I don’t want to be someone’s snack.
I want to be their entire meal; breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and that weird “meal” they eat with the fridge door half open at 2 AM when they can’t sleep.
I’m going to be honest here, which should be expected by now. I’m almost 26. This means that I’ve been on this Earth for over a quarter of a century. I’ve been dating for exactly 10 years and after 10 years of long-term relationships and (recently) an endless slew of flings (so many I can remember the face but I forget the name), I still haven’t met my person.
I grew up reading Twilight (definitely not a good book to base your expectations of what a healthy relationship should be, but it’s fun). I’ve read western romances, teen romances, and John Green novels. I’ve even read the entire 50 Shades of Gray series. I’ve read so many books that it took an equal number of podcasts to undo the insurmountable expectations I had created for someone who wasn’t even in my life yet.
They have to be taller than me, older than me, brown eyes, nice shoulders, dark hair, driven, muscular but not too muscular, enjoy coffee but not with cream, have worked on a dude ranch and moonlighted as a vampire with commitment issues that come off as romantic but not clingy.
That’s a lot of expectations to go into your formative years with (by formative I mean 22+). I’ve talked about my relationship experiences before. I’ve talked about my long-term relationships and my experiences with dating apps. I’ve talked about my flings and my heartbreak. I’ve been through it all.
The “We’re Exclusive but I Don’t Want to Put a Label on It”–check check
The short-term, but defined summer relationship-You betchya’ass I’ve done that
The two-week hookup– Yes ma’am
An engagement–Yup yup. It’s my party trick that I throw out when the conversation gets dull…I like to call it my “David Blaine” move.
The only two relationships I haven’t experienced are an international one and a FWB (Friends with Benefits) and honestly, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t even mind either. Hit me with that commitment-adverse individual. I can handle them. I’ve read all of the 50 Shades books so I know what to do after all if they have a Christian Grey-style complex about opening up.
I’m not here to talk literature though. Relationships are exhausting. Dating is exhausting. It’s the same song and dance over and over and over and over with so many people you forget their names but remember what color shirt they wore or the seat you sat in at the restaurant.
I had a conversation with someone who I really liked. During it, they said that they hadn’t had a steady relationship since one long-term in high school and then they said, “But what do you do, you know?”
I know, actually, because I’ve been doing it since I was 15.
“Well,” I started, “You keep meeting people. You keep opening up and being vulnerable and honest and hope that eventually, you’ll meet someone who will open up and give you the same back. That’s what you do.”
What I also wanted to say was “HELLOOOOO!!!! LIKE ME! I’M LAYING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU OPENING UP AND BEING VULNERABLE GIVE IT BACK TO ME PLEASE!”
I would have installed a flashing billboard if I could afford it because I felt like I had met someone who was giving me the same level of vulnerability and honesty back; except they weren’t. I was just reading the billboard wrong. It doesn’t mean that I stop just because yet another human I wanted to make coffee for in the morning and walk through airports with ghosted and then “dumped” me (I use dump extremely lightly because we were dating but not dating if you catch my italics). Sure I’m sad right now because I was extremely attracted to their looks and also to their mind….but….
You have to keep going.
The Earth did not start spinning once you met them. The sun did not start rising when you met them and it doesn’t set because they went dark on you and left. The sun rose for you the day you were born. It rises for you (and because of science but this makes a more romantic figure of speech). The Earth was already spinning when that person or those people came into your life and it will not stop spinning when they leave, and you will not either.
I’ve had happiness and I’ve held sadness so extreme I fell to my knees crying in the shower. I’ve experienced passionate love so intense it makes me crazy. I’ve held myself when no one else was around but I’ve had many, many people hold me too. If I shut down and said “FUCK THIS DATING BULLSHIT I’M GOING DRY” I would close myself off and move one step closer to becoming one of those drunk girls crying on the Bachelor to Chris Harrison about how I’ve been hurt in my life and that’s why I have a hard time opening up and trusting someone and I don’t know if I can accept this rose because they also told Brandi C. that they loved her too.
Dating and love is fluid. People flow into your life and if the oil to water ratio is just right they fill up your cup to equilibrium and stay for a while. If the ratio is off, then they get pushed out because they don’t fit into the ratio of who you are. It’s love physics.
I will say though that it’s exhausting. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve told about my family or where I was born or why I moved to Iowa. I’ve lost count of how many people told me I look like Robin from How I Met Your Mother. I think it’s somewhere up near 23 people now (in fact I just checked my Hinge and now we’re up to 24). I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve done the song and dance for and lost count of how many people I’ve kissed. I’ve also lost count of how many people I’ve also ghosted.
What I do remember is the number of people I’ve genuinely loved and the number of souls I feel I let slip away; the ones I still reminisce about no matter how brief. Sometimes people flow into your life and even though the water to oil ratio isn’t exact, they stick around for a bit, but they stick to your ribs for an eternity. They’re the ones you had to say goodbye to even though it was too good, the ones you let slip away because you were too scared, the ones you owe an apology to, and the ones you wish would kiss your forehead one last time because the way they do it makes you glow.
Podcasts will talk to you about how social media and dating apps have changed modern dating. Books will give you inspirational quotes on self-love. YouTube videos will make you feel like the person through the camera just gets you. Nothing will make you keep going. You have to do that. You have to be the one who walks into that 48th first date with an open mind, a blank opinion, and a willingness to be vulnerable. You have to be the one to practice what you preach and tell them that you’re just not interested. You have to be the one to cut yourself (metaphorically) open each and every time you meet someone new and just hope that they will appreciate what you’re trying to give them and return it back to you tenfold.
I don’t want to be a snack. Snacks, while tasty, are quick to consume and easy to forget. I want to be someone’s entire meal; their Last Supper; that one plate of gnocchi they had on vacation that they keep trying to recreate but can’t quite because it’s not the original.
In the meantime, I’ll settle for being someone’s drunk pizza that they order every weekend because at least it’s consistent without commitment until someone can afford to pay extra for my guac 😉
With lots of vulnerability and love,