The Price of Believing

I don’t think our generation’s biggest problem is that we’ve lost all our ideals. Far from it.

I think we all want to fit in so badly that we get stuck in half-truths and lies we’re desperate to believe in.

I’ve been trying to date for the last year. I didn’t expect it to be easy – I mean, that would be boring, right? – but I also didn’t expect it would be… consistently disappointing. I guess I wanted more than half-hearted second dates, terrible excuses for cancelled plans, or getting tricked with promises of fancy evenings only to end up staring into the mirror in a pretty dress wondering why I even bother with any of it.

I mean, I feel like I’ve been at war and I still haven’t made it past a second date. Come on.

I don’t know how to trust people in a romantic setting. You can’t flirt too much or you’ll be a tease. If you feel a connection and you act on it, any shot at a relationship will crumble the morning after. You can’t be upfront about what you want too soon or you’ll scare them off.

But here’s what I want.

If you say you like me, mean it. Text me back. Flirt, but be a gentleman. Ask me out to dinner for our second date, book the restaurant, don’t cancel our plans because you’re not hungry, show up and tell me more about who you are.

Kiss me, and let that be enough for longer than five minutes. Don’t say you want to take things slow and then race to take your clothes off. Intimacy is not just about sex.

Be here. Don’t spend half our first date checking your phone. Why even bother to text me again if you couldn’t listen to me speak for five minutes without drifting away?

The hardest thing about dating is trusting your gut and standing up for yourself. I always do this – I meet someone I like and they miraculously like me back and then it becomes all that matters. And all my carefully laid plans go out the window because I want to be swept off my feet, and that’s how I end up waiting around for silly boys who would totally break my heart if I let them. I mean, how are you supposed to know? I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the longer I date, the more I realize people lie all the time, and there’s never really an alarm bell to warn you of imminent danger. 

And I don’t think it’s necessarily out of malice. We’re not our parents, and this generation we’re building is full of uncertainties we make up for with hasty connections and half-open hearts. We’re all in a race for the perfect date but so few of us remember why we actually want to cross the finish line. We want to believe in something but we don’t even know what it is.

Learning to walk away is an art. When there’s someone who claims to be crazy about you but who’s super inconsistent — what do you do? Do you walk away and risk waiting another year before meeting someone else you like? Or do you jump both feet first and risk the crash?

Sometimes I’m tempted to use my Magic 8 Ball to make decisions. Let chance take care of it.

I still haven’t given up, though. Somewhere out there, there must be someone who will see me, really see me, and think, oh, maybe I don’t have to  pretend anymore.

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