Recently, a cute guy my age sent me a friend request on Facebook. His profile stated that he was from the same town that I grew up in, but I didn't remember him. We had several mutual friends on Facebook, however, and he looked vaguely familiar; I thought he might have been one of the neighborhood kids that I used to play with when I was younger.
I accepted the friend request, but then he sent me a message with the waving hand emoji (side note: really? He can't just say hi? What is it with emojis anyway? It's like, we're 37, not twentysomething Millennials who eat avocado toast every day.). But the emoji wasn't why I didn't write back.
His profile stated that he was interested in meeting women, so he was probably hoping to flirt with me and see if it led to anything more. I was tempted at first to respond. He was attractive, and although he no longer lived in the same town that we grew up in, he now lived in a town that was close to College Town. But he was also clearly impatient because when I didn't respond to his emoji right away, he unfriended me just a few hours later.
He wasn't the only guy who's tried to flirt with me. Ever since I joined Instagram, I've gotten many DMs (direct messages) from random guys who clearly view the site as a way to meet women. These guys typically only have 1-6 posts on Instagram, keep their pages private, and are following hundreds or thousands of other people on Instagram, most of them women.
Here are some of their messages:
Instagram guy #1: Hey.
Instagram guy #2: Hello beautiful. You are so gorgeous. Has anyone told you how beautiful you are? Please DM me.
Instagram guy #3: Hello sexy lady I would like to get to know you better. Send me some private pics please. (I had to resist the urge to send him pictures of an inflatable doll with the caption, "Meet your new girlfriend.")
Instagram guy #2 (again): Hey I saw you liked one of my posts, so why didn't you write back to my DM? Why are you teasing me like this?
Instagram guy #4: I've been very lonely since my wife left me for some guy who makes more money than me. I think it would be fun for us to get to know each other better. Send me a DM beautiful. (These guys never address me by name, which makes me think they send the exact same message to all the women on Instagram that they're interested in.)
Some of them are clearly catfish, meaning they're using fake pictures of good-looking male models in order to entice women to respond to them. How do I know they're catfish? For one thing, my "type" has always been the good-looking, muscular jock, which is why I follow several male fitness models on Instagram (and some of them have followed me back, but they're not the ones who are DMing me, unfortunately). So, some of the catfish who have sent me DMs are the ones who've stolen a couple pictures from the real fitness models and posted them on their own pages. Even the Model told me that several guys had stolen his pictures from Instagram and created fake dating profiles on multiple dating sites to entice unwitting women.
Whether they're catfish or just guys who are stupid enough to think that if they call me "beautiful" enough times I'll send them pictures of my chest (I WON'T), I haven't responded to any of their messages and block them from contacting me again, especially if they get too aggressive. I also haven't rejoined any of the dating sites. After what happened with the Model, I'm still not ready to date anyone. I thought maybe it was partly because I still had feelings for him, although some of those feelings include the desire to push him into a shark-infested ocean.
But I think it's more than that. I don't have cable anymore, but the one current show that I do keep up with (I usually watch it at the gym) is Elementary. One thing I like about the show is how it depicts Sherlock Holmes as someone who fell in love with someone who deceived and betrayed him in the worst way; that's something that I can relate to. One way he deals with his heartbreak is by immersing himself in his work as a brilliant detective.
In one of the episodes from the second season, his female partner, Joan Watson, is struggling with her ambivalence towards her boyfriend. Sherlock tells her that she shouldn't force herself to be in a conventional relationship that she doesn't want to be in when she is unconventional. What he said struck a chord with me.
Whenever a guy liked me in the past, I usually felt annoyance or indifference. I thought maybe it was just because the guy and I weren't compatible. But I think it might have been something deeper than that, something I've suspected about myself for a long time: I don't want to be in a relationship with anyone.
On the one hand, I like the idea of falling in love. I DON'T like the idea of being alone for the rest of my life. But I also like that being single comes with certain freedoms : the freedom to live and work wherever I want (within reason), to travel wherever I want, and to spend my money and my weekends the way I want to.
I also wonder how some people are able to maintain long-term, monogamous relationships, especially because so many people fall out of love with their spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends. I think that the Model reached out to me that last time because he was bored being with the same woman every night, so he selfishly fulfilled his desires and ended up betraying both his girlfriend and me at the same time. Also, although I must admit that it makes me sad that he chose her to be his girlfriend instead of me, at the same time I'm willing to bet that she's not as oblivious to his selfishness and infidelity as he thinks she is. I think in order to be with a guy like him, she keeps her head stuck in the sand and pretends that he's as committed to her as she is to him.
There are people out there who don't have to be willfully oblivious like the Model's girlfriend and who stay faithful to each other because they love each other and don't want to be with anyone else.
When I was younger, I used to think that I'd meet the right guy someday and find happiness with him. After what happened with the Model, I have a much more cynical view of dating and men in general. I know that not all guys are like him, but I'm tired of dating and all the b.s. that comes with it. I don't want to take the risk of falling head over heels for someone else, only to have my heart pulverized all over again. It nearly destroyed me the last time, and I just can't go through that again. I just can't.
Several guys I met online last year, including the Artist, texted me every day and wanted to talk for hours every time. That did not charm or flatter me; it irritated me and made me feel like they were either smothering me or checking to see if I was out with other guys. It felt possessive and too much too soon, especially since even before I went out on my first date with the Artist he insisted on talking every day and got upset when I said I couldn't.
"When you like the guy, it'll be different," my hairstylist said, when I talked to her about some of the dates I'd gone on. "Then you'll want to talk to him every day." Maybe. But another reason it irritated me was that I have a full-time job and a part-time job, and I usually don't have the time or patience for long conversations.
I've always been an introvert who preferred my own company over almost everyone else's. I thought that meant that something was wrong with me, as my mother often says it is. But maybe I'm not meant to be with anyone. Maybe the reason I couldn't make it work with any of the guys I dated isn't just because they weren't right for me but because I'm not the marrying kind, and I'm just not good at relationships.
But who knows. The writer Emily Gould wrote at the end of her memoir, And the Heart Says Whatever, that she didn't want to be anyone's girlfriend and expressed doubts about the institution of marriage. But now, almost ten years later, she's happily married to another writer and has two kids with him. So maybe I'll end up like her. Or maybe I'll still be alone. In the meantime, it's been a relief not to worry about dating someone new and to focus instead on the other things that matter to me, like teaching and my writing.
What about you? Do you think it's true that some people just aren't the marrying kind?
Interview with… Adam Byatt - Today it’s the turn of Adam Byatt to sit down and share his writing with us. This is my 13th interview, and there are still some wonderful authors to come!...
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