You know the term, ‘talking’? Somewhere between ‘dating’ and being ‘exclusive’. Or is it ‘exclusive’ and being in a ‘relationship’? Who the fuck knows. Our modern way of categorizing relationships actually gives me anxiety – it’s why every time I open the Tinder app, my left eye twitches slightly.
As a recent college graduate who decided to focus on her career and self and forego dating, I was completely shocked by the vastly different way it was defined post college. Not to say that throughout that year I didn’t peruse Tinder to give myself an ego boost when I matched with the hot premed student at Brown. It’s just that I wasn’t actually ‘dating’. Nothing came out of it, and I instead got a little too familiar with my vibrator and shower head.
During the four years I spent at my small private school in the middle of nowhere upstate New York, dating was a rich man’s sport, and most of us were serfs of the University. You were lucky if you didn’t see the guy you had planned to take home now grinding his hands down the front of another girl’s pants after you excused yourself to go to the bathroom. Basically, no one was committing to a relationship, and it wasn’t uncommon for the guy you swapped spit with for an hour on the dance floor Saturday night to completely ignore your existence in Monday calculus.
I wasn’t dating anyone, and didn’t really care to. I was a double engineering and business major and had no time for feelings. Random hookups and never having ‘the talk’ pretty much summed up my college experience.
Who even came up with that anyway? Obviously someone with no respect for my mental health.
So, talking. The obscure act of kind of dating someone, but not officially, and not really being in a relationship either. Although talking seems super simple and straightforward, it’s the exact opposite. Over the last six months I’ve had a few colossal fails of ‘dating’ but none worse than the first, and really traumatic experiences of ‘talking’ to a guy that has made me swear to never do it again. And for the most part I haven’t. Random OkCupid hookups over the holidays don’t count.
His name is Jon. That’s his real name because who cares, and honestly is one of the most generic names ever so I really dgaf. He was the guy from every movie that you think is different and are rooting for because he seems like the underdog. He actually made me regret not using OkCupid sooner.
Jon was a graduate student at Tufts, studying policy, and like me had just recently moved to Boston. Instead of talking about all of the things he’d done or parties he’d gone too, he was more interested in getting to know my favorite places to grab pho and a good coffee, as well as what books I was reading. He even shared my same interests in feminist podcasts.
After telling him how I had recently gotten into the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, which side note if you’ve never listened to it please stop right now and go look it up. He proceeded to tell me about his own favorites. Specifically those made by woman of color and feminists, because as he put it “As a man of color and self-identifying feminist, it’s important to see how women approach these subjects that I myself am just starting to explore.”
Can you say too fucking good to be true? Yeah, me too. Not to mention that when I told him it was new for me to have so much in common with a man, especially a man of color with such similar views and beliefs as my own, he uttered the sentence that still to this day makes me want to slap myself for not seeing the signs that he was used to this, “You’re safe with me.”
Can you believe that shit?
Jon and I talked for about a month nonstop, never being able to meet because we lived on opposite sides of the city and had conflicting schedules. When it finally came time to hang out for the first time, which I assured my friends would be when we made this virtual relationship ‘official’, he disappeared from the face of the earth.
I was checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if he texted me. Even texted him when I was out and drunk, with a quick “wrong person” behind it so that he didn’t think I was too desperate. Which in hindsight, I definitely was. Jon ended up popping back up three weeks later, with the cliché I broke my phone excuse, and pretended like everything was fine. Until three days later when I would leave for Denver on a business trip, during which he’d open my snap of the Rocky Mountains and never respond to me again.
The worst part about Jon and I’s relationship was that it was actually the most emotionally attached I’d been with the opposite sex in about year. I didn’t realize I could actually catch feelings for a man I solely communicated with via text messages, FaceTime, and snapchats. Yeah, we shared the occasional sext here and there, but those were sparse, with most of our conversations consisting of questions about our true selves and getting past the wall we both seemed to keep up to guard us from others.
What this experience taught me was that no guy is worth second guessing yourself and making you feel crazy. You aren’t crazy. You’re a complex human being with feelings and who doesn’t like being made to feel used and thrown away.
Now I’m fine with being single and dating around. Not to say that I haven’t been spurned a few other times, which, that’s a different story. It means that I’ve dropped the rose colored glasses of what online dating claims to be like, and accepted it for what it is. For me, that’s a place to meet some cool dudes, but mostly get unsolicited dick pics and propositioned by 50 year-old men. And that’s okay. As long as they plan to buy me something off of my Amazon wish list, then we’re good.