This isn’t an article where I reminisce about the “good old days” when courtships abounded and being the recipient of a lettermen’s jacket was the equivalent of reaching selfactualization. I prefer the time I live in. I like to fuck when I want and give a play by play at brunch a few hours later. Yes, I’m pretty much on board with the whole millennial “let’s not settle down until we’ve experienced life fully, oh and I’ll probs freeze my eggs while I’m at it” culture.
It’s the ever present, overpowering, completely preposterous notion of “staying cool”, that I take issue with. You know what I mean. You hook up with someone. And maybe you realize in the harsh light of day that hey, this person isn’t a complete waste of space, and maybe you can picture yourself hanging out with them again.
But oh, you have to stay cool. It seems perfectly natural to show basic decency towards a human that was recently inside you. But that’s not cool. So you act like you don’t care.
“What are your plans today?” He asks as you grope around in the darkness for your bodysuit that everyone will know you had on the night before as soon as you leave his house. “Probably brunch with some friends”, you respond as your hand closes around something— bodysuit? No, that’s your bra.
Is he going to get your number? The delicate dance continues. He shifts his body back and forth in the bed, his bleary eyes attempting to pinpoint your belongings amongst the tousled sheets that hang limply off the bed. Meanwhile, like a jungle cat, you spryly pick your way across the floor, collecting your wares as you go. One sock, two socks, both shoes, bag. Conversation flits around the new brunch place in the Mission District that you’re checking out for the first time and he finds “a little over the top, but with bomb hollandaise sauce”.
The grand finale— he gets your number. Success! Off to brunch to dissect every last inkling of the night with the girls in the hopes of unveiling some hidden truth that will magically solve not just yours, but all of your friend’s relationship problems over bloody mary’s with bacon in them.
Because, you know, we’re all in this together, and #girlpower, and Beyonce.
The texting starts, and this is where the convolution truly begins. One of you texts, and the other responds two hours later. So you wait two hours after that to respond in turn. Or, as my player of a friend likes to call it, you “go dark” for a few days. As in, you feel yourself losing the upper hand in the relationship, so you just stop speaking to the person.
The scary part? It works.
And this power struggle that begins with a few measly texts, it seems to spread and permeate across the entirety of your interactions. Your friend might come across a guy you’re seeing on Bumble. And even if it bothers you, it would be uncool to bring it up to him, wouldn’t it?
So you say nothing.
Why is is that in the age of constant communication, it isn’t “cool” to be available for the one person you actually want to spend your time with? Because we all want what we can’t have. When something comes too easy, we cease to appreciate its value. It’s about delayed gratification. It’s about wondering why she hasn’t responded to your Snapchat of her favorite book you happened to see at the bookstore. It’s about hearing that song you both love and wanting to text him about it. But you don’t because there’s nothing worse than admitting he’s on your mind.
And while we’re sitting and wondering, what we’re actually doing it treating each other like shit. Staying “cool” about something, in reality, is just not holding someone accountable. So essentially, we can all get away with anything because showing anger, or frustration, or fondness, shows that you care. And once we do that, we lose the upper hand. We’re exposed, and at risk, and vulnerable. And isn’t that the fear? Rejection.
So you see the person who blew you off a couple months back and you play it cool. Because they can’t know it hurt you. They can’t know you talked it over with your friends at dinner last night. And because you play it cool, they don’t apologize. Because hey, she seems cool with it. Congratulations, you’ve just saved face with a person you’ll probably never see again. We need to ask ourselves where that gets us. Feeding into the notion that we’re all just cool with it doesn’t make us look cool, it makes us look like assholes.