The other night, I was hanging out with a male acquaintance. We were catching up and swapping stories of dating frustrations. As we complained about a lot of the same stuff, I kept catching myself thinking, “wait, I thought that was just a guy thing.” This dude was definitely not the first who’s expressed to me that women are guilty of being the assholes in the dating world, but their stories just didn’t resonate with me. Honestly, I’m not sure why I hadn’t digested others’ complaints with the same ease. It might be because this guy is far more demure than the charming, dominating, pretty boy variety I, (almost) exclusively, pledge my allegiance to; so, his delivery was less demeaning to endure.
I’m listening to him vent and he says, “I just feel like girls have it so much easier.” I’m like, “do elaborate” as I swell with withheld comments. He went on to say that when he’s doing his swiping on the dating apps, he can’t help but think every good-looking girl he sees must have the easiest time finding matches. My face started to give my thoughts away, so he continued listing anecdotal examples to explain. Every point he made was an idea I’ve believed about my male counterparts. I’m empathizing with him and begin explaining that this must be a thing for all people; and, that in our frustration, each gender believes that the other is responsible for all of the cold-heartedness in dating.
He didn’t seem open to this life fact and began prepping for another go of proving his point. This time he said, “Like at a bar, you probably have zero problems getting male attention. Like, you could have your pick of men.” I couldn’t stop my laughter from erupting at the absurdity of his assumption.
After I’d composed myself, I continued to insist that I have the same thought about men when I’m at bars. He did not believe me. I mean he said he did, but his body language screamed that I couldn’t know his struggle– which I respect.
The last time I’d been with this guy was a couple months ago. When I left him then, I left in a state of shock because I understood that I had met a human who was less compassionate to themselves than me. I don’t want to insinuate that I believed I was crueler to myself than all people everywhere; but, he is the first person I’ve encountered whose quality of life is plagued with more self-doubt than I’m accustomed to.
The thing about navigating life while you feel excluded from the normalities that others take for granted, is that you’re living in a prison within yourself. Until you struggle to accept the realities of this world, you’re going to choose the safest option for yourself and remain guarded in that prison. From what I gather, life seems to be this balance between accepting the inevitable suffering of our time here, and persisting joyfully despite that understanding. Yes, there is a plethora of messed up nouns in the world that you and I won’t live long enough to see un-messed up– but, doesn’t that make it all the more obvious that we’re here living as pawns for that progress?
In any case, I couldn’t blame him for feeling the way that he did. I couldn’t blame him for not hearing me insist that his perceptions are just as founded as any or that he needs to grapple his ideas before things will get easier. I have this tendency of attracting stuck or hurt people to my life because I can feel the pain for them while I walk them through processing. Because of this tendency, I’ve learned that I cannot experience lessons for others or save them from the life experiences they need to grow. It never bodes well for my own sanity. As such, I’m trying to be mindful of this tendency and shake it from my habits. Regardless of how bad I feel for him and his hurting, I know that I cannot see this guy again.
So, I decided to write this.
I just want everyone to know that those thoughts we have that eat at our insides, and make us feel alienated from people who appear to be living lives of ease, are not thoughts specific to our individuality. People are people, we’re all trying to make it in this crazy world, and each of us could probably do a little better at offering compassion to ourselves.