I’ve given up dating.

Well, kind of. I’ve stopped dating. Not forever…I think. Just for a short while, just until the most recent gaping wound heals over and I can finally figure out what I want.

It’s a question of long term vs. short term. Should be easy, right?

Wrong.

So far, it’s the hardest thing I’ve done in recent years, this introspective cave I’ve entered. It’s a self-imposed retreat from the dating world for the next six months. I’m supposed to sit down and occasionally drink a beer (or something harder) and figure out what I want from the next relationship I find myself in (or not in, as the case might be).

I suppose that if it was easy, everyone would do it. We’d all take a six month break between relationships and re-evaluate the states of our lives. If it was really and truly easy, the people who have it all figured out already would be there, waiting for us, ready to dole out great pieces of advice and cupcakes so it would all seem a little less painful.

There have been no great pieces of advice as of yet.

Nor have there been cupcakes.

(I’m far more upset about the cupcakes, which may speak to the level of committment I’ve made to this self-improvement project.)

The lack of cupcakes and advice aside, it’s the questions that I’m struggling with right now, the questions about what I want for my future self.

Do I want marriage and children and a white picket fence?

Do I want the comfort and stability of a marriage without the hassle of a wedding?

Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone, drifting from one man to the next in pursuit of some happiness I’m not even sure I understand?

These are the questions I hope to answer in six months, these and others. The goal is to be a little more put together by Thanksgiving, to have a better understanding of my place in this world and what it means to be a single woman approaching 30.

(The first person to make an old maid crack, gets it.)

I have a feeling there’s a storm of epic proportions waiting for me down the road, sitting idle in the weeks approaching my birthday in August. Hurricane Deal-With-Your-Shit-And-Move-On could be a category 4 if 29 doesn’t go as well as I hope.

My father has this way of saying something without actually saying it. It’s about facial expressions, the way his glasses will slip down his nose. When either my brother or I would complain about the difficulty of a situation, the expression on his face would change.

His jaw would set and his chin would jut out.

His glasses – big glasses that cover his eyes and the top halves of his cheeks – would slip down ever so slightly.

And his mouth would quirk in this strange half smile that was too soft to be a smirk but too sarcastic to be loving.

It was an expression that said volumes. It said that if it was supposed to be easy, it wouldn’t be hard (there was always an implied ‘dumbass’ in that expression, typically reserved for our particularly whiny moments).

Sometimes you have to work hard for the easy answers. I’ll guess we’ll just have to see if he’s right.

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Putting aside her commitment to the National Ninja Association, this young, bright and talented author has finally come out of hiding. She currently exhausts her brain capacity working for government, but spends many afternoons dreaming up new ideas for her incredibly blasphemous novel, The Absolutely, Positively, True Adventures of a Religious Prophet, while keeping her typing fingers limber. She can be reached here on the comment board or over at her blog, The Unbelievable Adventures of Claire Elizabeth Rogers.

23 responses to “If It Was Supposed to Be Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard”

  1. Dan says:

    Woah, talk about a gap between posting.

    Although I guess it’s hard to remember to post when you’re getting on in your years. (Woohoo, first to make a Old Maid joke! What do I get?)

    Also, I look forward to seeing you in week. I’ll bring the cupcakes I guess.

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Your “gaping wounds”, Meghan, need dressing and healing just as if they were physical wounds. Shocks need absorbers, and those absorbers usually come from our most intimate acquaintance, but you’re no longer with him. Therefore, you’ve made a good start by attracting some absorbing from some of us.

    You’re asking yourself some important questions about what you want. I like that. What would you like to ask *us*?

    I defo like your rich, spare, straightforward writing.

    • Meg says:

      It’s the researcher in me that needs answers from other people for questions I’m asking. 🙂 I know that in the end I’m the only one who can really answer them, but it’s nice to have other perspectives.

      Thanks for reading and enjoying!!

  3. Marni Grossman says:

    I wish you much luck, Meghan. And if you figure things out, let me know. I haven’t kissed a boy in nearly six years so obviously I’m clueless with a capital “C.”

    • Meg says:

      I’ll definitely let you know, Marni. I was in the same boat as you, but with something “bigger” until last year…it led to many nights of deep introspection and the idea that it would take forever for me to find someone. It didn’t work out, hence the 6 month break, but I’m hoping these next months will keep me from making an as equally ill-conceived decision as the last one.

      Good luck with your own figuring! 🙂

  4. Jordan Ancel says:

    I think with every relationship, we get to narrow down the list of what we want because we realize more of what we don’t want.

    So, keep on dating. It ain’t easy, but you’ll have plenty to write about 😉

    • Meg says:

      Perfect words from a man in a noir photograph. 🙂 There will most definitely be more to write about, at least once a month, for the next 6 months…who knows if it’ll get more and more insightful each month, but it’ll at least be entertaining.

  5. Amanda says:

    No cupcakes? Shit, ladyfriend, I would bake a dozen and bring them to your door in a cute box tied with a ribbon…if only I didn’t live so far away. I’d even provide a list of possible uses–including eating, frosting-licking, chucking at passersby–because one belly never needs a full twelve cupcakes.

    • Meg says:

      Well, there have been some cupcakes, but not directly tied into the self-evaluation. Jilly wouldn’t let me live in a world without cupcakes – it’s why she’s my best friend. 🙂

    • Meg says:

      P.S. Still loving the cupcakes and the neckties and all things Toronto, by the way!!!

  6. JM Blaine says:

    Hey, I remember you.

    The Rabbi told me once
    that it wasn’t about the right answers
    it was about asking the right questions.
    That’s why I don’t hang out with Rabbis
    a lot.
    All those philosophical statements.
    The future is overrated.
    It almost never turns out the way we
    plan or think or hope it might.
    Maybe the right question is:
    What do I want today?
    Right now?

    I have enough problems with that one.
    & then there’s the whole
    tomorrow = the sum of today’s choices
    and circumstances.

    So yeah, cupcakes.
    Hey, how about cupcake pictures?
    The pin-up kind.

    • Meg says:

      Part of me always writes with the hope you’ll leave a comment of epic proportions. You never disappoint. I like the question of what do I want today, or right now, or even just this minute…but short term questions like that typically yield answers like brownies or a beer or a 10 year old scotch. I’m terrible at examining things beyond a week away.

      There are new cupcake pictures…but they’re not for public consumption, I’m afraid. Hopefully, there will be even more cupcake pictures in the future. I always feel a little better about myself after I’ve seen my pin-ups. It’s therapy in a photograph.

      Thank you, as always. 🙂

  7. Jess says:

    I read something this afternoon…

    “The only thing we have that’s real is now. The past is already gone and tomorrow may never come. What you have now is today.”

    I’m not sure if it helps though. It’s almost the antithesis of making future plans, or for examining where we’ve been. However, I think the point is to try to be happy in the now, which is something, quite frankly, I am trying to figure out myself.

    PS I think the white picket fence is a myth. I don’t know anyone who has one.

  8. Simon Smithson says:

    I’ve been given a zillion piece of advice over the years, some right, some wrong, some just plain stupid.

    I think it’s best to treat advice like the kind of material that you’d footnote in an essay – worthwhile, yes, sometimes fantastic, sometimes just the kind of thing you were looking for, but in the end, a source, and not an essay in and of itself.

    The best advice I can give is to love yourself as much as you’ve ever loved anyone else. Things seem to start clicking into place from there.

    • Meg says:

      What happens if I’ve never loved someone else, romantically speaking? Because I haven’t – I’ve never been in love. I thought I was, once, but it turns out I was wrong.

      There’s another question – should I be dating with the hope I’ll fall in love someday?

      • Judy Prince says:

        Good questions, Meg! Too bad I can’t answer them. Just kidding, …. sort of.

        Brain whirlies tell me, tho, that I should just stab away and something’ll come up that may help you.

        Meanwhile, this reminds me of what I read today in the online Guardian about the entrance exam they used to give folks who wanted to get into a grad college of Oxford University. It was a one-word “question”, and they had to write a really lengthy essay grappling with that one word. So, for example, they’d all be knotted up with tension, open the exam book, and there was the one word, like “liberty” or “hope” or “justice” or “salami” (just kidding with the last one).

        You’ve set the mark just as high as Oxford did, dear Meg. “Romantic” and “love”—-who can nail those words?!

        “Romantic” means to me that here’s a person I want to be with most of the time, that I think about most of the time, that I want to touch and hold most of the time, that I love talking with most of the time, that I *learn* things from most of the time, that listens to me carefully and appreciates what I say most of the time, and that wants to help me most of the time, and who mentions me in a cool way to others most of the time, and who wants to be with me most of the time. (I could have prefaced all of those things with “most of the time” and therefore not repeated them, but it’s typed in now, and we’ll call it an aesthetic judgement)

        Thank goodness for you and me, all of what I just wrote in the paragraph above is exactly what “love” means to me, too.

        And to answer whether you should be dating, with the hope of falling in love one day—-sure. Why not? You’ll be learning things from every single date, bad or good. Plus you can write about the truly stoopid dates for us TNBers.

        Oh, you could always begin by asking someone out on a date. Just to kickstart the whole thing. And let us know (with the names changed, natch), how it goes. Irene will give you more suggestions. She knows everything.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Then fake it.

        I would be. Love can be a good thing.

        Jesus. Who am I? I would never have said such a thing two years ago.

        It shocks me that people settle. Why would you?

  9. Susan says:

    Great post, Meg. I love your writing and sympathize with where you are right now.

    I was in the same place at your age, had pretty much given up hope. Then, sometime during my 30th year when I absolutely wasn’t looking, I met someone and ended up getting married when I was 32. If it’s right for you, it will happen.

    Good luck!

  10. dwoz says:

    I can say without a shred of ivory-tower academic theorizing, that people who are waiting (as you describe yourself) are broadly mired in one of two camps.

    The first camp is the unhappy soul who writes up the “schedule of particulars” that a prospective candidate would by necessity meet, to be considered a candidate at all, and in doing so fairly and exactly describes herself. Trust me, you do not want to date yourself. You will piss yourself off so badly, so deeply, and so quickly…just…don’t go there.

    The second camp is the “mitochondrial symbiote.” This creature draws up two lists. The first list is the features and heroic accomplishments of a superman, a fully realized and enlightened being. The second list is the aforementioned schedule of how you see yourself. The two are mashed, subtracted, and the end result is the description of the person that COMPLETES you. This person is your yin, the key that turns your tumblers, the credits to your debits.

    Avoid this guy like the damn PLAGUE. It’s a nice-sounding theory, but it doesn’t actually work. The reason is that all vestiges of serendipity and fortunate accident have been methodically calculated out. Removed. Yawn.

    No, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. Funny thing about “seeing fireworks” when you meet Mr. Right…as a matter of classification, fireworks are otherwise described as “bombs”. Sometimes they go off in your hands.

    Best of luck, and all my love.

  11. Matt says:

    This is something that varies from person to person, I think. There’s no one set of universally applicable rules. Having witnessed–and on one event, been–other people’s rebound mistakes, I always give myself at least six months before I get back in the dating scene.

    After an almost 7 year-long relationship, I’d been single for about 7 months when my 30th birthday rolled up on me last June. I’d been dreading it more than I would admit to myself or anyone else, but it turned out to be a nice thing; I had a great evening out with my friends, and wasn’t bothered by going to bed alone that night. Too many people I know–some of whom were at my party–are in relationships that downright suck because they feel compelled to do so; they don’t know how to be happy single, or feel like it’s a social stigma to do so.

    Nuts to that. By my birthday I’d realized how much I valued having my own space again, and how little a rush I was in to move someone back in.

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