Q. This year marked the first serious relationship of my life. Despite this, he never loved me; I loved him, but it was the kind of love where you’re like, it would be fun to love someone today, oh look, how about him.
I have a thing for incongruous people. I’m drawn to weird kids, social butterflies. Or at least, I was. I think the last one might have broken the spell. Something he said to me once (“You read a lot, and I don’t, and when you talk about books, it makes me feel empty.”) left a bad taste in my mouth and the one after him was smart. REALLY smart. But it’s confusing because I’m still in this hazy limbo where I want a billion things. I want the last one’s specialness, his prettiness, even his childishness. And I want the connection we had. Because in spite of everything, I didn’t make it up; it was the most profound connection I have ever had with another person because it was so much about validation for the both of us.
Anyway, what should I do to make myself want depth this time? I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting weird people, but I need to make sure they’re Smart and Weird.
A. About three years ago, I adopted an adorably small, yet incredibly neurotic Chihuahua from my neighborhood Animal Rescue. To be fair, it isn’t his fault that he is neurotic. He, like most animals that have been abused or mistreated, just suffers from the bad habit of fully reliving the past in the most benign of moments and I am in no way, shape, or form a disciplinarian.
Nonetheless, I love this little dog, even through all his difficult picked up doggy behaviors; all his neediness, his over-protectiveness, all the quirks that tend to drive me crazy and reveal myself to be a rather impatient person, considering that it is just a dog. But you see, there is this one particular trait the dog has that tends to remind me of the very thick of what you seem to be going through. I sometimes bake bones for the dog — nothing fancy, just cheap leftover bones, yet the way the dog attaches onto these bones is nothing short of frantic attempt at taking what the dog perceives there to be. He paces around my house, drool falling from his lips, as he holds tight to this ragged, little bone, nervously looking for the perfect place to hide it. Never mind this is not the only bone he has ever had, nor will it be the last — just that in his doggie brain, this bone is the most important, to be protected thing he is encountering at this very moment. Hell, if I try to take this bone from him, even while waving a dog treat around, it makes him even more determined to hold on to it so very tightly. It is perplexing, but it is what the dog wants.
Take a cue from this. You’ve found a bone, my sweets. Not in this last person, not them specifically, but what you want. Of course you want a billion things. You have not experienced each and every one of those billions of things, therefore you have not yet experienced not wanting them. It’s usually through finding out what we don’t want that we get an idea of what we do.
But to this not very well-read, pretty boy, with all the specialness in the world. He is the bone you are clinging tight to, the one you carry around fervently, as if dropping it from your jaws might literally break the earth open and cause everything to be forever lost. No one in the world could ever be like this again,and while you have made the step into another boy’s territory, you have found that “smart” may be a quality that is valued, but maybe that “smart” isn’t all you necessarily want. Or maybe you do want. But not now.
Either way, you cling to the bone of the thing that resonated with you, with the person that made that “ding” noise when they came into your life. Probably because you found something in that person that made them lovable to you, but also, probably because you found personality aspects that click with you. So you hold tight to the bone, making sure to never let it go.
I wouldn’t suggest that you not hold onto it — what you have found is delicious for you, and delightfully so. I’d suggest maybe not holding on so very tightly to it. Don’t pace around with it clenched in your jaws, infiltrating each and every interaction you have, as if anything that was not the bone was a threat to take it away. You of course, may not feel threatened, but if you cling to something instead of holding it very gently, very lightly, then you may find yourself shutting off anything else that heads your way, all while the drool runs down your face.
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