Sunday, July 12, 2015

Riggle Me This, Why you Should Even Bother Asking

I'm currently dog sitting my ex dog for the weekend and staying in my ex boyfriend's apartment(subsequently the same one I shared with him for the last two years of our relationship). I already know that everyone is thinking that this is a bad idea. I thought that for a moment, too, when he initially asked me to watch this dog. However, I felt like it was the right thing to do. He was in a bind, and for anyone who doesn't know, this dog was everything to me while I was his owner, and there isn't a single day I haven't thought of him since moving out of this apartment over a year ago. I have, in the last few months, come over for a mere few minutes and chatted politely with my ex and have seen this apartment change from "ours" to just being his. Yes, of course there are remnants of me in this place and probably always will be because we shared our lives together for so long and when I moved out, I took as little with me as possible. I wanted the clean and fresh start somewhere else with little to no reminder of him.

When you begin a relationship and everything is new and wonderful, it seems as if it could last forever. Sometimes it does, and often times it does not. But when you feel like it's going to be the most amazing thing in your life, at least for me, it seemed that we were so focused on the future. And I became a "we." I hate those people, yet I became one. We do this, and we like that movie, and so on and so forth. So when it did end, I had to mourn the loss of the future I would no longer have. I had to let go of this idea that there would be this fabulous wedding and children with this man I had loved for the past six years. I had to let go of the notion that I would get to see my dog everyday for the rest of his life, assuming mine lasted longer. I had to release the warm thoughts of coming home to my partner every day, or surprising him with dinner when I was the one home first. I had to surrender this all to the unknown. And for anyone who knows me and my control issues, this is not an easy task.

I am someone who likes to know what obstacles lie ahead. I would love for my life to have warning signs so bright and legible that I don't even have to think twice about how to avoid the collisions. I mean, those signs exist, but sometimes they are difficult to see. And even when I see them, I might not be able to comprehend the meaning. However, life doesn't always have clear answers for us. Even when the warning signs are bright and legible, it's hard to see them because we're looking another direction. Then the collision can be that much worse.

Anyways, I found myself here, in my former home for one night so far, and I can't help but notice how different the world seems now. I see how right things are in the world, but I also see everything differently. Even New York feels different to me. I feel so unsettled because I know that I just have to be on this ride and I can no longer see the outcome or any warning signs that lie ahead. My world went from being an US to a me, and perhaps I still haven't figured out how to think of my life as me first. I used to think of my partner and my beloved dog's needs before my own and in many ways, that could be the main reason why they are no longer an active part of my life. But, I look around and the memories come back so rapidly it's dumbfounding. The video of my last day here replayed itself over and over in my dreams last night and the sad part is it hurts no less now than it did last year. Yet, now that I'm awake, the only day dreams I have are of the good moments I had in this home. The special occasions, the days filled with silliness and laughter and love. And the joy becomes pain and then joy again and then pain when I realize that my life is completely different.

And the worst part of all of this is that I thought I was ok. I thought I was over this. I thought that it would be a quick weekend and that everything would just go back to normal. Maybe deep down I thought this could be a good way to say goodbye to my old life and everything in it. Because unbeknownst to me, I've been holding onto this life that I used to have and have been wishing it would just magically come back to me. I hate admitting I'm wrong and I hate to know that I'm weak when it comes to a certain man in my life, but I am. I still am. I'm the one that still hurting and holding on to this pain that means nothing in the end.

Dating has become even worse for me. Because I was already someone who took his time vetting a potential partner before committing my heart to them. I need to know that someone is worthy of owning my heart before I give it to them. So when the "I like you's" or the "I miss you's" come too soon. I have a tendency to bail because I just don't move that fast. I never did and now it's even slower. I recall with my last partner, I waited for almost five months of dating before allowing ourselves to admit to being in a relationship. I just like to take my time to make sure I'm making the right decision. And for all of the appreciated, "he must be crazy for throwing you away's" that people throw my way, I still don't feel any more worthy of a new relationship than I did six months ago.

Someone asked me yesterday, "are you afraid of getting hurt again?" In some ways I am. In many ways, most people are afraid of getting hurt. In most ways when it comes to relationships, I'm afraid of hurting others. I know that I'm a lot to handle, and I won't apologize for it anymore. I can recognize in most people whether or not they can handle me, or even give me what I need in terms of said relationship, and based on that, I will either pursue it or not. Most people don't have the stamina or patience required when being with me. And maybe that's the problem. I'm not someone who needs to be handled. Maybe I just need to quiet the noise around me and focus on myself. And maybe that's why I believe I won't enter a relationship again. It's not about getting hurt, because we will always get hurt in relationships, even the good ones. Maybe it's about finding out more about me and being on my own and finding that happiness in myself before trying to let someone join me on the ride. And maybe I needed to have my emotions stirred up right now to push me forward into whatever comes next.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Riggle Me This, Why I left Grindr and Scruff behind.

Last year, for the first time in over six years, I found myself single. I was suddenly thrust into the age of virtual dating, apps for everything you can imagine, and almost no time or patience for any of it. Before I entered my relationship, I, like many of the gay men around me, used, manhunt, or various other internet sites in which to connect to one another. And now after my relationship, there are actually hundreds, if not thousands of apps in which people communicate, hoping to find "the one," or "the one for tonight."

I was never someone you would consider an "app guy." Hell, I didn't even want to jump on the smart phone wagon in the first place. Give me a good old flip phone any day of the week over this high tech crap and I'll be just fine. I mean, I do have a few games and the standard apps that come with my phone. However, as soon as an app becomes useless to me, I delete it, it's content and erase and existence of it in my life. I mean, after all, am I really going to play that game one more time once I've beaten it? Or do I really need to have a photo app I use once every two years? It's just insane.

In any event, I found myself single. I didn't really want to put myself out there, but I did, but then I didn't. And then I did again. It was a constant struggle about admitting and accepting the fact that my life was now on a different course than I had originally started. And I was teetering on the edge of a sea of apps that could either connect me to the outside world, or be a complete waste of my time. And since I couldn't make up my mind, big surprise, about if I wanted to be apart of the world or not, I joined up through the apps. The safest way to half-assedly commit to being social without actually being social.

I joined Tinder, a few of my heterosexual counterparts had had quite a bit of success on their investments of time and attention to this app. I joined grindr like any other self respecting gay man would. I also joined scruff for the same reason. I drew the line at anything I had to pay more than $5 a month for. Hell no! But, I quickly realized the reason for joining them was so I didn't have to actually commit to anything serious. I also didn't have to leave my apartment if I didn't want to. It was like shopping. I could casually browse and ignore the unsightly outfits I wouldn't be caught dead wearing while causally perusing the items I found interesting. You know, the shirts you carry around the store for 45 minutes while talking yourself out of buying because you don't really need it in the first place, but maybe you really do like it and in 45 minutes of walking around you'll end up knowing for certain that you're going to put it back on the rack.

It was fun. Oh how it was fun. Seeing the guys I could imagine a whole life together with. And yes, I was aware that I was getting ahead of myself. These were guys who were mostly just looking for a quick one night stand. And back in my early twenties, it would have been sufficient. I could have gotten by with that. But now the game had changed. Suddenly, I didn't want that anymore. I didn't want to go back to my relationship, I didn't want to replicate it somewhere else, but I wanted a connection to someone. I wanted to know that if I decided to go home with someone it wasn't going to just be this casual encounter that would be forgotten about moments after I left the next morning. I didn't want just someone I could pass on the street and remember and evening spent with them while the couldn't even remember my name. I wanted something more that I was sure I could find. I mean, I did meet my ex on manhunt after all.

But, alas, I did not find my prince charming on grindr or scruff. Even though, I've met a handful of couples who did meet that way. But, in my experience, meeting someone on an app is a poor way to get to know them. I realized early on in my use of the apps that asking people to meet me for a beverage before bedding ourselves seemed to be a foreign concept to most, while others viewed it as a "waste of time," "not what I'm looking for," or "my boyfriend only allows me to have sex with other guys, not date them." It just started to seem hopeless. Regardless of my lack of success, I kept at it and kept at it. I continued conversations with guys that I had no intention of sleeping with and what I found was pretty astonishing. If you actually stop talking about having sex with guys, you get to know them a little bit, and you know what? We're all basically the same. Behind all of the bravado-male-ego-bullshit-i just wanna get laid-stereotype of the gay community, most of the men I chatted with wanted to find someone to be with. And not just for the night. For a lifetime.

So I was left with this sense that most guys wanted to have a partner, but since they couldn't seem to find one, they were so willing to settle for someone to spend the night with and they were all ok with this. Everyone seems to have drank the Kool-Aid on this one. Being ok with just a fleeting evening with one person as opposed to holding out for the right one. Which someone just seems to perpetuate our stereotypes. I mean, doesn't it? I'm not judging anyone who wants a one night stand or anyone who wants an open relationship. I accept all of them. I've just stopped wanting those things for me. It's like this. If I believed in open relationships, then it's my responsibility to tell any perspective partners that from the get go. Or if in several years down the road I start finding myself wanting that with my partner, it's my job to be honest in how I feel and what I want before I go and start setting fires in my relationship. But, it's not what I want for me. Nor was a fleeting series of one night stands. So, I couldn't shake the sense that I wasn't being honest with myself. Or with other people for that matter. And thus created a whole sense of insecurity within myself because I wasn't being true to me.

So, why did I have to delete the apps and my identity inside of them. Two big reasons. One. Because they're addictive. They are such a time suck and it's become such the menu of whats around you and how many feet someone is away from you that it was becoming counterproductive for me. I would be at the gym checking the apps between sets, or leaving it on while I was at work to see who messaged me. Because as much as I hate to admit this, I started craving the attention from posting a new pic or from seeing how many people desired me. As much as I don't want to be with every single person in the world, I still found myself wanted every single person in the world to find me attractive. So much to the point that I stopped taking time to enjoy my life and would sit in my room, awake for hours a night when I should have been sleeping, just to check the apps and see who was interested in me. Therefore making me sleep later and/or just be tired the next day.

The second reason is a quote. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Cliche, I know. But powerful. I've come to the understanding of what I want in a partner. One of the ways successful people in the world attract the things they want is they start emulating the things they want in their daily lives. You want to be a writer, then write everyday. You want to present yourself as a CEO, then start dressing like one. You want to do more good deeds in the world, then why wait? It's simple stuff like that. And one big piece of relationship advice I once got and ignored, and will NEVER again ignore this one; don't behave in a way you would despise in your partner. So I started questioning myself. "Would I want my partner to be on these apps all the time?" And the answer is a resounding "NO!" I would hate it if that's what my partner was doing with his time. So, the question remained, "why was I still on them?"

There are literally a thousand other things I need and want to do with my life. Spending time on an app and ignoring my passions shouldn't be ok with me. It shouldn't be ok to anyone, really. I've also come to the understanding that how I present myself to the world is in my hands. I can either be this person I became that I don't like at all. Or I can just be me; and attractive and talented person, who is mostly nice, sometimes funny, a little bit weird, outgoing and driven.

So, it may have taken me a minute to find myself again this last year and a half, but the one thing I don't need is an app justifying certain aspects of myself that I already know. And, in the two short weeks of not having these apps around, I've begun to accomplish a lot for myself. If we are truly in charge of shaping our lives, then letting small things distract us can't be worth it.