Recently, I met up with a couple old friends, a married woman and a single gal enjoying the fruits of a new romance. I told them about all my turbulent relationships, joking about the slackers and bad boys, the commitment-phobes and jerky alpha-males who’d come into my life since we’d last seen each other.
“Oh, I’ve been there loads of times,” my married friend said after I described my most recent run-in with a sexy, relationship-shy stoner.
She’d been there loads of times? Shocking.
Married women, especially once they’re moms, seem to me so organized and fulfilled, it’s hard to imagine any of these poised individuals knocking around with losers. But once I thought about it, I remembered all the other married women I know who’ve admitted to the same sordid pasts.
My friend Sonya’s husband is a successful TV producer with a taste for fine wine, classical music, and most interestingly, fidelity. But before she met him, Sonya was chasing after an egomaniacal actor who was two-timing her with a co-worker. My friend Jane married a well-to-do marketing exec who’s the most loving, mild-mannered husband in human history. Before him, she dated a series of flakes, most notably, a lunatic with an addiction to crystal meth.
The other intriguing comment from my married friend was in response to my single pal’s confession that she thought her new flame was “super nice,” but her “heart didn’t skip a beat” when he walked into a room.
“Never mind that,” my married friend said. “The man you feel passionate about is not the one you should be with.”
So the good news is single women who constantly meet up with commitment-phobes and jerks can rest assured they’re not aberrations on the dating landscape. Apparently, it’s normal to meet a bunch of meatballs before you find the good man you’ll call your own.
The other side of the story is how so many of my wifely friends admit these meatballs made their hearts go gaga and their loins lava hot. On occasion, some of them even miss the beloved jerks who made them so loony, reminiscing about the roller coaster ride that added kick to life, the emotional depths they found themselves swimming through, and of course, the fantastic sex. But these wives also seem glad to have been saved by their husbands.
Since the end of my marriage, probably ninety-five percent of the men I’ve dated fueled my engine, but were certainly not stars on which to hitch my wagon. The “nice guys” who’ve entered my world always become friends while the not so nice become much more. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer or because I bore easily and dig emotional extremes. I’ve always preferred the roller coaster to the merry-go-round.
Of course, passion fades over time. Unfortunately, even the most constant love can, too. Both scenarios leave one numb. So I’m wondering about this passion thing. What is it anyway?
A skim through the dictionary will tell you passion is all about lust. It also describes the most amorous love, the deepest hate and every overpowering emotion in between. But the word comes from the story of Jesus, referring to the pain the man endured before he was nailed to the cross.
Thus, passion is really about suffering. And, well, I’m tired of suffering in relationships and tired of deprivation. You get to a point where the inner turmoil of loving a maniac loses its romantic sparkle and you want something that sticks.
Still, I am who I am, and I want to be as hot and bothered by a man, as I am comforted and contained.
Rather than finding someone who stirs my passion, maybe the point should be to find someone who has his own passion, so our two fires can fuse together and spark a volcano. Rather than connecting myself to someone who lets me know through suffering how deeply I can love, the goal should be to find a person who doesn’t consider sharing and intimacy a death sentence.
A man can be a maverick without being a loser, and his intensity can be unwavering instead of chaotic. He can be hot-blooded and also able to commit himself, self-assured without forgetting to be kind. The challenge for a woman is to be emotionally ready for such a unique individual.
And be lucky enough to find him.