I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I have been in some form of a romantic relationship for the majority of my life. It began in 8th grade when I learned that there were women out there that didn’t always go for the hottest and most popular guys, which was a relief for a kid with terminally bad hair because it gave me a shot at actually making out with someone. And I still recall that day I had “the talk” with Jenny. It was over the phone and my heart was in my throat and I couldn’t believe that she was willing to call me her “boyfriend” in public. I loved the feeling of being someone’s something. It was a completely foreign warmth that spilled over me knowing that there was a girl who liked me so much that she was willing to potentially embarrass herself with me on her arm. And as the years progressed and the women on my arm changed, I still liked those feelings. That warmth.
It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I came up for air and looked around. I had seriously dated about a dozen women and suddenly I had found myself without a someone. It was like I had been in a haze of committed relationships and suddenly I found myself alone. So I told my friends I would try and be single for at least six months, and I didn’t even make that. They snickered and busted my balls and called me a “serial monogamist.” I defended myself by either accusing them of being jealous or that I couldn’t help the fact that I kept finding amazing women to date.
While I may have dated some amazing women along the way, the truth was, I simply felt more comfortable with a someone. When I think of these women that shared my bed and my life for months or years, I don’t think of the sex or how physically attractive they were – I think of baking a ham with Kate, or surprising Lindsie with four foot pizza just because I wanted to see the look of surprise when it came through the door. I think of stealing punk rock cassette tapes at the mall with Rachael and I think of making music videos with Andrea. I think of them because they were amazing friends. I think of what they brought to my life. And most of all, I think of their influence on who I have become.
We are all a collection of the people that have come through our life. Beginning with our family, we take on the habits, good and bad, of our parents. Some we fight the rest of our lives to eradicate. And as we grow older, we begin to pick our people. Our friends, our social circles. And as we grow into adulthood, our social circles begin to grow smaller and in turn, we spend more time with those which we are romantically involved. And whether we are six, 16, or 60 – the people we surround ourselves with will continually have an impact on who we are, how we behave, and the direction we are headed.
Look, I don’t need to tell you that if you constantly hang out with negative and pessimistic people that eventually, some of that negativity will rub off on you. The way you begin to pick up words and phrases from the people you see often goes the same with their attitudes and their general attitude. Whether we like it or not, we all infect each other. We are all inadvertent parasites, soaking up the closest behaviors people spill around us.
It’s been a while since my 20’s. I went to school and dropped out. I joined a band and toured and we broke up and I changed careers and I traveled and ate awful pizza in beautiful countries and I slowly gained the confidence to confront some of the most terrifying demons of my past. And while I evolved, the faces of the women on my arm did as well. Some tried to help even when they couldn’t understand. Some just held my hand in silence. And some were so self-absorbed that they didn’t even bother asking about my struggles in the first place. People are people, no one is perfect, and no one will ever love you exactly the way you want them to. But what I realized is the someone on your arm has a lot more influence over your life than you might realize. Even if it is just months of hanging out on a couch and walking to the store to buy groceries, they will constantly be infecting you with their attitude and outlook. Good and bad, you will feed off of them no matter how confident and self-assured you like to believe you have become.
It took me decades to realize that allowing myself to simply be someone’s someone was significantly more important or detrimental to my growth or lack thereof. While I flippantly allowed a revolving door of women though my life because they were funny, or sexy, or because I was lonely – well, it was thoughtless and reckless. Looking back, I can see how each person left a mark on me. Some good, some bad, and again, some I am continuing to fight to eradicate.
We are all adults and can date whomever and however we choose. Our journey is just that – ours to learn from or fuck up. To enrich our lives or to drag us down. But again, that is our choice. And the friends, the co-workers, the social circles, and the someones on our arm will have a direct influence on our confidence, our demeanor, and even our self-perception.
But more importantly, you will infect every person that allows you on their arm. Good and bad. And at the end of the day, your character will be judged upon what you put back into the world. Despite who infected you in the past.