fork in the road

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Andre Chinn

“So, let me get this straight,” my new friend begins as we walk down Moonmueang on a balmy Saturday night. “You won’t go on a date with someone who is only here for two nights?”

“Correct,” I say, resolute in this decision.

“But, what if that person is the one you are meant to be with and you decide not to go because he is only in town for two nights? What if he’s the one?” he asks.

“I guess I would kind of know if he was the one,” I reason, “and what would happen if he was the one for me? He’s here for two nights and then off on some other adventure. I don’t want that.”

“If it was me, I would stay, I would stop traveling, if I met someone I thought was the one,” he says.

“Yeah, I guess there is that,” and then in the back of my mind, I think this guy is the exception to the rule. He’s not the typical traveler coming through here. He’s on his own. He’s 40. He’s mature. The guys who hit me up on OK Cupid, on Tinder, are not looking for the “one,” they are looking for a good time. Then, they’re off to Laos. Or Vietnam. Or down south to the beaches and bars.

And, then I announce, “You know, I’m really not looking for a relationship right now. I’m really not looking for anything. The idea of taking the time, the effort, to go out on a date with someone here for only two nights just does not appeal to me in the least. I’d rather spend that time on me and be selfish.”

I’d rather go to the gym, go to dinner with friends and go home and write, than make that effort, have that strained conversation and think that maybe, just maybe this random guy who has hit me up on the flavor-of-the-day dating site could possibly  be someone long term. I’m really happy just being with myself.”

For the first time in my life, I actually want to be by myself.

It took me until a few months ago to really realize that. I’d always just assumed that if I met the right guy, I would drop everything and balls-to-the-wall it with that man and embark on said relationship with gusto. Then, when I started that long distance Tinder relationship in June, things got serious really quick. Sure, we hadn’t met each other yet, but the conversations, the deep, deep conversations, the realizations that we had about each other,  the awe that we clicked that well, the sheer idea that this was like a little fairytale between us, made me start thinking about relationships more.

About what I was willing to give up in exchange for that partner in crime.

He was planning on coming here. We were going to see if it would work. And if it did, then we would figure out those all-important next steps. Those major steps that move one from their single life into that life of compromise.

Turns out, I’m not ready to give up anything. Yet.

I remember so clearly, sitting in the back of the songthaew, coming home from a rather intense workout. I looked out the window and just gushed love for my city, the moat, everything that makes this place my place (annoyances and all).

Was I ready to drop it for someone? Did I want to re-start my life in a foreign city? Did I really want to sacrifice the things I was working on (a book, a new project, travel, focusing on my health and well-being) because of a relationship? Was I willing to succumb to the pressure of being under relationship pressure?

Far too often in my life, I have made decisions based on others lives and my conforming to them. Was this a case where I would need to conform?

Ultimately, that was not what ended the could-belong-distance relationship, but I knew that instant, as we puttered along the Old City, that I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to focus on me. To not get distracted. I was not willing to sacrifice the point I am at in my life, the things I am doing for me, for anyone else or anything else.

And, that still stands.

But then, with my friend the other night, and that conversation, I began to second guess myself. I’m nearly 35. I’m nearly 40. I’m nearly out of that range where if I wanted to have kids of my own, I could. Am I setting myself up for a never having this by turning my nose up at potential dates? Potential opportunities? Or am I giving myself a chance to fall deeper in love with me, and perhaps meet someone in the future who can love me as much as I love myself?

Am I regularly coming to forks in the road and choosing the wrong path? I feel like before I can be in a relationship with someone else I keep focusing on me and let the chips fall as they may because at the end of the day, it is ultimately up to me to find happiness within myself. The rest is just extra.

Thoughts?

8 comments

  1. Great post again 🙂

    It’s normal to question your decisions and choices and obviously a great deal of though is required for some of those, but I’m a firm believer that there are no ‘wrong’ choices. There are some choices I have made that have gone spectacularly pear shaped, but each one of those decisions, good or bad, has led me to who and where I am now.

    Several months ago you made the decision to concentrate on ‘you’ and since then you certainly seem to be more focused and happy, your friend said ‘what if you meet someone on a date?’, to counter that ‘what if you meet some in the gym?’

    What if’s and maybes are the beginning of the spiral ( well they are for me anyway! ), and if you are constantly questioning things you have done, there will be no time for thinking about things to do.

    Here is a great old Scottish saying that I try to keep in mind, ‘ If it’s for you it won’t go past you’ which is a round about way of saying if its meant to be then it WILL be. You need to keep trusting in yourself and things that you need will come. They may not always be the things you want, but I’ve always found that I have what I need. It can take years to look back and see that the choices you have made are ‘right’, and sometimes you know immediately, but don’t continually question the choices ‘YOU’ have made for ‘YOUR’ life.

    That was a very rambling and round about way of saying – you are rocking your life right now, why change a thing ?? 🙂

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  2. I think if it were me, I would take opportunities that come up just to meet new people – maybe don’t look on them as ‘dates’, just as occasions to meet new people and open up conversations and possibilities. I’ve always been told that ‘the one’ comes along when you least expect it, so don’t expect it, keep doing what you’re doing, and just ‘go with the flow’. Don’t over think it. A life long friend of mine worked on a cruise ship as a photographer for a couple of years, shortly after ending a long term relationship. She did NOT want to meet someone new, she wanted to be single. However, she ended up meeting her now husband on that ship (he worked on it too) – she had no expectations or plans prior to this! 🙂 x

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    1. I don’t think you are wrong, Sarah. BUT, I also really enjoy my life and value my personal time to work on me and do things for me. Sure, going on a date could ultimately be for me, but there are other things I would rather do right now, like working on me. 🙂 I certainly don’t say “no” to every person who crosses my path. I try to go on dates with those people who intrigue me, who go beyond the “hey, I’m in town, you’re in town, let’s be in town” together thing and actually see if there is a connection. If there is, I certainly don’t stay home and write; I go out and see if there is something there. Because you are right, you never know.

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  3. I’m starting to realize that the key to happiness is setting strong boundaries and sticking to them. For me, that means I don’t want to pursue something that’s just going to be casual. It doesn’t bring me closer to happiness or feeling good about myself. I also wouldn’t go out with someone who is only in town for 2 days because you don’t know the person after one date and you can’t have any idea if he’s “the one” or not. All you have is the mask you’re both wearing and a perception. That’s a fairy tale idea and the sooner we realize that’s not real life the better. I don’t think it’s pessimistic to look at it this way – just realistic.

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    1. Boundaries are KEY. I used to be horrible at them but now, as I have progressed with this project, have learned it isn’t about making anyone else happy, it is about making me happy. Well said my lovely!

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  4. There definitely is a huge conflict here that only you can resolve. I hope my thoughts help a wee bit.

    1. On the one hand, you have expressed a possible desire to have children. This is a dilemma in itself.
    A) You do NOT want to be chasing toddlers around after 40. Mmmm-mmmmmmmmm, no siree Bob!
    B) It’s certainly better if you have a ‘perfect’ partner; one that YOU picked, not because you want to have children with with, but one that you want to share your life with. It’s really hard raising kids on your own and not really the optimal situation for you or the child or the other parent (unless he’s a…well, you know what.) C) These relationships take , nay NEED, time to develop and you’re almost (?) 35. Just food for thought…

    2. On the other hand, your life sounds wonderful RIGHT where you are at the moment. Enjoy and cherish it. Love yourself and what you are doing. Don’t change because you feel the biological clock ticking.

    So having said all that, my ‘advice’ although I hate to call it that, would be to just stay open to all opportunities. The surprise may just be in the opportunity you didn’t grab, the dinner you never went on, the friend you neglected to make. Don’t refuse a date because it’s a romantic gesture. Lay your cards on the table before you agree to a dinner, lunch or other fun event and then go and enjoy it if the other party agrees not to push the boundaries.

    Good luck with that!!

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    1. You are absolutely right! I do want kids, but I know I can’t really be too much older to start having them. IF I have kids, it will be with someone who is RIGHT for me, not because I am settling. I have thought about being a single mom, but I couldn’t afford it and certainly don’t think I could or want to hack it.

      And, yes, I really and truly like my life right now. I like being selfish and only making decisions (largely) based on what it is I want in my life. You could be right — I could be missing that person because I am not taking that one opportunity, but I like to think that life works out exactly as it is supposed to for every person. In the past, I know I have “felt” something immediately in regards to another person — that clicking or initial attraction, whatever, and those initial feelings have led to relationships of all kinds. If I had that gut feeling, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. But, those who are all “hey, let’s go out” without knowing anything about me and neither of us feeling enough of anything to even engage in a conversation pre-date, I just can’t justify taking my time …

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