Independence. The thing I was told I needed to have as an adult. Being my own man and never really needing someone else. I've pretty much gotten there. I feel free. It's kind of nice.
The opposite of independence, as far as dating goes is codependence.
I have a friend that is remarkably codependent with his significant other. For the first year of their relationship they never left each others' side. The longest they were ever apart was the 8-12 hours he was at work. They never got sick of each other, which I find remarkable and good for him. However, he isn't the same guy he was before they started dating. Not massive changes, just subtle ones. At times I envy what he has with his girlfriend, then I snap back into my life and am really quite glad that I am as independent as I am.
Independence is great in it's own way. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. The only down side of such complete independence is that it is so goddamn lonely.
What do you do when you're lonely? You try and find someone to keep you company, you date, you have a fling, you have a one night stand, you masturbate furiously. Or you try and fill this void with pets.
Let's start with the last one. "Getting a pet." This is the usual start to the long life of being the crazy dude with 30 cats. (I have a facebook friend that just recently broke up with her boyfriend and within a month had adopted a kitten. Like clock work.) Having a pet is nice, it's no replacement for that special someone that you can unwind and then truly stave off loneliness.
"Masturbating furiously" really doesn't solve anything. It is a stop measure. The only things it really adds to your life is an embarrassing browser history and some chafing. This is not a lasting solution.
"You have a one night stand." Let's be honest here. The only time this happens is when either one or both of the participants are drunk. For me, I'm always drunk when this happens. I usually wake up with no memory of her name, or what part of town I'm in. I usually remember that the sex was sloppy, unsatisfying and altogether not really worth it. Sure they can be fun, if they weren't I wouldn't keep doing it. By noon the following day I'm usually stumbling into my apartment with a headache and an appointment for an std screening.
Next is "the fling". Flings can be just about any array of pointless coitus with someone you either know you don't have a future with or don't want one with. The perfect example of this would be what I had with the cute little redhead. Our schedules never matched up, we had nothing in common but we still managed to hang out and have some fun for a little while. There was no emotional involvement whatsoever though. Therein lies the problem. The sex, as decent as it was, never really wowed me. Mostly because we weren't emotionally invested in it. I've had enough sex in my life now to know that sex with someone you're romantically involved with is far superior to that in a fling. So even though you're getting that physical intimacy you're lacking on the emotional intimacy. Flings are great for stemming the loneliness but it never really pushes it back. In a fling you're just lonely with someone else.
Lastly the only real way to try and get rid of that loneliness is to "date". Being the independent type of individual I am, for the last seven years I've been dating "casually". I've never invested anything more than time and little bit of money into dating someone. Sure I've had some successes but looking back at the dates I've been on most of those turned into flings. I was dating someone just for the sake of dating someone. The ball was in my court though. I set the pace and even how emotionally involved we would be. I know that none of the women I've dated recently came close to what I wanted in a girlfriend. This is probably why I didn't see then what I do now.
I've been dating someone casually for a little over a month now. However, it wasn't me that set this in place. It was her. She was the one that decided she wanted to date casually. She is just as independent as me and at the time I originally thought, "This will be perfect." I was wrong. I'm used to having the reigns in the relationship and now that she has put this stipulation in place I have no idea what to do. I'm left wondering when to call, text, ask out. I mean, I like the girl and want to spend as much time with her as possible but it's her that wants to keep it casual. I don't know exactly what that means. At first I'd talk to her everyday and I'd try and make plans at least once a week. I felt like I was the only one putting in effort so recently I've stopped and figured a little bit of reciprocation would show that she is in fact a little bit interested. It hasn't gone well. The tables have been turned on me and I don't really like it.
I'd figured that casual dating was the way to go when you don't necessarily want to lose your independence. What I hadn't counted on was realizing that independence and loneliness go hand in hand. I've realized while dating someone that is just as independent as I am, that the relationship progression has stopped, and I'm still just as lonely as I was before. True codependence still scares the crap out of me but perhaps, just maybe I'm ready to give up on some of my independence and truly try and find someone to share this wonderful life with.