“I’m in husband mode, not dating mode,” she said to me, regretfully. It rocked me back a little. But instead of thinking that she was too serious, I wondered why she didn’t consider me husband material.
My heart has been up and (mostly) down these past few months, but I’ve found some answers about who I am as a person along this journey that light the way ahead. One of these answers has been to the perennial question, “Why doesn’t Brian have a girlfriend?”
I always knew that I didn’t date casually, and that family was incredibly important to me, but it wasn’t until I met my friend’s newborn baby that I put the two together. All of the stories that I hold dearest to me are stories about my family: my parents, my siblings, my cousins. They are the very core of my being. When I found out that my brother was gay in high school, I felt that the biggest betrayal was that my kids wouldn’t have cousins to play with, as we had when we were growing up. There is nothing more important to me than family – and starting a family of my own.
So when it comes to relationships, I am extremely reserved. My friend explains this as the Asian Dude Narrative, in which mate selection doesn’t just have to do with superficial characteristics like beauty or brains, but also elements like thoughts on child-rearing, family situation, and other factors involved in raising a family. Bingo.
When I think of whether I would date a woman, I think of the relationship as it would play out over years. I date in order to start a family – which is to say, I don’t date. Because the stories and narratives that played out as I grew up are so important to me, I am attracted to women for whom I could see those same kinds of stories playing out with us as the principle actors. Hence my obliviousness to women’s interest, whether forced or not, my tendency to immediately think of a long list of incompatibilities if I’m even the slightest bit attracted, and my inability to enter into relationships on a whim.
I have been in “wife mode” my entire life, and it’s because my family is pretty much the foundation of my personality and objectively the best thing that’s ever happened to this world.
As a corollary, unless I somehow manage to reject this notion, I don’t think I could ever be a player or sleep around. And I’m perfectly okay with “only” having been in two relationships before. In some sense, I’ve always known who I’ve wanted to be with. I’ve just been more selective than a lot of my peers.
But I also wonder if these limitations are too stringent. If I’m waiting too long for some perfect image of a woman to show up. I can and do meet women, but I don’t go out of my way to investigate who they are because some little thing here or there will put me off and I’ll lose interest. I will even quash my own interest if it doesn’t seem like it will work out in the long run.
So, understanding myself as being in “wife mode” helps answer some questions, but it also brings up questions of its own. I know I would be emotionally more stable, more fulfilled, and happier in a relationship. Am I doing myself a disservice by being so picky? Am I waiting when I should be more proactive?
- I’ve always ignored the dating game in favor of self improvement and becoming more awesome. And let’s face it, I’m fucking awesome. It’s a long term play for a long term committed relationship as opposed to smoke and mirrors in the short term.
- When I am in love, I love so strongly it transcends space and time. There’s no distance I wouldn’t go, no period of time I wouldn’t wait if I was assured that love waited on the other side. This is why, even though it’s not rational, my heart believes in a soulmate and love that lasts through lifetimes (I loved The Myth and Air). Rationally, I don’t hold to any of that – reincarnation, least of all. But rationality takes a seat when it comes to love.
- Love is also my savior. By myself, I can’t see myself living past the age of 29. But when I’m in love, it’s like a window into a future where I am old and frail, sitting side by side with my wife in a circle of friends as the grandkids play in the yard. Love means sharing a life, and there’s so much life to share that there’s no way to fit it all in a mere 29 years.