Temporarily Out of Service

Love has always been a cipher to which I’ve lacked the code.

Capturing a man’s heart? Piece of cake. Keeping his interest after the first few months of puppy-love subside? Damn near impossible.

I recently read an article called Why I Love Unavailable Men. The author of the post describes how growing up without a father left her feeling cast out and left behind. In a sense, unlovable. She expresses how she mirrors her own disbelief that she can be loved in finding partners over and over who are simply not emotionally available.

I don’t necessarily believe that is why I gravitate towards unavailable men, but it certainly got me thinking.

I typically end up with one of two extremes: The Overly Ambitious Man or The Waste of Space Man. Both types, although polar opposites, possess this unattainableness.

My first real mature, adult relationship was this guy I met while on vacation in Vermont after graduating college in 2005. I went up with a large group of friends, and he was not there on our first day. The following morning, I came down the stairs in tiny red shorts and a wife beater tank and there was this very good-looking man sitting on the sofa in the living room. It was practically love at first sight for both of us.

The reason why he wasn’t there the first day? He was giving a lecture in Japan. Yeah. We fell in love and dated for six months, during which he moved to California to work on his PhD at Stanford. That guy truly loved me, I believe, but he made it clear that his career goals came first, that he always had to make time for that before talking to or seeing me, and that I would have to be okay with it. I was. Sorta.

Then, I reconnected with my first love as a teenager, and we fell madly and hopelessly for each other. There never was a doubt that he loved me fiercely, but it took him five years to propose, and during those years, I watched him throw his life away and fail over and over. I couldn’t have what I truly wanted, because he wasn’t willing to make the steps. By the time we were engaged, the relationship was pretty damaged and strained. It didn’t last too long after that.

I fell in love again to someone who seemed to be very available. Always there for me, a great listener, willing to bend over backwards for anything I needed or desired. Pretty soon, he won me and subsequently forgot about me. I was back-burnered, I was lied to, I was never told I was loved and hardly told I was beautiful. Such a stark difference from the first few months. He couldn’t get his life together, either, and I watched him sabotage anything positive until it was simply too painful to witness his stagnation and be pulled into the infested pool alongside him.

And now there is another. A completely swoon-worthy man who says the sexiest and sweetest things to me. When we do see each other, it’s explosively passionate. He falls into the Overly Ambitious category, constantly striving to make connections and work ’til he drops of fatigue because of his ardor for the entertainment industry. He’s a workaholic and lives two-and-a-half hours away. I’m not number one. I probably won’t ever be.

A friend, sometime last year, said to me, “I think you purposely seek out unavailable men.” She cited some instances of why she thought this was the case and astonishment and overwhelming fear rolled across my face. My god, I think she’s right. But how can she be right when I never intentionally do it?

I don’t want an unavailable man, yet I seem to attract them every time.

Do I just have shitty luck when it comes to men or am I subconsciously choosing men who can never fully be dedicated to me? Furthermore, why would I do such a thing?

I so badly want to fall madly in love. I want to SAY it. I want to hear it back. I want to live with someone and have children. I just want to be loved, dammit. And each time I find a man who I deem worthy it is because they are seemingly so open to the possibility of it. I’m not making that up. Any man I’ve been with in the last ten years has changed who they were after a couple of months of seeing them.

I always just assumed I was defective and, therefore, unlovable. Men find me very intelligent, beautiful, and inspiring, but it seems as though the luster fades eventually, and I am yet again struggling to keep the man’s heart.

Perhaps it really is unintentional. I mean, think about it:

Falling for the Overly Ambitious Man seems natural, because confidence, motivation, and independence are really attractive qualities. Atop that, they are unparalleled in passion, typically.

The Waste of Space Man will undoubtedly be all about me, because they have nothing else going on. They feed that narcissistic need I possess to be worshipped. I am seen as the independent, inspiring one, and it feels nice.

In this way, I don’t think I attract men that can’t love me or commit to me because I don’t think I deserve love like so many of these articles on the subject suggest. I think it’s simple psychology: Attraction comes in different packages, and often times, those packages are emotionally unavailable.

I don’t think I choose long-distance relationships because I gravitate to unavailable men; I think I like someone and if it’s worth it to me, I’ll handle long distance.

I don’t think I find men who are career-passionate because then I do not have to fear being hurt if I never fully open up to them; I think I find passion sexy.

I don’t think I seek out men who can’t get their lives together because I’ll be the center of their existence; I think I like the attention and want that from any man, but it just so happens that I find people at times in their lives when they are extremely available to me, since they aren’t busy.

Seeds are planted, love and disappointment grows.

I’m not entirely sure how to break free from these archetypes of men to which I always seem to be pulled. I like what I like. I will always find ambition, artistic ability, and passion sexy. I will always like being an inspiration to others.

Maybe I am defective in my reasoning and the only blockade from attaining emotional intimacy in full. It seems more likely that I am the one “Temporarily Out of Service”, rather than blaming the types for which I always fall.

The common denominator in every relationship I’ve ever had is me.

 

 

Fifty Shades of No Way?

[Spoiler Alert: Don’t read this if you don’t want some idea of what happens in the book/movie, Fifty Shades of Grey]

Okay, okay. I will admit it. I finally jumped on the bandwagon of Fifty Shades viewers and watched the movie. I had acquired the book on my kindle, because when someone says not to read something, it almost makes you want to read it.

I had heard mixed reviews from some of my friends that the movie does an injustice to the “kink scene”–as in, people who are actually into dom-sub relationships and specific fetishes.

I’ve read some of the book, and the writing isn’t very good–I’ll admit that–but the part that I thought was done with consideration, at the very least, was the subtleties of the art of seduction.

See, I’ve read The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene. I’ve discussed the book with others. I’ve literally employed tactical devices within the book. Seducing men was never a problem I had; I’m what you’d call a natural at it, but I was lured in by the psychology behind the art.

In the book (as much as I’ve read) and the movie, Christian and Ana are in a constant “game” with one another to assert their dominance and have the upper hand–yes, even though she was characterized as the “submissive”. This might seem like something only relatable to the world of kinky sex fetishes and fantasies, but I assure you, it’s not.

Power plays occur every single minute of every day between all types of relationships, whether it be parent and child, boss and employee, friends, strangers, and of course, romantic entanglements. Humans are just naturally hard-wired to react and respond in ways which will allow our “status” to remain on stable ground.

Let’s say we go out on a first date with someone we really enjoyed. Obviously, we want to talk to them right away afterwards or perhaps even try to see them the very next day. Most people, out of a perceived level-grounded, almost nonchalant collectedness will back off for a few days. Or we get the text we’ve been waiting for all day from the person we care about and we don’t want them to know we had the phone right next to us. Seems too eager, right? So, we don’t answer for two hours.

These are all defense mechanisms, clearly, as are most embodiments of power plays. It’s important to have the winning cards, not only so we don’t get hurt, but also so that we sustain interest. That’s the part I’m most concerned with. I’ll attend to the former later on.

Interest.

How to entrap and intrigue the other party. How to keep them on their toes. How to, in the case of Ana and Christian, magnify the intensity to such a point that both parties are intoxicated and enamored beyond what they can any longer control. It starts to roll like a rock down a hill, and as it careens, it gains momentum. It does, unlike a boulder tumbling down a cliff, require maintenance and attention. But if the mystery and intrigue, the carefulness and affection, the let down and subsequent gentle caress are all there between both parties, then it piles and amasses until something like mind-blowing sexual chemistry erupts. Or complete infatuation. Or beautiful, romantic love.

It may seem like power plays are bad things, but they are not necessarily. If used with sensitivity and good intention, then they enhance and add flavor to our relationships.

In Fifty Shades, I see this occurring. There are the not so great parts–Ana continually wanting something she can never fully have; Christian being cold and emotionally distant due to an awful upbringing and abandonment from his biological mother. This is the part of the movie that I think (think?) critics take issue.

In having knowledge about the “kink scene” or dominant-submissive play, I know that respect, limits, pleasure, debriefing, and ultimately, a more bonded, intimate relationship are key elements. Does this seem to be missing from Fifty Shades? I actually don’t think so.

I think it’s a movie. In the book, there’s more elaborate description of what the relationship entails, but in the movie, like movies do, you have to gloss over a lot of that to make it engrossing.

Sure, there’s a business meeting to discuss the matters of the contract, but it’d be boring if it were just this mutual discussion with hugs at the end, or this ongoing play-by-play of every line in the agreement, complete with coffee and bathroom breaks, and phone call interruptions. This isn’t real life; it’s a movie.

The business meeting is, in fact, one of my favorite scenes in the movie, due to the tantalizing, empowering nature Ana suddenly displays when she teases the crap out of Christian and then leaves him high and dry. She didn’t do this to be cruel; she did this to pull him further in.

Well, it worked. There’s science in it. It’s like the dangling carrot in front of the chariot horse. What’s going to keep him running? What’s the prize? The ever elusive idea that he is *this close* to what he wants. Getting what we want is good too, we just have to know when and when not to give in completely.

This is the game.

In this way, I do not think the movie did anything wrong. There’s a constant give and take between the two of them for this attainment of “love”. Christian is also protecting himself–that’s part of why the idea of controlled, submissive sex and romance is so appealing. You cannot get hurt if you don’t allow anyone to penetrate your armor. He may have exemplified his guardedness and inner turmoil in a way that was not okay for a dom-sub agreement at one point, but we are all messy humans who continually blur the lines between what we should and shouldn’t do and with what intentions.

Having a degree in Psychology, I actually found this to be a natural (and cliché) path for the movie to take. A plot merely about fetishes with no depth: How are you going to make a box office hit? People like romance. We like protagonists and antagonists. We like movies that will our souls to seek change. We like anything we can relate to on a personal level.

I’ll come forward and say it: I related to this movie on a profoundly deep level. The movie itself wasn’t profound, but its effect on me was. No, I have never been whisked away by a stunningly beautiful billionaire, and I haven’t been chained to a wall in a “play room” (although it sounds fun). However, I know what it feels like to be entranced by an insanely gorgeous and charming man. I know what it is to have him forever far away, and often times, emotionally distant and protected. I know what it is to watch everyone around me go on dates with their significant others, and I know what it’s like to have plans broken at the drop of a hat because something career-wise has popped up and taken precedence.

I know what it’s like to be in the position of Ana, where it very much appears to be romance and love, and have the other person contradict it. I know what it’s like to be abused by the person I love, too. This isn’t all one person, of course, it’s a collective.

But I know.

In this way, I could so truthfully relate to the emotions felt, and as an “incurable romantic”, my heart spasmed when Christian confesses his fears and childhood trauma to a sleeping Ana, because he wishes he could tell her consciously.

I gasped at the scene in the elevator when their lust was first manifested, and I delighted in each passionate kiss Christian launched at Ana the second she walked in the door, because I know exactly how those things feel.

Christian is driven to say to Ana that she is everything he wants, and Ana tells Christian, choking through sobs, that she’s in love with Christian, which makes him recoil. I know what it is to feel as though I am everything that someone wants but never secure enough to say those three words.

When Christian smiles at the text Ana sends, expressing how she misses him and wishes he were there, was probably one of the most tender and painful moments for me, because every time I press send on the end of my phone saying the same thing to someone I care about, I am hoping, no matter how emotionally protected he may seem at times, that he is secretly smiling because he cares, too.

Fifty Shades, although not prophetic or enlightening, substantiated the art of seduction, the deeper, darker colors of humanity, which mold and shape our behaviors, and still kept present a hint of hope for change, which to every incurable romantic, is our raison d’être.