In my short time on this Earth, I have always played by the rules. In school, I received perfect attendance awards; in life, I always colored between the lines. Good daughter, loyal friend. But I find myself at an interesting crossroads in my current status as a single 31-year-old. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed a pattern among the men I have found myself attracted to: married, separated, living with girlfriend. Why am I drawn to men who are emotionally and physically unavailable to me? I’m sure there are some psych majors out there who can shed some light on this (I‘m hoping this is actually a common phenomenon and I‘m not the next Angelina). Is it the thrill of the chase I‘m attracted to? Or the fact that these relationships pose such interesting challenges? Do I go for men who can’t commit because it’ll make me feel better when a relationship doesn’t work? I wonder.
These aren‘t just any men. For the most part, I knew them before they had significant others and have formed good, lasting friendships with them over the years. I spoke to them while I dated Jackson though our interactions were brief, polite, and benign. When I broke up with the ex, I found myself thinking about them and wondering how they were doing. I didn’t call them with the intention of whisking them away from their current relationships, but feelings resurfaced and sexual tension crept into the room like a strange–but not unwelcome–visitor. But now there were other women in the picture.
Out recently at a dive bar in Hoboken, I had to resist the urge to reach over and kiss the aforementioned living-with-his-girlfriend friend after one captain-and-coke too many. I don’t know if it’s because we know each other so well and I feel comfortable in his presence or because he had just confided over a few beers that he thinks I’m sexy and has had a crush on me for years, but IT was there. After feeling deprived of basic human desires for so long, it felt damn good to hear those words from someone I’m both physically and emotionally attracted to.
Even still, I’m not sure I would like this version of myself if I were to meet her at a bar and I would certainly not introduce her to my boyfriend. I’m disappointed in her. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can simply flip the switch. She wants to flirt back.
I realize these patterns are destructive and I would never condone this type of behavior. I just hope I can return to a simpler time when I didn’t feel overwhelming guilt at the sight of a crush.