24 Apr 2019

Those of us on such sites are all too aware that dating, never mind relationships, have always been hard. In this day and age, however, they can sometimes seem impossible. Particularly for me, as I cannot seem to find a good man who I can truly love, like the one who is still married to somebody else. He, I lament over for not having the courage to take the risks necessary to be free to be with me.

So, for the last few years I have relented, for the sake of companionship, to be with a man who does love me, but who does not stir passionate feelings within me. And, all I seem to attract of late, are men who are either too old, too young, already in a relationship or, they are merely attractive "jerks” only looking for legover and who will also inevitably break my heart.

WTF is going on here? Have all of the "good mature and emotionally available men" blown away? Personally, I would like to offer an alternative hypothesis – I am what one can refer to as, being in a very unfulfilling Double-Bind, leaving me in a "no win situation" most of the time.

I am all to aware that there is More Than One Kind of Love -

• Lust - feeling sexual desire.

• Attraction - feeling appeal, allure, and motivation to pursue and choose a partner.

• Attachment - feelings of bonding around sharing a home, financial duties, mutual defense, safety, and security.

Each of these types of Love can have very different origins and be independently expressed for different people. For example, I lust over men on dating site, as I am but a sexually aware and needy (I use this word with caution) woman in her prime – or so I would like to think; I feel securely attached (perhaps that is the ideal) to the man with whom I co-inhabit; but, I am still very much mentally, emotionally, physically/sexually attracted to and in love with a man who is bound to another woman.

These differences in who we lust after, are attracted to, and feel an attachment towards, arise because each feeling has an independent origin. Lust and attraction are often more deep-seated, primal, and uncontrolled feelings. Usually, it is impossible to "choose" to be turned on or attracted to a partner. These feelings are more likely elicited automatically from certain cues in a partner. For women, those attractive male-cues may include: physical attractiveness, social status, economic resources, ambition, industriousness, stability, and intelligence.

Attachment, however, can often be more of a conscious choice. It is possible to "decide" who to share a home with, out of a sense of well-being, rather than being alone (Note: NOT loneliness,) how to divide living duties, and pick someone particular based on “safety” criteria. Therefore, attachment decisions are often more greatly influenced by social norms and for me, a sense of responsibility – not to be discussed here. Think of the "wish list" we women have for the Perfect Partner i.e. ticking the boxes. LOL

I am experiencing a modern dilemma, not uncommon to many women nowadays…….

Here again, I posit that at least some of my frustration in dating (in the hope of finding another One to Love) can be explained through this Double-Bind. Particularly, as it occurs between the type of men I find attractive (from biological/evolutionary origin – the Camel Man; remember those cigarette ads LOL) and the type I chose to unwittingly attach to.

Socially, I am encouraged, empowered (and perhaps expected) to do it all. This, in itself, often causes extreme stress for being a "super woman" and I am expected to succeed in work, run my rather large home (I have already raised the perfect children and gotten rid of two husbands LOL) and still be attractive, alluring and upbeat too. It is a tall order. It is also an order that requires me to be intelligent, motivated, powerful, and in control….. Don’t forget sexy!!!

Given those social instructions, I am motivated to "choose" a man for how well he will mesh with my life plan, goals, and ideals. Essentially then, I may choose to "attach" to a man who is cooperative, agreeable, supportive, and who often takes his lead in areas which I find to be important. From a my own unique standpoint, a man whom I categorized as "disagreeable," "opinionated," or expect me to "acquiesce," I consider unappealing as an "attachment" partner.

Unfortunately, however, many of those latter undesirable male traits are similar and overlapping with the traits that are biologically "attractive." Although not always true, often the man who is intelligent, high status, and ambitious will be unlikely to take a back seat, follow, and submit in a romantic relationship. Generally speaking, a man who has "leadership characteristics" may want to lead in many situations. Confused? No shit!!!

With those two "feelings" juxtaposed, I often find myself, unfulfilled in love. I seem to hover between the "nice guys" and "jerks" in dating. I become attracted to "jerks" for their status, ambition, and dominance - only to be disappointed when they do not live up to the cooperative and considerate standard for an attachment partner. I then may gravitate towards a prescribed "nice guy," only to find that I am soon bored, my libido wanes, and my eyes wander back to "jerks." Either way, I am finding dating largely frustrating and unsatisfying.

WTF am I to do?

One strategy I could adopt is to learn to love being the leader of a "nice guy," I currently have at home. Here, I am in charge and empowered, with companionship, but I am not having my desires fulfilled. Getting what I want, can be pretty attractive after all. This dominant approach, however, may have a downside in resentment and rebellion.

Or, I could choose to be cautious in love, looking for another "right" guy to be with, and enjoy the attraction to his strong, male leadership. This is more of the compatibility, eHarmony approach. I find myself continually evaluating and "testing" men to find the next Right One - a man (like Him) who will lead with, but together - our hopes, dreams, and goals in mutual-mind. If I know that I will not be driving and will be the passenger/pillion, I will be very wise to pick the driver carefully and as such, hopefully find me a man with strong, attractive attributes to swoon over, but who will not end up treating me like a "jerk."

But, what if I were to join the "best of both worlds" club? Here, think polyamory, open relationships, or a hot boyfriend on the side. Evolutionary psychology indicates that women sometimes use this strategy to seek the most stable and supportive partnership from one man, and the love and great sex with another. When women cannot find it all in one man, some choose to mix-and-match. Should I?

Finally, what if I were to choose to negotiate and share leadership roles with my companion and divide life tasks and duties into different areas, with each being the "boss" of different things. Perhaps, I could lead with the finances (I already do!) and he takes charge of other things – like around the house (which I could also do!) Really? I don’t need a man….. I WANT TO WANT A MAN!!!!

I am all too aware that dating involves costs and trade-offs. Double-binds and unknown frustrations, however, can be explained. My choices may not always be ideal, but satisfaction can be obtained with a bit of knowledge and I need to CHOOSE!!!