Photo: Emily Long
Dating in your late 20s is not like dating in your teens or even early 20s. Everyone expects you to have settled down already, and some look at you as if you are a leper when you mention you are single.
My mom says outrageous things all the time (bless her heart), but a favorite of mine would have to be her stance on marriage: “Listen, you aren’t a complete person without a husband. Everyone needs to get married. That’s just how life works.” And that pretty much sums up what it was like growing up with parents who were constantly mistaken for your grandparents.
“I want someone really hot, Mom. Like gorgeous hot,” I jokingly blurted out when she asked me what I was looking for in a man. My mom doesn’t pick up on any of my jokes, so she’s stern and serious when she says: “No, no, no. You need someone with a good heeaaaaart.”
“Plus you need them to have land and money. That’s most important.” And that’s when her credibility goes out the window.
I’m definitely not adopting my mom’s Victorian-era way of thinking when it comes to choosing a life partner, but I do wonder if she’s on to something with primarily finding a person with a good heart. My ex-boyfriend had the best heart any man could have, so why am I not with him?
It turns out that being a good person and a good lover can be mutually exclusive. After six steady years, I had to admit to myself (and my therapist because she was always prying) that the sex was disappointing. There was no chemistry between us in the bedroom and even after I recovered from my depression and subsequently got my libido back (yay!), our sex life remained the same. Nonexistent. Unsatisfying. Inconsistent.
Growing up in an emotionally-distant and affection-deprived Chinese family structure, sex was considered for procreation only. I never saw my parents hug or kiss or flirt or tease. It was strictly business and money with them. It was difficult for me to admit that my own sex life was unfulfilling because I wasn’t sure what a normal, healthy sex life was. How often do couples have sex? Should you ever have sex if you don’t feel in the mood? What does an orgasm feel like? Has it happened before? Will I ever orgasm? Like ever?
Only one of two things can happen when couples reach a fork in the road. They either get married or break it off. I tell people that I fell out of love and that we wanted different things in the relationship – he to raise a family and me to travel the world and buy expensive things.
These reasons are true, but not the entire truth. Admittedly, it’s horrifying that we weren’t sexually compatible despite having such a close emotional connection. I realized the difference between loving someone and being in love with them. It shattered my heart to tiny little pieces and I don’t think it’ll ever mend itself together again. A small part of me will always belong to him, and I’ll have to learn to function without it.