By Gina B.
For years I’ve theorized that people are usually okay – it’s their sex drives that
mess them up.
I will never forget the good friend who gave up an amazing university scholarship to be with her hometown sweetheart (think village idiot). Her parents were heartbroken. Eventually, so was she. Their tumultuous relationship was done in one year, and she never finished her education (make that TWO village idiots).
Hers is an extreme example of people who have made bad life decisions based on
love/lust/infatuation/obsession. (For more examples, watch Dateline. You'll see just what I mean.)
I’ve often said that if we didn’t have libidos, we would be more productive members of society.
About four years ago I was single and in a place where that was absolutely okay, if
not preferred. It had been a whirlwind year. My mother had been diagnosed with
breast cancer in May, I had a nasty breakup in July, my mother died the following February, my father had a cancer scare four months later in June, and in September I had a major knee surgery. I couldn’t have had more roadblocks to starting a relationship.
I could have used the support, but it turned out that I needed my own undivided attention. In retrospect, it was a cathartic experience.
Truth be told, I was enjoying the solitude. And I was productive. I renovated three rooms in my house. I gardened. I spent a lot of time with friends. I cooked for myself and hosted the occasional dinner party. I worked out heavily.
But what I wasn’t doing? Checking my phone, wondering if someone was going to call me, worrying about when I would meet a nice guy, vetting several men before determining they weren’t right, spending hours on the phone discussing all of the above. I didn’t have anyone to tend to. I didn’t care if anyone liked me, loved me or found me attractive. I was just concentrating on being a productive person.
It was fantastic.
Once the craziness of my life died down, I was truly motivated. I started the healing journey from losing my mother. I rehabilitated my knee. I began to work hard again with laser focus, and it didn’t matter if I worked 8 hours a day or 15. There was nobody to disappoint; no need to alter my schedule. The mighty libido had all but disappeared and I was happy to see it go.
I somehow maintained three relationship-oriented columns and noticed that my writing was taking a different turn to the more cerebral and introspective – largely because I didn’t have current dating experience to draw from. I felt like a fraudulent relationship columnist. If anything, I should have been writing about how to avoid dating – because I had become an expert.
I used my circumstances as a deterrent when asked out. “No thanks,” I would say. “This isn’t really a great time for me. Believe me when I tell you that I’m doing you a favor.” And it was true. I was doing them a BIG solid, because the
last thing on my mind was giving anyone else any time and attention. Not that I could afford it.
After the drought had been going on for a while, my friends became concerned. They wanted to know how long I planned to “keep this up.” Indefinitely, I told
them. And I meant it. I couldn’t see a reason to exit my deep freeze. I was productive, and I had fallen in love with my life. My existence was simple and drama free. The ex periodically sniffed around, which really did nothing except solidify my decision to remain single.
To prove my determination I visited one of those knockoff jewelry websites and
bought a gorgeous, shiny fake wedding ring that I affectionately nicknamed “The
Decoy.” (To clarify, it’s not that I was deluged with men who found me to be so riveting. It just made the occasional conversations that much shorter – even though for some, the ring was more of an aphrodisiac. But that’s a different
story for a different time.)
One day, about 18 months in to my new decidedly unattached lifestyle, I received a visitor. I knew this visitor well, and had been hoping that I would never have to host it again. The libido had reared its ugly head. It was as unwelcome as a 21-year-old in his parents’ home – pounding on the door, demanding to have his old room back. Indefinitely.
I couldn’t fight it, but I refused to become boy crazy. I defiantly retained my focus on both work and self while catering to the libido by making a tiny bit of space to entertain dates and flirtation.
I noticed some things.
The more I remained concentrated on myself and my accomplishments, the more men I attracted that appreciated me for my determination. Also, my self-focus allowed for better decision-making. If a man wanted any of my precious time, he
had to be worth it, and it became easy to discern those that were worthy (or at
least interested in me for the right reasons). And eventually, about a year later, I allowed one guy to persuade me that he was worth a little more room on my plate.
There it was . . . my own individual formula for balancing love life and productivity. The silver lining of a very dark cloud.
I haven’t altered my theory. I still believe that people tend to make disastrous decisions in favor of romance, or something like it. While the occasional visit from the libido is fun, I would encourage those people to fall in love with their own lives, and let their romantic pursuits fit in accordingly.