Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surface Tension

It can suck being the nice guy. How do you know you're that guy? This has happened to you, probably a few times in your life: You've gotten to know someone, even a little bit, and you connected. Beyond physical attraction, or the standard "she's smart and funny too." Beyond common interests or even opinions to some degree. We're talkin', "Wow, there's something about this person that just clicks." A compatibility. A synergy. A familiarity. "I can open up and be myself with her." Oh, now you've gone and done it: You screwed up. You are no longer attractive to her (if you ever really were). You will now be viewed as a brother, a confidant even. A shoulder, but nothing more. Congratulations, you're "the nice guy." Who is she attracted to? The bad boy. The guy who brushes her off, who disrespects her, who hurts her. He is selfish, always choosing the needs of #1 above anyone else's. Why is she attracted to him? I can't say; I just don't get it. Maybe because his "toughness" is misconstrued as strength or confidence? Maybe he reminds her of her father, or how men are "supposed" to act, or what she thinks she deserves, no matter how screwed up that is? And where does that leave you? Alone. Wondering how beautiful and rewarding it could've been for both of you if she would've dropped her guard, listened to her gut that she really does deserve something good in her life, bucked the trend, and finally given the nice guy a chance.

Maybe this all makes me sound weak, needy or (gulp) desperate. I don't care. I'm sick of all the appearances crap, trying to act like you don't care when you really do. Not calling someone because it hasn't been enough days, or maybe because it's "her turn" to make the next move. You don't want to seem too interested, after all... If you want any chance in hell of seeing her again, you have to pretend to be the bad boy, at least a little bit. You have to play the game. You know what though? The game sucks. I hate the game. I don't know how to, nor do I want to, play it. I can only be myself, which might prolong my loneliness indefinitely, but at least I'll know that if and when something happens, it will be real.

What I need - what I think everyone needs - is intimacy. Yes, even men. There, I said it. Is that our "feminine" side? No, that's our HUMAN side. It's about feeling connected, understood, accepted, safe, warm and cared for. It is a source of compassion, love and mutual respect. It is also a source of trust, which can open the door for sexual intimacy - a beautiful thing itself and not to be slighted. If you've had the experience of lying next to someone with whom you have this level of reciprocal closeness, you know what it's like to feel "one" with someone else. The phrase "you complete me" is not cheesy - it's real. Spare me the glorified "loner" persona: humans need other humans. Here I am yet again inspired by water, and the property of droplets to naturally want to attract and stick to each other. This is known as surface tension. Appropriate, I think, as it is our natural tendency as well. We want to connect. We are drawn to one another. We want to feel together. To be together.

What keeps us from intimacy? Fear, mostly. We keep our defenses up so we don't get hurt, but the act of doing so makes it difficult to accept others and ourselves. And the longer the wall stands, the harder and harder it becomes to break down. We won't let anyone in because we don't want to get hurt. Again. When my marriage was falling apart, I remember holding out my bleeding heart as the ultimate plea offering, desperate for a shred of hope that the relationship could be mended. I was wide open, exposed as anyone could ever be. But I was rejected. She did not want to accept my love. Love is the ultimate gift, and for someone to turn down that most personal of gifts is devastating. This is the kind of pain that people carry with them. We can never forget it, but maybe we can learn from it? I'm trying to learn from it, to make the changes necessary in my life to be a better person, a better human, a better being. My happiness is ultimately my responsibility, and I admit that for a long time I've had a hard time taking that responsibility on.

Dammit, I want to be happy, and I want to re-experience intimacy. But you know what? I'm gonna keep being a nice guy, 'cause that's who I am - even if it means being alone for a longer time. There is a lot of love to give, but it can wait for the right person. When that time comes, I only hope she is ready to accept it.