The more attention a woman gets, the more stigma is attached to her. There are plenty of famous men with few detractors; there are virtually no famous women without tons of them. Girls who write sex blogs (or dating columns or anything that remotely relates to matters of the heart or pussy) come with extra helpings of stigma. I admit: if I were a guy, I would have some major reservations about dating me. Who wants their girlfriend’s Google search results to include the type of stuff mine does?
My friends and I had a little debate the other night. They (and a lot of people) think that any guy who “deserves” me, who is “perfect for me”, etc. wouldn’t care about the blog or my questionable reputation or any of that stuff. But I think that the weirdness surrounding me is a bit too much for just about anyone to handle upfront. I don’t think that guys who stop calling or who write me off are assholes because they’re freaked out by my very public persona. I simply think that the unconventional aspects of my life — things that have taken a long time for me to be comfortable with — would be difficult for any new acquaintance to get used to, most of all a romantic interest.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to simply say that the perfect guy for me wouldn’t care about things like this, because he should care. I’d be concerned if he didn’t! My daily life and interactions are far from normal, and if someone is going to get involved with me, I’d be worried if he didn’t care about the ramifications of my blog on our relationships. If one of my girlfriends started dating my male equivalent, I’d certainly caution her to be wary too. In fact, in my experience with guys, there is a fine line between being supportive after becoming fully informed of my circumstances and being … weirdly into fame. There are a ton of guys who fall into the latter category, are completely gung-ho about the blog, specifically request to be blogged about, and pretty much eliminate themselves from romantic contention by displaying an unhealthy obsession with obtaining their fifteen minutes.
The more I debated this matter with my friends; the more irritated I got with them. They thought I was being pessimistic about my options. “You don’t know what it’s like!” I said. “People get freaked out. That doesn’t make them bad people or less worthy.” They pointed out a recent example of a guy who was fantastic about it all, who didn’t judge me, who was understanding and patient. If he existed, then everyone who couldn’t do the same as he did simply didn’t deserve me in their minds. But I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that same unreasonable standard of absolute open-mindedness from all men when I only found it in one — and not even one I explored romantic possibility with. Maybe he wouldn’t have been able to handle it after all in the end. “But isn’t love supposed to be rare?” asked Tara. “How many guys do you expect to find? There will only be a few people for anyone.” My point, though, is that a lot of times, I don’t make it past first dates or initial meetings with people, and that’s what’s annoying. I’m not after true, all-consuming love. I’m after … whatever it is people do in college when they’re young and undecided.
I’m quickly finding that this is a game I’m walking into with a major handicap. That sucks, but it doesn’t do much good to blame others. “They can’t help it,” I told Tara. “My life is not normal and any reasonable person should be fairly freaked out.” Maybe I was feeling pessimistic because I just saw Julia and I was starting to think that New York really wasn’t any more forgiving a place (or less of a bubble) than Harvard. “There’s no one who could be expected to handle it. It’s just too much, ” she said to me over brunch. “It’s too much to ask for from someone you just met.” I had to agree. Sure, it sucks that I’m not given a chance to demonstrate that I’m kind and loving and selfless and all those adjectives my friends offer up, but my god, we’re talking about guys I’ve just gotten to know. I’m not going to fault people for being rightfully apprehensive, for wanting to back away slowly from this seeming mess of a girl.
And honestly? It’s hard to be with me, almost as hard as it is to be me. Relationships are difficult enough as they are, but loving me means figuring out how to negotiate between the public and the private, between my habitual neediness and my spurts of defiant independence. There are subtle cues that take forever to learn, that some guys — even the ones I fall hard for — will simply never become familiar with.
My friends have been with me through this whole crazy journey, and they know. They know they shouldn’t take it personally when I don’t want to be touched because I’m anxious (like last night) or feel out of the loop when I blog about something I haven’t first told them. They don’t get freaked out when people recognize me at parties or offended when I leave parties because I’m freaked out. They no longer get surprised or even excited about the crazy shit that comes up, because unless I’m damn excited myself — and visibly so — there’s nothing more irritating than someone else getting ridiculously amped up on my behalf. It’s taken a long time and a lot of improvisation but they know the proper reactions to things, know when and how much to push me (and when not to), and know that my best coping mechanism for when shit gets especially bad is to just resolve stuff on my own. They know I will go to them if I really need to, that otherwise, they won’t get very far by prodding. All of these things, especially the last, are hard to learn, even harder to accept.
And even my patient friends don’t get it right 100% of the time. Our debate is a good example. They love me and so naturally, they want me to be happy. They think that I deserve nothing less than a person who fully accepts me as I am, but they don’t want to recognize that total acceptance — at least initially — is hard to come by with a reputation like mine. When it came to this debate, I wasn’t budging on my position. Like Julia said, “It’s just too much.” I’m not going to fault people for having perfectly valid responses to my freaky deaky life. And even though I’m certain my friends know one of my pet peeves is when others adopt common rhetoric (”Anyone who doesn’t give you a chance does not deserve you”) for my uncommon situation (sex blogging), they couldn’t help but do it anyway. They didn’t want to see me blaming myself and my choices for my bad luck in love. So what I thought was a realistic outlook, they viewed as overly pessimistic.
But I’m not saying that I’m never going to find someone. It’s just going to be much, much harder. And instead of dismissing everyone who doesn’t immediately accept me as someone who’s not worth my time, I should probably take a long look at the previous year and determine if my blog is worth the trouble.