When You're Too Old to Be Learning to Love

The mundane tale of a woman who hasn't given up yet.

I’m too old to be as bad as I am at relationships. I’m too old to be nervous and anxious and fixated on if he “likes me.” I’m too old to be identifying with memes posted and shared by girls in their high school years. I’m too old to be this afraid of love making.

As time trudges forward and the number of years that I’ve been on this planet continues to increase, I feel more and more ashamed at how bad I am at all of this. Each time the second digit on my age clock rotates one higher, I retreat even more from the dating world as my inexperience becomes more and more shameful. I don’t even want to think about how I will react when the first digit of my age clock rotates me into the next decade.

The path forward is obvious; I need to date more, I need to get better at this. The only thing to combat inexperience is experience. I know that in my head. But my head has a hard time chiseling through those walls around my heart and enlightening it on all the things it has to say about relationships. Each year the wall around the heart gets stronger and the mind doesn’t try as hard to get in. It’s not a good place to be.

I suppose this is the point in life where people begin to “settle.” It’s much easier to navigate a relationship that your heart isn’t in. In fact, your heart can just stay in hiding and you can use all your other assets to attract a mate. The ridiculous thing of it all, though, is that you’re just as able to use those assets even when your heart is free and happy. But goddamn, it’s not as easy as it all sounds.

I’m beyond having “practice” boyfriends. I’m too old for that. Too old to start a relationship I know will never lead anywhere; too uninterested to be involved with someone that doesn’t turn my crank. I suppose this supports the notion that I won’t move into settling phase just yet. The thought of which does offer some optimism into my otherwise dim outlook on dating.

I did date once. I was young. I fell in love; real love. True love. It was the greatest feeling in the world. We broke up because being two young kids in love wasn’t our destiny. I needed to navigate the “real world” for myself first and he needed to explore the country on his own.

The next time I was in a relationship, I didn’t even know it. I was so closed off to the idea that I would date someone that I spent months with a darling man; holding his hand, cuddling up to him to sleep, allowing him into the inner workings of my brain and emotions, all the while having no idea that the physical and emotional intimacy I enjoyed with him was basically synonymous to being in a relationship. I suppose at that time in my life the walls blocking out relationships were built around my mind, but there were a few cracks in the one around my heart.

Currently I’m in the midst of something that I would like to be special. I’ve met a man who I believe could handle my heart and I’d love to see where it goes. It’s moving slowly and I’m realizing that while I’m navigating all of these layers of walls and hearts and minds and figuring out how all this works for me, he’s doing the same. He’s too old to be doing this. He’s too old to be this bad at relationships, to have this many walls around his heart and mind. We’re both too old, but we’re going to try.

I wish this piece could offer some advice to anyone who identifies with any of the words I’ve written. I wish I could end this with the perfect paragraph that flips the mundane tone of this to an inspired one; one that will get your off your phone or computer and motivate you to call that beautiful soul you’ve had your eye on for ages but were too messed up emotionally to pursue any sort of relationship with. I don’t have that ending for you, but somehow as I close this piece I do feel a sense of optimism about the future; albeit a very small one.

So cheers to that. Cheers to you, and to me. I suppose we’ll keep on keeping on perhaps love will find a way.

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When You're Too Old to Be Learning to Love