Why I'll Always Be Bad At Juggling Men And I'm Perfectly Okay With That

By

I was single when I moved to New York. I was told that I was beginning the most frightening and the most exciting time of my life (frightening in its unpredictability, exciting in its limitlessness). Singledom didn’t seem like it would be so difficult.

It didn’t take long for me to learn that New York was wonderful. There was something for the single girl to do any given night of the week: friends-with-benefit Tuesdays, sex-with-strangers Wednesdays, wild-nights-out-with-girlfriends Thursdays.

We all had something to do. And we if we didn't, we could find a date with the click of a button. The options were endless.

Shortly after I arrived, I fell in love. But not only did I fall in love with the wrong person, I also went about it in the wrong way. Naive and misinformed, I made the premature decision to be exclusive.

I realize now that I should have been juggling men. Friends championed this approach; seeing just one man at a time, they said, meant I didn’t love myself. It meant I didn't protect my best interests.

“Are you crazy?” a girlfriend asked me. “Where’s your fall-back guy?”

“My what?” I said.

“Your fall-back guy. The guy in your life that you’ll fall back on if the first one doesn’t work out.”

I hadn't considered this. Was she right? Is it better to kill time with a handful of mediocre lovers than with yourself? Does a lot of "likes" equal one "love"? And if we can't secure The One, should we surround ourselves with people who fall short?

But there was something to what my friend said. I bet everything on someone I didn't know much about.

By keeping one person around and cutting out the others, I loved one person too much and too hard. And I had no one to blame but myself.

I didn't give other would-be contenders a real chance, and my world closed in on me. The people living outside my bubble -- the energy of New York -- became irrelevant.

When you’re alive, the city is bustling. When you’re down, it becomes oppressive. The city left me lonely in a kind of way I didn't know was possible -- all because I chose one person over many.

So I tried to juggle. But it felt like running a race with people who hadn't agreed to participate. They were kings moving across a chessboard where only one person would win.

One would always win out over another. If I hung out with any of the guys who'd "lost," I'd think about the one I liked more. This guy would immediately suck me in, steal my heart and propel me into tunnel vision.

And that's the dangerous part. In order to juggle, you need to have two men on the board at all times.

Maybe one person is in the background. But he's still there. And constantly checking their movements makes you too exhausted to do anything with either of them.

To find what we need, we have to sift through the good and the bad. But how can we measure a person's true worth if we’re always comparing him or her to something else? Doesn’t that stifle our chances of finding mental clarity?

Multitasking with multiple men is hard. We're discovering our tastes but cheapening the product.

Still, multitasking was what modern-day romance dictated, and I wasn’t with the times. I didn’t understand that in order to fall in love -- real, requited love -- I needed to "fall in like" many times over, with many men.

It was an unfortunate truth. But it was a truth nonetheless: I will always be bad at jugging men. I'm simply a date-one-man-at-a-time kind of gal.

Two men aren't always better than one.

There are some things in life that are simply better in pairs. And then there are things that work better on their own.

When I "like-like" someone, the feeling floods me, and I sink fast. His energy is an ocean, and even a little water is enough to fill up a whole ship. No one else matters; everything else is a blur.

Now that I know what "like-like" is, I can't simply "like."

And two me’s isn’t better than one me, either.

No two loves are the same. I'm a different person and a different lover with everybody.

I don’t want to be two different versions of myself. I don’t want to shred my dense soul into thin layers.

I want to be me -- just me, the right kind of me.

I want either one man or zero.

Casually dating more than one guy was like riding a low wave of apathy. There was no high tide and no slow crash onto shore. There was just smooth sailing. No rocks or currents.

I failed to look beneath the surface. I suppressed my feelings and forgot names. Nothing was worth remembering.

If I’m juggling men, one person will always win out. Because if either man were right for me, I wouldn’t be juggling more than one in the first place. And nothing but mad, exhilarating, insufferable love is worth having.