All Romances are Fleeting and That’s Okay

I spent the weekend at Holiday Inn & Suites in Makati, hoping to “get away from it all.” It was a relaxing two-night stay, one where I spent most of my time shopping in the neighboring malls, watching TV, reading, and eating the delicacies they sent up to welcome me. Even if I was there as a guest and not a writer, everyone was friendly and accommodating. I loved it.

During my stay, I casually opened Grindr to check the carnal delicacies on offer. I’m a passive Grindr user who never replies to any of the messages, but I had the room to myself and I was horny.

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The Value of the Small Gesture

When it comes to matters of the heart, we were raised to think that the grander the gesture, the truer the love. The belief seems to stem from cinema, where we watched leading men publicly profess their love by singing a song on the bleachers, kissing the girl at a school sports game, or playing music over a boombox hoisted over one’s head. In real life, we’ve seen countless viral videos of flash mob proposals, each one more outlandish than the last.

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The last of my self-esteem.

Last week, my self-esteem took a nose-dive when something I expected didn’t end up the way I wanted. A friend introduced me to one of her friends and we completely hit it off, until we met and he decided to just be friends. I had hoped it would turn into something deeper but alas, it was not meant to be. Ironically, we deluded ourselves into thinking that it was meant to be, after the unusual circumstances that brought us together.

What made this experience twice as hurtful was the fact that the last few guys I went out with didn’t really last, for one reason or another. Somehow every one of them became ‘just a friend.’ I think what’s worse than simply being friendzoned is being friendzoned after dating. And let me say that I went out with a lot of guys since my last relationship in 2010.
I’m not sure if my long state of singlehood has left me unable to live up to the ‘boyfriend role.’ I probably have forgotten The Rules of Dating. Whatever the case, my failed romances left my ego in a battered state. I felt fat, ugly, and unlovable. I felt like there was something wrong with me to drive all these guys away. It made me remember all those first-dates that didn’t follow through. I wondered, am I ugly? Do I have a terrible personality?
I had a great childhood, but I wasn’t exactly flowing with self-esteem. I had a weight problem that led to an eating disorder (210 lbs. to 140 lbs.), kids in my class bullied me for being effeminate, and I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was quiet and painfully shy, so I spent my time reading books in seclusion. I even tried my hand at writing, when in the fifth grade, I finished a screenplay of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. I developed a more loquacious personality as I grew older, which resulted in my polar interests of literature and fashion, writing and partying. Until now I equally enjoy living it up with friends and also staying home to read books and watch films.

But no matter how much I accomplish, I still feel like I am that young overweight boy, sitting alone in the corner and being called gay. I guess I’m still living by the anorexic’s code: I will never be thin enough. Whatever I do will never be good enough. I think the reason why I’m cooking up so many projects is so that I can validate myself, to fill that emptiness inside. I’m more confident now, but there is that nagging feeling of inferiority.

My failure to develop a romantic relationship couldn’t come at a worse time because I feel like I am ready to enter one now. Strangely, I’m also not sure if I am ready for one, because I have an irrational fear of commitment. I cringe whenever someone becomes too clingy. I freak out when a guy gets too comfortable around my personal space. A guy had to sleep over my house one night and I had an internal meltdown because we had to sleep on the same bed. Then there is my inability to reveal myself, to talk about my emotions and open up about what I’m really thinking.

I think my ennui stems from feeling lonely. I have spent enough time to be alone and discover myself. I think the culmination of this reflection is my solo trip to Hong Kong where I was forced to face all my inner demons and internal struggles. I have experienced the joys and sorrows of being alone, and while I can be alone, I think it’s time for me to share a part of my life with another person. I believe I have it all: great friends, a loving family, a successful career. But why do I feel incomplete?

Instead of having a solo pity party, I decided to act upon my insecurities and improve myself. I realized that I can’t waste my life asking why men don’t love me. I can’t just say ‘Well, this is what life gave me.’ I have to constantly change and be a better version of myself. And as for the things I can’t change, I just have to live with it and hope the world finds it tolerable, if not endearing.

Weight has been a lifelong issue so my first step has been to enroll at a gym. I just had my first week and I feel great. I learned that the whole world is a mess and the least I can do is dress my mess up. Granted, a fit body won’t necessarily fill the void inside me, but at least I’ll look great. And speaking of self-esteem, I’m finding it dangerous to let my entire core be rocked by a dry (and long) spell.

Finally, I believe that I will meet someone who can change all that, who can gracefully tread around my idiosyncrasies and make me forget my issues of trust, intimacy, and commitment. This is the right time. I just have to find the right man. Until then, I’ll be preparing the best version of myself, with my sanity, my self-esteem, and hopefully, my fit body intact.

The five guys we date.

My relationship with men is complicated. While I love the idea of a hot, muscular, and intelligent guy sweeping me off my feet, their hang-ups – being needy, clingy, controlling – are enough to drive me away. Oftentimes I find myself thinking of giving up on men, but whenever I see someone gorgeous, I want to scream, “Why can’t I quit you?

But then again, you can’t always have your cake and eat it, too. It’s like finding a Margiela that fits you in an ukay – the thought is delicious, yet almost impossible. With guys, there always has to be that one flaw, that dealbreaker.
Now, it’s easy when those dealbreakers are traits: they have a terrible personality. They are bad in bed. They have mommy issues. We all have them and hey, we just have to accept it. But what about chemistry? That thing that can be felt but can’t be explained.

I’m slowly being re-introduced to the whole chemistry thing because I started dating again this year. Allow me to channel Jourdan Miller from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 and reiterate that I haven’t had a boyfriend in three years so I’m a bit rusty when it comes to dating.

I haven’t had the time to date because of my many projects (another Jourdan moment, sorry). This year I went out with only two guys (a far cry from my previous years, when I would date two guys a month on average). I guess I did some growing over the past few months and now I’m ready to open myself up to a romantic possibility. I credit my solo trip to Hong Kong as a cathartic experience.

As I start opening myself up again, I need a refresher on the dynamics of the dating scene. Below are some of the guys I encountered during my colorful past as a a serial dater and who I’m sure I will encounter again:

1. That guy you’re sexually attracted to, but that’s it. You know how you’d see a person and just know – without a doubt that they are a monster in bed and would make you see clouds after each orgasm? And yet no matter how good the sex, no matter the sexual chemistry, there’s nothing beyond it. After a mindblowing fuckathon, you want to kick them out of your house so you can have that post-coital book-reading. Or in this age, post-coital tweeting. 
I’ve had my fair share of them, those guys you’d hook up with and have no interest in seeing outside the bedroom. This idea works only if the situation is clear that this is only a one night thing. Unfortunately, only a few such guys exist, and many continue reaching out, in the hope that a fling could turn into a relationship. No.

2. That guy you enjoy going out with, yet have no feelings of lust for. These are the guys you take everywhere. You have similar interests, are on the same wavelength, and they can tolerate all your hangups and flaws. You enjoy their company, and you genuinely like them, but the thought of having sex with them makes you cringe. I personally think that sexual chemistry is just as important as spiritual chemistry because what else is there to do when you find yourselves alone, at home, and in bed?

3. That guy you enjoy hanging out with, having sex with, and everything in between, but you have no desire to be in a relationship with. For me, these are the guys you can invite over for a passionate tryst and still have the desire to talk to after. Granted, most of our dates were spent in bed, and we have never gone out, but there is a special bond between us strengthened by the spiritual act of sex. I’m not sure how it’ll fly if we actually go out, and I’m not sure I’d recognize them in broad daylight – or with their clothes on.

4. That guy you take out to give your ego a boost. I don’t have guys like these, but I can imagine some people having someone they can go out with if their self-esteem needs a boost. I’d rather boost my ego doing something else (like saying something witty on Twitter or announcing on Grindr that I’m looking for sex and seeing how many people will respond), but if that’s how other people nurse their wounded egos, then so be it. They better be prepared for the consequences, though.

5. That guy you like, but who doesn’t like you back. Tough luck. Hey, we can’t always get what we want. It’s all a matter of personal taste and if they don’t dig you, you have to respect their decision and back away. It takes a big man to admit defeat and if you can do this, it means you’re emotionally mature. Real life doesn’t work the same way in movies where you end up with your first love. You will not always get the girl. This is a heartbreaking experience but to be fair, you don’t always like the people who like you.

5. That guy you actually, truly like, the one you would like get jiggy with, and share the most mundane, carnal, and sacred moments with. And who wants the same thing from you. The feeling when the person you like likes you back is something that can only be described as magical. Enough said.

I’m not seeing anyone right now but I’m okay. As the postmodern philosopher Swedish House Mafia once said, “don’t you worry, child, heaven’s got a plan for you.” In the meantime, I just have to put my game face on and face the world. And if it doesn’t work out, I just have to cry it out, wash my face, and say “next.”

Why I think the single, fabulous you is bullshit

I have been single for almost three years.

It used to not bother me, but as old age is creeping in, I am beginning to notice the signs of depressive singledom. It used to be little; I would miss having someone listen to me even if he didn’t want to, someone I could confide my murderous thoughts, and of course, the regular sex. Then it just became an unrelenting sense of loneliness and jealousy as Valentine’s came knocking.

Valentine’s. It’s funny how as a poster child for promiscuity, I’ve never had an actual Valentine. Sure, I’ve received flowers and expensive gifts on regular days and going out on dates is very frequent. People assume I score guys because of my terrific personality (which I don’t contest), but I believe it’s because I have a steady supply of chloroform and silk scarves. But for some reason, I always found myself alone on the wretched day of hearts and this year won’t be different.

It used to not bother me, but my growing melancholia has magnified the universe’s attempt to make me suffer as the people around me go on dates and eat each other alive in public. It sounds very narcissistic to assume that the universe would focus its attention to torturing me, but it’s depressing the shit out of me.

I have been single for almost three years. That’s roughly around the time I graduated from school. I had this theory that once I get out of college, I’d be single for a long while. I would be too busy with my career to focus on a boyfriend, who I felt would just drag me down. I thought of the world as my oyster, and I intended to make the most out of it.

My career flourished and I slowly lost interest in having a relationship. I think I even lost the ability to have actual emotions because I could not relate to any of those tragic films/songs/books/TV shows. I couldn’t understand what Adele was singing and though I got what she was trying to say, I couldn’t relate. At all. I was happy. I had a stable career. I had an active social life. I did not deny myself anything, I bought everything the hell I wanted.

Chalk it up to quarter-life crisis, but I became unsatisfied with my life. Suddenly I had no idea what I was doing or where I was headed. Even while I was surrounded by so many people, I felt so alone. I began questioning my decisions and my very existence. Was I really happy? What is happening to my life? Then my “depression” began.

It’s not really depression, but I knew I was heading there if I didn’t do something. To be quite honest, I’ve had this feeling for quite some time. And by some time, I mean years. I don’t want to call it suicidal tendencies, but I felt very tired of life and all its complexities. I have so many insecurities that I was certain I would either die of stress…. or suicide. Fortunately, I’ve gotten rid of those disturbing thoughts but those feelings of loneliness are still there.

And then I realized that this choice is a conscious one. Or an unconscious one. Either way, it is a choice. I’ve lost the ability to trust people, and while I can clearly remember who did this and why it happened, I chose to distance myself from people and live in voluntary seclusion.

I have it all. Except human connection. I realized that to be truly happy, I needed to connect emotionally to my friends and family. I realized that financial stability and a successful career does not equate a happy life. What’s the point of being on top if you have no one to share it with? And more importantly, who do you drink with when you’re at the lowest point?

One night, I decided to invite Nikko and Jan to my house for dinner. There, I began the daunting task of sharing my feelings, and happily, they weren’t overwhelmed with three years worth of pent-up emotions. It felt really good, and I felt lighter. More importantly, I felt happier.

I promised myself that I will open up more, take more risks, and start trusting people. The only reason I’ve been successful is because I’ve been playing it safe. It’s about time that I put myself out there to experience hurt, pain, and rejection. A life half-lived is as bad as a life not lived at all, and I want to feel everything life has to offer, from the good to the bad.

Some people may say that you don’t need relationships. They say that you can be your single, fabulous self and lead a successful career and have girlfriends and you will never be unhappy. I agree. I have some of the best friends in the world who get me and can tolerate all my political and sexual incorrectness. Same goes with my family, who accept me and love me even if I haven’t showered in days. But friendship and familial ties can only go so far, what with their own personal relationships and awkwardness in discussing your sex life with your mother. There is a deeper security and intimacy, not necessarily sexual, that you can get from a boyfriend.

Like all my past Valentine’s, I didn’t have a date, but I did spend the night with someone. Not someone I particularly cared for, but a guy whose face was enough for me to forget my neuroses. It was a one-night stand and the feeling of being wanted, lusted after, made me feel infinitely better.

I feel that I am now ready for a relationship. I’ve done my experimentation and while I’m not closing off the idea of one-night stands, I’m ready to face life with a partner. I hope this doesn’t come off as desperate. I wouldn’t be one of those guys who would literally pounce at the next guy who shows interest, liking the idea of having a boyfriend more than the boyfriend. Just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean my milkshake stopped bringing the boys to the yard, honey.

‘Cause you gotta have faith

I got to talking to a good friend about faith. I invited him over for dinner earlier this week because we haven’t seen each other in a while. Over pasta, I told him of my most recent conquest which ended in failure. He consoled me and I told him I’d bounce back, saying I’m not the type of guy who dwells on mistakes. I’m cutthroat with everything and I pride myself for being “professional.” It backfired this time but I’m saving that for another entry.
“True,” he said. “Plus you won’t have a hard time finding dates because you’re always out.”
I suppose that’s true. I have a lot of friends and I meet many more because of my involvement in school and the amount of time I spend online and in parties. I’m generally a friendly person so my amiability is sometimes misconstrued for outright flirtation. I get into a lot of trouble because of that. Sometimes it gets me dates.
“I bet you were dating other guys while you were dating him,” he said.
I laughed and said no. I may be a “flirt” but when I meet someone I like, I’m loyal. Dating is like a commitment to me. What he said struck me as funny because he wasn’t exactly the poster child for fidelity. He had a girlfriend but he was seeing someone else at the side. He proceeded to tell me about them and I wondered, why do people have affairs?
I’ve met both girls and they’re lovely. His first (and legal) girlfriend is a licensed counselor at a university in Manila and is beautiful, successful, and financially stable. I’ve known her before they got together and she’s great. His second girlfriend is his co-worker, who is just as charming. I’ve met her on several occasions and she’s funny and easygoing.
Why cheat? His girlfriend is a mature and intelligent woman who has it all. Is it a need to conquer new grounds? Is it a natural instinct to find someone more beautiful, more intelligent? We’ve heard of celebrity bombshells who were dumped by their partners. Hello, Jennifer Aniston?
I think it’s a desire for us to have the best all the time. Once we tire of something, we look for something more exciting. In a sense, we are just like kids. We always want what we don’t have.
My friend and I met again for drinks days later with some of our other friends. Earlier that day, he was with his second girlfriend and the first kept texting us asking of his whereabouts. That’s why I don’t like having affairs: I don’t have the time and the energy to entertain two or more guys. He got into a huge argument and we decided to drive to Tagaytay to cool off.
On the way (we got into a little accident but I’m also saving that for another entry), he told us about his first girlfriend. She wasn’t there emotionally and they fought all the time and she could be tactless. I didn’t mind because I didn’t want to interfere with their relationship but he was fed up.
And then I realized why we have affairs. It’s not because there’s a higher mountain to climb or an even more beautiful city to explore (although that could be the case), but because there’s something missing in our relationship which we try to get from other people. I mentally googled my friend’s second girlfriend: she was caring, she knew how to listen, and she was sensitive to his needs. No wonder.
The problem is, we can’t get everything we want from one partner. But I guess it’s just a question of finding the right one who can give us the most of what we want and to just forget the rest and accept our partner’s imperfections.

You gotta have faith [or else George Michael will get you]

I believe in the Marquis de Sade when he said that faith is for the weak, the last hope of the hopeless, when all its rational forms have flown out the window and all you have left are metaphysical, often mystical ideals.

I was pretty much surprised that after the train wreck that happened, I came out unscathed. I half-expected that I would end up like what happened after Q, but on the contrary, I was fine. When Q [who as my friends know is my first love] and I called it quits, everything changed. My grades dropped like the Little Boy over Hiroshima, my usual enthusiasm for life dwindled away, and get this, I even contemplated suicide. How pathetic was that? Aware of an impending and twice as horrible a wreck, I was worried because it was a couple of weeks away from the prelims and I was scared of failing the exams. It may surprise you, but I put a high value on my education. I may appear lax, but when it comes to my grades, it’s no laughing matter. How the hell am I supposed to buy dirty martinis without a high-paying job somewhere in the south of France?

Turns out, I did well. I did have a hard time in my Social Psychology exam, but I’m sure I could somehow scrape a passing grade. I wasn’t able to get all my results, but I am proud to say that I got a 92% in my Statistics [scoring the second highest – grr, Laura], and a 96% in my Theories of Personality, scoring the highest in my class. Needless to say, I went home straightaway to brag to my mom that my brother isn’t the only smart one in the family.

In spite of my academic success, I must say I am lonely. Living in singelity [sic] takes a lot of getting used to, and I do miss the company, the adoration, and the non-judgemental ears that go with the boyfriend package. Don’t get me wrong, I’m over A, but he’s still on my mind, occupying a cramped space between my Occulomotor and Facial Nerve. I’m just saying, letting go of a good habit and being single just takes getting used to.

I decided to accept my fate as a single man when Jane, a very good friend of mine said that sometimes the heart quits, not because it loses hope but because it wants to live an uncomplicated life. And then I thought to myself, I do want that. An uncomplicated life. These past few days, I’ve made desperate attempts to resuscitate my dying love life but obviously it was a sad and embarrassing endeavor not worth talking about. I finally smelled the desperation, and it wasn’t Dolce and Gabbana. After Jane imparted those wise words, I decided to live by it. I am not however, going to give up on love. I believe in the ancient Greek saying that we are born half a circle and we spend the rest of our lives looking for our other half. What I need to do is give my fragile heart a rest and focus my attention on something else. When I do break my vow of celibacy, I want it to be worth it.

I was just glad I had great friends I could always depend on. I was happy that after a year, my UST friends and I would be together again, maybe for the last time because Kay would be leaving for Canada next week. It took a year before the grand reunion as Eunice finally got knocked up and gave birth a couple of weeks ago. We were slated to go out yesterday, but Ysa, Eunice and I had a hard time contacting Kay and sadly, we had to cancel. I ended up going to Alabang with the folks to have dinner and watch the new Batman flick.

While the kids were playing in Timezone, I went to Powerbooks to browse their latest books. The buzz was still about Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series so I picked up a book of quotes [Beauty Parlor Wisdom] and read it. I didn’t really expect to pick up nuggets of wisdom, but there was this particular quote that I liked: the darker you go, the brighter the light. It is true that when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

And then I realized, I didn’t really believe in the Marquis de Sade. Yes, he has made very good points about great sex, but his quote about faith did not strike me as accurate anymore. Faith is not for the weak. It is for the strong. Holding on to something you are not sure will pull you through takes an enormous amount of strength and courage. I may not be the bravest Brady in the bunch, but I do have faith. Faith in myself that I can do it. Faith that despite the many miles that stand between us, we will forever be friends. Faith that I would one day meet someone who would be sure that I was the one, sweep me off my feet and take my breath away until I asphyxiate and die.

It’s too late to apologize, yadi yadi yada.

I stayed in Holiday Inn last Sunday and I kind of hoped [more of expected] that R would ask me out since I was nearer to him compared to Las Pinas. Despite my regrettable breakdown last night, I was surprised at how well I handled the situation when he didn’t.

I ended up spending the following Monday sunbathing by the pool and getting an uneven tan. While I was making sure every crevice of my body was evenly burned like french toast, I made a conclusion. I know this sounds weird, but I owe a lot to the guys that I dated. Though none of them obviously worked out, I still owe them a lot. I learned a lot from those assholes that broke my heart, and now I know how to react to certain situations.

Now if only I could sunbathe like a pro. I don’t think wriggling around like a dying fish is the proper way to tan.