So what does an ambitious emerging artist, a 28-year-old woman, do when she finds herself in a relationship with the man who meets all the criteria on her Lavalife list of love, a man with whom she can dance, laugh, share a similar past and have a vision of the future? Someone who shares all of her leisure and intellectual interests? Someone she's intensely attracted to? She dumps him.
Let me redeem myself with an explanation.
I'd like to say that my charming ways, stunning beauty and naive sense of adventure are the reasons I've never been single for longer than a month since I lost my virginity at 15. But there's nothing glamorous about jumping from relationship to relationship.
I was beginning to think my name was "girlfriend." As each ended and a new one began, I kept ignoring the pestering voice whispering something about self, identity and personal exploration.
The magical forces of the universe persistently delivered boys who matched my emotional state at the time, and sometimes I just went with what felt good.
When I was seeking companionship and someone to protect me, Hank showed up with a fighting spirit. When I wanted to become more politically active and intellectually stimulated, Fred the activist entered.
When I needed gentleness and nurturing, Dan was there to wrap his arms around me and tell me how much he appreciated me. Then, shortly after Dan, Max appeared.
Max is eight years older than me, accomplished in academia, art and writing, fluent in a second language while working on a couple of others. Yes, Max is the super-genius type-A personality.
Given this description, you'd think he'd lack passion. No, he's quite the spontaneous being. We dressed each other up, made out in back alleys, got lost in our kisses amongst musty bookshelves and fantasized about subverting the world with our endless displays of affection.
But after six months of hedonistic fun, insecurity and possessiveness began to grip me. I became increasingly scatterbrained, passive during sex and obsessed by what Max thought of me. I worried that he would leave me for a successful novelist who had the money for world travel and a talent for languages.
Since Max showed no interest in anyone else or infer that I was not capable or smart, it was clear to me that I was insecure about my own life achievements and direction.
Besides, there were two things I couldn't ignore: 1) I have been in relationships for over 13 years, and quite frankly, I was getting tired of the words "love" and "relationship," and 2) I had low self-esteem.
Being with Max triggered this realization. He had already accomplished my yet-to-be-realized dreams. It seemed that even if we worked through my issues, he would always be the father figure imparting wisdom, while I was the young grasshopper always playing catch-up.
My friend Sam insightfully suggested I seek out men more like the person I want to become, and my ex Fred told me to stop competing with my lovers.
Their advice assumes I am a girl who seeks out partners to elevate her rather than believing she can do it for herself.
Clearly, it was time for me to go back to Feminism 101 (a class I never actually took) and learn about women's tendency to seek male approval and attention, use sex as to access intellectual development and get caught in the pattern of always needing a man.
I told Max my reasons for leaving him: I have yet to reach my creative and intellectual potential; his accomplishments intimidate and debilitate me; I need to do it for the sake of my sense of self and artistic voice.
He said, "Well, that makes me love you even more."
I wish I could tell him to wait for me, but that would be unfair. Who knows what will transpire in this next phase of my life?
I could very well discover that I want to be an independent woman or that I need to be with someone who's the exact opposite of Max. The heartbreaking moment could be that I discover Max is the one for me four minutes after he weds someone else.
But I'm willing to take this risk. I'm seeking out the wisdom of my foremothers through books and chats with my mom and grandma. In one of my desperate moments, I Google-searched "self-esteem women" and stumbled on a book called Revolution From Within, by Gloria Steinem. Wouldn't you know, all my feelings of inferiority are addressed in those pages.
Now, more than ever, I'm determined to build up my confidence, explore my mind and walk my own path. Just the other morning, I looked over at the empty side of my bed and noticed my thick Oxford dictionary lying next to me. I picked it up and hugged it. It felt so damn good.