged ho hum. Thomas is 53, a new Vancouverite having moved from Los Angeles. He began messaging me before the move, surely hoping to connect with a potential friend or boyfriend to make the transition to a new city pain-free.

We exchanged reminiscences of L.A., me recalling my five-year stint in the ‘90s while he reflected on winding down his eight-year stay. It was common ground. Thomas and I also connected based on being obsessive over fitness. In fact, he surpasses me as an open-water ocean swimmer, a marathoner and a triathlete. Standing 6’4”, his pics revealed none of that middle-aged flab that causes us to avoid glimpsing in mirrors, pre and post shower. (Or am I just speaking for myself?!)

The conversation was pleasant, the evening perfect as we strolled Vancouver’s scenic seawall, with the sun finally popping out after snoozing all day. Two hours ended with an awkward, prolonged goodbye with the two of us standing beside my car on busy Denman Street as a steady stream of pedestrians detoured around us. Finally, a hug and I made by getaway.

Yes, I was relieved to be alone once again in my car as it had become evident that Thomas was interested in me and, despite efforts to convince myself this pairing might be worth pursuing, I did not feel the same.

Friend potential? Sure. Dating potential? A clear no. (And living a ferry ride away, the friendship thing won’t happen. Besides, my experience is that guys don’t go on dating sites hoping to find a friend.)

What went wrong? Nothing. If he’d done something repulsive, that would have been great. I wouldn’t be feeling shallow. I wouldn’t feel awkward over his “had a great time” text message that came an hour later as I waited to board the final ferry home.

I simply was not attracted to him. Objectively, he is fine. As we sat on a bench and chatted, I took many sneak peeks, trying to find a physical draw. Nothing. Like trying to jam a circle in a square in one of those preschool toys, the fit just wasn’t there.

And that brings cause for concern. Coffee after coffee, I leave feeling meh at best. At worst, I lapse into too picky critiques about manscaping issues and sorely mismatched clothing choices. These are first impressions, best foot forward, right? If this is “best”, then I don’t want to see the other foot.

I have no problem spotting attractive men in various media and even in passing once or twice a day, but they seem to be never available for a coffee date. I wonder what would happen if one of them did chat with me over venti decaf non-fat latt├ęs. Would I pick them apart too for donning the wrong color of Chuck Taylors and excessive arm hair? Maybe the sneakers would be just right, but the shoelaces would be too frayed, the aglets worn down. Maybe the earlobes would be woefully asymmetrical. It seems I’m drowning in a cesspool of maybes that ultimately lead to no. Ah, yes, maybe there really is a page devoted to me in that Ab Psych tome.

Have I lost all feeling of attraction when it actually matters? Yes, it is possible that I continue to meet guys who just aren’t right for me. I’d like to believe that. A glimmer of hope would remain. But maybe the lame excuses from thirty years ago have taken root. Maybe I am too picky and, as a result, (in)voluntarily celibate?

It only takes one man to break a curse. Yoo-hoo! I’m right here.

And I promise not to say “yoo-hoo”. That, of course, would be Instant attraction buzzkill.

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