At the end of a long day of writing very boring technical construction specifications, I shut down the computer and pad into the living room. I plop down onto the red shag area rug and close my eyes. I need to understand myself. I want to know why I form attachments to unavailable, emotionally reckless men instead of nice, normal ones. And I don’t mean in the context of Town and Country and Dr. Froggy. I mean historically.
My first boyfriend was a nice, wholesome American guy, whose great-great-great grandparents emigrated from Sweden to Minnesota. He had been in the Marine Corps and was majoring in engineering, and we went out for almost a year. I no longer remember why or how we broke up. Just that we did because I couldn’t imagine marrying the first guy I dated.
Next came another American guy, tall, slim, nice. I met him in an architectural design class sophomore year of college and we dated for four months maybe. Then I met my college Ex, the first Indian man I had dated. For the first month of our relationship I was humoring myself, thinking this would never last. Then it was like someone flipped on a switch a month later and he became The One, and I simply stopped paying attention to other men. Forever had been decided, it would be the Ex.
After the Ex and I broke up I Monday morning quarterbacked our four year relationship for six months? Maybe it was a little longer – I had to get over the anger and depression phases, first. But I spent a lot of time wondering if I should have dated other men back in college. Was 22 too young to think I was done dating? By that time I was back in Minnesota and to date desi was impossible. I had either grown up with all the desi men or was friends with the rest. They were like were like my brothers. The thought of kissing them, much less anything else, was nasty.
Then I decided to fall head over heels for Kehar Singh, Bangalore Cousin’s best friend. This guy had an infectious personality. He was funny and witty, very intelligent. But with a very dark, broken side that I never saw in the beginning. How could I? We were on the phone five nights a week, laughing, talking sharing for hours on end. No girl thinks that a guy who captivates her mind with an intense emotional force is seeking friendship, but alas that is what happened to Desi Girl.
Because I like a project and have a very bad habit of biting off more than I can chew, I decided to start graduate school and keep volunteering, working a full-time job, and oh heck why not keep at the part-time one, too. In graduate school I fell for another American man. He was divorced, had kids and was fifteen years older than me. Another man plagued with darkness and personal demons, who wanted to be my friend.
When I think about it, in the beginning I dated the preppy yuppies promising the suburban Volvo lifestyle, until one of them really broke my heart and messed up my ability to trust. After that I was drawn to urban broken men – this is not to say I’m fixed – because clearly I am not, but there was a definite shift in who I pursued.
You have to be listening, but men tell you who they are. So my selection of men who hurt me was my selection. Maybe I pick men who would abandon me, rather than betray me, but I still pick them. And I think I will still keep picking the wrong men as long as fear is a stronger force in my life than love.