Saturday, December 28, 2013

TIME TO SETTLE?

When I was in my late teens, I clearly recall single women on TV and in life getting riled up over two comments: (1) “Your biological clock is ticking” aka You’re not getting any younger; and (2) “After 30, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than finding a man.” These jabs were supposed to be helpful.

Stop being so picky.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

It’s time to settle.

The comments did not relate to me. Obviously, I had no timeline for getting pregnant. And back then, I was still in the closet and there was a Whole New World to be explored. I just needed to muster up a sense of pride and an ounce of courage and step out beyond the cozy cluster of wooden hangers. Still, I paid attention to women’s reactions: incensed, flabbergasted, despondent. When they needed support, they got what they perceived as criticism. The speaker always viewed it as constructive criticism,...a reality check.

I felt nothing but empathy. Somehow I knew that the time might come when I’d be labeled the picky one, the one who should settle for a lovable—er, likable—oaf just because, well, he noticed me.

Be grateful.

The problem is I’m not the kind of person who settles. And this is only a “problem” if I take the view that I must be in a relationship (which I don’t). Yes, I am 49 and, yes, the pickings seem slim. Some people imply that I must not really want a relationship. I’d be in one if that is what I truly wanted. This is the genie view of dating. Your wish is granted. Unfortunately, I do not know Barbara Eden personally. (She’s blocked me on Twitter.)

I do want to be in a relationship, but not just any relationship. I’ve been in bad relationships and boring relationships. I have felt worse about myself as a result. Being alone can be the healthier option. On my own, I continue to challenge myself to be a better person, not because of anyone else, but due to my belief that there is much to be learned throughout this life’s journey. I am hard on myself and I have a self-deprecating sense of humor, but I know I have a great deal to offer.

I continue to put myself out there. It aggravates me when someone suggests I am not trying hard enough. After so many lackluster coffee dates, I could have given up long ago, rescued a dozen cats and become pen pals with American prisoners on death row. I could have littered my garden with gnomes, each individually named and greeted daily. I could have begun the mother of all latch-hook projects to create charming butterfly tapestries for every wall in my house. No, I am saving these options for my sixties.

The biggest obstacle for me is opportunity. Single gay men in my age range do not exist where I live. (Well, there is my new neighbor, but we are simply friends. Despite my great affinity for Nora Ephron, it is indeed possible for two gay men to be friends without ever having the slightest inkling for sex or some other-defined relationship. Please do not suggest that we could be more. It reminds me of well-intentioned friends who have tried to set me up with the only other gay guy they know. You’re gay, he’s gay. How could it not be a match?)

I am perfectly willing to look beyond my community. WILL TRAVEL FOR A DATE. This weekend, in fact, I am in Victoria—two ferry rides from home—and I have a couple of coffee dates lined up. You never know, right?

I know that many guys have passed on me because of the distance. I also know that many have passed because they just weren’t interested. That’s the harsher reality. But it makes sense. Clicking with someone else is harder as you get older. I remember an early bar encounter when I thought I found a match just because we both liked the TV show “Murphy Brown”. (Why not? For awhile, we would have lovely Monday nights.) With age, we have set ways of being. We look for something deeper. Just being gaga over the same pop singer does not cut it.

I don’t think anyone has the answer to end my single status. Sometimes we sad-sacks just need to vent. We need someone to listen. It’s the same as when my married friends rag on their spouses. It’s about letting off steam. I am not in their shoes. I am not the one to decide when they should consider a different course of action. But I listen well. I know that helps.

I suppose I could work on my cruising skills. On my way to Victoria, I met up with a friend at a Starbucks in Vancouver. A good looking man entered. I watched how my friend fixed his stare on the guy. It seemed aggressive, but perhaps I could get better at trying to make eye contact. I’ve checked my shoelaces enough. Still, I don’t think a future relationship will begin with a cute (or creepy) tale about when our eyes first met. Neither do I think we’ll meet while fondling melons in the supermarket or while being caught in the rain without an umbrella. I’ll try to stay open to that anything-is-possible mindset—even TV/movie clich├ęs. Nonetheless, I suspect there will be a greater purpose in our first encounter, should it ever occur.

Is there anything else I should be doing or trying? I will continue to write about the hopes, the misses and the failures of the dating process because that is a logical fit for this blog. However, rest assured that my life goes on. I am working on a new manuscript, enjoying a wonderful nonfiction book and going through a newfound willingness to try out recipes from a massive pile of clippings in a stuffed file folder. I am more than just a chronically single man. Thank goodness for that!

2 comments:

JustAMike said...

Best of luck in Victoria. That's where I met Bill (oh, and I was 49 at the time). I do see your relative isolation as the number one stumbling block for any relationship. After all, one must kiss many frogs before one finds a Prince and really, how many frogs are there where you are? :-)
I love it when people say to me: "I know a gay guy in 'such and such a place', do you know him?". Yes, I know all the gay guys in the whole world!! BTW, I have a friend on Bowen Island, not into settling either . . . ok, sorry . . .

Rural Gay said...

So glad that you left a comment, Mike! There is no shortage of frogs where I live. But they will always be just frogs. Humans? Gay humans?! Gay single humans?! On the verge of extinction. Alas.