The world is full of people who are searching

And every heart is trying to find a home

Just like everything I think that I’m deserving

Of a love that takes away the word “alone.”

-Toby Lightman “Alone

 

“What the hell is wrong with men?” said a friend of mine over dinner during a girl’s night a few months ago.

This question was prompted by the fact that she realized that all of us, who are of varying ages, sizes and ethnicities, are ALL single, and have been for quite some time.

Looking back on that moment, I have to wonder, what indeed is wrong? Is it the men we choose to spend our time with, or is it us?

As women we tend to internalize everything. If a guy we’re interested in turns us down, we tend to agonize over what it was about us that turned him off. If a guy we find unattractive is interested in us, we wonder what made him think we were the one. It’s as if we’re forever playing the roll of Goldilocks in a never ending nightmare dating version of the Three Bears fairytale.

Growing up female, we’re often told that women have to look and act a certain way to attract any man.

I’ve found that to be inherently untrue. I’ve seen perfectly beautiful women, with stunning personalities and gorgeous figures cry their eyes out over some douche bag who doesn’t deserve her while some less attractive woman with the personality of a doorknob ends up with the object of the other woman’s obviously misdirected affections.

So it’s not always about looks. It’s not always about personality. And if I hear the term “things happen for a reason” one more time, I swear I’m going to pull my hair out (which would be sad, because I kind of like having hair on my head).

“All guys are douche bags.” This was said by not one, but two, of my male friends, during an outing a few weeks ago, after I explained to them my own lack of a romantic partner. “But then again, you women are crazy,” was added by one of them. After which we got into a debate over what exactly it is that attracts a man to a woman and visa versa.  A debate, mind you, neither one of us won because, well, relationships are minefields, and we’re all walking on tiptoes trying desperately not to get blown up.

I’m no expert in relationships. To be honest, I’m not even sure how the hell it was I ever got married (other than to explain that the man I married was just amazing, and perceptive, and got me.. but I digress). All I know is I look at the fabulous women in my life, all of them beautiful, and I can’t help but wonder why it is that at any given moment one, if not all, of us are telling the rest about some guy who we thought was worthy of our attention, who didn’t appreciate us.

I used to believe that maybe my lack of luck in love was because I was heavy, or maybe my personality was too outrageous, or maybe I just wasn’t pretty enough.  I mean I look at my girlfriends and they are fucking beautiful. The way I used to see it was:  If THEY’RE having dating issues, what the hell chance do I have at success? I’m not even exaggerating when I say the woman whose quote begins this blog, should be a model.  As a person? She is one of the most caring, intelligent, loving, fun and thoughtful individuals I know. And yet, she and I have had many conversations, late into the evening, bemoaning our single status and wondering what the hell it is about us that has kept us single for so long.

Recently, after a guy I’d been interested in let me know he’d never thought of me as anything more than a friend,  which of course led up to the inevitable feelings of rejection and such, not one, but two of my friends mentioned the fact that neither of them actually thought I really liked HIM, rather, maybe it was the idea of who he could be and the fact that maybe the attraction was more due to the fact that he was just there. Both friends thought I could do infinitely better, what’s even more interesting was a couple of HIS friends felt the same way.

One of my friends suggested I read, Be Honest–You’re Not That Into Him Either: Raise Your Standards and Reach for the Love You Deserve (kind of a response to He’s Just Not That Into You).  While I haven’t read it yet, I get the idea… maybe my friends were right.

 Looking back, while the guy I was interested was certainly not a douche bag, it’s clear, based on the number of arenas where we weren’t compatible, that he really wasn’t for me. I was simply pining for the idea of being with someone who had way too many attributes I realized I’d have to ‘deal with’ should we have ever actually gotten together. Things I’m not sure, looking back, that I COULD have dealt with. Basically, while he’s a wonderful guy, he really wasn’t wrong to not want to be with me. I’m guessing he saw the differences I was willing to accept as things he couldn’t deal with.

The thing is, I’ve seen this situation way too many times to not wonder, how many heartaches can we all be spared if we didn’t decide, right away, that somehow, it’s okay for us to settle for someone who wasn’t completely right for us?  Don’t get me wrong, no one is perfect, least of all me. I am completely aware of all my imperfections, I’d even go so far as to say I am painfully aware of them.  But there have to be some deal breakers. I mean I’m not a demanding woman (although some say I could be a little more demanding, a little less accepting). I pretty much take folks at face value. But really, how much bullshit does one have to put up with to spare themselves from being alone?

One friend was dating a guy who would constantly do stupid things and then somehow try to make HIS actions, HER fault. And she stuck with him – For years.  One day, while listening to her try to explain to me how his blowing her off to go drinking with the guys was somehow HER fault, I asked her if she ever got tired of making excuses for the guy. I mean seriously, she’s intelligent, beautiful and successful and here she was, knee deep in Kleenex, with puffy eyes trying to excuse the inexcusable behavior of a self-centered asshole who was using his own insecurities about her success as a good enough reason to go to a strip club – Really? Eventually, she dumped his ass. And yes, she’s still single now, but when she looks back at the amount of crap she took from this guy, she’s mortified by the fact that she didn’t value herself enough to realize sooner that she could do so much better.

And it’s not just my female friends. My guy friends do the same thing. They stick with women who don’t value them any more than some of the guys my girl friends date. Besides the single guys who bemoan the women who can’t see them for the good guys they are (while ignoring the good women who DO see them for how awesome they are), I have watched my guy friends date (and in some cases marry) some of the most horrible examples of the feminine side of the human race I have ever seen (effectively making me understand why they think women are crazy). I asked one guy why he stuck with a woman who clearly wanted nothing more than to control him, and he said “she’s the best I can get.” I wanted to smack him. But then I realized, that as long as he felt that way, it was true. I believed he could do better for himself, but until he did, he’d continue to be miserable in a relationship with a woman who was clearly (at least to me and everyone around him) was wrong for him.

The problem with all of us, men and women alike, is that we’re too quick to settle, I think. I know I’ve been guilty of it, and I’ve seen my friends do the same. We’re all very good at propping one another up, telling each other, when faced with heartbreak, that we can do ‘better’. But until we really believe it, it won’t happen.

That said, I do believe it now. No more settling. I may be single, and it may suck, but if the only alternative is being with someone who doesn’t appreciate me or who I can’t fully appreciate myself, I’m better off.  In the words of Miss Amanda Jones from “Some Kind of Wonderful” (one of my favorite movies of all time by the way), “I would rather be alone for the right reason than with someone for the wrong ones.”

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