On why I haven’t been dating a whole lot the past two years or so, and why it’s been extremely refreshing.
After reading through the catalogue of wild teenage heartache and drowning in the syrupy sentimentality (see previous post: “LOVE BUZZ”), it’s strange to take a good, hard look at the past year or two and notice my complete lack of interest in dating. Was I so over-the-top in the lovesickness of my childhood that I got it all out of my system early on and now I’m totally immune?
Or, is this feeling normal?
For the last couple of years, the desire for romance has eluded me. It is the last on my list of priorities. No, I can’t even say that it’s anywhere on a list of priorities. Up until quite recently, I’ve spend the last two years wholeheartedly avoiding anything resembling dating. Even sex.
I’m not too big on “hooking up.” I did it in college, and I’m glad I had that experience because it allowed me to explore my sexuality and taught me a couple of lessons on what I do and do not want. For example, “hooking up” is something I do not want. [This isn’t to say that hooking up and casual sex isn’t awesome, healthy and fun for some people. It totally is! It’s just not right for me.]
I guess I always thought that being young and progressive and in tune with your body and sexuality implied that you had to be having or wanting a lot of sex. But, lately I’m beginning to realize that this is not true. When I first noticed my unresponsiveness to the allure of others, I was slightly concerned. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with me?” But then, when I suddenly had more time and energy to focus on other aspects of my life, I embraced the feeling. When it comes down to it, at this point in my life, sex is not as interesting or important as other activities like long, winding conversations with a best friend or spending an entire day alone writing and creating something awesome and worthy of pride.
I enjoy sex and I always have. But, I enjoy it a whole helluva lot more when I have a connection with a partner (as I’m sure many can relate). I can’t get into a purely physical relationship. This isn’t to say that I have to be in love or even romantically attached. However, I need some kind of connection, some kind of friendship or spark. I need to be able to talk to this person in a normal way outside of sexual encounters. I want to feel totally comfortable and at ease and like myself. Because I crave that in my sexual encounters, they often translate in my mind as investing time and energy into someone else, and it begins to look and feel a lot like dating.
I’m a pretty discerning person when it comes to the company I keep and I get more and more discerning as time goes on. What I mean is, I don’t like many people right away—if at all. Yes, this makes me look like a total curmudgeon and that is not an entirely unfair assessment. The more years go by, the less eager I am to make new friends. The new people I meet and seek friendship with are people with whom I almost immediately and effortlessly connect. So, I consider my nature, which is generally very skeptical of most people. I then ask myself, “How am I supposed to enjoy being physically or romantically intimate with someone I don’t know and feel uncertain about when I can barely bring myself to meet new friends?”
This distinct disinterest in dating and romance feels like an about-face from the way I’d always been growing up. I had been such a ridiculous, heartsick, lovesick mush-ball of romantic idealism when—suddenly—I enter my mid-twenties and find myself completely over it. Dating and the idea of it sometimes drains all my energy and makes me feel stifled and, frankly, impatient.
I have to wonder how many people my age feel that way—totally unconcerned with and even resistant to dating.
What with social media and all, everyone’s relationship status is always available for the looking. We all get constant updates on new partners, engagements, weddings, vacations, cute moments, break ups, etc.
So I see all this relationshipping and I ask myself, “Am I literally the only person not interested in this? Am I that much of a sourpuss?” The whole world seems to be out looking for its soulmate and I’m here like, please don’t talk to me, strange person, because I don’t have time for this.
My mind is constantly occupied by thoughts of jobs, careers, travel, family, and friends. I barely have time to keep up with all that and have time to myself so how could I be expected to start freakin’ dating?! NAH!
When I first moved back home, I signed up for OKCupid for the very first time in the hopes that I could maybe meet new friends and perhaps go on a couple of very casual dates. It took me about 48 hours before I deactivated my account. I absolutely could not deal with the constant messages. Even when I received a message from someone who seemed genuinely awesome, the pressure to meet them and strike up a conversation with a stranger was too overwhelming.
I soon began to realize that I had indeed left Philly not only for financial reasons, but also for a respite from the constant crowd that inevitably occurs in large cities, and also from constant socialization. I needed to focus. Trying to recreate my social life in my hometown was A.) not going to work and B.) not going to allow me the peace and quiet I needed to reevaluate my life and my goals.
One thing that troubles me about this non-sex, non-dating era of my life is that I’ve always assumed your twenties were for using your youth to go nuts and date around and experience a sexual awakening. But…I guess my twenties aren’t over yet. I’m barely halfway there. Sometimes it just feels bizarre not to be engaging in these “typical” activities.
This may be rather presumptuous or whatever, but I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever date seriously again or ever be in a relationship. I have so long been turned off by dating and having sex with most people, and I’ve been having such a fantastic time with my friends and family and such a productive time by myself. Every once in a while, I wonder…why would I?
Oftentimes, when I express that idea to people who don’t know me very well, they react with, “Oh…don’t worry! You’ll meet someone!” It’s a well-meaning comment, but it’s also irritating for a couple of reasons. Mostly because I don’t need to be comforted. If romance happens again for me, fantastic. But, I am in no way scared of the fact that I might never be in a relationship again. Rather, I find the entire idea of being single forever kind of exhilarating, refreshing and freeing. I think about all the things I could do and places I could go and energy I would have to accomplish things, both artistic and professional, that I have always wanted to accomplish. That is what really pumps my nads.
I’m not scared of being alone. I’ll never be wanting for love. I’ve got a big family and close friends, all of whom I shower with love and vice versa.
Of course, this is not to say that I’m resisting all relationships for the rest of my life. If it happens, cool. I’m not going to drive myself crazy searching for the “right” person. I also like to think that if I do meet someone, it will happen organically and not through a specific quest for love (i.e. dating sites/being set up/cruising popular singles places). For some people, that quest works beautifully. But, it’s just not what I want.
And, in case anyone was wondering, yes this means I feel ambivalent about having children, too. If I meet an ideal partner, it doesn’t mean that they or I will necessarily want children.
It also doesn’t mean I need to have a partner to have children. By all means, I am not equipped for parenthood let alone single parenthood, but the future is a mysterious place. I may find I want children and I’m not going to let not having a perfect partner stop me from realizing that dream.
But, children aren’t anywhere on my radar, so don’t bother staying tuned for that!
What are your thoughts on dating and romance and sex in your twenties? Is there anyone out there who can relate to this at all? Or am I just crazy?