Somewhere, someone is thinking about you. They don’t have a face or a name for you, and they don’t know where you live, but they know what you’re like, and they miss you as if they had you already. They have been through it all — the bad dates, the unanswered texts, the coded messages you have to decipher because no one wants to say how they really feel anymore — and they’re tired. They feel the same way about love as they do after a long day spent walking around the city: worn out, aching, and ready to lie down and close their eyes. When they lie in bed at night, they think about you, without even knowing who you are: The person who is tired, too.
Because you’re tired, aren’t you? You have come so close to real love, real commitment, so many times that it’s almost laughable. You’ve put all of your hope into people who had one foot out the door, and found it powerfully attractive when someone didn’t care about you. You have been chasing people for so long that your whole body is sore. Even if you wanted to, you don’t have the energy to spend another weekend checking your phone every 30 seconds to see if you’ve gotten a text from the one person you want to hear from. You couldn’t spend hours agonizing with friends over “what this could possibly mean” when “this” is a belated, dashed-off Facebook message apologizing for forgetting your party. Everyone knows what that means. It means they don’t care.
And you can’t do it anymore. You can’t be part of the chase, or this weird culture of never wanting to seem vulnerable, even when you’re so vulnerable for someone that you feel you might burst into tears at their name. Where the hunt used to be so thrilling and intoxicating, it now just feels silly. If someone really cared about you — or was worth your time — would you have to spend so much of yourself convincing them to stay?
But this is what we’ve been taught. Love is only real when it hurts, when it drains you, when there is something that you’re unsure about. If it comes too easily, or feels too natural, you’re automatically suspicious of it. There has to be some fight in it, something that feels like cold water against your skin and is constantly pricking you, reminding you that you’re alive and that this is what passion feels like. It’s every romantic comedy where there’s a full thirty minutes of struggle before the brief happy ending — you’ve never seen a story where there wasn’t something painful to go through.
You haven’t looked for it.
You haven’t looked for the “boring” love that feels calm and safe and sure. You’ve written it off as something that you might find when you are older, but not when you are young and crazy and destined to make terrible decisions. You have chosen the life of analyzing texts and flicking through dating profiles and dancing with strangers at bars because you think that it’s the only way that love happens at this age. But there is good love — there is quiet, understated love where everyone says what they feel, and texts are answered on time. There are people who lie awake at night, wondering when they will be able to lie next to someone and not wonder if they’re going to disappear the next morning. There is someone who is ready to get off the merry-go-round of one-night stands and being too afraid to say “I love you.”
And they are thinking about you. Even if they don’t know your name yet.