Emotion (Photo credit: rexquisite)

Since my divorce, I can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to dating.  I try to hard, I don’t try hard enough, I go out too much I stay inside my apartment for days on end, it doesn’t seem to matter.   I have read multiple books on dating, even ones on male psychology and they don’t seem to help.  I have sat down with male friends and tried to get feedback on how their brains work.  I have shared numerous stories with fellow single women all which end in a similar refrain a lot of heartache and disappointment.  I just don’t get this city.  But I think I am starting to figure out the missing element, and it isn’t something that I can grow overnight, nor do I necessarily want to develop.

It’s the cool detachment, the emotional wall, the blase manner, the cavalier treatment of other people like they are hardly worth a moment’s notice.  Detachment is the style of the many tribes in this city.  And I am like tissue paper, desperately trying to suppress emotion and play things off like I don’t care, but I desperately care.  I want what I lost, but the longer I keep looking for it the more it seems like an unattainable goal.   I push down my emotions and smother them as best I can, because the more my emotions show the more they scare everyone away from me.  And yet I still do everything wrong.  I try to play it cool, act as if I couldn’t care less, and I get away with it most of the time.  But then I start to care, not full throttle, just a hint.  I let my guard down for a moment and try to let someone new into my life and the whole thing collapses before it begins.  I don’t know what to do.  I try to do the right thing.  I don’t see the point in going out with someone who is still tortured by his ex-wife, or an ex-girlfriend, so when I meet men like this and I meet many…I politely walk away.  And I won’t go out with someone who is already married or in a relationship, I don’t need that kind of bad karma.  And I would never do to someone else what another did to me.  So I try to allow things to slowly grow and give things space and time but it never works out and I remain alone and broken.

So I hide and try to erase the past decade or so of my life.  I tell myself “Don’t talk about your divorce, don’t talk about your divorce” and it feels like not talking about everything that has completely re-built and shaped me for the past three years.  Don’t talk about your fears, don’t show weakness, don’t show that you actually care or give a damn.  Just play it cool, the others around you are doing it and they are winning.  Well they might not be winning but at least they seem to play the game better than I do.  But I am who I am and that is a fairly emotional person, so it feels like shoving myself into a vice that is pinching me on all sides.  And I see it on the faces of new men that I met, when I was younger it seemed like there was more excitement in the game, now it is everyone trying to out “cool” each other.   Everyone tells me to just be myself and it will all be OK, but when I am myself nothing works out.

How did we get like this?  How is it the only way to successfully date in New York City is to get so jaded and so burned that you just stop showing any passion.  I don’t want to turn into that person, but I honestly have no idea how I can go on like this.  Never more than a couple of dates and the whole thing implodes, and in some cases it just dies without much fanfare at all.  Men fall for the image of me, not my reality – a complicated, damaged and world-weary soul.  But I have survived so much horror and lived to tell about it.  I have nine years of a relationship that went to hell and back and didn’t give up on it until it was obviously beyond hope.  Shouldn’t my loyalty and dedication count for something?  I would be the last person to flippantly leave a relationship over something trivial or the next big thing.  I guess in a city where everyone is replaceable and there is always a newer, younger, shinier version walking down the street, none of this matters.  I sometimes think that the overwhelmingly promiscuous nature of this city comes from people who have just grown so tired of trying for something more and they give in to anything to ease the feeling of loneliness and pain.  And at least a fleeting moment of human contact can smother it, if for a second.  But like any drug used to feed a hunger that it cannot truly contain, more and more is needed until it the fix becomes insatiable and the cycle continues.

So many have called New York an emotional desert and I just keep trying to prove them wrong.  I am not going to become a deadened human being, I refuse to let that happen to me.   And I have to be true to myself, so I will keep hoping that something will change.  At this point I have very little left to keep me going besides hope, so until I meet someone who can put up with Ms. emotional over here, that is my reality.

8 comments on “Dating in NYC: The Cool Detachment

  1. you're just a dumb ass

    A friend of mine said “Listen, we all date assholes till we meet the right one.” At the time I thought it was a harsh statement, but he’s right. Not that the people I date are assholes; because who we choose to date is a reflection of who we are and what we think we want. While dating, we are really testing out the combination of qualities, characteristics, and life desires we are looking for. We discover the things that we thought we wanted might not be what we need.

  2. tropicaltheartist

    Juliet, your friends are right. Be yourself and it will all work out. You feel that nothing is working out, but you are wrong. What you are working out is the things that you do not want. You do not want an emotionally dead partner that cannot see the value of your loyalty and constancy. That’s an important piece of self knowledge. Eventually, and it can take a while, you will inevitably meet a man on exactly the same journey, who is sick to death of deadpan women playing it cool and regarding him as utterly replaceable. They exist, these men. You’re not the only emotional person in NYC.

  3. ditchthemarriage

    I have to agree with previous comments! There is no other like you out there and that is in itself your biggest selling point! Be you!

  4. ifUseekAmy

    I, too, am single and unsuccessfully dating in NYC. I’m 37 and dealing with the glut of available (emotionally and actually) men. I’ve not quite given up on dating, but am on a break since the end of my last relationship in January. I don’t know when the break will end, but I dread the idea of dating again. Even the idea exhausts me.

    If its any consolation, there are men who want an emotionally demonstrative woman. My ex was one of them and apparently, I’m too (its all relative) emotionally devoid for him (but he’s a whole different needy/dependent type of person). I’ve become way more open and upfront with guys if I like them now in my 30’s, but was a complete stand-offish person in my 20’s. My no nonsense ‘hey, I might like you’ tactic scares them off now. It sucks. I didn’t win then being emotionally devoid, and I can’t win now by wearing my heart on my sleeve.

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