Thursday, September 3, 2009

An extended metaphor

I've been steadily replacing old clothes with new ones, getting a tailor to adjust some of the clothes that I do have, and working on posture - basically standing up straight, where I normally slouch - as well as intensifying my gym routines (trying crossfit workouts with a friend who is a personal trainer).

I had a conversation with another friend who just broke up an 8-year relationship. We were talking about the types of women we attract. Longer conversations work in our favour, superficial impressions don't. I believe the pickup slogan is if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always have gotten. If that were true, I wouldn't be changing my behaviour. Because there's a world of difference between doing what you've always done when you're in school - which can end up pretty well - and doing what you've always done when you're a young professional who's never talked to strange women in bars or anywhere else. In school, there are constant contacts with lots of girls who can get to know you and your value organically. Not the case any more. I was trying to think about what I liked and wanted, what I wished I could have, but I had this moment when I realized that my life would be shaped not by what I want but by what I attract.

My personal trainer friend hectored me the other day, he said that I am handsome, successful, kind, even confident - why wasn't I with someone? Or was I? I alluded to the Voice situation and he said I should get out of it and look seriously for something real. I took it to heart, though my feelings for Voice are not so easily dismissed, but I am trying to take a long and more permanent route to it, or so I like to think.

The extended metaphor (which I can thank one of Voice's relatives, who said he'd never consider setting me up because he always sees me "with the fishing rod" and is sure I can "fish for myself") is of fishing. Let's say you want to catch, not a fish to eat, but a rare fish that you want for your one and only fish in your aquarium. There's trying to build the most glorious aquarium possible and ensure your "catch" will be happy (that's trying to be a good person, a good partner, deal with your own issues and insecurities, be positive, be ethical, and get your professional, physical, and financial life in order). Then there's the matter of the fishing rod (pickup skills), the bait (working out, improving your voice and stance and fashion), and discernment (trying to match, as much as possible, what you are catching with what you are seeking). But there's also the pools you're fishing in, which might be the most important question of all (although so might taking the wrong bait to the right pool, or any other number of mismatches that could happen).

One concern I have, having organically met women all my life, made friends of them, and having had some of these friends become lovers, now that I'm not organically meeting very many women, is that going "fishing" on public transit, in malls, or bars, is going to lead to a whole lot of catches that aren't what I want. Maybe these are the wrong pools. I know my first, year-long foray into Lavalife during which I sent out several hundred messages that led to about a dozen dates, five of which led to multiple dates, two of which led to nights together, none of which led to multiple nights together (hopefully more on these adventures later), felt like the wrong pool. But maybe I had the wrong bait. Or maybe the wrong fishing rod. Or maybe I'm not as good in bed as I think I am, having gotten wrong feedback from the women I have been with, even though I never seemed to be able to get to that point with this kind of dating. I do know that I didn't leave these girls wanting more, and so I didn't get the chance to think about whether I wanted them. Neither of which are feelings I'm used to. What I'm used to is comfort, and love, and romance, and depth, and the lavalife months felt like scraps from that table.

It all feels so uncertain sometimes. In the movie Hitch, Will Smith tells one of his clients who is trying to refuse a pair of shoes on the grounds that they don't fit "him", Hitch says: '"You' is a very fluid concept right now. You bought the shoes. You look great in the shoes." On a deep level I know what kind of person I want to be. But on a superficial level, because I want to catch the right person, I am open to being fluid about virtually everything - how I stand, what I wear, my verbal behaviour, the kind of confidence I project. But will changing all these things help me towards my goals, or divert me from them?

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