Fear, Dating, and False Beliefs

You know what it feels like I’ve been wanting to write something vulnerable. But then as soon as I typed that sentence I stopped. All of my passageways clammed up. Oh, Fear. That shit gets in the way every time, doesn’t it?

Isn’t it weird?

It’s crazy the ways it comes out too — procrastination, lethargy, anxiety, rushing.

Should we talk about the things we’re afraid of? Should I talk about my fear of relationships? My fear of men?

I’ve found myself in a confusing place because I want something and feel afraid of it at the same time. Humans are so complex, I don’t know how we hold opposing emotions like this. But I’ll tell you which feels like it’s winning right now: Fear. We’ll get to how in a moment. Or maybe we’ll get to it right now:

I have this idea that all men are taken or trash. There, I said it. I’m not proud of it. It’s not fair or true. In fact I know someone who knows someone who is a man, and single, and not trash. I myself, in fact, might be able to name one or two who don’t fit this long and deeply held mold. And yet here it stands. In all of its flawed and false glory. Mountainous, apparently immovable. Constant.

The belief itself is so complex because it at once seems to account for everything and doesn’t hold water at all. I’m not saying all men are trash, full stop. I know men who aren’t. I know men who are thoughtful, truthful, receptive, emotionally aware. But you know what those men also are? Taken. See what I did there? See how I’ve isolated myself in a foolproof cocoon of logic, impenetrable by the most advanced of inquiries? (I haven’t, like I said, this doesn’t hold water as has been and will continue to be shown.)

Because okay if “all men are trash or taken”, how do we account for time? At one time the men I know who aren’t trash were single. Were they trash before their relationships? No way. And what if *God forbid* they were to become single again? Would they then become trash? Surely not; at least if they did, it’s not the singleness that would do it. Look at that, water everywhere.

But the thing about “all men are trash or taken” is it’s catchy. There’s even alliteration. It’s simple, it’s easy to grasp, easy to hold onto, easy to chant, and — arguably most importantly — keeps me safe in my single bubble. You may now be thinking “Wait, I thought she’s mentioned before that she doesn’t want to be single!” You’re right, she has. I don’t want to be single but at least I know singleness. At least my life remains the way I constructed it without interference from a whole other autonomous being. At least I don’t have to trust anyone with my most intimate parts. At least no one has to see how long I leave dishes in the sink if left unsupervised.

And then there’s the wholeness of it that’s hard to shake. The “men as a group” piece that makes the trash or taken binary feel real. You know, men as oppressors. Men as “Heads of Households”. Men as the misogynistic, dominating, worldwide first class citizens. I don’t yet know how to love men with the love of all living beings when I think about the systemic millennia-long oppression women and others of us have endured at their hands. Men who have raped, physically or figuratively. Men who have silenced, men with their entitlement, inherent power of genitalia. All men were taught that they had this power. All women were taught this too. So how do I piece this together, how do I find reconciliation so that I can release it, so that I can allow myself to be loved by a man?

I wonder if the beginning is realizing that the men that I love, the men who are so far from trash it is like the East from the West, the men who are gems to me — they were taught the same things about power. They were taught the same toxicity, and yet remained soft, honest, humble, kind. So even though all men belong to the oppressive group, and were taught the role of Power, not all of them bought into it in damaging ways.

Then if we go back to the time element, if these gems of men were at one moment not taken, and each moment is every moment, it must follow that in this moment there are also men, who are gems and not taken. Who are soft, gentle, honest — who do not stand you up, who do not lead you on, who do not seek control, who have not the façade of growth with no substance, who do not disrespect their female friends at every chance... and also are single. There must be men like that right?

I want to allow myself to be loved by a man so I want to believe these are true. And I say this, not as a woman desperate for relationship, but as a woman desperate for release. Desperate for freedom from all the anger and bitterness inspired by the patriarchy, by misogyny, by sexism, by the evil system that dehumanizes me from minute to minute. I know that “all men are trash are taken” is flawed mapping, I’m just still struggling to release it.


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