When I decided to come to Brazil, I wanted to fall in love at least six times. Looking back, that was a stupid f*cking idea: falling in and out of love is exhausting. I think maybe it’s been so long, I’d forgotten how annoying love is. Luckily for me, it didn’t happen the way I’d hoped. Instead, I went on lots of dates, and spent time with different guys – all of them wonderful in their own way. Seriously. They were all wonderful. I’ve never met so many perfectly great guys in my entire life. As a result of my good dating streak, I realized something profound: men aren’t inherently terrible people.
I don’t know if it’s the grey hair sprouting enthusiastically from my head, or a general weariness of being bitter, but I’m mellowing out on my judgement of men. Men who can’t give you what you want aren’t assholes. Men who don’t take initiative aren’t weak. Men who can’t handle your <insert amazing noun here> aren’t stupid. Men who aren’t well-endowed aren’t pointless…
They’re just men, and, based on what you want, they maybe aren’t for you.
Of all the men I dated in Brazil, there is one who got under my skin. We had an incredible connection. On our first date we spent hours talking about everything under the sun. He was sarcastic — something hard to pull off in any language. That said he’s uhh…a…stereotypical Brazilian man: he breaks dates, doesn’t say no (when he knows he should just be honest), and he’s prone to get swept up in the moment without any plan of follow-through. One minute he sees our future, but, in the next minute, he can’t manage to see my text messages. (And…there’s a strong chance he might be married…I should probably mention that as well.)
This is a man I could love, I thought, but this is also a man I would kill.
And in that sentence, in that one phrase, is the nugget: two things can be true at the same time. A guy can be wonderful, but erode your self-esteem. A man can be a spiritual soul mate, but a logistical nightmare. A guy can have undeniable chemistry with you, but have a binding legal commitment to a wife and children (yikes). He can have everything you want on your extensive list, but trigger you in ways that would be damaging to your psyche.
Two things can be true at the same time. The bad doesn’t necessarily cancel out the good.
We (or just I) have a tendency to turn our lovers into villains when our needs aren’t met. The guy we thought was sooo dreamy becomes an asshole, and the person we fantasized about marrying is suddenly an undesirable monster. The truth is far more simple, but harder to make peace with: this wonderful person is amazing for someone, but that someone probably isn’t you.
This is the lesson I’m learning today, as I lick my wounds, pack my bags, and swim in foreign seas. I’m trying to remember: there are always always always other fish.
And so it is (at least for now).
(photo cred: Ryan Mcguire)