In the past, I’ve joked that my sexual orientation is “brilliant and haunted.”
All joking aside, there’s a lot of truth there. Granted, my body has to be attracted to their body. I have zero control over who I am and am not physically attracted to, and the best I’ve been able to manage on that front is to notice patterns. I tend to have a VERY specific physical type with men, to the point where all of my intense physical attractions tend to look like they could be each other’s relatives. When it comes to girls, I’m super slutty and into pretty much all of them, although I have an extra soft spot for femmes, especially blondes. This gender disparity in specificity is why I consider myself homoflexible.
But aside from that carnal gnawing, what really keeps me passionate about a person in the long haul is brilliance and a sense that they’ve been through some shit and understand pain. For the longest time, this caused a great deal of strife, in that it was easy to find folks with some degree of damage, and while a bit tougher, it was at least possible to find a damaged person with a somewhat decent degree of spiciness to their brain. However, I was finding that these rare finds were total and utter train wrecks. They did not, as they say, have their shit together. Being a somewhat high-functioning and responsible adult was far too much to ask, let alone asking them to be reasonable and have some degree of self-control.
But I dated them anyway. And things either ended quickly or when lasting were profoundly dysfunctional (because I was trying to be responsible enough for us both, failing miserably, and growing resentful) – sometimes both.
And then Skyspook came out of nowhere –that person who will go do crazy things with me on a moment’s notice but that I can trust will get us home safe and sound, the person who has struggled with some fierce inner demons but still goes to work when he doesn’t feel like it. He’s an ambitious and intelligent risk-taker who has struggled with depression, betrayal, broken promises – all of those ghosts.
So this is a good thing and has been for the past 5 years.
It is in this atmosphere of stability and just plain relationship goodness that I’m able to reflect on a lot of self-themes, to look inward in a way that isn’t self-defeating or defensive, and I find myself wondering precisely why I need so desperately for those I’m closest to (whether it’s a dear friend or a lover) to be at least a little haunted in order to really connect with them. Without it, I can find a person superficially entertaining, but there’s no love.
Of course the answer is sitting right in front of me. It’s because I’m haunted. Psychological research has shown that when speaking of interpersonal attraction that the rule of similarity is king. We like those most who share much in common with us. To put it another way, the proverb “birds of a feather flock together” is far more valid than “opposites attract.” Opposites may attract ATTENTION, and people can become physically addicted to the adrenaline rush that can accompany constant conflict, but when it comes to true compatibility, you’re best off being with someone who is like you (not identical, but differences should be complementary rather than adversarial in order to help balance the pairing).
When I think back, this makes a world of sense. I’m a hodgepodge garden of well-tended crazy. I think a lot, and I talk a lot. My ex-husband, not a dumb person by any means, has said on many occasions that I’m exhausting to talk to, that I always want to talk about complicated things – whether intellectually, interpersonally, or emotionally. My linguistics professor pointed out that my spontaneous speech is loaded with relative clauses, which makes it nuanced and qualified but dense.
I also have done a lot of explicit work on myself – I’ve peered a lot into the abuse that happened in my childhood and adolescence and have confronted things I didn’t like about myself that were interfering with my life. Recovery from PTSD is all about training your body to stop being terrified by learning how to safely stare the monster in the face until you realize you’re not in danger anymore. Still, even given all of that, I find that I have the random odd behavior or emotion that will crop up and scare the shit out of me. I need the people closest to me to be able to understand that it might come out in strange ways when we least expect it. And as a bonus, maybe they find it cute or validating that I, too, have my quirks, despite the relative got-it-mostly-together-ness I can project to the world.
I need to know that we’re speaking the same emotional language. And perhaps that’s really it, when it comes down to it. Without being a bit haunted, it’s like there’s a language barrier there. For me, I feel like being understood is crucial to loving and be loved – because how can you really accept someone for what they are (a crucial component of love to my thinking) without being able to understand what it is that you’re really accepting?