I was never one for jewellery. I took the view that a man should really only wear a high quality watch and a wedding band. One of those hallmarks of masculinity for me. A stylish watch; an elegant suit but he polishes his own shoes. These should all come naturally to my ideal of masculinity. There are other aspects but that encompasses one facet of the type of man I try to be. I’ve had that ring little over a year but only started wearing it every now and then over the past few months. It has a story of course. All jewellery should.
“Would you wear a ring for me?” It was an unusual question for a relationship that was less than a week old. “Darling are you asking to marry me?” I’m nothing if not a tease. “No, it’d just be nice. It’d let other women know that you’re taken but only if you have no problem wearing one.” I laughed. I like to make my friends happy and I like to bring joy to other people’s lives. For me this was a no brainer. “Shouldn’t you be down on one knee or something?” But it didn’t mean I couldn’t still have some fun. “If it’s a problem it’s fine.” I took her by the hand “No, it isn’t a problem but I can’t wait to make my friends and family back home freak out by saying I’m going ring shopping on Facebook.” When I lose the imp in me you might as well make preparations for the wake.
All my relationships have been long distance. This one was no different. We’d met through blogging and I’d flown across the ocean to meet her. I’m kind of stupidly romantic that way but for me we’d done everything right. We’d had a good long friendship before hand. I was familiar with some of the people from her church and when I arrived I got on with everyone. The only thing that sucked was the whole long distance aspect.
So we went ring shopping. Two of her friends went with us as we’d met them for coffee on the way. “What type of ring should I get?” “I don’t mind. You’re the one who will have to wear it. You pick it out.” “Aren’t girls meant to have the idea of a ring in their head already?” “Those are our rings silly. Not guys’ rings.” I didn’t have a clue what type of ring to get. We were in an Irish shop. It could have been worse with all the stereotypical Irish junk but I managed to finally settle on one. With her in college she couldn’t afford to pay for it. It wasn’t a big deal. I was just happy that she wanted me to wear a ring. It was proof in a way that she was committed to what was going to be a tough relationship.
It took a while to get used to the ring on my finger. I couldn’t wash my hands while wearing it. I realised immediately that putting it on the kitchen sink was a bad habit to start so my habit was to put it in my back pocket. Half the time after washing my hands I would forget to put it back on. Eventually though it became familiar. The weight on my hand. I came to feel it was a part of me. I liked having it on my hand and on my finger. Yes, this was a new step; a new direction but one that had me on a path that I wanted to embark on. A woman who shared my version of Christianity; who blogged; who danced who put up with my flaws and failings. A woman I wanted to build a life together with. A life built for a Hollywood love story.
There’s a reason we go to the movies. Escapism. We want to forget about our lives for two hours and imagine how they could be. Were you to draft a script about the heroine in this instance there would be a happy ending. She gets the guy she loves in the end. It just wasn’t this guy. For Hollywood it isn’t cheating on the guy who was merely there to make the heroine realise which of the men in her life she truly loved. That guy only wanted the best for her and wanted her to be happy. For Hollywood that’s enough to brush him out of the picture.
So this ring which was meant to be a symbol of love across the oceans crossed an ocean never to return to whence it came. In the movies it’s alright to forget about the guy who bought a symbol of fidelity expecting it to mean that faithfulness would abound – or if not that, at least friendship. The symbol he didn’t wear on his finger for fear of questions when the relationship was in its death throes so he put it on a chain and wore it close to his heart, believing that love between friends would mean that at least friendship would remain. The symbol that eventually became a thunderbolt of pain that clapped throughout his entire being with every beat of his heart before the burnings sensation of it on his skin meant he could no longer bear the sight of it such was the furnace of emotions it unleashed through him. The symbol that eventually became as cold, inert and lifeless as the metal from which it was forged.
I don’t believe in hiding or getting rid of things unless they no longer serve any purpose. This ring still serves a purpose for me but right now I can’t tell you what it is.
I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me. This has got to be the longest a lonely phase has went on for me in my entire life. It started around Christmas and seems intent on bugging me all the way into 2012. I don’t know what to do about it. It’s frustrating. How one side of me can be so wailing like a baby, “I’m so lonely!” and the other side looks on it with contempt as this distracts me from getting work done. It sucks though. It’s an ache like no other. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it if it continues.
The idea of coming home and talking to my girl about my day. Hearing about her day. Maybe giving her a massage or something if she’s had a bad one. Me just laying my head down on her lap and chatting as she plays with my hair. Or helping her with her projects. Supporting her. Getting excited for her. There’s nothing wrong with these feelings. I don’t think the fact I feel them is particularly unique. Maybe the fact I articulate them but that’s for another blog post.
This seems to be worse than the usual run of the mill loneliness. The 5% I talk about when I say that 95% of the time as a single guy I’m fine. That 5% is generally just a “I’d like a cuddle” loneliness. This one seems much more structural in nature. I know I’m designed to connect with people. That’s part of my problem. I can come on very strong. I stay in touch. I email people I met for a few days years ago because I got on with them so well. I actually get hurt when someone says they’ll email me or text me or phone me and fail to do so. I know when that’s said it’s not really going to happen. That it’s said in order for the person to end a conversation or as a throw away to soothe their own conscience. And 95% of the time I just smile to myself when I hear it. But 5% of the time I get really sad when I don’t get that email or phone call.
I worry about loneliness though. I don’t ever want to have a girlfriend who just fills the gap. I don’t feel it’s fair to the woman involved – human female with a pulse? You’ll do! I guess my number one problem is not having had a real relationship. All my relationships have been long distance. I have no real life experience of a girl who lives a short drive away. My main fear is coming on too strong in whatever ends up as my first relationship.
It’s connected to other things in my life no doubt. 2010 is the year of change for me and there may yet be a whole load more change than I thought there would be from the start of the year. Change and solitude. People leaving my life. I don’t know if they’ll ever come back. Some of it is intentional then. Withdrawing from other aspects of life. I’m not sure what I want from life. That’s the first problem. To a certain extent I’m not even sure who I am any more. Loneliness comes quite easily when you don’t recognize yourself.
Published Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Tags: Friendships, Men, Relationships, Women
I often like groups or pages on Facebook that my friends join to indicate my approval rather than joining them myself. One such page can be found here.
When I hit college age the gender balance in my friendships swung. Previously I’d been a guy who made friends with guys. After all a lot more teenage boys play soccer than teenage girls and what more are you interested in as a teenage boy apart from playing ball and balls playing? At third level in Ireland for every guy that attends university there are two women. The odds are in your favour. It was no surprise that I ended up with a lot of female friends. Some of it was the product of the clubs and societies I ended up in but another aspect was that, at that time, I felt I related to women better than I did men.
Over the past couple of years I’ve had a lot more online friendships and relationships than real life ones. I use the term real life to distinguish between relationships that occur more in the physical world compared to the virtual world. It’s funny but online relationships can become a lot more intense. There’s no chance to observe what’s going on with that person. That’s a big part of friendships in the real world. Virtually all you have to go on a lot of the time is the text that’s appearing in front of you. You can learn a lot in an online friendships but you can still know very little about the person you’re chatting with.
That doesn’t change the reality of these relationships though. You do make friends. You do have private jokes. You do share a lot and despite all the drawbacks you do have genuine friendships. Some of the greatest hurt I’ve ever known came as a result of a genuine, online friendship. Actually, a lot of the hurt I’ve known has come from online friendships. Maybe that should tell me something…
How much should a person’s other friendships change when they enter a relationship? It’s happened to me a few times now where I would chat regularly with a female friend and then they find a guy. It’s as if you never existed. You no longer figure in their life to any meaningful degree. They got their man and nothing else seems to matter. I don’t think this is a healthy state of affairs. It happens both ways. The general label where I’m from is that a man is whipped. I’m not sure what the female equivalent is.
If you find yourself cut out of a person’s life when they enter a relationship what does that say about your friendship? Obviously there are different seasons to life but how come so many of us seem to enter a cold, dark winter the moment someone else enjoys a warm, hot summer? It just seems wrong.