Kind of, sort of dating…I think?

Lately, I have been having a lot of conversations with friends revolving around dating and relationships and it has made me so much more aware of how ridiculous today’s dating culture is – if you can even call it dating. Everyone wonders why they can’t manage to have a solid, healthy relationship but truthfully, there isn’t much to wonder about. Our relationship culture today is unintentional, noncommittal, and based more on likes and streaks than spending actual time together.

My biggest and most frequent complaint is that no one makes their intentions clear. Rather than asking another person on a date and making it clear that we are romantically interested in them, we instead go through different stages of communication until we, eventually, fall into a relationship by default.

The process starts with liking Instagram posts, tweets, Facebook statuses, or swiping right. From there, at least a general interest in another person is established. Then there is the dreaded “talking” stage. This one drives me completely out of my mind. We talk to someone day after day, from morning until night. Only it isn’t really talking exactly. It’s texting, it’s snapchatting, it’s tagging each other in memes back and forth, and more than anything else, it is through our phone screens and never in person or even over a phone call.

Recently, my friend told me that she talks to the guy she’s interested in every single day “in one form or another”. When I asked what she meant, she told me that they had been consistently snapping each other. Is that talking? Is there any real conversation even happening there? How is that even considered communication between two people who care for each other? How is that meaningful in any way?

I suppose I can see how the talking stage is important and justified to a certain extent with the social media world we have no choice but to get sucked into but come on, there has got to be a line drawn somewhere, if even just in the sand.

From there, the talking stage more often than not becomes hanging out. Hanging out becomes hooking up. Hooking up becomes emotional. Emotional becomes romantic, and here we are, dating with no real intention established or known to either person.

This is the part that makes me absolutely crazy. Both people knew from the beginning that they wanted to be with the other or that they at least knew they wanted more than just friendship but, rather than simply state that and make it clear that they were romantically interested, they insisted on playing this long, drawn out game that has no clear beginning or end.

Now these two people are connected and are more than obviously into each other enough that their friends refer to them as “boyfriend and girlfriend” or “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” before the couple themselves has even had a discussion as to whether or not that is what they are. Which leads to even more confusion. The questions of “is it appropriate to assume this person will be my prom date?” “Can I safely assume I have a date for my cousin’s wedding next month?” “Should I consider myself ‘off the market’?” arise and then comes the inevitable talk.

Eventually it has to happen. One person gets overwhelmed with the anxiety associated with this kind of unofficial, unattached kind of dating and is forced to sit down with the other and ask the forbidden question, “what are we?” at which point the couple has to decide if they are actually a couple or if they are not. If things are going well, the answer is usually, “yes of course we’re dating. I definitely assumed we were,” which seems like a positive outcome, but here’s the thing – relationships and love shouldn’t just be an assumption. We should know that we are pursuing another person because we care for them and they also care for us.

When there is no clear commitment, it can also leave openings for cheating or foul play of any kind which isn’t actually cheating or wrong because of the perfect excuse, “we’re not together” right? It can all be so infuriating and incredibly hurtful when both people know that this situation is well past casual and involves real, deep feelings. The noncommittal nature of these relationships allows a loophole, a way out, a reason for an otherwise guilty party to get off without a stitch of culpability and to me, that seems absolutely ludicrous for something that is supposed to be loving, trusting, and more than anything, safe for two people. We should know that we are spending this time with another person with the intention of being in a relationship with them.

And that is what all of this boils down to- the intention. No one outright says, “this is a date”. No one outright asks “will you be my girlfriend?” anymore. No one says what they want. Everyone is so afraid of being vulnerable enough for these things that they skip them altogether. As a result, we end up with a lot of broken, unsuccessful relationships and unnecessary heartbreak.

We need to change this way of going about relationships. We need to ditch the phones and find our way back to each other. We need to return to the intentional dates and to the in person, face to face dating with social media intertwined instead of the other way around. Stop falling into relationships and instead intentionally walk into them, knowing what we want and making it known. Maybe then we won’t have to wonder so much.


Kind of, sort of dating…I think?

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word

I have learned a lot about myself over the past two years. More than I had learned in all of the twenty one-ish years prior to that combined. One of the biggest and most recent discoveries I have made is that my most used four-letter-word isn’t a four letter word at all. It is five letters and that word is “sorry”. I have spent a good majority of my life apologizing.

Sometimes because I caused someone some amount of pain or because I made a mistake. Those kinds of apologies have been and always will be warranted and necessary. Those kinds of apologies mend relationships, alleviate someone else’s pain, allow me to own and accept my mistakes.

There are the kinds of apologies that are just simply me being overly and ridiculously polite. For example, I find myself apologizing to inanimate objects when I run into them and hurt myself. I apologize to random people in the grocery store who run into me because obviously I was in their way and saying excuse me was too much work. These seemingly harmless apologies are usually just that, harmless. Pointless really, but they cause no harm.

But then there are the apologies I am famous for; the kind that belittle and demean me as a person. These are the apologies I give for being who and how I am. These are the apologies I am making a conscious effort to do away with. I am constantly apologizing for having anxiety and for the attacks it creates. I am constantly apologizing for wanting to talk about the things I am feeling with the people I love too often. I am always apologizing for texting people more than the socially acceptable amount of times in a row. I am constantly apologizing for loving too hard, too much, too strongly, for wanting to show the people I love how much I love them. I am constantly apologizing to people when they hurt me. This last one is the most important one.

So here’s the story: Someone hurts you, a friend, a family member, or a significant other. You tell them that they have hurt you expecting an apology in return. Instead, they make you feel bad that you are even telling them that you are hurt. I mean, how could you be so selfish? It’s bad enough that you are in pain but now you have to make them feel bad too? How inconsiderate of you. And so now, you apologize. Now you are distraught. You are so sorry that you have hurt them. And you know, if they don’t think they’ve hurt you, maybe they didn’t after all. Maybe it is you who is overreacting and you should probably console them now for making them go through the pain you have put them through in accusing them of hurting you. 

But wait. See what just happened? Now you are giving the apology you should be getting and they have neither acknowledged that they have hurt you nor apologized for having done so. But you feel like something happened just then right? Like something was resolved? Now here’s the part that I love. Nothing happened. You are in the same place that you started in and they have still hurt  you. Only now, they’ve hurt you and they’ve made you feel bad about it. Funny how that worked huh?

I do this. I do this every day and I am apalled at how it has become almost second nature for me to fall into that place with someone. I apologize to people because they have caused me pain and I feel bad because they feel bad about having hurt me. Well, not anymore. 

I have learned two things  from discovering the “sorry” word. One, do not ever ever ever apologize for who you are. If someone else doesn’t like who you are, if you come on too strongly, if you annoy them, if they don’t accpet you as is, then who cares? Chances are, if you really think about it, you don’t like who they are as a person either if they act that way with you. And here’s the best part: that is perfectly, 100% okay. Everyone will never like everyone. That’s just the way the world turns, darling.

The second, and to me, far more important thing, is that when someone hurts you they do not get to tell you that they didn’t. They do not get to say that you are wrong. If someone hurts you, they owe you an apology for having hurt you even if they didn’t do it intentionally or knowingly. No one gets to tell you when you are and are not hurt.

So from now on, I would like you to pay attention. I would like you to think twice before using that five letter word and to think three times before letting someone weasel their way out of using it to you. 

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word

Simply and Un-simply, Love.

Love is easily the most complicated part of our existence. I don’t mean complicated like calculus or solving a Rubik’s cube. Love is complicated in the way that it is one of those one in a million chances that happens every day without explanation. It is completely inexplicable why we love who we love. It doesn’t make any sense that every day we fall for the things about another person that we don’t even know exist. It is beyond confusing that love can just as easily save us as it can destroy us. Love is our home. As people, everything we do is based in some form of love. Love for a person, a job, a game, a place, a hobby, ourselves. In the end, everything we do is about this love, this thing, that we have no say in.

Now, by saying this, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. However, every day I am baffled by how much my own mind, body, and soul are controlled by this intangible, unimaginable miracle that runs our lives without permission. Every move that I make can be traced back to this chemical reaction in my brain that I have absolutely zero control over.

I have fallen in love and I have had my heart broken. But it’s not the falling in love or the heartbreak that I want to talk about. It’s that I find the experience completely incredible because no matter how much I reason with myself, no matter how much I tell myself that I have control over my brain and my emotions, the truth is that when it comes to love I don’t. None of us do. That, in and of itself, is the most mind boggling, amazing thing to me.

Our brains do this thing, this life altering, life controlling thing, and we get no say whatsoever in how we feel. I mean, this thing runs our lives and we don’t get a choice. I think that this is the most beautiful idea – that we are so completely out of control when it comes to our life’s purpose and are instead at the mercy of these processes happening inside of our own heads in hiding places we can’t even find despite our best efforts.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe that there is someone out there determining our fates and deciding whether or not we are living inside of their rules. However I do believe that we, somewhere inside of ourselves are determining our own fates; that we are simultaneously making the rules and trying to live inside of them.

There is something about that notion that is terrifyingly beautiful. That our brains are creating this thing and these rules to live by, and that thing and those rules are simply and so un-simply, love.