Swipe Right: On Wishful Thinking & Dating in Today’s World
Is loneliness at an all time high? Who knew matchmakers still exist? I am an old soul/millennial who tried Tinder and swiped right times infinity, then deleted the app. I’ve never been on an actual date–I was stood up, or according to my would-be-date, he “fell asleep.” I’ve gotten used to this, I’m sure countless others have as well. Ever had the super sweetheart guy suddenly respond to texts like you’ve got 9 heads instead of one? A friend once said, “Yeah, guys and boys suck. Try dating a man!”
Sure, I’ve gone out with men, the men who, theoretically, I was subconsciously seeking out because of my father, yet these man-children all state it’s a non-romantic thing even though we’ve kissed, flirted, gotten organic vegan donuts together, played the game. One good friend from high school, turned into something more. Despite our friendship, and efforts, like many high-school had-beens, we broke up.
Reunited, with several steamy encounters, to match years later, I convinced myself “I wanted this.” We were friends, after all. Certainly a soul-mate relationship. Yet when I was inevitably alone again, I could not let anyone who crossed my path, get too close. Intimacy was too big a river to cross. When I was a high school boarding student with curfew, I took myself out for dates on the weekends. I asked every boy, for each dance I went to. Convinced that I was somehow honoring myself, by primping up and heading to a movie, I was still just alone by myself, with a hatred I couldn’t quite place. Treating myself to strawberries and cream frappuccinos, a token reminder of childhood far from sweet.
By the time I got to college in a New England town, my hormones were going nuts, needing family and all five of the love languages, often. I needed support, different than the kind boarding school offered, something unique from what my flavor of original sin could give. I pored over every book, every magazine, listened to all kinds of music, ate and slept often, to numb my pain.
I know too many people who seem to think that relationships must be easy–otherwise it is not “destined” or “meant to be.” That there has to be a “magic feeling.” I attribute this to wishful thinking. I have learned compassion for this kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking, where the prince rescues the damsel in distress. It stems from creativity, which is a spark of flame, and left untamed it can wreck havoc on the best laid of plans. Creativity is how we cope. Thus, I have now come to believe that creativity may also be a tool used to survive from that nasty licorice trauma of all-sorts. People–and I’ve observed, especially those who have experienced any “size” of trauma to the brain, are drawn to beauty and creative expression: A product of innocence, for those with experiences they never asked for.
I argue the problem dating and relating today, is due to a largely virtual online world where folks may choose to often, or only communicate and work through technology. There seems to be not one bit of information that we cannot discover for ourselves. This isolates us, and in my case, isolated me from experiencing my feelings, thoughts and necessary experiences of earlier life in an authentic way. I wonder how many share a similar experience. And I write this to say: You are not alone. You deserve love, affection and joy just as much as the next person.
With goals to work as an actor/writer, I imagined a piece where characters were all sitting in a beauty shop, with a few gossipy ladies yakking about how relationships should be easy. To play a sassy character who spins on her heels with a hand on my hip, a hairdresser with sparkly glasses, smacking grape-flavored gum loudly just to say, “Honey, if you think it’s easy peasy, then wringing out trees for maple syrup must be lemon squeezy!” Wisdom is the medicine for wounds that are left uncared for. Art is powerful medicine for many. Art—be it music, poetry, a painting, a vase of flowers has no limit to soothe tired eyes, hearts and minds.
So you know what? In today’s dating world, we swipe right. Cue the plot twist. The princess rescues herself. She slays the jabberwocky her own way. She buys her own castle and lives happily ever after with 10 Persian cats. I read a meme awhile ago: Hey Ladies, You Know Who Will Never Cheat, Leave, Or Abuse You? Your work. Oy vey. I begrudgingly thank social media for perpetuating a culture of black and white thinking, a culture where everyone’s opinions are very important and relationships seem harder to cultivate organically, and dare I add, in ways that will be sustainable and meaningful for all involved.