Spirit is working through my fingertips right now, y’all. Writing is a beautiful and highly meaningful process to me because of the way a piece creates, sustains, and culminates its own journey, but right now, as I begin doing some light research for this post, I see that even I won’t even know what’s about to come out.
Quick backstory: The last time I dated someone was in October, briefly. That week in October, I went on dates with two people: one date with a nice person who didn’t make me feel anything, and the second with a nice person who made me feel something for a little bit, but then the relationship fizzled out after a few weeks (apparently only from my perspective). Now, here in March, the situation has recreated itself: I texted with someone all week just to have it fizzle out (kind of my doing, but I can’t fake it, ya know?), followed by another immediate date prospect.
The difference this time, however, is that I kind of cancelled the second one. He asked to reschedule first, and after loosely rescheduling, I decided I wasn’t feeling it. Here I am, seven months after dating and wanting to be in a relationship, yet choosing to fizzle out two dates in the same week. When objective facts seem to be so at odds with my thoughts and behavior that their significance is undeniable, I have to look myself in the mirror and ask some hard questions:
If I am wanting to be in a relationship, why did I choose to not go on dates with two reasonably compatible people?
Is it possible that I am only looking for a casual relationship?
Or is it possible that I’m not looking for a relationship *at all*?
One of my major tensions with the city of Tallahassee is its extremely lacking LGBTQ+ culture. We have only one bar (a straight bar) that hosts one gay night. Because of its geographic location, it’s not exactly the most desired city for queer folks. We gays (generally, of course) like entertainment, cities with arts and culture, bars with drag queens, and–at the very least–the assurance that there are enough possibilities of other queer people in our midst for us to potentially date.
With most of my friends either partnered, married, or soon getting married, I’ve contemplated the role of romantic partnership in our culture at large as well as in my own life. In this week’s podcast, Charise, Angela, and I talk about dating and settling. Upon searching for popular opinion about dating in your 20s online (a search I did right before starting this post), I saw what I expected in the first result: an article called Benefits to Dating in Your 20s.
However, here’s what I saw on the rest of the page:
I was–and am–shøøk. Does everyone agree with what these articles say? Is it common knowledge among wise people–spiritual people, even–that dating in your 20s is a crock of shit? Yet, I know plenty of people who began relationships in their 20s who are thriving. Even in spirituality literature, we know that true, romantic, life partner soulmates can meet as early as infancy. So, like all things, I am remembering that life is contextual. Some people are supposed to date in their 20s, and some people aren’t.
But the more important point is this: There are enough people who recognize that dating in your 20s is not essential for happiness in your 20s, which means each of us who chooses to not date in our 20s, or does not date for whatever reason in our 20s, is not irreversibly screwed.
*we knew this already*
*but it was nice to be reminded*
So am I categorically opposed to dating in my 20s? Hell nah. If I felt a connection with someone, I’d go on a date before I could even finish writing this post. But when I made the choice to discontinue talking to those guys this week, it was because I was more excited about the other things I could be doing. Instead of getting coffee with someone this morning, I went to the local flower/plant garden and bought some new succulents for my window. On Friday, instead of getting drinks as planned, I drank wine and watched four episodes of Shameless in my new, king-size bed. That’s what I needed in the moment and I ain’t sorry ’bout it.
“But you’ll never know until you give someone the benefit of the doubt, Juan-Juan,” you’ll say.
This will sound selfish to some people, but I must remind everyone that attending to your own needs is always a must. When we make the choice to spend time with ourselves instead of forcing ourselves to be interested in someone we’re not, we’re making a major countercultural (and counterintuitive) choice: to remember that we’re also capable of meeting our own needs and making ourselves happy even outside of a romantic partnership.
That is the goal of self-development and mental health, right? In Milk & Honey, Rupi Kaur writes:
with your solitude
what i have
and i am happy
what i’ve lost
and i am
are your own
So there ya have it. Choosing to be happy alone versus faking it just for the sake of partnership is a sign of growth and development.
Would coffee or drinks with a dud date have been the worst thing in the world? No, not the worst.
But knowing that I trust myself to wait for quality? Believing that someone else in the future could make me so excited that I slam my laptop shut, spit out my wine, and run out the door in excitement to go on a date?
Well dang, that’s the best thing in the world.