As a single gal trying to navigate the murky, choppy and sometimes downright disturbing waters of the dating world, I meet my fair share of men. Though I’m not really at a point where I want to commit to anything exclusive, I have made the decision as of late that it might be kind of nice to have someone around on a semi-regular basis to make me laugh and watch a movie with. But my attempts keep getting thwarted by the same pesky problem- I constantly end up in the “Bro Zone.” And I’ve got no one to blame but myself.
I am not a girl’s girl. I curse, I drink, I like Will Ferrell movies, I love greasy, heart attack inducing foods and aggressive, loud music; basically I am a 21 year old frat boy at my core. I also work in an industry that tends to be male dominated so I’m constantly operating on a more masculine mindset out of sheer necessity. But even since I was a kid I’ve always seemed to enjoy the company of men over women. Men are very simple, they’re less dramatic, they’re fairly straightforward about their feelings and they hate over-talking issues to death. Typically if men have a problem they are able to address it and move on, whereas women will passively carry things to their grave sometimes without even saying a word.
While there are definitely perks to having this inside view of the male psyche, there are definitely trappings to the Bro Zone; a land that is somehow less desirable than the Friend Zone in many respects. In the Friend Zone at least you’re still given the courtesy of being acknowledged as female, whereas in the Bro Zone nothing is off limits-burping, farting and practical jokes all-inclusive, even though I do not reciprocate or appreciate the bodily functions. As a strong member of the Bro Zone, I have been gifted with many fun visuals like when one of my customers sent me a photo of his kidney stones, or the time I received a pic of an actual stool sample in a jar. I have also had to learn how to harden myself to brutal honesty and being forced to send texts one question at a time because only one will be answered regardless.
The issue that arises when I meet men is that they connect with me in the same way they connected with their buddies in college and I very quickly get cast into a non-sexual role in their life. I’m super cool to grab beers with but I’m not the first to come to mind when they want someone to snuggle during movies. And this is all my fault. I’ve realized that I developed this projection of hyper-masculinity very early in my childhood as a defense mechanism. Because I was so much bigger than the boys in my classes as a kid, no one ever had crushes on me like the rest of my more petite regular sized friends. But I realized those same boys WOULD hang out with me if I talked to them about the same things they were interested in and acted as their wingman for all my friends, so I was still getting male attention by proxy. It became a way of never getting hurt feelings because I was always just the cool chick who could hang with the guys.
As a grown adult who has endured some pretty traumatic crap in the romance department, this little defense mechanism has evolved into an impenetrable wall guarding any and all vulnerability. I immediately peacock this masculine energy to any man I meet so A) they know I’m not stupid and I can’t be manipulated or fooled by them and B) to cast myself in such an unromantic light no man will so much as attempt a deeper relationship with me, thus protecting me from letting my guard down and being burned again. I self-sabotage so I can just get hurt right away on my own terms and not someone else’s.
The things that have transpired in my relationships have hardened me into a very pessimistic individual. I don’t know that I will ever have another committed relationship. I definitely will never remarry. And the idea of monogamy to me has become a pretty unrealistic standard. But I am human, and as much dude brain that I have going on, I am still very much a woman. I am happy and well-adjusted as an independent female, but from time to time I still crave physical touch. Being wrapped up in someone’s arms and having someone else to share a laugh or good news with is something I think everyone likes. It gets exhausting going through the dating process and finding dud after dud after weirdo. And honestly being single with no one on the inside to share pain or grief with is brutal. It’s not desirable to consider going through something like losing a parent or a health scare without someone on the inside to fight with you every step of the way, even though I know I can and I will do it all on my own.
So what do ya do? As scary as it is for me, in order to even have the possibility of finding someone to share intimacy with, I have to be willing to tear down the walls and actually be…intimate. It will require showing softness and to me that equates to weakness. I honestly don’t even know if I have those qualities within me anymore; perhaps this aggressive, independent, hardened and unbothered woman is just who I am now. And that’s ok too. My best guess is that the real me maybe lies somewhere in between. I would like to take baby steps and see what plays out, because all I know is that the machismo defense is not doing me many favors in the romance department.
I’m not making any promises but I’ll keep you all posted on how it works out.