For the first time in my adult life I am truly, and honestly single. When I say single I mean full sweatpants, messy bun, pizza and wine type of single that, on it’s best days feels like an never ending series of “Treat Yo’ Self” decisions and actions, and on it’s worst days feels like misery and jealousy every time I scroll through my Facebook news feed. The time between Wedding Season and Engagement season feels ever shortening and I find myself constantly pondering, “how did these people do it?! How did this, similar batch of friends and casual acquaintances find this all elusive ‘relationship’ while the rest of us fade in and out of meaningless thing after meaningless thing?”
Because that’s the perception , right? We are living in a narrative deemed “the hook-up culture” which the media states is our generations inability to connect; only proven true by the declining marriage rates and superfluous swiping apps. This narrative, overwhelmingly perpetrated by women, tells the story of swiping, meeting, causally having sex, and then slowly but steadily fading out of one another lives leaving one or both a tad scarred from the whole experience.
This was something, I had for the most part, never fully experienced. After ending my three year relationship I ended up in two season long relationships with guys who could not be further from my type before entering into, a 10 month long back and fourth relationship that smoldered and burned down my entire life, leaving baggage and scorched earth behind it. Afterwards started my slow but steady crawl into the real thick of the “hook-up culture”, except I had no idea what I was in for.
Over the course of four months, a little after my break-up, I was able to have every type of dating encounter I had never had. I had a couple meaningless tryst, a few “we-met-in-real-life” attempts, and finally found myself on a string of 1st and 2nd dates that seemed to go no where . This would happen every few weeks like clock work, and with every failed attempt at finding someone I remotely wanted to spend my time with, I became more and more frustrated with the dating game in general.
Oh and it is a game. For those of you who’ve done any casual to semi-casual forays into the online world of dating should be all to familiar with the rules. Don’t act too excited, don’t be too available, pretend you don’t care until you do care and then bail. I never questioned if these tactics worked I just did my best to abide by them and hoped something would work out. It was amazing how predisposed I was the idea that guys were going to screw me over, and the only way to combat that was to play the ultimate game of hard to get and see who blinked first. This charade , of course, always has its flaws. Someone will start to push away the other one, the other one will cling out of desperation/ pure confusion. This will go on for a while, and most likely ends after the band-aid solution of sex before teetering out, usually by ghosting.
This is somewhat similar to what I experienced throughout my time casually dating. Sometimes the scenario played out just like that and sometime it played out in different versions with always the same conclusion – you can’t trust anyone with your heart. The cyclical view that no one in our generation wants a true connection, and that the majority of men are commitment phobe’s while the majority of women are all crazy, is rampant. First dates are fine, but the moment someone becomes emotionally vulnerable the belief that the captain goes down with the ship makes everyone want to be the first to bail.
The trust just isn’t there.
Women don’t trust that men are interested for the right reasons, and believe that eventually someone else will come along and they’ll be old news. They hold their true feelings and desires in, in order to “win” the so called game and end up either pushing someone away or holding it in so tight that eventually it boils over into crazy land. Women in the “hook-up culture” believe that every man is about to ghost them and that every hour without a response text is the nail in the coffin to trusting him at all.
Men on the other hand don’t trust that women won’t behave like this. For whatever reason they keep ending up with women who have already vilified them without even having perpetrated a crime. The good ones find themselves apologizing time and time again for something some other guy did and the bad ones (though bad is a greying term) end up feeling like giant assholes for not wanting something more. They deal with same battle women do, of being vulnerable, and of being easily replaced, but have the added pressure of seeming unattached and nonchalant as per the societal view that men don’t feel emotion the way women do. Men in the “hook-up culture” believe that every women is going to judge him based off of what he is or isn’t and what he does or doesn’t do.
We need to stop looking at the “hook-up culture” as the problem and accept that it is only a symptom of something deeper, something rooted in fear and loneliness and misconception. We’re so dialed into the game we cease to realize that reality looms someone underneath, buried behind our mistrust of anything organic and real. We get that connecting with another person takes work yet we can’t break out of the cycle that perpetuates the very thing we hate the most.
Trust isn’t easy, especially when you’ve spent that past number of year or months basking in the glow of adult independence. Dating takes time and time, for a generation always balancing a busy calendar, is the new common currency. We have so many different options and so many different intentions that it’s a numbers game of meeting someone you genuinely like and are attracted to you that has the same intentions (and time!) as you. Hooking up is the benefit of being single, and having no attachments, but in order to have something more you have to be willing to trust the process and not run away from it.