Dear Happily Partnered Extrovert,
I love you, and I want our friendship to continue flourishing. But there’s something I need you to understand, and I’m going to force you this one time to fully acknowledge what I’m saying to you. If you refuse, I’ll stop spending time with you.
I understand that you’re energized by large groups of people and lots of movement, sound and lights. It makes me happy that you thrive in this, and that you get to do it. It does not make me happy that you think I need the same. What you consider fun, I consider overwhelming. I don’t hate people, but I don’t need people either (at least not the same way you do). I’m content with the small cluster of friends I have, and I’m fine with seeing and speaking with them intermittently. I might not spend lots of time with people, but when I do I’m fully invested. I can do that for a few hours, and then I need to recover in solitude. I generally don’t notice when I’m by myself, but I notice it a great deal when I’m not. I’m not lonely when I’m alone.
Also, your need to date constantly and your string of relationships over the years are important to you, and they feed your optimistic quest toward finding “the one.” I hope you find that person/those people. I really do. But I am my “the one.” And I’m truly happy. The worst times in my life have happened specifically when I’ve been dating.
I know what you’re going to say, so let me stop you right there: I’m not bitter, and I haven’t given up, but I do know what I’m “missing out on.” I don’t need or want my other half, because I’m already complete, and frankly I’m concerned that you’re constantly looking for affirmation and completion from others. But we all have our own journey, and I hope you’re finding joy during yours.
To make my point: It isn’t from lack of trying that I’ve decided I’m better on my own. I’m going to get very specific, and I expect you to hear me and accept. Do not tell me I simply haven’t met the right person yet. I’m the right person, but I will this one time explain to you why I want you to stop pressuring me to follow in your footsteps.
I’ve had eight significant relationships in my romantic life (and dozens of others who left small marks that have added up to create an entire category called “And Other Assholes”). I will now go through them one by one, and then we won’t discuss this again.
1. 1991, my first boyfriend. Everyone’s allowed their one teenage crazed relationship, but I unfortunately never stopped having them over the course of my life. I lost my virginity to someone I was so in love with that I almost grieved to death when we broke up. It took 20 years for us to reconcile when he looked me up on MySpace in 2011 and finally apologized for what he did (yes, it was that horrible).
2. 1993, and my second boyfriend was interested in sexual kinks that even my inexperienced mind knew were absolutely fringe. He’s now serving 50 years in prison for raping children, and in retrospect I’m not surprised at all. Really? A three-way with my 13-year-old sister?
3. 1995, and my third boyfriend was a tormented bisexual with congenital heart disease. Ultimately his psychotically religious parents tormented him into marriage. He did love her and his kids. We finally reconciled 10 years later in time for him to die of heart failure.
4. 1996, and my French boyfriend in France became a stalker.
5. 1998-2002, and the first “real” relationship of my adult life was with a chaotic alcoholic. I was so desperate to get away from him that I didn’t even stay to walk to receive my diploma when I finished grad school. I found out in 2012 that he died in 2010 of cirrhosis of the liver: He drank himself to death.
6. 2003-2004, and I had to get a restraining order against the man who threatened my grandparents and their cats unless I agreed to see him. Oh, he cheated on me with a college football player who does drag and broke a bowl over his head.
7. 2006, and I ignored it when people here in Charlotte warned me that my boyfriend had a reputation for roofies and date rape. No way it would happen to me, until it did. He also defrauded me for $100,000, then eloped to Canada to marry the heir to a South Korean airline. He’s now worth $50M. Frankly, I’m looking forward to reading about him literally crashing and burning.
8. 2015-2016, and after a decade away from dating I meet the malignant narcissist who put me in the hospital. I just watched the television footage of him appearing before a judge for the third time in six months. He is, without exaggeration, a gay racist, self-loathing Trump supporter with Nazi sympathies who was involved in human trafficking and cartel drug distribution. Of the 11 felonies he’s charged with, he’s guilty of exactly all of them. He’s facing up to 300 years in prison.
Now, let’s leave this alone. I don’t need your advice, I need my peace. There’s something in me attracted to dysfunction, and I cannot entertain it. Please stop testing the tensile strength of my last gay nerve. I have not built walls to protect my heart. These are blast shields that protect other people from the ferocious death-ray that is my love. And I’m content refocusing that passion toward what really matters to me: My art, my work, my cat, and binge watching Netflix.
Enjoy your night out. I want to hear all about it. But if you’ll excuse me, season 8 of “Game of Thrones” is coming, and I need to get caught up.
A Happily Single Introvert
Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.