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There’s this thing some people have done where they create a Google Doc or website where they describe themselves and their ideal life partner. It’s a kind of lengthy personal ad.
I’m not going to do that. Mostly because while there are things I could list out that I think would correlate with attraction and not being annoying to life partner with at the end of the day it’s really all about how I feel about the person.
While these ads have certainly worked for other people, it seems unlikely that there’s some ad that I could write that someone could read and realize we’re going to fall in love and be good for each.
But hey, anything’s possible!
All else equal, I’d prefer to fall for someone who’s sex-positive, in the 35-65 age range, with a six-figure income and high IQ who lives within a few blocks of my apartment in SF. But in reality, I could meet someone tomorrow who I can’t get enough of who meets none of those criteria. What I’m looking for probably can’t be conveyed in the romantic equivalent of a job description.
I want to get this out mostly because I think it’s an interesting thing to think about and I have feelings.
My good friend asked me recently if I want to be in a romantic relationship. There is absolutely nothing in this world I enjoy or value more than being in love.
I think humans are wired to connect and there is nothing more meaningful or important than connecting with other humans. Being in love releases chemicals in my brain in concentrations and combinations that haven’t been unlocked any other way. Having sex with someone I’m in love with is an unparalleled experience. Sex with someone I’m in love with can be uniquely transformational. It’s the best drug imaginable. It can unlock parts of my brain I didn’t know existed.
For me, to truly see another human and be truly seen by them is the pinnacle of experiences. I find that when I’m getting to know someone deeply I am also learning myself.
There is nothing I want more than to look at another person and realize I will never know them. That they are more vast than I could ever comprehend, and always changing. That my life’s work is to chip away at the edges to help us both find the parts that want or need to be seen and loved.
There’s nothing I want more than to go on an adventure to feel things I’ve never felt. To feel things I don’t have language for. To share a journey that can’t be explained, only experienced.
I desperately want to facilitate someone’s admirable life work and for them to make me more effective as well. I want us to fuel to the other’s fire. I want us to challenge each other’s assumptions and make each other better thinkers. As iron sharpens iron.
But a relationship? Most romantic relationships end up being some good-enough approximation of what’s possible. Most of them are, on net, more trouble than they’re worth. Most people are either in some thing that’s comfortable but isn’t pushing them to grow or are addicted to the excitement and unpredictable rewards and can’t see that it’s zapping their energy and making them less effective.
People don’t open themselves up to what is possible because it’s frightening, embarrassing, and vulnerable. And they end up staying because loss aversion means they can’t admit they’re not likely to ever truly connect with this person and because they’re afraid to be alone.
To know what love can feel like has been my greatest joy and is my deepest sorrow. There’s absolutely nothing better. But there’s also no tolerable substitute. The only thing that makes me sadder than to know that I might never have that again is to know many people never have it.
The maddening thing about all this is that I feel like I have precious little agency. The thing I want most I feel least able to manifest. Which is probs connected.
I don’t meet many people I desperately want to know deeply and none of them feel that way about me. When you realize you’re looking for a needle in a haystack sometimes the appropriate response is to give up on sewing and find another hobby. I haven’t given up. I’m still going on dates, going to parties, trying to meet people. But it mostly feels pointless and perfunctory.
And I’m sad. I wouldn’t be writing about it otherwise. I’m deeply sad at the prospect of never having that kind of deep, transformational love again.
For a long time I felt like I needed to be cooler in order to attract the kind of person I’d want to be partnered with. And I think I still deal with a little bit of not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me. But at this point it just feels… distant. It feels more like a math problem. Like it’s no one’s fault. There’s nothing really to be done. It’s just a hard needle to thread. If I wanted any old romantic relationship I could make that happen tomorrow. But I don’t. I want transformational, paradigm shifting, brain-scrambling love. I want love that busts open doors in my brain I can’t open without it. I want love that makes me a better, more effective person. I want love that makes them a better, more effective person. I want love that sends me on adventures I couldn’t go on otherwise. Not only do I want it, but I refuse to be bothered with anything less.
I’m not afraid of getting hurt. Not anymore. I don’t want to be bothered with something that couldn’t destroy me, at least for a while. I’m afraid of wasting time. I’m afraid of wasting more time with more men who aren’t available for what I know I’m capable of. I’d rather play a different game entirely than play at love on easy mode for one more fucking second. To love shallowly is an act of disrespect to myself. My time is too valuable for fucking around. I’m afraid of once again letting my loss aversion and deep hunger to know and be known delude me into thinking I can make someone who merely likes me love me the way I know I can be loved.
And, to be honest, I’m super proud of myself. If I’m deluding myself, it’s in a new way! If I’m wasting time, at least I’m doing it differently. At least I’m not wasting anyone else’s time. I’m learning and growing by trying something new. I think that’s the best I can do.