Editor’s note: In case you missed them, catch up on Nikki’s previous Dating Diaries posts here.
I have a friend (not me) who had such an itchy, unpleasant reaction to intercourse with this one guy, that doctors concluded she was allergic to his semen. It does happen, ladies, and it is not pretty. Usually you can wear a condom to prevent the semen from making contact, but in her case it fell off sometime during sex so she also had to invest big money in emergency birth control that made her nauseous and vomit.
As it turns out, though, she was not allergic to his semen. Somehow, sex with this man had given her three different vaginal infections and science still isn’t sure why. If something so painful and painfully illuminating as this happened to you, you might think you’d stay far away from this man forever, regardless of his level of blame. But no, she did go back and have casual sex with him at least a few more times.
My friend, like many people who return again and again to the not great/pretty bad/awful, couldn’t say exactly why she decided to do so. I myself have done it tons of times. One of my boyfriends in college and I broke up pretty much once a month for the nearly two years we dated and looking back, we had nothing in common and no business dating. Then there was the guy who stood me up sometimes and then also cheated on me. Got back with him. My not-really-dating thing with the musician who was really bad at sex but also never seemed to want to have it anyway and made me listen to him talk about his emotional problems lasted for an embarrassingly long time. The moody ex-boyfriend who dumped me every time we fought? Yep, begged him to get back with me.
The list could get on forever but my point is, I don’t know why anyone does this. All reason and sense points to me never doing this. It could be because we are desperate and lonely but man, that is sad to think about. In my head I’d rather be alone than with the wrong person but sometimes you just miss the wrong person so much. Also, sometimes it seems easier to just stick with the known entity than risk any surprise.
The market is pretty rough and after first dates with the guy who texted me dozens of jokes like “How did the hipster burn his mouth?” (Eating pizza before it was cool) and the guy who liked to mix kissing with nose licking, sometimes the current guy with the infectious semen you’re already familiar with can sound safe and comforting in comparison to another weird revelation.
It isn’t just this way with dating. I went to the same hairdresser for years even though every time he cut my hair I left with a mullet. I had 70s-era Patti Smith hair without the cool art to excuse it. And I was too nervous to go somewhere new because of all the effort that would go into finding the new hairdresser and the possibility that it could be just as bad or worse.
The moral of the story is, of course, that I did eventually find a new hairdresser and I no longer have a mullet. In fact, I get a scented scalp massage free of charge with every haircut. If only sex were so gratifying, especially for my poor friend with the infections and the vomiting.
A long time ago, I decided that I was not a cold turkey kind of person. I like to peel bandaids off slowly and ease into cold water instead of jumping right in. And maybe to rationalize my bad decisions, I accepted this fact about myself and moved on (like the one time that has ever happened). If it takes me a year to stop going back and forth with some douche dude, so be it. That’s just the kind of person I am.
But a million tiny heartbreaks and some years later, I wonder if this is not only the kind of trait that I should change, but actually could. I did get a new hairdresser after all, and I’ve gone five whole weeks without calling a single guy from my past. I’m even thinking pretty fondly of someone new in my present. Of course, if he’d break up with me, we could get back together again and then really be in it for the long haul.