Ask much…

First things first: I received a text message last night from the Photographer saying he’d had a good time (!) and asking if I wanted to go out again (!?!) How is this possible? I’m flummoxed but fascinated… though not enough to agree to another date.

So. Last weekend I had coffee in the park with B. It was a gorgeous sunny day in London, I was only mildly hungover from my birthday the night before and I was actually sat in the same place at the same time as B. In short: a miracle.

Since B is now on the Island, I filled him in on the project. He listened to me ramble on about it, laughing and nodding his head as I went. And then he asked a very good question:

“So. Why are you doing it? It’s to meet someone, right? Surely that’s why.”

“No!” I cried, “That’s not the point at all. Please, it’s me! You know I don’t want a relationship.”

And it’s true – the point isn’t to meet someone. I’m not in this looking for everlasting love and a happily ever after. In fact, if a relationship came knocking on my door tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’d turn off the lights and pretend I wasn’t home.

“Okay… so what is the point? Why pretend to be someone you’re not?”

I didn’t have much of an answer at the time (well, I did, but they were mainly blustering and defensive) but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since and here, in no particular order, are my conclusions.

I suppose in a way I think we’re all pretending. We’re all flailing around in a great big sea of singleness, trying on different people for size, showcasing different aspects of our personalities for different people, hoping that something might fit comfortably. In the past, I’ve been the siren, the shrew, the 1950s housewife, the maneater, the girl next door, the eccentric… each incarnation a reflection of a part of myself (but never the whole).

Just think of those lists in teen magazines of “Top Ten Ways to Make Him Notice You!” – wear more makeup, wear less makeup, pretend to love the things he loves, have your own interests, flirt, don’t flirt too much… with number ten always being “just be yourself!” And that’s just it – we’re told that people should love us for who we are (but in order to gain that love we should mold ourselves as into some sort of oblique ideal). I’d like to find out if that ideal is, in fact, what men want.

I’m also doing it because I’m incapable of asking anything of any man (in part because I don’t want to feel obligated to them and in part because I’m scared of their response). As a result, my life was starting to mirror that legendary Liz Phair song, Fuck and Run. These books force me to make demands and set boundaries. There’s a brilliant line in The Technique of the Love Affair: “If you show him that you expect him to be a cad, then a cad he will be. Men will give you whatever you seem to ask of them. Ask much.” Since asking for nothing seems to be getting me nothing in return, I suppose it’s high time I started asking for much and seeing what it gets me.

It’s particularly ironic that all this introspection stemmed from B as it was somewhat down to him that I embarked on this whole project. I never asked anything of him, never pretended to be someone I wasn’t, was never coy or played games. I was just myself. As I looked over at him sat in the sunshine, I had an overwhelming feeling of a lost opportunity. I had to wonder – if I had demanded more, given less and played all the games I’m apparently meant to play, would things have worked out differently?

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  • Michelle says:

    I find this entire experiment fascinating and I really am enjoying your blog. I went from college student to married in the blink of an eye and was never really single. I must be living vicariously though you. :) I sincerely hope you find what you are looking for. And if anyone is paying attention to this at all, yours will be the next blog-turned-movie. On with the experiment!

    • Love by the Book says:

      Thanks – glad you’re enjoying it! Trust me, there are times when I wish I could skip the whole dating thing entirely but sadly I’m actually WORSE at relationships than I am at being single (I know that’s hard to imagine, but trust me).

      That porno hot dog on your (great) blog is amazing and obscene.

  • Mills says:

    You are so hoping for the finale of this to be B finally getting it. Or are you just implying it for the sake of a story arc? That would work best in the rom com movie version…

    • Love by the Book says:

      I believe En Vogue put it best – he’s never gonna get it. Though obviously it would work best in the rom com version if he did.

  • seo says:

    Thought-provoking articles are few and far between from what I’ve been reading as of late. You have a real gem here. It has really created a lot of thought in me and I thank you.

  • I appreciate how well you have expressed your observations in this article. I agree with a lot of your material and think you are gifted.


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