“Do you really think that men and women can just be friends?” Her head tilted, looking at me across the table.
“Yes. Most of my friends are women.”
“But wouldn’t you date them if you had the chance? Or have sex with them?” She smirked, a little.
“Some of them, sure. All of them? No.” I smirked back.
“Give me an example.”
“How about Lisa.”
“How about Lisa?”
“I see her a few times a week, we hang out outside of work, she’s smart and sexy and extremely pretty, but I have no interest in dating her. To me, she’s nothing more than a friend, and I’m perfectly okay with that.”
“Why is that?”
The answer was chained in my subconscious. Before I realized what I had said, it broke free and rocketed into our conversation. “Because she doesn’t need me. She doesn’t need anyone.”
Who’s my perfect woman?
If I were to compile all of the characteristics, physical and otherwise, that embody my Eve, what would they be?
Start with a slender frame, petite and short. Skin, spotted with freckles, so alabaster that it glows in the moonlight. Hair tinted with red and eyes deep enough to hold the suffering of a thousand and one worlds. A laugh that comes from a deep, dark place.
Add in a strong personality, stubborn yet painted with a shade of fragility. Humor like a laser and a raw intelligence that emanates palpably. A tremendous capacity to love and care, hidden, only visible when you don’t look right at it, flickering in your peripheral vision like a specter. Finally, a rebellious need to stand out, refuse the status quo, and be an individual.
But that – that which would be enough for almost any man – that’s not enough for me. What is it that would transform this woman into someone who compels me and occupies every thought? Why do I like some women and crave a connection with others so madly that it makes me physically ache?
It’s all about what she needs.
That girl with no loyal friends who would rather be alone than waste time with people who can’t commit. That woman who refuses to rely on someone because she’s always been let down, even though she desperately wants someone who she can trust. That amazing beautiful person who erected thick walls to keep from getting hurt again. That angel with the brave face, voiding her soul in her own private way. That wounded warrior with fire smoldering in her eyes and her shield firmly in hand.
I have this urge-
I have a compulsion to prove to that woman that she shouldn’t give up. That no matter what she has witnessed in the past, there is someone who is reliable, trustworthy, protective, and, more than everything else, consistently available to fill that hole in her life, her heart, her soul. And that someone is – it must be – me.
Can I be happy with someone who doesn’t need me? Who is legitimately secure and strong and whole without my support? I don’t know. It’s the healthy approach, but can I even do it? I don’t know. Why would anyone like that want to be with me? I. Don’t. Know.
What I do know, though, is that sometimes, the women I love the most don’t feel like they deserve it. They don’t deserve me, my concern, my support, my love and care. They sabotage their friendships and relationships and push people away, viciously, terribly, hurtfully, until everyone leaves. And then they can prove that they were right, that everybody does, in fact, let them down. I always persist. I put up with the pain and hurt inflicted on me just to prove them wrong. I open myself to vicious wounds, keep moving forward into the line of fire, and never learn. And, the next time I see someone else who needs rescuing, I’ll be the first in line to add yet another one to my list.
I recognize that this doesn’t make me a better person (Than who? It doesn’t matter. Than you, than someone else, than every person in a relationship). I realize that I would be healthier and happier if I didn’t have this psychological compulsion, and it’s something I try to be aware of. But it’s not that easy. There’s an amazing intensity that comes from trying to change one person’s worldview by breaking through the barrier of cynicism and releasing hope where there was little before. It’s the stuff of legends. Of superheroics. Of romantic stories that end with “happily ever after.” It’s addictive and it’s painful and it’s martyrdom and it’s unhealthy but it’s me. At least, it is for now.