I Have Bad Taste in Men – By Lydian Shipp
Guanajuato Mexico North America

I Have Bad Taste in Men – By Lydian Shipp

The ever-changing landscape of which boys I like and why is a constant source of excitement, terror, and doubt for me all at the same time. Up until relatively recently, I’d say that one of my primary criteria for boys was appearance; I particularly liked Nordic guys (or the ones who looked Nordic, anyway). And although I can’t say that I’m not attracted to the whole tall-blonde-blue-eyed thing anymore, I can say that I’m looking at other traits a little more closely now too, like, y’know, personality and stuff.

But, sadly, as before I got stuck on one particular look, now I seem to be getting caught up in one particular trait. The one particular trait varies though. Right now I’m picking out the guys that I like based off of one behavior or quality that I find attractive. For example, maybe I like one guy because he’s a good performer… but he’s also totally a partier. But, for whatever reason I still find him attractive. Which, although this behavior is technically a “step up” (at least I am looking at personality qualities), it’s not exactly ideal. I’m not sure what is ideal though, in terms of how to be attracted to a guy or whatever. Technically I suppose there isn’t an ideal way, everyone has their own “style,” but… it seems like there probably is a general way of looking at attraction that’s healthier than other ways.

From my current vantage point, it seems to me that it does make sense that a person (me, in this case) would notice one particular quality in a guy and that this quality would spark the interest. And then you’d learn more about them and decide if you like them. So that’s fine I think. But…

What if I like a few of the qualities that the guy has but I know he drinks sometimes? Is occasional drinking okay with me? Yes? No? Maybe? What if the person I marry someday likes to have a beer every once and a while? I don’t think I’d like that, but… maybe I could come terms with it? What if the guy I’m attracted to has a job where he has to travel a ton? Is that okay?

Boys, boys everywhere… I thought this one in Egypt was kinda cute. Is an Egyptian boy a good choice or a bad choice? I don’t know… and maybe it doesn’t ultimately matter.

What if I am not interested in a guy but my parents think that he’s interesting, kind, and would be a good fit for me? Does the fact that I’m not interested in someone my parents picked out mean that there’s something wrong with my Picker or does it just mean that I’m seeing something they’re not? (For the record, I’ve learned to trust my gut on this after a few experiences with this. My mom brought me a boy in Tijuana last year after he told her that he “had trouble talking to pretty girls” and although he seemed nice enough, sweet even, I couldn’t bring myself to like him. I later found out he had a girlfriend. Both my mom and I were duped on that one.)

What if I go through a phase where I only look at one trait for a while instead of the whole picture? Can I be okay with that? What if I know that I’ve got this behavior but can’t seem to overcome it for a year or two (or three or more) by fault of brain chemistry or something? Is that acceptable?

In reality, I know I need to just go out and meet people. People in general. Not just boys, not just girls, both, and in various settings. I’ll figure it out I’m sure… or not. But what if I never “figure it out?” What if I never figure it out well enough to find a decent, respectable man to marry and have kids with? I don’t even really want to look at that last possibility head on because I want to get married someday, and I’ve wanted to since I was… well, since I popped out of the womb pretty much. But, eventually I really ought to to stare the reality of maybe never “figuring it out” in the face.

I don’t necessarily think I won’t ever get married. But, even as I write that sentence, a little voice in my head pipes up, “but you don’t know that you will get married, and you might not.” I also can’t help but notice how I phrased the thought; why is the first sentence of this paragraph framed out with double negatives? Why isn’t the thought, “I think I will get married” instead of what I have written up there? Doubt. That’s why. I don’t want to say to myself with confidence that I think I will get married, and that I will be able to effectively manage my relationships with my spouse, my future children, and everyone around me (family or otherwise). Because I don’t know that I will. I mean, I’m still here right now at age 18, and the idea of going out with a group of people I’m relatively unfamiliar with (and doing it all in Spanish, though that’s a different discussion) gives me anxiety. I’m going out clubbing tonight anyway for the first time though… everyone else does this sort of thing, I’m not planning on drinking, and the people I’m going with seem okay enough to me, so why the hell not go? But… if I have anxiety even about this, how could I possibly work with something like marriage?

Maybe I can’t handle it. Maybe I can. I don’t know.

Every time I go over the whole “soulmate/marriage” rhetoric in my mind, the possibility of marriage and “settling down” starts to seem less and less likely. Especially when I look at myself and my People Behaviors. I have a tendency to be somewhat reclusive and withdrawn, I can be highly critical (sometimes judgmental, though I’m working on it) of other people, and I can be really hard on people for the littlest things. And, I’m hard on myself and judgmental/critical of myself too (which could be either the cause of the aforementioned People Behaviors or a result of them… possibly both). Of course I have other positive thoughts to balance out my harsh criticisms and judgments. The positive thoughts are there. But I’ve let my other more negative, imbalanced thoughts have the floor so much in the recent months and years that it’s become the norm in my brain instead of the exception.

I’d like to defend myself for my People Behaviors. But… I can’t really defend myself. I could argue that there’s a reason for them, and that they serve a purpose in some situations (which isn’t entirely untrue), or I could say that they’re part of a greater whole of my personality that I’m discovering (also technically not a total lie). However, despite the fact that these two statements are true, I can’t deny that my People Behaviors are still pretty firmly in place. I’ve socially shaken things up a bit, I don’t think I’ve even been home in the evenings for about 2 weeks now (I’ve eaten dinner pretty much every night at around 9 o’clock), and I’ve made some gestures toward working through my thoughts (like writing) to help myself unearth some insights.

But here I am, afraid of going out and doing what the rest of the people my age are doing. And why? Because it’s new? God, I’ve grown up doing things like going into the orange zone in Tunisia and hiking from one end of Kathmandu to the other… and what about that time we went into the White Desert in Egypt with minimal Arabic skills when it was illegal for us to go there (our drivers talked to each other about the shoratee, police, the entire trip)? And I’m sitting here this morning, concerned about being tired going out late tonight, and scared that maybe something will happen.

Generally, having anxiety about something and being a little scared to go do it (not because it’s actually dangerous, of course) makes the activity a good thing to go do. Who knows. Maybe something will happen.

As I’m writing this, I’m holding back. I don’t want to put down all my thoughts right now because I don’t think they’re fully formed yet. And, I’m sort of embarrassed of myself… but maybe I shouldn’t be. Seriously, what 18-year-old has “good” or “excellent” taste in men anyway? And, I don’t know any person my age who has much of anything “figured out” yet. I know a few who think they do, but none that actually do (myself included). So maybe I have iffy taste in men right now, and maybe I’m totally spinning my wheels, flailing around, wasting my time with some stuff. Who cares?

I can forgive myself for not knowing what I’m doing. I can forgive myself for being attracted to boys that aren’t necessarily Marriage Material. I can accept that I enjoy being at home with my family, but I also can accept that I could enjoy going out on the town late at night with a group of young people. I have to have all these experiences. And it all feels like total craziness, even if it doesn’t look like craziness to everyone else. But that’s okay. I’ll get where I’m going eventually, and if it takes me more or less time, then so be it. After all, I believe we have an infinite amount of time to do what we need to do. I also strongly believe that the journey is often more important than the destination.

So I’m going to go on my journey (and I’ll try not to think too much about the destination).

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