Maybe you’ve heard the anecdote about female praying mantises eating males during or after mating? They just bite off the head and devour the corpse for nourishment right there in the middle of sexy time or shortly thereafter.
It makes perfect sense to me.
I think I might be a praying mantis, is what I’m saying. A judgmental, picky, praying mantis of a woman who 86s men for no discernible reason at all. Or maybe I’m the only sane person around? I can’t figure out if my relationship deal-breakers are justified.
Maybe after a 10-year marriage that ended in divorce, I’m just old and burned out on the unrelenting give-and-take that healthy relationships apparently require. I’m just too damn tired to tolerate the things that bother me so I’m ready to set fire to any situation that feels slightly off.
The things that I would run from now would be nothing to a 25-year-old me. In my twenties huge red flags were flapping in my face and I pranced onward within those ridiculous relationships with jerks for years.
Now? Thirty-eight-year-old me has been there/done that and doesn’t feel like slogging through something with someone who clearly isn’t on the same page as me just so I won’t be alone.
And so now my brain does the opposite of what it did in my twenties: back then I’d mentally create amazing boyfriends out of a-holes, confusing boring for mysterious and offering up excuses for obvious personality deficits.
So what if he’s married, I’d think. He says they haven’t been happy in a long time and they’re in the process of divorce. He’s so good-looking and I love the way he calls me “his girl”!
Where once I could overlook glaring issues like the married man or the one who kicked in my car door in a fit of rage (ended up moving in with that one!), nowadays I feel like I turn perfectly nice men into a-holes for seemingly ridiculous reasons.
He wears cowboy boots? I obviously can’t be with him.
He loooves video games and wears a headset when he plays? Buh-byyyye.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m smart as hell now and not as willing as I was in my twenties to delude myself about the potential for a relationship with certain people.
What happens is I learn a fact about someone that doesn’t jive with my preconceived notions of what is good/bad cool/not cool appropriate/not appropriate and then create an entire story about their personality and whether or not I will like them based on said fact, almost always deciding I’m not into them.
There’s a Seinfeld episode that explains this phenomenon perfectly when Jerry explains to George why he broke up with his latest girlfriend:
George: So, what’s going on with you and Melanie? I mean, I know you’re not getting married, but uh, things are happening?
Jerry: Well … actually, we kind of broke up.
George: You what?
Jerry: Well, you know, we were having dinner the other night, and she’s got the strangest habit. She eats her peas one at a time. You’ve never seen anything like it. It takes her an hour to finish them. I mean, we’ve had dinner other times. I’ve seen her eat Corn Niblets. But she scooped them.
George: … she scooped her niblets?
Jerry: Yes. That’s what was so vexing.
Jerry dumped Melanie and I support him 100%. Who wants to date someone who eats peas one at a time? Especially when they scoop niblets. I can’t get onboard with that.
My entire dating life has become a Seinfeld episode. Someone exhibits a quirk, a notion, an opinion, a personality trait, and I internally feel annoyed then manufacture an entire universe in my mind about them and mentally write them off.
For example: ‘Wut r u doing?’ he texted me.
I can’t date someone who texts “wut r u doing?” Is he trying to save time by eliminating letters? How much time can he possibly be saving? Well, I’m not going out with him tonight so he just saved himself a crapload of time.
How can I kiss someone who loves to jam to Steely Dan? It just feels so monumentally indicative of who they are, you know? It’s not going to work out. I just know it.
How am I supposed to show my naked body to someone who has never seen Goonies?
I refuse to engage in sexual acts with someone who doesn’t like cheese. Are you a Russian spy? HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE CHEESE? You better be lactose intolerant or else we have a problem.
Vanity license plates? I’ll date a smoker but if you’ve got vanity plates, adios. Also, if you drive a car that costs more than a home, you’re out.
You actually call it cold slaw? I can’t be a part of this.
What do you mean you don’t know who Corey Feldman is? We need to talk. Damn. I should’ve cut you when you told me you’ve never seen Goonies but I let it slide. I knew better!
Really? You can’t swim? You’re 39-YEARS-OLD. What if you fall in the water? I’m supposed to rescue you? That’s a lot of work. Next!
Drinking beer with a straw? Keep moving, pal.
If you tell random people, especially women, to “smile” when passing them, you should be on some kind of watch list.
If you don’t know how to time talking during a movie, we’re through. Scenes where nobody is talking … silence. The minute dialogue kicks in, you’re telling me about a guy from work. Get it together, man! This may have been somewhat responsible for the end of my marriage, honestly. ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY.
Know what else makes me feel weird? People who call their parents “mother” or “father.” It feels very Norman Bates. And when they refer to their family members right out of the gate as though they’re my family members? No “my mom said this” or “my grandpa is funny” just “Mom said this” and “It’s Grandpa’s 98th birthday today!” Stop that this instant!
What do you mean you don’t think Bill Murray is funny? Are you insane?
Nature isn’t your “thing”? I don’t even know how to respond to that.
You get the idea. What a landmine. Some guy is supposed to know I am totally cool with him checking out other women when he’s with me but the way he pronounces Chipotle (CHIP-OLE-TAY) is slowly killing me?
I’m going to be single forever. And I think maybe I’m okay with that.