There’s a lyric in the unabashedly sentimental song ‘Hey There Delilah’ by the Plain White T’s that goes, Our friends would all make fun of us, and we’ll just laugh along because we know that none of them have felt this way.
For a long time that lyric was my ex and me to a ‘T’. We were that couple sitting on each others’ laps at the pool, stealing kisses at dinner parties, always seeming like we were the only two people in a romantic comedy. We were never “smug marrieds,” just had a connection so strong that it was hard to let each other go, hard to stay away. And now it’s over.
As I discussed briefly in my first post for Harpyness, I recently reentered the dating pool after a nearly ten year relationship, and quickly found myself struggling to adapt. Friends and family members flung names and phone numbers at me like someone handing out flyers on a corner. I joined an online dating site, seeing as how the stigma of online dating seemed to have come and gone (especially after having recently been to a wonderful wedding for a high school friend who met his wife on eHarmony). I found myself falling in and out of mini-relationships. Five weeks here, a month there. Both ended for different reasons. The first woman had a difficult time reconciling my being in the process of divorce. The second woman I was developing feelings for, until she admitted that she was fairly confident that she didn’t want to have children–a sad dealbreaker. Just recently I broke up with someone for the first time in over a decade, a woman I’d gone out with for a few weeks but had yet to find a connection. Ending the ‘relationship’, despite its short duration, was a foreign thing to me, and I legitimately felt bad about it for a few days.
Over the past four or five months, I’ve probably been on dates with a dozen women or so. Some people want to know the details of my situation, some never broach the subject. But I’ve heard a curious phrase said by several women I’ve been out with, along with those aforementioned friends and family members. When they learn I’m newly single, they say, “You must feel like a kid in a candy store.”
People expect, now that I’m single, that I’ll be like a lapsed diabetic entering Dylan’s Candy Bar for the first time in years. Grabbing items off the shelf. Tasting and discarding at my leisure, having a ball because there are just so many different treats to be discovered. Truth be told, at first being single was somewhat exciting. I met new women, both on dates and randomly. I discovered, to my surprise, that meeting people was relatively easy. But soon the excitement waned. Yes, I was a kid in a candy store, but the multitude of sweets didn’t really interest me. I think I’ve always been a bit of a romantic at heart, never wanted to sample a million treats but rather find the right one that would make me happy for years. I once thought I had that.
I have a younger sister, at the age where many of her friends are now getting married, engaged, or are in serious relationships. She and my mother had a large fight the other week, due to my sister’s feelings that my mother was doing everything she could to set me up, but had done nothing to help my sister find the right guy. My mother’s response, I suppose, was telling. “There are just more single women out there than single men,” she said. “I ask my friends about their single sons, but there really just aren’t many.” I guess that’s where the candy store line comes in.
I wondered if I should change my standards, ease what I was looking for. My family is not particularly religious, but I still hope to maintain my Jewish faith. However I have a cousin in her mid-thirties who never dated anyone seriously, then met an incredible non-Jewish man who has made her insanely happy and fit into our family with ease. Just a few weeks ago, she gave birth to their first child.
And my dalliances upon being newly single came not from joy, but from loneliness, from need. I went through a period of several months where I was going out four or five nights a week, either to local bars, to meet friends, or to go on dates. much of this did not occur because I relished the night life, but because after nearly a decade of living with, or being with the same person, I didn’t know how to be alone. So being surrounded at all times, even by complete strangers, eased my sadness, took my mind off of things, prevented me from yet another night on the couch or in front of the computer realizing I no longer had that confidant that took up so much of my time and thoughts over the years.
And that’s what I’m looking for most. I’m not interested in the rows and rows of candy, despite the stereotypes about newly single men. When I hear that line, I smile and give a disingenuous, “Sure, I guess so.” But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t really want the random sugar rush. I want that one person who makes me rethink of those lyrics, who makes me smile, knowing that nobody can understand our connection. Until then, I’m the blind man in the candy store. Reluctantly reaching my hand into random jars, hoping that one, just one, will be the type I can live with the rest of my life.