The Waiting Game

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I know the feeling, Hannah. (Photo: silive.com)

If you’re out in the dating world, I salute you. As a fellow person in the singles bunker, numerous enemies are advancing on our base: smug couples; nagging parents (except you, Mom!); biological clocks; and terrible singles.

This last threat is the most dire to our singlehood, as they are supposed to be our brothers and sisters in arms — our brethren! AND YET! We put up with their shit on awkward online dating sites! We struggle through first-date conversations! We are put off and put down through flaky behavior — including blown dates, unanswered texts (texting is the worst thing to happen to dating), and noncommittal all around! It’s the worst!

Now, I can’t blame this explosion in dating craptitude on millennials or technology, as I’m not an angry old man yelling at a cloud. But I WILL say that the entitlement that comes from having numerous choices for everyday items (from entertainment to food and emoji) at our disposal has affected how we view dating. We want what we want, and we want it now! ME WANT SEX NOW! ROMANCE PLEASE!

But sex and romance are not that easy to generate on the spur of the moment — unless you’re a sociopath, on a date with a sexually liberal person, or have picked up a prostitute. More people are likely to want to have conversations and have a basic sketch of the person’s personality before having mediocre sex. Some weirdos might even want to have a second date (or, heavens, a third)! But if shit’s not getting to where you want within the hour or so that a coffee date/drink meetup lasts, TIME’S UP.

For a socially anxious person like myself, I communicate better through the written word than meeting someone for the first time. I can write a string of decent OkCupid messages, but then there’s the actual date. And that has resulted in many a first experience that did not become a trilogy. And as it takes me a little while to warm up to people and become more comfortable, this is a canyon-like hole to jump over. It’s essentially expecting people to emotionally floor it from 0-60 at the pace of a Lamborghini — all while having the conversational skills, flirtation techniques, and body language expertise of the swarthiest Lothario. It’s like sitting in front of a firing squad and hoping to charm them to put down the rifles.

It’s a losing battle, and many connections are being slaughtered within the ranks before they get a chance to test their mettle on the battlefield.Or as comedian/writer Aziz Ansari put it:

“With so many romantic options, instead of trying to explore them all, make sure you properly invest in people and give them a fair chance before moving on to the next one.”

Within this lukewarm, clickbaity Huffington Post article was this sage advice from Ansari, and writer Claire Fallon infused her social anxiousness into the mindset of someone that may rather stay home in the comfort of security than wade in the unfamiliarity of potential vulnerability. And it makes sense: With so many ways to pass your time nowadays, why bother subjecting yourself to boredom, discomfort, or dashed hopes? Why put yourself through rejection over and over again?

Because the dating experience is supposed to suck, according to the sage advice of one of my friends. Noting that “it’s a chance to practice and fail a lot before meeting someone that matters,” he added that it would be weird if you enjoyed the trials and tribulation. There is a nugget of wisdom in this cynicism, as the person you get to spend extended time with will make all those failures worth the effort to get to that special someone.

And maybe it’s not so bad to give someone a second (or third!) to grow on you and have it suck less — or not at all! Or as Ansari said, “A person may seem just okay, but if you really invest time in the relationship, maybe they’ll be greater than you assume.” While we’re not used to waiting nowadays to have our needs met (okay, I’ve gone full-old man), building emotional intimacy is not something that can be switched on or clicked instantly. It takes time, and the journey is worth the effort. Maybe that message can get out to those single bunker buddies and relay it to the troops.

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