“Be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss your life.” -Buddha
In this society?
In this pandemic?
It all seems so silly sometimes. The idea of dating is so silly — little events and moments in time, scheduled activities to discern if someone is a compatible mate. The art of dating is even more ridiculous, yet I’m always envious of people who seem to date as if it is just a part of life! Beautiful ballerinas bouncing from man to man, being delicately lifted into the air without a care. Some people go on a date upon date and don’t ever worry if they are a great match or a flop. This dating is something I have yet to master. I am also aware that my understanding of dating may hold odd expectations. One date is supposed to be no big deal. Two dates? You like them and want to figure out if it’s a natural attraction. Three dates? Well, now it’s time to share ‘ugly’ truths about yourself to see how they respond. For me, on date one, I find myself struggling to express who I am. More specifically, I am impatient to give my counterpart the quickest, best impression of me. It isn’t that I don’t want to waste time, but I want to honor time. Half the time, I feel like moments are continually passing by at a rate, and I can’t keep up. If I’m going on a date with you, I want to make sure we both like each other from the get-go in a powerful way. This is where I go wrong.
Our society loves to categorize. Label. Create a hierarchy of needs. As I had learned with my therapist, there are myriad types of relationships, all claiming space within you. You have a relationship with your parents, which is different from the relationships you have with siblings, which is different from friends, different from acquaintances, different from hookups, and very different from romantic relationships. Emotional bonds are created through emotional connection, but each dynamically different, serving various purposes. So why is it harder to date than it is to make a best friend? Aren’t we all looking to marry our best friend? You see, I’ve come to believe we were taught to wait, cultivate, and propagate a unicorn. Not only must they be suitable as a friend, nurturing as a parent, sexy as a hookup, and loving as a partner, but they must also be able to fulfill needs we believe they can provide. Don’t worry, I fully understand this is a warped personal understanding, but I know I am not the only one here. The stress to find this unicorn has been the hindrance to why I suck at dating. I keep immediately searching for one thing: a god damn perfect everything in one human. Of course, we have to understand the 90s-and-up babies were born at the beginning of the era of instant gratification. The technology was rapidly growing in front of us, one year a flip phone, the next a full keyboard with a touch screen, wow! More things, continually upgrading. All these tools and options at our fingertips, and still, I felt a lack of abundance. Perhaps, it was the endless options that kept me indecisive and inevitably static. Maybe, it was all the options that fueled my habit of comparing one person to the next. Nothing ever satisfied you when you knew something better was on the horizon. Thus, a partial source of my high expectations for myself and others. At least, this is how I self-diagnosed myself. How could I not? In life, I grew up with this overarching message of how I was supposed to find a partner and live in marital bliss with them. In a world of “it’s my money, and I need it now!” I was not only greedy for sex but for achieving the gratification of locating my one true love who also came with the promise of a fulfilling future. Not to mention that what I wanted, more than a partner, was the ability to show other people I had a partner.
In the vein of dating, my mentality prevented any possible enjoyment. On my part, there was an intense focus on being a suitable date and on figuring out if they were a reasonable date; do they like me, am I making the right choice? Plus, one other issue: I did not know how to date. I did not know how to enjoy an experience with no roots. Dating is the ultimate test of present living. Can you relax and enjoy a situation rooted in uncertainty?
After a date, the anxiety will begin to set in, especially if it was a good date. I rake through the evening with a fine-toothed comb, analyzing what went right and what went wrong. Wondering if I failed at listening, wondering if they thought the same thoughts I have had on many dates, “Wow. He doesn’t look like I thought he would look like in person”.
What you thought we didn’t meet on an app first? Get real.
Now that’s a unicorn.