Can we ever really leave the desire for love and romance behind?
Some time ago I wrote an article for my blog entitled “The Charism of Celibacy: A Personal Reflection.” In this article I reflected on my unsuccessful lifelong pursuit of a partner and the ultimate realization that before even considering taking a partner, I had to first build a beautiful life for myself based on my passion, my talents, and my existing relationships with family and friends. This insight came to me from my work as editor on the book Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends and on many conversations with the author, Kaycee Jane.
I have spent the past few years building that beautiful life — a life of study, reflection, and writing about religion — and I have found the process and the result to be more completely satisfying than any of my previous “lives.”
Just after I started working on Frog or Prince, I ended a relationship that was going nowhere. In “The Charism of Celibacy” I wrote:
“As with most people, I decided after my relationship ended that I did not want to again go through what I had experienced for the previous four years. Of course, many of us sooner or later forget that we made this decision and start searching again, usually getting ourselves into the same kind of relationship we just got out of. After a while, however, and once I found myself firmly on a new path, I recognized that I was no longer feeling the need of a partner. My work and my journey were now my joy; I had, over the period of a few years, gradually created a kind of semi-cloistered monastic existence for myself, which I find satisfying in every way. I have built an office in the garage at the back of our house; this is my ‘cell’, where I work and sleep.”
Two recent “events” have stirred some romantic longings that I thought I had left behind as unnecessary baggage on my journey. The first occurred suddenly and unexpectedly as an emotional and even a physical reaction. When I ended my last relationship with a long letter sent by e-mail (the relationship was long distance), I waited a few days for a reaction or response; receiving none, I blocked him from my MSN Messenger account and removed him from my contact list. Nevertheless, I did miss him terribly for quite some time afterward. A couple of weeks ago, I went on to my Facebook home page and guess whose photo appeared under the rubric “People you may know”? I was floored and have still not recovered. It has taken all of my resolve not to try to contact him.
The second event is much closer to home and has unfolded more gradually. Someone I met in the late summer of last year seems recently to be giving me romantic signals. I say “seems” because I have never spent much time around other gay people, so my “gaydar” is nearly non-functional. This person is much younger than I am, far cuter, and from a different culture, so I am reluctant to respond too directly for fear that I will appear completely ridiculous if I have read the situation incorrectly. Moreover, I do not wish to put him in an uncomfortable position by forcing him to reject any advances I may make.
My reaction to these happenings has caused me to wonder if I have actually been repressing my desire for a partner and if I am not as centered as I thought I was. The test for determining the truth would be, it seems to me, how distracting the events have been and how disappointed I would be if nothing came of them.
There is no question that I have been distracted. I truly loved my last partner and thought that we would be together for life. Perhaps his sudden reappearance on Facebook is a sign that I have not truly transcended that experience. The closer-to-home guy is very attractive both physically and in terms of his personality; he is someone I could easily fall in love with.
And I would be disappointed if neither “event” delivered a man to my bed (on the other hand, my current bed partner, a 60-pound dog named Isabella who does not like to share, would be quite fine with this result).
Despite the distraction and potential disappointment, however, I am greatly comforted to discover — or to reaffirm — that my work is still my first love. No matter how clear a person’s path is there are obstacles that regularly appear and can cause him or her to question the validity of that path. Over the past several years I have had occasion to pose this question; on each occasion the answer has been an unhesitating and unequivocal “Yes!” I thank God that this time is no different.
In “The Charism of Celibacy” I stated:
“Without a partner in it, my life — at this moment — is complete. I do not feel the urge to seek out a relationship. Nevertheless, I am aware that at any time I may meet someone with whom I could make a life. Thanks to Kaycee and Frog or Prince? I will be able to determine without a great deal of difficulty if that man is indeed my Prince. If he is, I would not only be foolish but also sinful to turn him away because he would have been sent to me by God.
We cannot say ‘No’ to God.”
In the meantime, my life is indeed beautiful.
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