Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
I’ll take an unconventional way of doing this advice column today.
The number one question I get from people, hands down, regards love and romance.
People want to know how and when they will settle down to a blissful fairy-tale happily-ever-after with their one and only true love who will complete their lives and fulfill their destiny.
Straight females are the ones who typically come to me with this. They tend to believe their destiny is to settle down with a man, and have his babies. There are, occasionally, women who are not wanting to have kids, but they still come ask me about men.
I will say, I have never, one time, had one of my LGBT friends come to me with this. Ever. I am not saying us LGBT folks don’t feel this way sometimes. There was a time I absolutely did. There are men who act this way, straight or not, but almost every single person who approaches me with these issues is a straight female. I have a lot to say about it, probably too much. I will not bore you to death, however, I’ll break it down into seven points.
1) I would like to see my fellow American women, who have rights our grandmothers did not, let go of the societal expectations that we have our grandmother’s lifestyles. This is 2017, not 1917. We go to school and are allowed careers these days. We have access to contraception and are no longer legally counted as property of some man or another. We can file for divorce if we want to, and we are protected by laws our grandmothers were not. I always tell people about a great aunt of mine, who was beaten so badly by her husband, so many times, that he eventually killed her. He had killed his previous wife as well. The law would not go after him. This was in either the 1970’s or the 1980’s. We might like the idea of not being single, and having a nice house, and being allowed the luxury of not working full time- but the past has shown- we do NOT want that to be our only option. Besides that, who the hell says we have to do what other people expect us to with our lives? It is your life, and you either live it on your terms, or you let other people dictate it to you.
2) I would like to see gals let go of the misconception that we need other people to complete us. People can be awesome, but they can also be a royal pain in the ass. ROYAL. There will be times in your life, when you live alone, and other times when you wish you did. There will be times you have a close knit, best friend circle, and times when you feel lucky if there is even one person you can trust. Despite all of this, it is still your life, and you can enjoy it, despite who , and what it entails. Beyond that, the belief we NEED a “better half” suggests we are only half a person all on our own. This is not true. We are all whole, and complete all on our own. Being alone 24/7 is not going to get it for most of us, but we also don’t need to scare ourselves into the idea we can NEVER be alone or do anything alone to be happy.
3) I would like to see more gals embrace the fact that sex is different than love. I have loved people I would not touch with a ten foot pole, and I’ve lusted after people I really did not give a rats ass about. Don’t shake your head and pretend to be any different. Infatuations happen when you first meet somebody you are attracted to. Then, as you learn about them, sometimes, the allure wears off. In the meantime, you may have had sex with them, married them, and had kids with them. Ten years later, you wake up one day and realize you now are not any longer turned in by them or that you now, in fact, hate their guts. Just because you were once sexually attracted to somebody does not mean that will always be so. There are some people who experience lifelong love and attraction to one individual, but not everybody is this way. There are so many factors that go into sex drive. It can be something as simple as personal preference, which can change, and it can be as complex as hormones. I see a lot of people base their emotional bonds on what gets them wet or hard, and it’s a huge mistake. The person who gets you off can steal your money, and the most loving, reliable person might have a genetic issue that makes them impotent. Who would go to the ER with you at 3 a.m.? Who would you rather spend time with? Why can’t we spend time doing both, but with different people? Sex is a physical need, emotional attachment based on your genitals is shallow, not sincere, and not long lasting. Relationships based just on physical urges can last in the short term, but in the long run, working out a life together happens outside the bedroom, and sometimes the people who sexually fulfill us are not the same people who emotionally fulfill us. There are couples lucky enough to find great life partners who also sexually fulfill them long term, but that does not mean it happens for everybody. Sometimes, it doesn’t. I can’t promise folks it will definitely happen for them.
4) Adding more to that, I would like to instill in women the urgency they feel is hormones, and is a “survival of the species” instinct. We are programmed to want to have babies to keep the species going. It is just science. As you get older, and approach midlife, this sense of urgency will ease off. Think of it as one of those knee-jerk reactions you are taught to control when you are little. You want to cry and stomp, but you act adult instead, so people don’t think you are an idiot. This is the same sort of thing. You control it, or it controls you. While many individuals today specifically want NO kids, a lot of people still do. For those who do, and are urgently searching for somebody to help them with that, let me put your mind to ease. The planet is currently overpopulated with human beings. It is not necessary for us to produce more. Plenty of people will still have kids, and that is fine. The problem is that a lot of women are seeing it as a personal failure if they do not procreate. If you believe your only purpose in life is to be born to pop out another human being before you die, I don’t see how you get through your day. I speak as somebody who used to feel this way, and who has known a lot of folks who feel this way. Save yourself a lot of grief and put this out of your head.
5) You are not a distressed princess, and he is not a hero rescuing you from your life. If your life is making you miserable, having a lover will get you off, and sex is GREAT, but it won’t fix your problems. If your problem is that you feel alone, get a pet, a roommate, or make more friends. If you are having financial issues, a roommate, cutting costs, downsizing, or getting a second job can help with that. If you feel unattractive due to being single- look around at all the physically repulsive people who are running around and have somebody. This is evidence being attractive does not mean you will not be single. If you still feel THAT unattractive, get a makeover. Past heartbreaks are not cancelled by current or future relationships. Meeting somebody better does not change what happened in the past. You heal on your own, and can heal if you remain forever single following heartbreak. Beyond that, one person does not represent all people on earth. All men are NOT the same. All women are NOT all the same.
6) Adding to that- if the SAME thing always happens to ruin all your relationships- it’s your fault. You are stuck in a cycle of behaviors. You make certain choices again and again, which always have the very same result. Nothing will change until you change.
7) Do not do not do NOT chase a man. Call him, sure. Ask him out, sure. Initiate contact, and express interest, sure. But do not beg a man to give you attention, and do not, under any circumstances change anything to try to make him like you. If he loves you, he will act like it all on his own. If he wants to spend time with you, he will. If he wants you, he will fuck your brains out without you trying to entice him. There are a lot of people who will waste your time if they know you will let them. The one thing I love about men is they make it extremely obvious what their intentions are. If they SAY they like you, but flake out on you, it means he is not interested in a relationship. If they fuck you, and disappear until they want to fuck again? They just want to fuck, and are not interested in a relationship. If he hangs out for a long time, and won’t try to be intimate, never pay for the date, and see other people, he is not interested in anything but a friendship. If he says he loves you, but does not have sex with you, and you are a sexual person, if a doctor cannot fix his issue, he’s a friend. People do what they want to.
Now, I have a great love life with my husband, and he is a wonderful lover. However, there was a time this was not so. I was dumped by my first husband so he could marry somebody else. I was 15 years younger than him. I was a virgin when we married, and a virgin when he kicked me out. I got engaged to somebody else, and that did not work out. I fell for somebody I knew better than to spend time with, but who I was absolutely crazy about. The result was I was pregnant, and ditched- and had a miscarriage when I was starting to look into abortion as an option. I took a chance and moved cross country with no job to be with the man I’m married to now. But things were bad the first three years we were together. I left for almost two years before we got back together. We’ve been back together for a little under seven years now. Out of 41 years, I’ve been in a good love relationship for close to seven. So it is not “just easy for me” to say cool it, and relax about relationships. We wind up with the people who belong in our lives, and love us. Timeframe and feelings cannot be forced. I understand how awful it feels to seem like the only single person on earth.
I am acutely aware of mistakes I made, and aware a lot of folks do the same. I am also acutely aware of all the time I wasted being an emotional basket case because I wanted to be settled down NOW. I look back on those years, and realize I was making my own life despite who I dated, was in love with, or who I was having sex with. I love my husband, and still would love to be a mom, but I understand husband/lover/kids are not all there is in life.
I’ve been a college student, and was told I’d never be able to, and had no right to want to. Well, I did.
I was told I’d never work and take care of myself. Well, I have, I do, and I will.
I was told all I would ever be was an assistant. Really? Bitch, I have directed and facilitated in many capacities, and always will.
I was also told I was forbidden to be LGBT- bisexual to be specific, and forbidden to practice the religion I did not grow up with. I’m still doing what I do.
I’ve been a retail worker, a child care professional, a clown, a cavern tour guide, a nursing home worker, a volunteer coordinator, a clergyperson, and writer, a musician, a visual artist, and a volunteer in multiple settings. Having a spouse or lover did not figure into this at all.
In a nutshell, our destinies are not another person. We create, and recreate our own lives every day. Destiny, itself, in the classic sense means something is going to happen on its own someday. So, we don’t need to go looking for it.
We need to go about our own lives, on our own terms, and enjoy every last minute of it, regardless of whether we are in a relationship or not.
I can’t promise everybody will find one true love who will live happily ever after with them. What I can promise is that life will be full of surprises, pleasant, and unpleasant, and the things, and people who belong to us will be ours. That’s not so bad, really.