There’s something in the water.
In the past six weeks or so, I’ve seen five of my friends’ relationships abruptly end. The bounty of break ups has me thinking a lot about all of the relationships around me, and twenty-something dating in general. So! Based on an admittedly small sample size without any real data and with many apologies to my AP Statistics teacher, I’m making the following hypothesis:
We millennial daters have substituted love with possession, followed by obsession.
And herein lies our collective fuck-up.
I find that whenever I start dating/texting/swiping? with someone new, I feel giddy about it…but in the same way I feel giddy about a new handbag or LIFE magazine poster sale.
We fetishize potential new partners as shiny objects to possess, instead of seeing them as 3D humans to engage and discover. Dating should be a character study, not a “walk me through your resume.” This is like when I tell my friends that he’s tall, attends a top medical school, and went to sleep-away camp instead of highlighting his kindness, quirky sense of humor, and passion for astronomy.
Having a new boy in the cue gives me a little spring in my step, a great story at a BGD (big girls dinner), and the unfounded whack notion that my mom is pleased with me. It’s a weird offshoot of presentation and materialism, in the same way that humble bragging on Instagram is these things. Even that, saying “having a new boy,” which my girlfriends and I definitely say to each other with straight faces….haha! I really hate us and love us a lot.
When we live our lives to be seen by the gaze of another, we do whatever we have to do to preserve that image — even if at our own expense. Basically, new boy = pretty possession that adds to our own individual feelings of self-worth and self-presentation.
I think we confuse growing feelings for more detailed stalking, or healthy time spent thinking and daydreaming about someone with getting up in their social media grill. Deciding to text him back – without a shred of irony – at 4:44, compulsively watching his snap stories…these activities have undertones of anxiety and compulsiveness to them. They’re not fun or easy lovely, they’re !!!!
I think the major difference between real feelings and this obsession is that the former is active, the latter passive. It takes two to go deeper in a relationship, and it takes one to google someone else from their cell phone. Discovering someone in time is a part of the process, and we eliminate the authenticity of that journey when we stalk the shit out of each other. I know we obviously aren’t going to not do some light research…but it’s food for thought.
Please note this isn’t all our fault. We didn’t make the system, we’re just players in the world’s stage or whatever. But we all should take a second to check ourselves and our behavior when we start something with a new person: when we describe them to our friends, when we follow them on Instagram, etc. We should just take that extra step and check in with ourselves, even starting as simple as our word choice.
If we’re going to be absurd, let’s at least be aware of how silly all of this is while we’re doing it. Let’s call ourselves out and police each other, and try to be better – more present, and more real.