Dating Series: Distractions

If you're still reading this, I hope these posts have been insightful. In my last post, I mentioned how I felt I lost myself and my independence. It took me a long time to find it. Or rather, it took me a long time to obtain it. I'm not sure how I independent I really was before I moved to a new place to be on my own, and I'm not just talking about financial independence or being an adult. I'm talking about emotional independence too. I was almost on some sort of mission. I thought to myself one day, I'm going to be so independent I won't need anyone for anything. Didn't I realize how stupid that thought was? As I write this, I'm still annoyed by how stupid that sounds. But here's the person who is the subject of this post. Yet another I guy I was dating that was (surprise surprise) a son of two immigrants who had come to live in the states from Romania when he was the age of 5. Now we weren't in a relationship. We were just casually dating. Whatever that means. I should note that I was "casually dating" a few other guys around the same time. And that I have casually dated other guys before and in between relationships. But after my last breakup, I felt like I needed to casually date this way as a distraction. Here I was trying to be the ultimate independent human being but I still felt the need to have men as distractions. Sometimes I wish I could go see my past selves in person and just shake the stupidity out of them. It's pretty comical actually.  And top of all that I was casually seeing my last exboyfriend too.

Now let me make another point. I don't think there's anything wrong with casual dating. But when I look back it didn't make sense for me to do this after my last break up.

But I don't regret it. I'm a firm believer in learning from mistakes. And all the mistakes I made have shaped me (and continue to shape me) into the person I am today.

While I had set myself up with quite a few distractions (and not just through dating) this guy made me realize a lot about myself and my situation. He’s the one who made me realize why I wanted distractions. I felt like all the other guys I was seeing didn't really do that. I wanted these distractions because it was too painful to deal with the emotional trauma of my past relationships.

I'm not sure if he went through the same identity crisis as me because we never actually talked about it. We didn't seem very compatible even though we did have a few things in common. We were both studying in the same major during college and not only were both our parents' immigrants; our fathers even had the same job as cab drivers in NYC. We both put a huge emphasis on family responsibilities but our relationships with our parents seemed to be different. While both my parents made it clear what their conditions were when it came to who I can be with, his mother seemed to be more accepting. I remember having a few conversations about this issue even though neither of us was looking for a serious relationship. So how did these conversations happen? Usually when I  have to explain to guys why they can’t pick me up for a date in my parents’ home. As you might already know, dating is forbidden in my culture. It's always the same conversation with different guys. And the same reactions. They are always baffled unless they come from a similar culture. Clearly, Eastern European and South Asian cultures are very different from each other. There were things that I saw in their culture that baffled me too. I remember him telling me that his mom made sure to remind him to offer me wine as a courtesy if I were to ever come over to his house. I remember thinking: this is a whole new realm. I could never bring a guy home to meet my parents let alone offer them alcohol. What is this blasphemy?

Another conversation we had is one I remember pretty clearly. He told me that apparently when his mother found out about me she warned him that dating me wouldn't be easy. At first, he thought perhaps his mother was forbidding him to see me. But that's not what it was. She told him that she doesn't care who he dates as long as he's happy. But she wanted to warn him what he could be getting himself into. Somehow, even she knew that if we were to get serious about each other it wouldn't be so simple. I remember feeling so jealous. I wish my parents would feel that way. But it didn't matter if they felt that way about this guy. When we first met it was mostly a physical attraction (at least for me). And of course it turned into a little more than that since we started dating (I can't date someone that I'm only attracted to on a sexual level) but it wasn't the same kind of attraction that made me think I could fall in love with him. And this has happened with other guys and when it did I often halted the dating before it could go further. But not with him. He was the perfect distraction from all the other things I didn't want to deal with my life at the moment. I could date him and not feel guilty because I was fairly certain I didn't actually want to be with him. Now I'm not particularly proud of using a person like this. It's clearly not the right thing to do. But to be honest, it seemed he was using me as a distraction too, although his reasons might have been different from mine. I guess that was my justification for my wrongdoing. Regardless, I remember feeling disappointed when I realized he was using me. It made me wonder if I was really using him as a distraction or maybe I had real feelings for him that I didn't want to admit. Was I lying to myself about using him as a distraction?

It turns out that I wasn't lying to myself. One day I was with him and I had yet another one of my epiphanies. I remember I had a lingering thought in my head that had nothing to do with him. It was an internal problem I was facing at the time. And I realized I had no desire to tell him about it. I didn't want to because he wasn't someone I could share personal things with. And that's what my epiphany was about: if I couldn't share these kinds of things with him then why should I keep seeing him? Distractions aren't going to fulfill me no matter how much I try. Sure, they might help a little, but it's temporary. I was upset that he was using me not because I had deep feelings for him but because the feeling of being used isn't a good one. And that's when I knew I had to end that relationship too. Whatever it actually was. I didn't want to be the type that uses people for the wrong reasons and I didn't want to be the one that gets used. I tried to maintain a friendship with him afterward and I even told him what my lingering sadness was about. It helped to talk to someone but it still didn't feel right to even have a friendship with him. I guess I didn't want to risk getting that feeling of being used again.

I decided if I was going to casually date, I couldn’t use anyone anymore. That I would only let this kind of dating go somewhere further if it wasn't purely about having a distraction. I'll admit that he wasn't the only guy I made this mistake with. Each mistake I have made has shown me just how stupid trying to distract myself from problems can actually be. And in the next post, I'll tell a story about someone I met that was anything but a distraction. Somehow it still didn't have the typical happily ever after ending. But it was still a good one. Keep reading and you can be the judge. Thank you.