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Being the unpopular 30-something year old

“It’s not as simple as that.” Or,

“Why does everything have to be so complicated with you? You think too much.”

I hear those words a lot. Mostly from men trying to pursue a steady relationship with me, or the rather unfortunate ones who try to engage me in some form of hurried feral exchange of fluids that’s likely to leave one of us deeply frustrated. So yeah, it definitely deserves to have the ensuing complicated conversation.

See, I was married in my early twenties, and divorced in my late twenties, I’ve pretty much lived forever in a short space of time. Was hurt, blah-blah. But I was also awakened to deep levels of freedom that come with having been on the verge of death, but I chose to hang on because there’s a thought at the back of your head telling you that there’s gotto be more to life than this and you deserve to reach that peak otherwise all that useless pain would be all in vain.

So you keep living, hoping to one day see yourself spread your arms wide open as your life finally hits that proverbial happiness crescendo – a catharsis of sorts, liberating you to positive possibilities that you most definitely deserve. Exhilarating.

The trouble with being in this kind of space is that you soon realize you’re the odd one out. Most people in their thirties have a hunger to settle down, to make something of their lives and establish some much needed stability around them. I achieved all of this by the time I was 25. And then lost it all by the time I was hitting 28. Right now almost everyone around me is rushing to get married, have kids, build a home for their little family. All I want is to have mind blowing sex, make a bit of good money and travel whenever I can afford to. Not in that particular order of course.

So this makes me a different kind of 30 something year female. I’m more patient, more careful, I’m not desperate, neither am I in a rush to remarry. I no longer leave things to chance, especially important life altering things or events. I’m not the ‘let’s wing it’ type of woman. And even though I cannot foresee the future, I would at least like to know that the decisions I’m making right now will not come to bite me in the future.

If I can avoid such a possibility, surely, I’ll take it. I have very specific things in my life that I pursue with a dangerous – thow-caution-to the wind- kind of passion, but the rest of it is usually calculated to cause the least amount of injury as possible. E.g. Romantic Relationships. And that makes me a very complicated and frustrating female for most men. And rightly so.

I remember once going on a date with an old friend who said to me, “Nisha, I’m a man. I like to feel like I’m the one in charge of the relationship but you having been married before sort of makes that impossible. You’re a woman, and you’re experienced in that field while I’m not. I feel like I’ll keep hearing you telling me that you’ve done this before and you’re more experienced in this or that and that will not sit well with me.”

It was a new angle of complication I had not foreseen. I knew being divorced in my society wasn’t going to be easy, but this was someone I had known since I was a teen so I thought things would be a lot easier because we were familiar with each other. Nope.

I had a response at the ready on my tongue, but after a second thought, I pushed it back to my esophagus and instead nonchalantly said, “I totally understand.”

I could tell he was disappointed with my half-baked response, so much so he asked, “is that all you have to say?”

Aaaah, yup!

There was absolutely no need to convince him otherwise. Everything I needed to know about him was summarized in those few words he said. See, while he was trying to make me audition for a role to play in his life, he was oblivious to the fact that in this world I had created for myself after the divorce, he too was subjected to those same auditions. He had inadvertently placed himself in a position of disadvantage by assuming his position in my life was guaranteed, provided I lived up to his expectations. And before he knew it, he had failed, miserably so.

This conversation would have gone a whole lot differently had I met this guy à few years back. Back when I thought I needed to do everything to convince a guy I was good enough for him but not hold him to the same expectations. Unfortunately, I’m surrounded by a lot of women who are in a rush to get married that they’ll accept just about anybody who presents a ring to them. The biological clock is ticking and the panic is getting intense. Everyone around them is getting married, and they also need to asap lest people start thinking they have a problem that makes them ‘unmarriageable’.

And then there’s me. I already have one failed marriage under my belt. I have already experienced both the bliss and doom of marriage. I’ll be damned if I enter into a second one without being fully informed. Where my mates post mêmes about sacrificing their souls to marry men driving Bugattis and Mercedes-Benz, I have cried in the latter and I still preferred taking public transport to that. At 32 years of age, my peers imagine possibilities I have already lived. And I cannot begin to explain to you how messed up that is.

This is why unlike my peers, my conversations with men tend to be too frustrating, or too emotionally demanding. I don’t ask the usual questions. In fact, most women I know don’t even ask any questions! They’ve become so good at answering questions that they’ve nearly perfected the art of being perfect marriage candidates to the most undeserving of men.

I on the other hand, I’m the wicked witch from the South. I come with a past and I demand accountability. I’m really the worst sort of female for little entitled men who are used to having it easy. Even though loneliness scares the ish out of me, I am not afraid of being alone because I know what it feels like to not be alone yet wish with all your might to be anywhere else, but.

A simple “let’s hang out at my place” from a potential one-night-stander doesn’t end with a simple “cool, I’m on my way.” I’m no longer that kind of spontaneous. In my world, the most logical response almost always is, “why? And then what?”

It could be a simple booty call and we both move on after seeing stars. Or it could be the start of a lifelong relationship. Who knows? Thing is, I like to know. Over the years, I’ve learned to pick up lessons even from the most daunting experiences that make me shudder in shame or embarrassment when I think back on them. One of such lessons is that if the sex is great, human nature demands repeat performance, over and over again. Which begs the inference: if they’re so sure its only going to be a once off experience, then they must really suck at it! So why should I waste my precious five seconds? Second lesson is that most often than not, when someone has experienced great sex with someone, they tend to confuse their feelings with love.

Soon enough, what had started off as a no strings attached arrangement develops into a complicated web of unfulfilled or unmet expectations. Later resentment. Especially in the eventuality that one party has the misfortune of catching feelings that the other party successfully dodged. The thing about experiencing certain types of pain in life is that you learn to compartmentalize. You become a pro at protecting yourself from hurt or disappointment. So really, for you, a booty call is just that, à booty call. Unfortunately, not so much for others.

So the next time someone says let’s hang out at my place at 8 in the evening, you’ll find yourself asking, “why”, because if you don’t ask, two weeks later, you’ll be the “heartless bitch with no soul.” Imagine, no soul. 😂 You ask questions, not because you don’t already know the answers. The problem is you do, but you need them to acknowledge in voice exactly what terms they’re presenting to you and themselves. Because you know what its like to be hurt and you would like to protect them from that. Unfortunately, verbal communication opens doors to more questions. And people would rather avoid that.

It’s just a shag, what’s the big deal they say. The big deal is I’m 32 years old. See, if I’m gonna make another human being responsible for my orgasm, they’re gonna have to give me more than just a shag. I have an opposable thumb for that.

So maybe the gentleman friend of mine with control issues was right to have certain concerns. The challenges he is likely to have with someone like me would be different from those he would face with someone who’s never been married before. But who’s to say that’s a good or bad thing? Nature demands that we learn from our experiences, the good, the bad. I can’t pretend to be fresh off the market simply because I’m afraid I might mess up someone’s fragile ego.

This is the thing I like about being the odd 30-something year old – knowing exactly what I want that when I meet something that doesn’t fall in that category, I know not to waste my time or their time experimenting on possibilities. Of course I’m aware of the limiting factor in taking such a stance. The paradox here is that, this is also the one thing I hate about myself. Being too guarded or too careful. It delays the fun… And the happiness.

Fortunately for me, I happen to be a crazy romantic who believes that if something was meant to be, it will happen no matter what. Of course sometimes it takes forever and you die. But nobody said life was meant to be easy now, did they? 😀