What an appropriate time for me to come across Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Necessary?; a book that has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for a minimum of two years. I opened it up for the first time last week, feeling my own recent dismay with the interactions between men and women. I hate generalizing, because on a smaller scale, my main concern is why I have continuously found myself in dysfunctional relationships with men. Dowd’s work is the perfect counterbalance to all the spiritual teachings I’m gleaning from the Oprah-Tolle hope class. Without the Oprah-hope, I just may find myself drowning in her cynicism.
There was a time, very early on that I was completely disinterested in men. When I recently asked my best friend of a dozen years, “What did we talk about before dudes came into the picture?” she answered, “Um… Bette Midler?” My early adult years (okay, I was a teenager living an adult life) were spent standing up men because I was so painfully shy. Yes. Imagine that. In my own self-reflection, separating the innocuous and banal serial dating from the men I fell for, I’ve been trying to come up a synopsis that explains my current situation. I’ve heard that people attract partners that offer things we are wishing to have in ourselves. Yet, I’ve never wished to be inconsistent, confused, or terrified and the majority of men from my past carry this trifecta.
Looking back to one of my kindest chaps, I see us not being together today because we didn’t compliment one another in the day to day. Living as a nineteen-year-old bohemian in Hawaii made this overindulgent, free-spirited chap my perfect co-partner at the time. From him I moved on to a man that would haunt my youth for six or seven years. I would hold on for the hope that destiny would keep us together, but we were bound by two things: ego-driven wit and animalistic, emotionally-vacant sex. To this day, after my many confessionals of how much I cared and wanted to be in a relationship, he still never got the full emphasis of how deeply I felt. I’d think of The Way We Were and the characters, Hubbell and Katie. She was the passionate, fierce woman who championed everything with her soul while he was the pretty boy who drifted from day to day on his intellectual prowess. The intellect can only go so deep. To this day, it won’t stop him from the occasional call or text still wanting to live out past fantasies.
But that’s okay, because after years of mind-fucking, I crossed paths with an emotionally deep man who actually needed me. As he would beg me to lay close and not leave his side at night, I felt the glory of being with a man who so openly desired an emotional connection. The problem was, his needs weren’t limited to me. The man couldn’t stand to be alone with himself and like the legendary Ted Turner, he’d always have a half-dozen back-up plans to assuage his ego and quench his loneliness. Our entire relationship was based on my fluctuation between number-1 girl and back-up plan.
Just when I thought I had made amends with my past, a new man entered my life. We had a strong connection, albeit through the internet and phone, and through both his intense insecurities seemed to flourish. He had been single for years, serial dating and opening up to me about how he wanted more. Impulsively he came to New York from LA, in need of a new life and we spent an incredible week together. At the time, I think it was one of the best weeks of both of our lives. I’ll never forget a rather vulnerable night that left this Mensa boy asking, “Isn’t this so amazing? I never have conversations with women like this… there just aren’t girls like this in LA.” While he discussed living in NY, and months later bought property upstate, it became reasonable to think we might have a chance. But then he became terrified of the distance and confessed his issues about my lack of tears when he left. These would become the two reasons he blamed when he cut me out of his life- distance and my emotional lack of tears when he was ready himself to cry a river. Oddly, I’ve never cried over another man so much in my life. On my pending trip to LA, he told me he might just meet me at a fast food joint because he was dating a few girls and waiting until one of them made him commit and he decided to be with whoever worked out. The guy who was single for two or more years, was driven to commit after his time with me and his been with my replacement ever since. His Myspace page is now an homage to naked women that surround him at sex parties, while his girlfriend poses topless with body paint and makes out with beach babes that he gropes. They even use her Myspace page as an advertising space for orgies and threesomes. What a man like that ever was doing with someone like me is a total mystery.
But when I moved on from the suave players and sex addicts, I thought I had evolved to higher ground. I began seeing someone with family values, who introduced me to his family from the start and did his part in making my dreams come true. And while I pushed him away for four months, he was relentless and patient, urging me to heal my broken heart and be happy. A friend told me, “You have to be his ‘reach’ girl because no man waits that long unless it’s the girl he really wants.” Yet the moment I became interested, he became shy and backed away. He’d later blame it on liking some other girl who he deemed unattractive, but the funny thing is we both knew it wasn’t the real reason. Like all the men I ever fell for, he was insanely insecure. His intimacy issues so intense that he’d scream when I touched him and wouldn’t remove his clothing, even with the lights out and my insistence. My days of torrid public dalliances were replaced with a man who needn’t touch me to get satisfaction. I was just the face of a porcelain doll and my virtual self, my photos and songs, were enough to satisfy all his sexual urges. Anything more he was incapable of facing.
Lastly, there are the incredibly kind and balanced male friends I have had throughout the years. They stand by my side through every heart-crushing break-up. They suffer meeting these dudes and watching them put me on a pedestal only to watch me come crashing down to reality. And all the time they wonder (some of them eventually ending all contact with me because of these thoughts), “why won’t Michelle just be with me?” I even ask myself, why I won’t possibly consider settling with one of them. But the answer is simple and obvious. I want it all. I want the friendship and passion and consistency and growth. If this comes at the cost of being single forever, then I would rather that than ever settle into something out of convenience.
If life is really about a spirit or soul experiencing the human existence, then I can at least walk out of this life with the certainty that I have attracted the good, the bad, and the indifferent. I’m not sure, however, if I will be able to truthfully answer the question… “Are men necessary?”