In our current culture, there’s an abundance of games.
“How long should I wait to text him back?”
“I don’t want to have that talk with them… I’ll seem needy.”
“It’s okay, I’ll get them back by posting a hot picture on Instagram.”
These are all statements I’ve heard from my friends within the last week. Heck, I’ve also been guilty of most of them. Yet in a culture of digital retaliation, suppressing our feelings, and analyzing minute details of a text message, we’re missing what dating is supposed to be: simple.
That’s right, dating is supposed to be simple. Evolutionarily speaking, previous generations did not have the modern day complexities of cell phones, dating apps, or guides to get the person they had their eye on. Yet they had all the necessary tools for a successful relationship: honesty, connection, communication, and vulnerability. That is literally all it takes if you’re willing to accept that it may also come with rejection, uncomfortability, and courage. It takes letting someone know you’re not interested instead of just ghosting. It takes having the “talk” that you want a committed relationship without viewing yourself as needy. It takes setting boundaries and being willing to walk away if your desires aren’t met. It takes sitting with loneliness instead of staying complacent in a relationship that doesn’t respect your needs. It takes unwiring all the complicated information we’ve had access to and really getting in touch with our humanity, the present moment, and ourselves.
Another important lesson to learn from those who came before us is that people are not for our control. People are not video games, and we can’t play them that way. No matter how long we wait to text back, how hot we look on Instagram, or how often we pretend we don’t have feelings for someone, we cannot force someone into loving us. The only thing we can control is how much we love ourselves. This means loving ourselves enough to know that we deserve to have our feelings heard, our needs met, and our love reciprocated. Unfortunately, loving ourselves also means knowing how to walk away and sit in loneliness instead staying in a relationship where we’re only getting breadcrumbs instead of the whole damn meal.
Let’s take a page from the book of the wise generations that came before us. Let’s put ourselves out there even if it means we are rejected. Let’s set boundaries even if some may not respect them. Let’s let go of things that no longer serve us even if it means we have to sit in boredom while couples on Instagram seem to be living perfect fairytales. Let’s really live, not just on our phones, but in the beautiful, uncomfortable, tragic and emotional thing called reality.