The other day I listened to an NPR segment about “hooking up” - according to the report, the trend with many young people (they were talking about people in their 20s, but hey! I’m in my early 30s) is no dating, no relationships. Just a text, leading to sex. Rinse, wash, repeat. 

For these folks, emotional intimacy comes from satisfying relationships with friends, and physical intimacy comes from, well, the hook up.

I swore to myself I was done with hook ups. And it’s not like I had an army of men beating down the door to hook up with me or anything, so the temptation factor was not super-high. Yet the other night I fell into a situation where a hook-up emerged with a perfectly decent guy - intelligent, cute, funny, not a stranger but a friend of friends. An ideal situation, right?

It was, nice. I guess.

Nice?

If I’m honest with myself, it was less than nice.

Mainly because throughout the–ahem–act, I was haunted by a man I thought I once loved, still kinda do love, and still pine for. I couldn’t lose myself in the embrace of another, because I kept being pulled back to the memories of the few sweet experiences I shared with this unattainable someone.

It had been three months since I had been with anyone. I keep blogging about how I need physical intimacy, I’m a sexual person, blah blah blah, and I thought I was ready for this experience. 

Clearly I was not.

I kicked the perfectly decent guy out at daybreak, and that was even a lot for me, as I did not wish for him to stay the night at all.

Afterwards, I did not call, did not text, did not email - and surprise! He is interested and wants to see me again this Friday.

I always tell myself that if I am cool enough, nonchalant enough, a man will be crazy about me. If only I had enough self control to pull off the act. Conversely, if I come on too strong, fall too hard, as I tend to do and am guilty of with the one I still long for - well, survey says - buh-bye. This has been my experience, over and over. Like a bad science experiment that I am compelled to repeat, always hoping for a different result. 

Yet it is ridiculous to believe that there are hard and fast rules like this. I scoff at the books. Yet deep down, I want a formula.

Newsflash: there is no formula.

Now, I am in a holding pattern of wanting someone I can never have…unable to let go, even for what was supposed to have been one fun night between the sheets.

I feel sad as I write this, caught as I am in this craving. The Buddha has said that this clinging is the cause of all suffering. This is the Second Noble Truth, and boy, am I living it. 

Yet I know that liberation is possible. It’s not just a theory. I’ve experienced it, at other moments in my life. And in really taking a pause to recognize this particular brand of suffering, to investigate it, on the page and on the cushion, to see how it all works - I am a bit closer to the possibility of some freedom and space from the suffering.

The reality is that I probably will continue to hold on for quite a while. Apparently I am not ready to drop it, though all it takes is a second to do so. But as much as I can, I seek to let go. There is nothing to be achieved by this maintaining this clenched heart.