Dating. A notion that makes me uncomfortable and a topic I never thought I’d write about, yet here I am. I can finally admit this: I have trouble dating. This is true for so many millennials. Dating as a millennial has become ridiculously superficial. I’ve heard an abundance of excuses as to why we won’t commit. I can only truly speak for myself at this moment though, so let me explain.
When I was 15, I moved to Houston from Philadelphia. I was a sophomore, and I met this guy in my homeroom class. Let’s call him Sam. I had a crush on Sam for years. He was a grade ahead and was the shyest guy I’ve ever met in my whole life. I had to “make the first move”, and it happened right before he graduated. I remember sitting next to him on the school bus as we were on our way to a school trip. And I said it: I like you. He didn’t even look at me but uttered the words every high school student hopes to hear, I like you too. But nothing happened until the middle of my senior year. He came back randomly to the school once, asked me for my number, and then he became my boyfriend. A year later, he disappeared. To this day, I cannot tell you what happened. He just vanished. So, I found consolation in a guy I’m going to call Alan. Alan was different. He pursued me the way a cheetah chases after a gazelle. I was so heartbroken, so like most silly teenagers, I gave him a piece of my heart. Everything was going well. My parents liked him, he was funny, urbane, and charming. He surprised me all the time with cute gifts. Then he cheated. Twenty-one-year-old me was trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces I allowed him to toss everywhere. I fell into a deep hole of depression and anxiety. I wanted to be left alone. Then months later, I met a guy I’m going to call Rob.
Rob deserves his own paragraph because Rob was different. Not only was he sweet, but he also could never hurt a soul. He was tall, handsome, strong, brave, and quite romantic. Rob was exactly what every father or mother would ask for in a son-in-law, but I ruined it. This time, it was me. I broke Rob’s heart because I was scared. I thought what we had was too good to be true. I couldn’t understand how someone could have real, genuine feelings for me and not try to hurt me. I really cared about Rob and I knew we could’ve had a future together, but I looked for every and any excuse to break up with him because I couldn’t go through torture again. After 6 months of dating, I yelled at him and told him to leave me alone forever. I cried that night more tears than I had ever cried in my life. And guess what? He left me alone. He did exactly what I told him to do. Since then, for the past 6 years, I have been alone.
Now that I got the gist of my past relationships out of the way, you can understand my troubles. I mentally prepared myself to be alone forever. I have been focusing on my career and love for fashion and writing, but I thought, a little over a year ago, that instead of hiding and letting time pass me by, I should put myself out there. Give love it’s undying chance to bite me. So, I started “scheduling” dates with guys I was introduced to by mutual friends or met online. After planning dates and not falling through, after dating a guy for a while and it fizzles down to nothing, I realized life is a tragicomedy. I found myself finding at least one flaw in each guy. “No, his head is shaped funny” or “he’s one inch too short” or “he’s such a fop” or “he doesn’t have any real goals in life” or “but he’s a waiter” or my favorite, “his teeth are a little crooked.” Dating in the age of millennials means you can go through a menu of guys or girls, swipe left or right, and pick the one that is the most attractive or interesting and try to start a conversation with them. “The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much.” (Marianne from Sense and Sensibility, 1811) Not much has changed it seems.
Let’s glance at this from another perspective. Although my reasons have been trivial, many other millennials nit-pick as much as I have. A 2018 survey of 1,000 singles, found 39% of respondents believe committed relationships are boring. The same study found that 61 percent of women and 46% of men are afraid of “settling for someone for the wrong reason.” The same survey found that millennials were breaking off relationships over folderol like incompatible zodiac signs, taking photos of their food at dinner, and disagreeing on the best Italian restaurant in town. We may call it “the wrong reason”, but I can say that it’s much deeper than all that. For most millennials, that reason is simply that they enjoy being alone, or they want time to focus on their career. Perhaps a lack of money plays a huge role, or they feel like they have too many options. I can only speak for myself.
The questions I ask myself still, remain. Why do I truly have so much trouble with dating? Why do I always find at least one flaw in every guy? Why do I feel like I’m running through Dante’s Inferno? Well, I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and connotate a few reasons. Fear of commitment comes to mind. Fear of showing my true emotions. Fear of rejection and abandonment. The root of the problem is that I give my past relationships too much power over my present. Even though I really “wanted to go out with that guy”, the truth is my fear of commitment and destructive behavior would’ve ruined it anyway because I don’t want to get hurt again. That is why, for many of us, our first instinct is to hurt. We need to have the upper hand. We don’t allow ourselves to truly feel anything. We build walls and never let anyone in, then we “ghost” them when we’re bored or find a flaw. Or try this, we ghost them when we find propinquity might lead us to attachment.
There is no logic to human behavior. I don’t know how we can prevent ourselves from being so picky nor do I know how you can get to the root of your problem, but I’ll tell you this. If you’re still dreaming and hoping about falling in love, don’t stop. Don’t allow silly things get in the way of something good. I hope you do find someone that fulfills your life. Someone you’re not afraid to be silly with. Someone that spoils you and remembers the small details. Someone that is willing to acknowledge when they’re wrong. Someone you can be open with. Someone that adds to your life and doesn’t take away. I hope you find love. A love that feels like your heart is about to fall out of your chest. I hope you find that soul connection. I hope you find your person. Until then, don’t be afraid to open up and take risks. Love isn’t always a winning game, but what is life without it? As for me, I won’t allow my past relationships to affect my future endeavors. Maybe one day, past the dating, I’ll see someone without picky eyes, but through true love.
Director of Lifestyle and Fashion Editor
SHE Magazine USA