After a Self-Reflective Walk

I joined a gay men’s tennis league the moment I moved to Cambridge. I wondered how the league would go, given that I do not hang out with many gay men in my daily life given the racism and internalized racism, femmephobia, and unaddressed emotional baggage I have observed within some of that demographic. Since I started playing almost a month ago though, the tennis matches have felt like a fun way to play different styles and meet new people in a casual way. The other day, one of the guys I beat – a married man – started texting me after the match. Our texts grew flirtatious, and soon enough he made it clear that he wanted to [REDACTED] my [REDACTED].

We made plans to meet this upcoming Thursday to hookup. Overall I felt fine about it, because he made it clear that he’s in an open relationship and I didn’t see myself getting attached to him beyond the hookup even though he may be the most confident top I’ve met so far, at least over text. Still, a part of me sensed some underlying dread within myself, a slight uneasiness that I found difficult to name in the moment. After sitting with my feelings for a little while, I realized that since moving to Cambridge, I have spent more time than usual interacting with men than I did prior to my move.

Once I realized this time allocation I sat with my emotions and recentered my values and goals. One of my favorite parts of myself includes my ability to fill all of my needs without a male romantic partner. Here’s a list of things I like in my life and how I fulfill them that I jotted down this evening:

Emotional intimacy: myself, my closest friends and close friends and other friends, giving back through clinical work, blogging, reading, etc.

Physical intimacy: myself, occasional men I may hookup with

Someone to buy me sweets and novels: myself, also one of my bffs once bought me a literal big box of Jeni’s ice cream for my 25th birthday so that satisfied that desire for life and also a gift card to a local Boston bookstore for my most recent birthday so

A sense of stability: myself, my closest friends and close friends and other friends, my values

Financial security: myself, especially once I get my PhD in May 2023, and one of my bffs offered to let me stay at her place until I found my footing if a financial crisis strikes me

Indeed, this random man could have ghosted me and I would not have cared at all because I complete myself. I have my goal of helping others and I take tangible steps to do that every day, regardless of men. In fact, not caring about men has helped me a lot in life, by empowering me to think about how to aid myself and my community instead of how to appeal to and shift my body to meet the male gaze.

Before writing this post I went on a self-reflective walk around the area I live. The temperature had cooled down to a nice 70 degrees after about ten hours of consecutive rain. I listened to “Pop!” by Nayeon, “Feel Special” by Twice, and “Ring the Alarm” by KARD and thought about my life and what I want from it. I decided to cancel the hookup, not because it wouldn’t have been fun or because I felt that the hookup itself contradicted my values, rather, I just didn’t feel like sleeping with the guy anymore so I decided not to. I bought myself a cookies and cream milkshake and came home to write this post and share it instead.

The sky after I exited my apartment to go on my walk! So pretty.
The chocolate cookies and cream milkshake I bought! Tbh I liked the milkshake though I think I prefer the original vanilla base more. You live and you learn.

How do you navigate the role of romance in your life? Or, how do you try or not try to fulfill your varying needs with multiple sources? General reactions to this post? My residency starts this Thursday so wish me luck yay! Until next post.

8 Comments

Filed under Personal

8 responses to “After a Self-Reflective Walk

  1. joycepferd

    Glad that you shared and your post made me want to start of list of my own needs! It makes warm and happy to witness the support that your friends give you even before your graduation. It feels strange that I don’t know you in person, but I also feel like I know you from your blog and goodreads reviews.

    • Awww yes I think it can be a wholesome/helpful activity to sit and reflect on our needs/wants and what we do to fulfill them. (: Glad this post helped elicit some feelings of warmth and happiness, I do love my bffs! Thank you for taking the time to comment and also for what you said about feeling like you know me in a sense without having met me – I’ve felt that way about some of my absolute favorite writers like Caroline Knapp so I’ll take your statement as a positive sign!

  2. Good for you! I mean, I don’t agree with messing with married people, however open they say things are, but that’s my own thing, emphasised after my best friend got completely messed around by her husband. I do agree with prioritising what you need if that isn’t harming anyone else. Anyway, yes, I definitely get different things from different people and areas of my life and that’s healthy as anything, I think, no point in putting all your eggs in one basket. I’m glad you’ve joined a tennis league and they’re nice so far, though, hope you can keep up with that. I’m not sure if I spend more time with women, men or alone, I mean, my husband’s in the house and I can *hear* him but I wouldn’t say I’m *with* him!

    • I am a fan of your Goodreads reviews and saw you had a link to your blog—I’m just blown away at your emotional depth and reflectiveness! And love your writing as well. I’m a big believer in monogamy because for me what I want from a relationship is partnership (in its literal, dualistic iteration)—to give and receive full attention, long term. Because of that before meeting my current partner I tried to do what you’re doing in defining my needs outside of the eventuality that I would meet someone, but it was HARD. One thing I have found is that even in a committed monogamous relationship, I still need to try to list and work at meeting my individual needs daily, and work at my values individually, or else I have to live with the constant dread of everything collapsing if the relationship were to not work out.
      Just some thoughts, I really resonated with this post!!

      • In response to mostly meaningless musings: I appreciate the alliteration in your username! That makes sense – even though I think monogamy’s roots are very problematic and sexist (e.g., ownership of women by men, at least in the U.S.) I would prefer monogamy as well though for different reasons than you, I just don’t have the time to engage with more than one man because I value my bffs and other activities so much. Power to you though for knowing what you want and what works for you! It’s cool that you’re reflecting on your needs and how to get them met even while you are in a monogamous relationship, so that you are not dependent on this person for your needs. Thank you for taking the time to share that my blog post resonated with you and for leaving such a thoughtful comment, I appreciate it! (:

    • In response to Liz (designating because WordPress is being a bit odd with comment replies as I type this): I respect your decision to not engage with married people and that sucks about your best friend’s husband! Yes I concur with spreading out the eggs and thank you, I feel like I role model my tennis involvement like how you do with your social jogging and such. I hope you’ve been well, it’s comforting for me to see you thrive with your reading and other ventures even when I cannot comment as frequently (AKA in this busy start to residency over the past few weeks. (: )

  3. Thank you for sharing this. There’s so much to learn from (aside from your tennis prowess). I love that you’ve been able to figure out your source of uneasiness with the hookup and re-evaluated it against your values. It’s a lesson for me to find some more time to consciously do this when I run into a problem or a conflict.

    I just love your bffs – they are so supportive of you. Are your bffs also friends with each other?

    I hope everything went well with the start of your residency. And may you have a steady supply of rich, creamy milkshake.

    • Awww yes yay we love taking time to sit with our feelings of ease and uneasiness and evaluating based on your values! It can be hard to find time to reflect in a society that sometimes encourages us to always do and do instead of sit and reflect. My bffs are not really friends with each other though I think they’re fond of one another through me. (: I hope you are doing well Matt and hahahaha at the milkshake I’m innocent and pure so I’m assuming you mean the food!

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