Breaking news: dating fucking SUCKS. My paranoid brain is having a field day, like a hyperactive kid in a candy store, “Oh boy oh boy! I want to fuck with Vanilla’s emotions by targeting that insecurity! And that insecurity over there! That other one toooooo! Yay insecurities! I love making Vanilla unhappy for no justifiable reason! SO MUCH FUN!” Yes. Dating sucks so much, I have developed a separate brain whose sole evolutionary function is to cause crazy internal dialogues and meltdowns.This is science. Dating science.
Crazy-Evolutionary-Paranoid-Dating-Brain Story#1: the Booty Call
In December, Beaut developed an adorable habit of texting me goodnight. So far, so good, right? Nothing that can trigger a paranoid meltdown, you say. HA!
One random week-night, he texted me goodnight just before midnight. The next morning, I saw that he’d last been online at 3:30am. My crazy paranoid dating brain put those 2 pieces of information together and concluded: Beaut had had a booty call. With someone else. I was sad. My rational brain proposed that maybe, just MAYBE, Beaut had woken up at 3:30am, gone to take a piss, and checked his phone before going back to sleep. My paranoid brain said nope. No way. He’d had a booty call, obviously.
I was sad for hours. Clearly, I was not enough for this man. What did I expect? A guy that beautiful was bound to need more than one girl; I was a nothing-special girl. Maybe if I looked like Megan Fox he’d stay true. Then I beat myself up: we hadn’t had The Talk – he didn’t owe me any monogamous behaviour. He was a free man, he could do what he liked. But why would he want to sleep with other girls? My rational brain kept trying to be heard, “Vanilla! STOP IT! YOU ARE SAD ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HAPPENED.” My paranoid brain smirked and reminded me, “He is too beautiful for you. You are not enough.”
I snapped out of my funk later that day, and laughingly told this story to some of my girlfriends. They didn’t find it funny. Instead, they stared at me, “Fine, he might not have slept with anyone last night, but you must accept that he is, at the very least, talking to other girls. A man that hot IS a player.”
My paranoid brain did a victory lap.
My rational brain took a nap, exhausted.
Crazy-Evolutionary-Paranoid-Dating-Brain Story#2: the Wife
Last Sunday, Beaut and I were supposed to go running for a second time. In the morning, we agreed upon a tentative time frame. At 7:08pm, he confirmed the time and meeting place. At 7:33pm, he cancelled, explaining he was too tired, and needed to sleep. He was sorry.
I was taken aback. Even my paranoid brain wasn’t sure how to react. Then I was sad. I looked around me, dismayed at all my winter running gear. My paranoid brain whispered, “Sucker. You spent all that money because you are a pathetic loser who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the attention of a guy who can’t even be bothered to show up. He doesn’t LIKE you (seriously, why would he?!), he doesn’t even respect you, and you think pretending to like RUNNING is going to make him stick around?! That’s cute.” My rational brain reminded me that, yes, sure, I liked Beaut and wanted to spend time with him, but I’d also asked Coach to include me on the gym’s competitive roster this spring, and that with my heavy travel schedule for work, I’d decided running was a convenient, necessary part of my training regimen. My paranoid brain snarled, “SHUT UP, you LOSER!”
My paranoid brain changed tactics: it played on loop a conversation from a few weeks prior, where Beaut explained to me that a guy who is always busy and who randomly cancels plans last minute, without warning or explanation is living with a woman, and that woman just changed her plans, forcing the guy to cover his tracks and bail on his side-wench. It was crystal-clear to me. THAT was why Beaut had cancelled on me. Of course. I was too upset to do anything. I tried drafting him a text message, but couldn’t figure out what to say. My paranoid brain whispered, “The last guy made you his side-wench, did you really think Beaut would treat you any better? No guy would want you as his main woman, or (haha funny concept!) his only woman! You should be satisfied that you are getting anything at all, even if it is just the sloppy seconds of a cheater. Just a few months ago no guy would even look at you. I suppose this is progress. Enjoy it.”
For 10 minutes I accepted that Beaut had a wife (yes, I assumed that if he was living with a woman, he must have married her. Even my paranoid brain was impressed with that illogical feat). Gradually, I remembered that I’d been to Beaut’s place several times. His bachelor pad showed all the signs of not being inhabited by a woman: no interior design – he didn’t have a kitchen table! No woman had been stashed away in his closet, when I stayed over. Beaut was not living with a wife. My rational brain went over that conclusion with me over and over again until it was sure I accepted it. I felt less sad. My rational brain gave my paranoid brain the finger, and then set out to consider other explanations for why Beaut might have cancelled on me.
It reminded me that Beaut is taking a heavy course-load at school, while still working on his career, and pursuing his writing with gusto. It reminded me of my life when I was putting myself through school, while working full-time, in a job that was much less demanding than Beaut’s job. How wound-tight I’d been, planning every second of every day, unable to deal with unexpected scenarios. How I felt such guilt when I would cancel plans on friends because I just could not handle being “on” any more. How much I hated the deep pit of anxiety as I tried to not get overwhelmed by the endless to-do list and the gnawing fear I’d fail – not just my classes, but in life. How much I still value my Sunday evenings as a moment of quiet, because it sets the tone for the rest of the week; my moment to recoup.
My rational brain made me re-read Beaut’s text message: “Hey, I suddenly feel too exhausted to run. I’m going to bed. We’ll go running next week. Sorry.” It no longer sounded like code for “Hey, my wife changed her plans for the evening so I am going to bang her instead of running with you.” Instead, it sounded like he was tired and overwhelmed, and freaking out on him would not be helpful.
I decided to go running regardless, alone. Because I really am committed to my training regimen, I needed to clear my mind from all the toxic thoughts that had been polluting it for the past 30 minutes.
My rational brain did a victory lap.
My paranoid brain sulked.
Crazy-Evolutionary-Paranoid-Dating-Brain Story#3: TBD
I don’t know yet what other stunts my paranoid brain will pull on me, as I navigate my interactions with Beaut. Hard to beat the wife I’ve invented for him, but I have faith in my paranoid brain: no doubt the next meltdown will be spectacular.
I miss being a cat-less cat lady. Kinda. Not really.