Thursday, 6 September 2012

Bad Boys and Crazy Women

Last night we watched the first part of Mrs Biggs. A woman with an oppressive father, falls for a man who turns out to be living with another woman, has been in prison twice, and gets her to steal from her job within a matter of days, so that they can run away together. And despite the rather wonderful cast, I was slightly baffled as to why she would stay with him. Especially when they were being chased by dogs and policeman and she had to take her heels off...

But then, I'm a bit older and wiser. Which isn't to say that I've previously been out with petty criminals. Well, not to my knowledge. But I think we spend a good few years lusting after or dating, bad boys, or to widen the scope slightly, inappropriate men.... And similarly, a large percentage of men spend a significant amount of time craving crazy women - inappropriate women.

So why is that? I think most obviously, it's an unrecognised fear of settling down. At a basic level, if you continue to fall for people that aren't interested in you, you get to bathe in the melancholy of unrequited love, which, although an unhappy place to be, is also a fairly safe place to be. You know the deal, you've already set the perameters from the off. You won't be disappointed, because your desires and hopes are already dashed. So you get to think that you're pursuing a healthy relationship, that you're ready to settle down, it's just that you're unlucky.

And therein lies self-delusion. You're not unlucky. You're just picking the wrong ones because you're not ready for the right one. Basic, but true. But what happens if you end up sleeping with, or getting into a relationship with a wrong'un..? What if there is reciprocal love with someone who is patently not right for you?

There it becomes a little more complex. Because then you can convince yourself that you really are engaging with love, in a committed way. When realistically, you're probably still just avoiding it, but with the outward appearance of all being well. There is far too much literature, music and film dwelling on unrequited love, on relationships which are doomed from the beginning, but somehow suggest that because there is so much pain involved, it must be the real thing - true love. A couple of friends who shall remain nameless, were in and out of a relationship for over a year - they constantly fell out, he even dealt the Ross 'we were on a break' card, having slept with someone else on some downtime. It was all very Burton and Taylor, and I think they would readily admit, looking back, that they liked that - it felt epic, dramatic, true. And yet, it really wasn't. Then she got together with another friend, and it was like they had just fallen together. There was no drama; they just got along, they were happy, they fancied each other. There was a calmness to it. And it was like watching the lights on a dimmer go up little by little - that that was actual love - that was what it was really about. And yes, I'm sure they have their ups and downs, but their relationship is solid.

Now, I know every relationship is different. But I think the universality, is that we have to fall for a few that are wrong for us, before we find the right one. And that's not just to do with not being ready to settle down. I think it's also tied in with self-avoidance. If you fancy someone who's tricky, if you're involved with someone who is difficult, then you get to focus on them, their issues. And you don't have to look at yours. I have many male friends who have dated a string of mental, high maintenance women, and I think that's the equivalent of us women going for the bad boys. So maybe us finding the right person is also about us having sorted out our shit a little bit. Yes, there are the lucky few that meet young, and somehow manage to grow and develop alongside that person, and find that the person they married in their early twenties, is still the person they want to be with in the sixties. But I think those incidences are pretty rare.

I can only speak from my experience - pretty substantial on the whole 'fancying the men who don't fancy you' front, much less substantial on the committed relationship front. But, without reverting back to the literature/movie cliches I attacked above, there was a sense, on that first date, that he was right for me. Admittedly, I did go home and complain to my flatmate that he hadn't made a move at the bus-stop, had I lost my touch, yada yada. Swiftly alleviated by a text and subsequent dates. And although I spent a fair amount of time downplaying it to my friends, in a 'we'll see what happens' sort of a way, somehow, I felt deep down that we fitted, that he would be important. There was no drama, well, other than me on stage doing my comedy routine about boobs, which, given that he is a boob man, I think sold it.

And who knows that the future holds. Hopefully, we'll still be mimicking each other and attempting rugby tackles (on each other, not on strangers, unless we go senile) into our old age. And given that it's all fairly new, I'm not putting myself forward as 'all knowing' in any sense. But if you're reading this and you're still finding yourself dating nutters, or lusting after the one who just isn't interested, maybe take a step back and assess. I think I spent 2 or 3 years thinking I was ready and wanting a relationship, and with hindsight, I was neither.


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