Monday, December 03, 2012

Meddling Church Ladies

A month ago, there was the annual regional conference for all the church congregations in the Pacific Northwest region. Every year, the Portland congregation hosts this conference. I used to attend that congregation (from 2006 to 2009). I stopped going after Christine left for the Netherlands because it would have been too painful to continue going there. She was the main reason why I attended, despite the way I was treated there (asking to sign the guest book every Sunday; a pastor who acted as though I had leprosy or something; of all the church congregations I've ever attended, this one was the least friendliest I've ever been to). Regular readers of my blog should be familiar with my history regarding Christine, so I won't repeat myself here, other than say that she was everything I was looking for in a wife and I blew it by moving far too slowly and not sharing with her how I felt about her. A church member from the Netherlands happened to stay with a church family during that summer / fall of 2007 and they fell into a romance that I did not believe was possible. In December 2009, Christine left Portland to join her fiance in his country to prepare for their marriage in June 2010.

Anyhow, at this conference, one of the ladies who attends the Portland Congregation said to me, "I thought you and Naomi were going to be an item." I was stunned for a few reasons. First, how did she know that Naomi seemed to take an interest in me earlier this year? Obvious answer points to Naomi, herself, who attends that congregation. Second, why would she even think we might be an item when she (nor anyone else other than Christine) never bothered to get to know me. It is this point that really peeved me. I told her, "I don't know why you would think so. She's not even my type." This isn't being mean. Just a point of fact. The lady then told me, "She has a lot of love to give for the man lucky enough to receive it." I don't doubt that. But just because we happen to be the two remaining single people in our mid-to-late 30s / early 40s in this church in Portland doesn't mean we would be a good match for one another.

I appreciate the well meaning church folks, who take it upon themselves to try to put people together. However, they shouldn't even try to do so if they've never bothered to get to know people at a deep level. All I got out of the Portland congregation was shallow small talk and felt lonely and out of place on the Sundays I went and Christine was not there. Yes, it is true. I only attended Portland congregation to see Christine. My focus was less on God. Perhaps it serves me right. But Christine has proven herself to be the truest friend I had made in the first few years in Portland. I loved her personality and company. Everything she told me always interested me and her life history along with how she changed from her past made me admire her. She was someone I would have loved to have spend the rest of my life with. She was amazing, and another church member won her affections first. It was painful for me, but a good kind of pain. The kind that makes me a better person, just for having gone through it. In a way, in a spiritual sense, I will always be grateful to her for her friendship in my early years in Portland.

When I told this well-meaning church member that Naomi was not my type and that I was looking for someone like Christine, she quickly snapped: "Well, she's married and you need to get over her!" It was so abrupt and rude. I know that she is married and I accept their marriage. I don't want to be in a relationship with Christine. Just her friendship and the friendship of her husband is enough. The point I wanted to convey to this church member, though I failed, was that you just can't expect people to be attracted to people they aren't attracted to. I never had a romantic interest in Naomi. I don't know why she latched onto me earlier this year. I don't have to be in an actual relationship with someone to know that it won't work out. I base everything on how I feel around the person and of course, mutual physical attraction is important. Without that, all that exists would be a platonic friendship.

I know that some people seem to believe that it is not good for people to be alone and that if you throw a single man and a single lady in a room together, that "making whoopee!" will happen. I knew about this viewpoint when I was at BYU and moved into a house that was owned by a single woman around the same age as me. The Bishop's wife got ahold of that info and confronted me with it, revealing that she was one of those who believe that a man and a woman can't be alone together without sexual activity going on. Well, newsflash. I'm not a horny rabbit who will fuck anything that moves. I have my standards.

I've thought a lot about attraction over the years. The best way to reach my heart is through my mind. An intelligent woman is sexy. When it comes to the physical part, though, I have always been naturally attracted to ethnic minorities or mixed-race women and foreign women. Also, I have never been attracted to excess weight, so obesity repulses me (sorry if this offends anyone, but it's my truth). I have also been a witness to many unhappy and unfaithful marriages in the Navy, which I blame for making me cynical about marriage, not to mention cautious. I've seen plenty of guys who were more miserable in marriage than they were (or I am) being single. So, I know from personal observation and from knowing myself that one has to marry the right person with a blend of similarities and differences to balance things. So, I'm looking for a lady who is probably more intelligent than myself, otherwise I'd likely grow bored in a relationship because I'm always moving on to new ideas. A lady who is comfortable in being static or not interested in learning will be a source of contention. My brain needs to be engaged nearly all the time...except when meditating.

Another point, while Naomi and I might belong to the same church, our views were widely different. Though she did try to present herself as being more spiritual open-minded than she probably was, I found her views to be standard / conventional Christianity, bordering one evangelicalism. That may be fine for her, but not for me. Some have suggested that I give Christian dating websites a chance, but I know that would be a waste of time and money. Spirituality is the most important value that I hold so I would need to be in a relationship with a lady who is not threatened by non-Christian ideas. Otherwise, she will likely be frustrated by my interest in Buddhism, New Age spirituality, reincarnation, etc.

Similar life experience, particularly in regards to traveling to foreign countries, is an important compatibility point. As I learned from working at That Awful Place That Shall Not Be Named, the employees that I got along with the best have all traveled extensively overseas. The ones I did not get along with were those who have never been out of the country. It wasn't something that I looked for, only as an after-the-fact when I try to understand why I get along with some people and not others.

There is nothing wrong with Naomi. Just that she's not someone I feel enough compatibility with. There is no physical attraction, there was no "wow!" factor in regards to her saying or thinking things that made me want to learn more, our personalities did not mesh well (she came across to me as a bit "needy" for attention), our life histories / experiences aren't well matched, and then there's the weight and health issues. I am not a saint. I'm like most people. I just want to be in a relationship with someone where there is a mutual attraction and compatibility on our most important issues. I don't expect to find such a lady within the same church, which is why I'd like a spiritually open-minded lady. Naomi had a long relationship with a great guy who loved her just as she was. Unfortunately, he died tragically young a few years ago. I know that she's probably lonely and wanting a relationship, and there aren't a lot of great guys out there for her to choose from (she being on the low income, blue collar / working class demographic). I just wish that people at church would understand that a good match requires more than just two people of the same age group being single and looking. I'm okay with being single for the rest of my life if it comes down to that (though I hope not). I'm not a needy or desperate person, though, so I won't just get into a relationship with just any lonely lady. In my view, any woman I end up with has to be more interesting than a book. Christine was such a person. So was Jenet. And Yudelka. And a few others over the years.

I shared this with the family who drive me to church at another congregation (where I've gone since 2010). I told him that it is well-meaning church folks trying to play matchmaker that might push young folks away from church. I wish that people at the Portland congregation made a point to get to know me on some level. Thinking that eating one dinner with some fellow single church member was enough to spark a romantic relationship is just proof that the people at that congregation are as clueless as I thought them to be. All this woman did with her comments to me a month ago was re-confirm in my mind the right decision to not attend that congregation and seek out another one that is further away but have people that I actually like talking with and seeing every Sunday. Had I known about this other congregation when I first moved to Portland, I would have gone there at the beginning.

If you're reading this and happen to be someone who likes playing matchmaker, I hope you will make a point to get to know the individuals that you want to put together. Thinking that you can just put any two people together and get sparks flying is likely to end in disaster. Listen to the person and learn what they value and what they are looking for. If it doesn't work out, don't go up to them and tell them that you were hoping that they'd be an item. All it does is make the person think that you really have no understanding about who they are. I don't think any of my friends who met Naomi would walk away thinking that she was the right one for me. There's a guy out there for her, but that guy is not me and he is likely not going to be a member of the same church.

As for me, I've pushed back my search until next year. I want to enjoy the final month of the year taking care of personal things and developing a plan for 2013. This year has been a disappointment in not meeting my three main goals for the year, but it was an interesting year and I learned a lot.

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Interesting post, Sansego. What you say about attraction is absolutely true.