Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Welcome to Lone Wolf Plus One

I am 36 years old, and up until two years ago I had never been in a serious relationship. This was due to a variety of factors—some within my control, others less so—but if I had to pinpoint the primary reason for this, I would say it was because I really couldn't be bothered.

Unlike most of the perpetually single people I've come across, I actually like being alone. Being a classic introvert, I recharge my inner battery by being alone, rather than feeding off the energy of others. I revel in moments of solitude where I can zone out for hours surfing the web, reading a book, watching a movie, or any other number of solitary activities. I'm rarely bored when alone because my overactive imagination doesn't allow me to be; I can while away the hours on a cross-country flight making up various stories in my head, puzzling over random questions that pop into my mind—like if I didn't put my tray table up during landing and we crashed, could it possibly impale me? —and mentally replaying any episode of Friends because I have them all more or less memorized (and no, I don't think that's an embarrassing fact to admit at all).

Large crowds overwhelm me, loud noises make my head hurt, and situations that don't allow for any sort of quiet reflection make me anxious. And all of this boils down to me preferring to be happily left alone most of the time.

Naturally, no (wo)man is an island, so I've always had a small collection of friends I enjoy spending time with and am reasonably close to some of my family members. But when it came to personal relationships of a more intimate nature, my track record was pretty dismal, mostly due to that whole "not wanting to be bothered" thing. I can give you the breakdown without even needing a full hand to count them on:

  • One brief-lived romance in 9th grade that lasted all of four months.
  • An unrequited crush that ran the full course of my high school years.
  • My first real boyfriend in college, who treated me well for a month, then treated me like crap on and off for the next few years because I was an idiot who let him.
  • A handsome, but...unchallenging guy I periodically dated in my late college/early 20s years.

And then the next 10 years would consist of a sporadic stream of first dates almost exclusively cultivated from the horror show that is online dating. (I lived in NYC, worked in publishing, enjoyed going to the theater, and took dance fitness classes...let's just say I didn't organically meet a whole lot of heterosexual guys in my day-to-day routine.)

I used to complain about the frustration of these first dates that lead nowhere, but if I'm truly honest, I didn't really care. I only deigned to go on the occasional first date mostly because I thought people would think it weird that a smart, healthy, reasonably sane single woman in her 20s wasn't actively dating. I had no interest in giving any guy a real chance. Why would I? If I actually did meet someone who liked me, he'd want to be hanging around all the time! He might sit in my favorite spot on the sofa! He might call me at a time I didn't feel like talking! He might ask me questions of a personal nature that weren't any of his damn business! He might want the same side of the bed as me! He might raid my cookie cabinet! (That's not a euphemism; I have a kitchen cabinet dedicated to cookies.) Why on earth would I want to saddle myself with all the hassle that comes with letting another person into your life?

And it is because of my innate lone wolf nature that I—and plenty others who know me—was taken quite by surprise when two years ago, after moving to Chicago simply because I wanted somewhere new to live, I had what was initially a purely platonic dinner with a friend of a friend of a friend (I'll get into the bizarre degrees of separation that led to our meeting in the next post on this blog) that quickly turned into the life-changing relationship that has forced me to let another into my wolf pack of one.

I always got frustrated with the books, movies, plays, and TV shows that ended with the "happily ever after." What came next should have been the most interesting part of the story! When two single people find each other and decide to build a life together, that's when the story should start, as far as I was concerned. Think about it: How much better would the final season of Gilmore Girls have been if it was about Luke and Lorelei figuring out how to share a life together, instead of about all that other horrible crap? (The show has been off the air for over years now, and that atrocious final season still haunts me.)

So that is what has inspired me to start this blog. I've always wondered how people who have been alone for a long time manage to let someone else in, and now I find myself in that situation, and I thought the stories and anecdotes that come from it—of various levels of amusement—might be interesting enough to share. And no, none of this makes me a relationship expert who's going to impart pearls of wisdom to anyone; I am now, and will always be, at least a partial moron when it comes to the minefield that is personal relationships. Nor is this my attempt to be some Carrie Bradshaw-clone dishing the details of our sexy fun times, so if that's what you were hoping for, I'm sorry (and also, you're nosy and gross).

Thank you for taking the time to read this intro post; I promise the rest of them will be shorter. Maybe.

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