“Wait, are you telling me we are the only two single biddies in this here office?” Astonished, disturbed, and determined to get to the root of the matter, I pressed my coworker D for an answer. Her response: a rather remorseful nod.
On a floor of 30+ people– primarily under the age of 30– D and I were the only two unable to find gentleman callers. And given our above-average intelligence, well-manicured nails, and basic appreciation of the English language, we were genuinely perplexed by this reality.
“Seriously? When did the 20somethings become such a love fest? Does no one subscribe to the single girls code? Also, since when are 25 year old boys ready to commit to long term relationships?”
D smiled and said, “Girl, I feel you. The whole thing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, you know what, maybe we have higher standards? We know what we want, and we aren’t ready to settle for the first six pack we encounter.”
“But do we really have high standards? I mean, yes, I’d like him to have some direction in life; perhaps semi-permanent employment; and an address that isn’t his mother’s basement. Beyond that, though, I am pretty open to all possibilities.”
D stared skeptically and then turned my attention to her computer screen, where we proceeded to go through a google-image inspired montage of men. At each screen shot, she would say, “So, would you date him?” And a majority of the time I would say, “Hell no.” We then called over a fellow co-worker, currently in a long term relationship with her boyfriend, and showed her the same set of visuals. Her response, “Any of them have potential.”
D repeated this experiment with several other non-single office mates, and much to my chagrin, everyone seemed to think the men on screen had something to offer. Everyone but D and me, that is. Her point proven, she turned to me for a comment. But all I could think is, Seriously? Everyone in relationships can’t possibly be in relationships because they happen to have lower standards?
My therapist, of course, had a field day with this romantic experiment. “Why do you think you have such high standards,” she inquired. I knew– on a cognitive level– the answer: it’s because I have incredibly high standards for myself. I seek perfection because I am a perfectionist.
But on that emotional level, which I am so hesitant to explore, I could only speculate that a perfect man, as Lena Dunham so eloquently phrased it, would be less likely to make “monkey meat” out of my heart. And if I were going to give up the big V– my vulnerability– then Mr. Perfect needed to treasure and romance it. And, well, Mr. Imperfect would most definitely do the opposite, making it that much harder for me to crawl out from under my shell a second time around.
But as my therapist concluded our session, she challenged me to be a little less cautious with the big V– to use this next decade to explore it– and to learn that even when relationships fail, I will still come out in one piece.
Challenged accepted (I think).