I pride myself in saying the things that we’re all thinking as millennials, but unable to put into words.
Call it bravery, stupidity, or simply being fed up with enduring the same old romantic patterns— but, let’s be real: a lot of us would rather admit to waxing our mustaches than publicly project our failures with “stupid” things like the opposite sex, texting, dating, etc.
Our close-knit group of friends (and whoever takes the time to analyze the memes we tag each other in) is the only audience privy to our secrets. And even then, we don’t tell them everything.
We don’t want to come across as whiny, childish or— heaven forbid— needy.
So we bottle up the bulk of our frustrations, hastily shoving them in the back of our minds like the pointless knowledge that we acquired from 11th grade AP statistics. We assume neutral personalities, swallowing our feelings until they’re reduced to hollow bones.
In result, we commit the same crimes and make the same mistakes, spinning on the same, fucked up merry-go-round that we’ve been seated on since our early teens.
In a perfect world, we’d permit ourselves to speak candidly about our pitfalls and learn from them like the civilized adults that we try to be. Perhaps if we are rational and vocal about what eats us alive, we can finally make sense of this broken world.
But why be rational when you can silently overanalyze every element of your life until you’ve pictured yourself alone in your forties with a throng of 17 cats?
For the sake of my own personal sanity, I strive to be “that girl” on this blog. I’m not afraid of the backlash. I’m not afraid of the flurry of “hey, is this blog post about me?” texts. I'm not afraid of people labeling me "emotionally unstable." Allow me to shed some candid, raw light on the reoccurring skeletons in my closet (and quite possibly yours, too).
Reoccurring Dilemma #1:
“Are they into me or am I wasting my time?”
You know what’s really hot? What’s sexier than a striptease or cool ranch Doritos?
Not having to guess someone’s feelings or intentions.
Unfortunately, however, we don’t live in a perfect world so mixed signals are more common than fidget spinners at convenience store check-out counters.
Modern dating is like trying your hand at Russian roulette; loading each potential relationship into the revolver like silver bullets, spinning the cylinder, and feeling the cool metal of the barrel on your temple.
It only takes one shot to kill you— a single flick of an index finger— but you have no way of knowing your fate until you pull the trigger. There’s always that slight chance that the bullet won’t escape the revolver.
The adrenaline junkies that we are choose to ignore the rationale and assume a façade of blind optimism. Will I meet my husband at the club? Probably not, but theres always that chance, so…
There’s a chance that they’re actually into me and not just using me for sex.
There’s a chance that they’ll open my text and reply.
There’s a chance that it’ll all work out this time.
There’s a chance that I’ll finally be happy.
It’s that chance that drives us all insane.
Yesterday I was at a Rosé cafe near my apartment— yes, these magical places do exist— mulling over the trials and tribulations of life with my friends, as we frequently do. In between bites of the most delicious truffle pizza I’ve ever tasted, I couldn’t help but overhear the exasperated conversation in the booth next to mine.
“He might not have texted me back— but Kaaaaaren, he viewed my snap story 37 minutes ago,” a young woman in a striped tunic bellowed, her hands gripping the table. “What does that mean?” I couldn’t see the woman’s face, but I imagined a pair of bulging eyes clouded with the type of confusion that only unrequited love instills.
“I feel your pain,” I thought, a rush of familiarity sweeping over me. I’m no stranger to the familiar pangs of rejection followed by a surge of confusion and blind hope.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the young man in question got his fix from whatever is underneath the woman’s striped tunic and bolted in hopes of escaping the shackles of a relationship.
Nothing is scarier to a straight, millennial male than commitment (especially in the form of labels, liking your Facebook profile picture or unwanted pregnancy). The picture of their Mother on their nightstand might give off an air of “husband material,” but in no way does this mean that they are well-versed in the art of properly treating the women they sleep with.
Like I said, we don’t live in a perfect world. Instead of common decency, we get the opened-without-reply and the averted gaze in passing. We get the late night “Hey” texts and promise ourselves that we won’t reply— but we do— and slowly, without even really knowing it, we relinquish any hint of an upper hand. We trade our free will for desperation.
You could get an A+ in advanced calculus but still fall victim to such naiveté.
He gives you the cold shoulder? Yep, okay, now cue the overthinking and venting to friends between nervous gulps of alcoholic beverages.
What we want is a long-winded, fat novel of a romance... not just a handful of haikus.
But, here's the bottom line: Our time is so limited. Unlike the carton of eggs sitting in our fridge, we will never know our exact expiration date. This instills a constant state of panic within our being. Are we wasting our time trying to salvage a sinking ship? A lot of the time, as it turns out— we are.
A friend of mine once said to me, “Don’t expect anything. That’s when life is good.” Perhaps its our expectations that threaten to destroy us.
Generally speaking, if you are given reason to consider that you might be wasting your time, you probably are. If they’re into you, they’ll prove it. If they want to be in your life, they will be. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt if they don’t deserve it.
Reoccurring Dilemma #2:
Do I like them, or do I just like the idea of them?
Although I initially came to New York City to pursue work opportunities, my brief time living in “the city that never sleeps” has brought on a considerable amount of excitement in my social life. There’s just something contagious about the electric energy of the city and those who call it home. (I’ll save the story of how I wound up en route to the club drinking Veuve Clicquot in a metallic Lamborghini for another time..)
Last weekend between pre-game pulls of tequila, a friend of mine mentioned that we were invited to a penthouse rooftop party. The penthouse belonged to a childhood friend of hers and would involve “cute boys and handles,” therefore we’d be stupid not to be in attendance. Any female with half a brain knows that cute boys and free alcohol is a combination better than even Ben and Jerry can boast.
As is customary for moments leading up to an unfamiliar situation, we took long pulls from our carefully disguised, tequila-filled water bottles in the elevator, fixing each other’s hair in the reflection of its mirrored doors. Sure enough, both a copious amount of eligible bachelors and liquid courage awaited us on the top floor.
Tom was a recent graduate from Columbia, he’d said, flashing a I’m-cocky-but-you-love-it smile in my direction. He launched into an anecdote about his budding career on Wall Street and I struggled to latch onto any shred of detail that I could relate to. Zilch. “No spark here,” I noted, as I nodded my head, simultaneously feigning interest and critiquing his choice in cologne.
I felt a hand brush the small of my back and *thankfully* it was one of my friends rescuing me from the egotistical cloud of musk I’d stumbled into.
“Katy, you have to meet so-and-so,” she said, giving me a raised-eyebrow look that equated to “please help me find out if this guy is weird or not.”
I averted my attention towards the gorgeous blonde that my friend was referring to. His firm handshake and boyish grin was enough to send any bachelorette to the moon. We came to find that the man in question is not only a graduate of an Ivy league school and an Olympic athlete, but has not one, but a string of names, with a fancy “the third” tacked on the end. Plus, his cologne was the opposite of revolting. My friend and I exchanged “holy SHIT” side eye glances and she leaned in closer to the Olympian.
The next morning, a hungover brunch ensued. Hungover brunch, a.k.a. a theatrical performance of appearing like we have our shit together for our Instagram followers but really just a feeble attempt of piecing together the events from the night before.
I sat opposite of the friend of mine who caught the Olympian’s eye and pried her for details. It turns out that in her haste of swapping the penthouse for a nearby bar, the two parted ways. I asked her if she planned on ever seeing him again and she replied with an uncertain shrug.
“Maybe,” she said. “I mean he sounds great on paper, but truthfully he was a bit on the awkward side.”
She played with the rim of her coffee cup. “Sometimes I think that people sound so great on paper that we convince ourselves that we need to like them.”
“Do we like them… or do we just like the idea of them?” I mused. Are "good on paper" individuals forever? After all, paper can tear, fade and burn...
This type of dilemma is comparable to a sunset.
Convincing ourselves that we’re in love when we’re truly only in love with the idea of it all
is like being naïve enough to think that a photo of a beautiful sunset is the real thing— and that real sunsets don’t exist outside of the rectangular photograph.
When you first catch wind of the “well shit… do I like them, or just the idea of them” sensation, you begin to see the edges of the photograph tear free, revealing the true sunset that exists in a much larger scale elsewhere. But it’s all a bit hazy. You can only see the greater picture when you step back, squint and turn your head to the side a little.
More often than not, we know the truth. We know there’s something greater out there for us, but we choose to remain where we’ve convinced ourselves is “comfortable”. We root our heels into the sand of the “love story” we’ve manufactured in our minds, refusing to let go of a “love” that is truthfully just a mirage.
Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re obsessed with the idea of finally “getting it right.” We just want to land Prince Charming ASAP and be done with all of the messy bits— the waiting, the pining, the awkward flirting and potential for rejection.
I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we just want a partner that we’ll be infatuated with, our friends will be drooling over, and our parents will be impressed with. (let’s be candid, okay.) So when we land someone who satisfies the latter two qualification points, we convince ourselves that we’re infatuated when we’re not. We ignore that nagging “maybe this is isn’t working” feeling in the pit of our stomachs and trudge on, hoping it’ll get better someday.
Not once, but twice this past year, I was exceedingly guilty of this, myself. I knew for a fact that something was missing, but I was sick of searching for the right guy. So, I settled. I was so in love with the concept of finally being “done,” that I ignored my instinct. I silenced my gut. I held up my white flag with a sigh.
But guys, there wasn’t any chemistry. And when there’s no chemistry— even if the guy looks like frigging Liam Hemsworth and has his PhD— you bolt.
When it comes to wondering if you’re in love or just in love with the idea of it all, trust your gut. Trust the butterflies, the ease and general excitement of being with him or her, even if it’s just in an aisle at the grocery store.
If it boils down to catching yourself in a union without chemistry, don’t feel too discouraged. Don’t feel as though you’ve failed or that you’ve wasted your valuable time on lust.
Sometimes you just give the wrong people the right pieces of your heart.
- to be continued -