The ripping off his clothes factor

Sometimes I regret dating the boys I’ve dated. I imagine that if I could have swung forward into my future and seen myself with Bear, I would have made different choices. I wouldn’t have wasted my time. That’s the thing about the future, of course– It’s always so frustratingly mysterious.

It’s actually really hard to write about the future, because I think like five million people are also writing about it at the same time, and I’d have to think a lot more to come up with an original description.

The future is like that dough that you have to freeze overnight, except you can’t ever finish making the cookies. You just keep adding ingredients, hoping they’ll come out even more delicious. Sorry. That was the best I could do on short notice. Now I’m embarrassed.

One of my biggest regrets about the boys I dated is attraction. I wasn’t that attracted to most of them.

I get the sense that it’s uncool or uninformed or immature to emphasize attraction. You learn to love. You grow together. You are similar people, with similar interests. You both really enjoy badminton (is that really the spelling? Weird).

No. I’m sorry. I want to want to rip his clothes off.

Which is not to say that I don’t want to learn and grow and badminton together (shuttlecock! Haha!!). But if the bit about the ripping off of the clothes isn’t in place, then never mind.

I have a history of dating guys because I wanted to have a boyfriend. Not because I wanted to have that particular boyfriend. I have a long history of allowing people who really, really wanted to be with me to do just that. Because why not?

The why not ended up involving a lot of my time and energy.

When I started grad school, I ran into a guy on 116th street, in front of Columbia’s gates. It felt portentous (or whatever the word is that means that with more positive connotations). We had this great story: I’d met him in undergrad, when I’d taken my first academic class and he’d been the smartest, most interesting person in that class. I was too shy to talk to him. He had a fascinating accent. He got highest honors on his undergrad thesis, the first person in recent departmental history to do that. When I got highest honors on my thesis, I felt like I was following in his footsteps. And also like I was super cool. And then we both ended up in NYC, and he recognized me on the street. Come on. Amazing.

Except that I did not want to date him. I wanted to sit with him for hours in the park and debate gender and Zizek and the concept of epistemic shift. I wanted to hear him tell the incredible story of how his grandfather saved money and taught him English as he was learning to speak, in Puerto Rico, so that he could go to college in the states one day (as though that was his destiny). He was way ahead of his classmates and they made fun of him. Sometimes he had to fight, in the school yard. But he made it– he had published ten papers already. He chaired clubs, he organized events, he invited famous scholars to come have lunch with him.

When he invited me to come have lunch with him, I was flattered. But after we’d had lunch enough times, he asked me, very politely and a little formally, if I’d like to be his girlfriend. And automatically, I said yes. I thought, “Oh no. This means we have to kiss.” That is really what I thought.

We did have to kiss. Except we didn’t. I could have said, “Oh god, I’m so flattered, but I’m not really interested in dating right now.” I don’t know. I don’t know how those speeches are supposed to work. I’m sure I could’ve gotten the point across somehow.

But  instead, because I was awkward and because I thought I probably should, anyway, and because I was lonely all by myself in this new city, I said yes, and then I dated him for months and months and months and months. And it was very difficult, because I had to keep trying to convince myself that this was love.

Which is an enormous task sometimes, when it happens to not be love. Except I didn’t really know the difference. And I wanted it to be love, so that life would be simpler. And yet no matter what, I didn’t want him.

My friends and I sit around sometimes and talk about attraction. What is the deal with it? Seriously, What is the deal? It’s like a ninja. It just sneaks around on perfectly silent feet, wearing a full-face mask, able to take you down without any warning, using only its hands. And maybe a foot or two. You want it to come sit on the couch, but it’s hanging from the rafters, taunting you. You don’t have any interest in it and it ambushes you.

I’ve worked really hard at manufacturing attraction, and I’ve always failed. I can keep things going for a while. I can develop plenty of genuine affection. I can get along. And it’s never enough. Because then I either meet someone else, who looks a lot more interesting, or things collapse spectacularly, randomly, while eating breakfast on a Tuesday, just because they were never stable to begin with. My grad school boyfriend hasn’t spoken to me in two years. I think there’s a chance he hates me passionately. I liked being friends with him. It feels like a waste.

I don’t want to regret my past. I want to learn all these powerful, meaningful life lessons from it.

But sometimes, by accident, I imagine myself back then, peaking into the future and thinking, “Oh! That’s what that’s supposed to feel like!” And then getting up, walking out the door, and doing something else. Writing a book instead. Taking another class, just because I want to.

Being in a relationship takes a lot of energy, after all. Energy that may, in the end, be better spent on badminton.

*  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love standing with my feet firmly planted. I feel oddly strong when I do that, sometimes.



Kate on April 22nd 2011 in life, relationships

36 Responses to “The ripping off his clothes factor”

  1. Suzette responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 11:21 am #

    I completely understand this. I find myself meeting that really sweet nice attractive guy, and think to myself,” wow I should totally date him.” But then I realize, I’m just not really attracted to him. In my mind I know he is attractive and a great person, but I don’t really want to, “rip his clothes off.” Knowing this fact, makes me feel incomplete in the relationship (which doesn’t tend to last long anyway) and I move on.

    I hope I one day find that guy who makes me feel the way that Bear makes you feel. You are very blessed to have met yours.

  2. bethany actually responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    I get what you’re saying, but…I’m also here to say that the kind of attraction you’re talking about *can* develop with time. When I met my husband, we were both coming off long, serious relationships with very dramatic people. We were both TIRED, and not interested in dating anyone else at all, thankyouverymuch. We worked together and were friends for months, and I thought of him as a great guy, a good friend, etc., but not someone I’d ever date even if I were interested.

    Circumstances changed at our work and led to us spending a lot more time together. We got to be really good friends, then great friends, and then people started asking us if we were dating, which we laughed off. Then one day I was walking down the hall and I saw him and thought, “Whoa. He’s HOT. When did that happen?!”

    A couple weeks later we had a discussion in which we both admitted that we thought maybe we should try dating, because if we didn’t try it we might miss out on something great. And with that it was like a switch was flipped and I had granted myself permission to realize I wanted to tear his clothes off. We got married a year later.

    That was 15 years ago. We have two kids and we still want to tear each other’s clothes off. We’re very blessed.

  3. Erin responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    This is like you got inside my brain and pulled out my whole dating past.
    It’s quite sad that I never realized I was constantly dating people I wasn’t attracted to, that is, until I did start dating someone I’m very attracted to (and want to rip his clothes off).
    For some reason, I never thought that was necessary with the people I was dating. It was quite silly.

  4. BirdRoughsIt responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Yes! I love this post. And I also love these pictures. And I’m a terrible commenter, so I’m not sure whether I’ve commented before, but I love your blog, too. So thanks!

  5. jane minion responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Ask yourself..What is his agenda? Does he come from a selfish place? Is this all about him? Or is it about me?

    Women are socialized to please men, and often it is hard to say NO, but ask yourself, ‘What has he done for me lately?’ Does he enhance your world, or the opposite? Does he give off good energy, or the opposite? Is he about ‘need’ or ‘want’?

    Search your soul for the good life you deserve or putting him ‘first’ just to be or stay part of a couple.

    It is wonderful to love, even better when the man loves more

    Pay close attention. Be diligent and sensitive. Should you sense that dynamic change over time, get professional help to stay on track.

  6. keishua responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh, I can so relate to that. I feel like I have this thing about trying to/allowing something to happen because it is what is expected in relationships with men. That got me into some painful emotional situations and I don’t want to do that again. So, I am refraining until I can date someone because I want them and not because they want me. Does that make sense? At this point, I would rather be good friend than be someone’s gf. Like you said, it take a lot of work and energy. I’d rather put my energy elsewhere.

  7. Pip responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I have done this on occasion, but I have to admit that more of the time I’ve been guilty of the opposite- dating for the attraction and over-looking any number of character flaws or incompatibility issues cos they are so damn hot
    So don’t feel too bad as this mistake works both ways (and when your finally not making either mistake anymore- that means you’ve found someone you get on with great and want to rip the clothes off of! so you’re probably gonna stay with them)
    plus, that is some insightful stuff you’ve got there, sounds to me like maybe you have learnt some of those ‘powerful, meaningful life lessons’ you were after x

  8. Relatable Style responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    LOL! I love your pictures here :-D

    Relatable Style

  9. Kate responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Good point. I’ve been there, too. It really has to be a balance. Maybe that should be another blog post…Or maybe you should write it and send me the link!

  10. Kate responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    @Relatable Style

    Thank you!!! I’m always really happy when I get a compliment on my pictures, since I feel like I’m constantly flying by the seat of my pants with them.

    And wow, the mental image that accompanies that phrase is really great.

  11. Anna responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    “Like a ninja.” Love it! It is so true!

  12. San D responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    While my background is way different than yours I would hate to be considered a “regret” by anyone with whom I might have had a relationship with, no matter their rationalization. I would like to think that I brought something to the “conversation” (both literal and physical) that added something to their insight about who their final partner might be.

  13. Deanna responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    I think very differently than you do about this. I think of all the men I have been with whether they were one nighters or longer term boyfriends as experiences that made me who I am today. I dated a whole bunch of losers and some not-so-losers and had some terrible experiences and some good ones…but they all helped me to grow up.

    Sometimes (blush) I wish I had had more sexual encounters since I started dating late and married relatively young. I had a few busy years in between but compared to the young girls today, I was not very experienced.

    I also see your point about being very intellectually attracted to someone but not physically. That’s a really interesting concept. You love their mind and want to talk to them for hours, but being romantic with them is not first and foremost. I’ve also been very attracted to me…but not interested in pursuing a relationship since very good looking men can be intimidating.

  14. Kait (Tampon In A Teacup) responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    This resonates with me in ways that almost make me a teensy bit uncomfortable.

    I’m gonna have to let this post sit with me for a while, I think some self-reflection is in order.

    (Thank you.)

  15. Jessica responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    You are in my head! THANK YOU for writing this! I have been involved in my own self-reflection lately on this same thing – though I had not quite articulated it yet. :)

  16. Megan responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Uhm, yeah, you just wrote my life story… right up until I met my husband. I’ve had lots of one-night stands with hot guys, and I did some clothes-ripping then, but most of my pre-husband dating was just me being passively with whatever guy was interested in being my boyfriend. One such relationship lasted 5 years. I can’t say it was a total waste of time; I learned a ton about who I am and what I want my life to be about. And, because of that, I can say with complete confidence that my husband is the man I want.

  17. Claire Allison responded on 22 Apr 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Haha, sounds like my BA boyfriend. He took two and a half years to talk to me after we broke up and hated me passionately. Totally dated him cause he was hot, I was depressed and it seemed like the thing to do. I wanted to debate with him all the time- but I didn’t want to have an emotional investment in how our debates made him feel.

    It seems we all have stories like this. I sometimes wonder if those relationships end up being some of the most important ones we have, because they teach us the value of being with the right people. The ‘not dating for the sake of dating’ lesson is one of the hardest lessons to learn- especially when you consider how many factors there are pushing people to just date someone, anyone, to avoid being alone.

  18. Nikki responded on 23 Apr 2011 at 8:40 am #

    I love this post. I appreciate it so much. It’s something that I’ve experienced and felt, but never talked about with anyone!

    It drives me crazy that there are plenty of wonderful boys (MEN) that I’ve dated that fit everything perfectly, except… I don’t want to tear their clothes off. I thought this was normal until my last boyfriend, who wasn’t even someone I would usually consider hot, who wasn’t someone I would instantly gravitate to! I’m still trying to figure out what qualities he had that made me want to jump him every single time I saw him so that I can repeat it in the future, but there it is. I have no good reason.

    I’ve moved to a new city and have, of late, been warming up to the thought of dating someone and finding attraction later for the sake of having someone, but this post has really been a big smack in the face as a reminder to just chill out and wait. I’m not wasting my youth by waiting for something great!

    I can’t wait until I meet someone that I want to attack again. Thanks, Kate.

  19. Megan responded on 23 Apr 2011 at 10:17 am #

    This was also my story …until it hit me that I am a gay woman!! I guess that would be my advice-not only should you want to rip their clothes off, but its important to explore your sexuality as well if you find you are consistently not attracted to one gender or the other. Coming out as a lesbian woman was the most crucial decision of my life, and if you are questioning why you don’t want to rip HIS clothes off, it would be worth it to start questioning your sexuality. The day I came out of the closet was the day I found a self-love and incredible happiness that I had never, ever known before. =)

  20. Emily responded on 23 Apr 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Great post! I’ve only dated 3 guys in my almost-26 years. Sure, I had lots of my super nerdy high school guy friends wanting to make out with me, I wanted to wait for that attraction, that thrill…

    I was madly in love with this one guy in high school, but never wanted to date him. We were friends but I knew that he’d be a terrible bf. He couldn’t leave me and my sappy feelings alone though and insisted on smushing them/me to smithereens. The good part is that all these years later, I hung out with him and discovered that he has not mentally aged at all. He still thinks he’s some cool 17 year old. I’m way more awesome than that!

    My first serious boyfriend (#2) was a coworker that I had the hots for. Towards the end of two years he told me that he was gay and that he had not been interested, but just wanted to use me to see if he was really gay. Ouch.

    Boy number three was this guy in my grad classes that I chatted with because he was techno savvy in a sea of people who were not. Then somewhere during our classwork I began to find him attractive and much to my surprise, he liked me back! Best decision ever when I decided to lean up and kiss him first. :-)

  21. Tori responded on 24 Apr 2011 at 11:50 am #


    I am currently with seeing a guy who is 12 years older than me (I’m 19). At first I was super into it because the age difference made it feel so wrong but after about 3 months I just lost interest, the attraction faded, and I broke up with him (to which he protested vehemently). We’re still seeing each other and I recently confessed after some gentle prodding that I didn’t feel passionately for him, that I felt like he was more a close friend. Problem is, he is still very much attracted to me and I am too comfortable to let it go. He is my security blanket.

  22. MWN responded on 25 Apr 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Even though I think I have high self-esteem, I have this problem of getting way too intimidated by any guy I am actually really attracted to. As if, because they’re so hot, they must be out of my league. Even though I usually think I’m pretty hot too. I feel really awkward talking to guys I’m interested in if I think they are conventionally good-looking.

    I haven’t dated much, but when I do I try to remind myself that I don’t want to settle, and part of that means not settling for someone whose clothes I don’t want to rip off. But there are so many other factors too, like being a feminist and a nice person and liking my offensive humor…I was seeing this guy and he was great and we would talk for literally three hours in the restaurant, but I thought he was only kind of cute, not super attracted to him. So when he said he wasn’t wanting a relationship, I jumped on the friends wagon and felt secretly relieved.

  23. MWN responded on 25 Apr 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Also, my best friend who is a guy says that guys ONLY date women they find really attractive. They don’t consider dating women they aren’t attracted to. Unlike women, where we tend to first weigh other qualities and then even if they aren’t attractive, we’ll at least give them a chance.

    I question whether or not he’s right in speaking for all men (Men out there, can you please speak up and tell me if this jives with your version of reality?), and if it is true, then I think it says a lot about what lessons our society teaches the different genders.

  24. MWN responded on 25 Apr 2011 at 1:30 am #

    This is such a good post and the comments are great!

  25. independent clause responded on 25 Apr 2011 at 9:11 am #

    @ Megan, I hear you. It was very simple to know that I wanted to rip her clothes off, but what it all meant was hard and confusing (although not that much more hard and confusing than figuring out who you like to date in general). But ultimately worth it.

  26. Monday Motivation | responded on 25 Apr 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    [...] Dating & the Law of Attraction – the ripping his clothes off factor. “And it was very difficult, because I had to keep trying to convince myself that this was [...]

  27. Lighting my candle – if you know what I mean. ;) | Work in Progress responded on 02 May 2011 at 10:46 am #

    [...] my candle – if you know what I mean. ;) I saw this blog post the other day – “The Ripping Off His Clothes Factor” over at Eat the Damn [...]

  28. Lauren responded on 02 May 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    No, look, I totally agree with you. I want to be so attracted to my guy – in so many different ways – that I want to freaking Super Woman rip his clothes off by the seams. Okay, that may be a little much, and I’m rather small, so I probably would never be able to actually do that. But, you get my point.

  29. Annebelle responded on 30 Jun 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    My best friend does what you described all the time. She’ll love the guys personality, but there’s no real attraction there for her. She’ll look disgusted when she has to kiss him or hold his hand. She denies this until they break up, and then she’ll get mad at herself and say ‘next time, I’ll only date him if I really and to be with him’ and fails to do so. She doesn’t think she’ll ever find someone who she’ll like as a person and be attracted to or vice-versa, and she’ll get into a relationship she doesn’t really want, and tell me ‘well, you have to sacrifice certain things you want in order to find someone. That’s why you don’t date. You’re too stuck up to see past one little thing wrong with them’ While I admit to being picky, I’m not willing to give up trying to find someone who say, agrees with me on a base moral value, but I also find attractive.

  30. Eat the Damn Cake » This is the way I’m supposed to look responded on 06 Jul 2011 at 9:33 am #

    [...] I dated a string of boys who I didn’t really want to be dating, because I thought I should or might want to date them. What was going on? [...]

  31. Eat the Damn Cake » “message me if you’re skinny and attractive” responded on 14 Sep 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    [...] Of course, I wasn’t picky enough with some of my ex-boyfriends. I dated some guys I really shouldn’t have. [...]

  32. Eat the Damn Cake » “message me if you’re skinny and attractive” responded on 14 Sep 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    [...] Of course, I wasn’t picky enough with some of my ex-boyfriends. I dated some guys I really shouldn’t have. [...]

  33. Eat the Damn Cake » “message me if you’re skinny and attractive” responded on 15 Sep 2011 at 4:50 am #

    [...] Of course, I wasn’t picky enough with some of my ex-boyfriends. I dated some guys I really shouldn’t have. [...]

  34. Elise responded on 20 Oct 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Thank you so much for this! It’s great reassurance for a decision I recently made in my life. I love the rest of your blog by the way!

  35. Eat the Damn Cake » don’t marry him responded on 19 Dec 2012 at 11:14 am #

    [...] I felt a little insane. And I also felt absolutely sure that he wasn’t right for me. And of course, it wasn’t really just about the way he smelled. The way he smelled was a symbol. I couldn’t seem to feel comfortable with him. I felt numb, unresponsive. I didn’t want his body. [...]

  36. Michael responded on 06 Aug 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    The day my wife and I get married, I hope she shoves the cake in my mouth.