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An open letter to the men who want to date me.

Elizabeth Meg
Aug 18, 2017 · 7 min read

When you get to be a certain age and you’re single, the men come out of the wood work. I suppose it helps that I am in decent shape and I’m fun and I’m nice and I’m usually kind.

Okay, and maybe easy on the eyes. But, don’t fucking tell me I’m hot. That’s not who or what I am. Being hot is not my identity. I didn’t work for it, cultivate it or strive for it. I don’t give a shit that you like my boobs or think I have a great ass. There is a place in my life for lust and physical admiration (and I very much enjoy that place), but it’s not here and now. You can’t start off like that.

So, for anyone out there who is thinking about reaching out, sending me a little note, asking me to meet you out — please know, dating me is much more complicated than it may seem.

First of all, it is not going to be easy.

I have been hurt, betrayed, raped and abused. None of that has made me less idealistic or optimistic or even less of a hopeless romantic. But, it bubbles up here and there.You raise your voice, get aggressive, belittle me, criticize me unnecessarily, project your insecurities in a mean way or take out your bad day with a few harsh words to me (or to the dog, your friend or the worker at the corner store), I’m done. I don’t give second chances. Not anymore. Safety is my priority.

On that note, please know that trust is essential. I give it freely but not unconditionally.

I will notice your lies and your little untruths. I will not listen to your words as much as I will watch your actions. There are many important things in this world that I want to do; every second that you get with me is a second I am not out there on the battlefield. Balance in life is important, but I will not be disrespected or have my time wasted. I know you all like to “keep your options open” but I don’t have space for your games. Jealousy is not a color I wear well. I simply will walk away. I don’t need you; I’m perfectly happy on my own.

That doesn’t mean I won’t work at it, that I won’t have long conversations and admit my own faults and try to be better. I will show up every single day and in every way. I will work hard to choose love and trust over fear again and again. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, ignore your deficits, make light of the inconsistencies. But only to a point.

I am a lover that goes “all in”.

I am, after all, looking for someone to join me in this foxhole. If you want someone to get dirty with, to debate and discuss, to GROW, I’m your gal. But, lets do it nonviolently, okay. There are statistically significant ways to remain calm and connected, even in the middle of an emotional disagreement.

If you stay, you will bask in my service and adoration. I will treat you like a king.

I will take care of you the way that I was born to do. I will cook, I will clean, I will brainstorm, promote, manage, encourage and support. I will do nice things for you when I’m having a bad day. I’ll rub your feet or your back or make you breakfast in bed. I come alive when I get to take care of people. But, don’t for a second take that for granted. It goes away as quickly as it came.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who deserve my attention and concern. Don’t rob them of it because you’re being selfish. You are ONE person and you should be delighted that I have chosen to give my energy to you. If it doesn’t make you feel good or if my love feels like a burden or a vice or you start to feel trapped, go away. I am who I am and I am proud of it.

We are going to talk about agency. About my right to say no. About how I don’t need you to tell me what to do or to save me, not even from myself.

I don’t care how much money you have or from where you’ve come. I care what you do, now, with me and in this world.I will call you out when you tell me the same story again and again, as if I wasn’t there with you when it happened. I will notice when it feels like I don’t exist, when your experience of me is so trivial that you forget or neglect. And, then, when I take my leave and you call me because you remembered that you liked being treated like a king? No, dude. No freaking way. I have agency and value and I am a human being as well.

There will be times when I will cry. Many times.

My soul resides on the outside of my body, my heart too. Watching discrimination and hate will crush me. Sometimes, I will wallow in the hopelessness of the world. It will be hard for me to find a reason to go on, to continue to fight the good fight.

No one can. My wounds are my own. My history has left marks all over my body and my soul. I left home at 16. I called the cops on my parents when I was 7 or 8. I survived a childhood of tragedy and abuse and blatant misogyny and I got the fuck out. My mother has told me I am her greatest disappointment. More than once. My family is embarrassed of me because I stand up for women’s rights and black people and minorities and anyone who needs me to. And, that’s okay with me. I’m comfortable standing on my own. If you want to date me, you’ve got to understand that there has been a price for who I am. And, sometimes that makes me sad.

I will want to give away our stuff, my stuff, my time and maybe even your time.

In Standing Rock, the first time, I gave away my sleeping bag, twice, my cot and a friend’s cot. We ended up shivering on a concrete floor, each pulling the tiny covering we had to our respective sides as we tossed and turned. It’s okay to tell me no. To remind me to put on my oxygen mask first. In the moment, I might roll my eyes, but I will know it’s true.

And, sometimes I need help with boundaries.

Left to my own devices, I would float away in the service of others. You can be firm and direct with me about this; you can recommend I try something different or point out my flaws. I do love to learn and want to grow. I am not perfect; I just want to do the right thing. It might take me a minute to be okay with the feedback, but I’ve gotten better over time.

It’s also okay to say goodbye.

I will hold no hate for you, though I might be sad for a while. Every single person I have ever loved is still with me today. Once you’re in my heart, you’re there for life. Maybe we need some space, some time and some perspective in order to get along and/or become professional acquaintances or even friends, but it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. I won’t hold it against you.

I’ve been told I’m intimidating, that I’m a tornado (both good and bad) and that I hold people to high standards. Some of this is true. Some of it is not. If you want to date me, to be in my life, to be a partner, a confidant and a lover — I do have expectations. Safety is my first priority. I won’t fault you if you can’t take the constant searching and learning and investigating. Some people are not made for each other. But, if you read this and already know, lets not waste each others time.

I’m 35 years old. I’m not so much set in my ways — in fact, I love the process of adapting to another’s preferences, learning about their life and their likes, and trying new ways, of thinking, loving, doing — but I am set in my tone and I know what I want for my life. Single, alone, partnered up or even re-married. They are all possibilities. And they are all good enough for me. All I really need is to be able to do nice things for others and to be a force of good in the world. The rest? It’s icing on the cake.

Elizabeth Meg

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I talk to strangers.