Of Contact and the Lack Thereof

Fair notice: This post is about my sex/love life. There’s a good chance you don’t want to actually read it.

I used to be an introvert, and very shy person. I would blame those traits for the fact that I had a difficult time finding a meaningful relationship. I still am, but I got to accept it as part of myself and no longer let it define me. It helps to overcome its effects and allows me to grow as a person. What isn’t happening though, is it becoming easier to find a lover.

I’ve shared a bed with 8 different people in my 30 years. That isn’t very much by the standards that I perceive from others, but still more than you would expect.
3 of them were actual relationships that lasted longer than a week.
3 of them (not necessarily the same ones) were Belgian. All others were foreigners, most did not speak Dutch. I find this curious, and it makes me wonder why.

Before going further, I’d like to point out that every single one of them were amazing people in their own way. I enjoyed their company in every facet and I hope none of what will follow will make it seem like I have anything but my deepest respect for them- as I do for most people, give or take.

I’m a distant person. I don’t know why but there seems to be some gap in my functionality that makes me keep my distance, regardless of any closeness I really need. I don’t hug, I don’t call, I don’t share my feelings very often. And if I’m crushing on you, I’ll let you know by changing my behavior in such tiny amounts, that only the most perceptive will notice- and even they will wonder. Other than that, I’ll just go and sit in the friend zone and admire you from a distance.

But sometimes that cycle is broken, and pretty much always it concerns a person who is figuratively stuck with me for a while. There was always some external reason for us to be together, be it our jobs in the same room, or them staying over, there would always be something that put us next to each other, and kept us there. Not that I am too unlikeable at first sight (I hope) but I generally don’t come over as very interested, no matter if I am or not. It usually takes a while for anyone to catch on if I do manage to force myself and drop some hint or other.

I often end up with foreigners because -and please bear with me- it’s simpler. When meeting them, one of us is out of place and sort-of depends on the other. They are handicapped in some way and somehow that creates a bond, as it gives the local the opportunity to help. It’s a desert-island scenario, without too many distractions. The traveller doesn’t have many friends to hang out with, or other crushes, and since they’re unfamiliar with the environment, it gives the local ample opportunity to share their world and welcome them in it.

It’s an inherently romantic situation and sets a good mood. The effect is strong enough to break through my usual seemingly-careless cycle and allowed for a few of my warmest moments with people- sex or no, relationship or no. And they, they have nothing better to do with their time than be endlessly patient with me, as I fumble through the whole “hey I’m interested” process.

But some -most, in fact- situations like this make a serious relationship pretty much impossible, and unless a short-term flirt is an option, I keep my emotions to myself. Here’s something people don’t do very well, or enough of: Suck it up and walk away.
She’s got a boyfriend? Walk away. She’s not interested? Keep it to yourself. She’s a million miles away? Shut your hole.
The principle is simple; painfully so: If the other person is not helped or positively motivated by your declarations, you should not be sharing them.

It’s not easy, let me tell ya. I’ve had to let a few of my biggest crushes blow away with the wind because of bad timing. But even if their current relationship seems shallow and temporary, that’s not up to me to decide and it’s not my place to butt in with my feelings, I think.

And so, there aren’t many opportunities left for me to find a decent girlfriend. I’m certainly not capable of approaching you at a bar or anywhere else, and I feel like that disability is part of that distance that has grown as part of me. I don’t know why it’s there or how I can overcome it- God knows I’ve tried. If I had known I’d be 30 and long-term single, I’m sure I would wonder where I’d have gone wrong.

But at the same time… I’ve managed quite well to stick to my principles, and while I would like nothing more than to share my life with someone -or my bed for that matter-, I’m just as relieved that I never gave up my integrity to do so. So that when someone ends up loving me, whatever reason they might have is valid, and not a facade I put up to cover the holes that were once my principles.

I once wrote, as I was leaving for Burning Man, that I wouldn’t mind some meaningless sex on the side while traversing the desert. I got quite some reaction to that from different people, but none of them seemed to catch on that I was being sarcastic. Sex, to me as to most people, is never actually meaningless. Even the quickest romp has, a huge impact and profound emotional underpinning. In fact, there are precious few activities that are so deeply rooted as “meaningless” sex. If it wasn’t, I might as well stick to self-service.

Boy oh boy, I do miss that affection. Quite strongly, these days. Luckily I’ve arrived at an age where people seem to agree that courting each other doesn’t need to be as complicating as it once might have been, increasing my chances. Still, I miss a lot of the good times. Principles are all very nice but they aren’t going to keep me company on my death bed. Or they might, I dunno…

I miss you. I miss us.
You probably don’t even know, but I do. More than I could ever tell you.

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