Dating is hard.
Finding someone that is just the same shade of broken as me, or at least accepts the quirky things that make me, me, is (Can you guess?) awkward. It’s like an intricate social experiment where I am trying to, at the very least, survive the undertow. At the most? Find a human I connect with and can actually tolerate beyond a couple of months. A human who will eventually know all of me, weaknesses exalted, and who still wants to grab me and hold me despite of it all.
Sometimes I think all relationships are an impossible structure, a flawed oxymoron that counters all that makes us human. And still, it is all any of us want. Aren’t we all just searching, even indirectly, or even when we have no business looking? Are people crafted for this design? Are we constructed to fit this format, even though we are impulsive and egotistical beings? And we wonder why things go wrong. We wonder why it is so complicated.
And some of us actually semi-grasp the chaotic need to consume another person. I am just starting to glimpse the contradictions that surround a relationship, but haven’t an inkling as to what to do at all. It is like craving food and salivating at the thought, but struggling to figure out what you want to shove in your face. And yet, we hunger for the relationship. At least I still do. I want to believe in that person that is going to just get me. No–not just get me, but be there for me. Be there. Be it. Make me feel like dynamite is coursing through every atom, and maybe…just maybe, make me love myself more.
And all of this makes me think.
We are unique individuals, but at our core? We are more similar than we like to admit. The history of our world is vast and complex, and yet we have found ways to process that. And the one thing we should be able to conquer with ease–the connections between people–blows our fuckings minds. Even though I am a person talking to another person and this person is communicating back, we can’t quite figure out how to figure it all out. Will anyone? Will I? Will I find that person where everything is just easy?
I don’t really know. I like to believe so.
I’ll tell you one thing I do know: that even if you think you find a person that you inexplicably connect with–the love and the passion and the talking and the plans and the living of life–all these interactions end up making the connection jumbled and tirelessly mystical. They make us have to interpret thoughts and feelings that lead to future thoughts and feelings. Once you go past that point? Done and done. It makes me understand why an ostrich would stick its head in the dirt (if that were a thing ostriches’ actually do).
I think fucking (or wanting to fuck), often fucks things up.
PART 1: Bar
The buzz of the bar surrounds me. The subtle chatter, people huddled together laughing, the smell of wings, the clang of bottles being tossed in a barrel–all happenings that are predictable and comforting. There are not many other social escapades I adore more than the promise of a quaint bar on a Sunday afternoon, the whole day edging to unfold. It doesn’t happen often, but this weekend has somehow decided not to expedite itself with the vengeance of a slighted holiday shopper. This day has granted me a gentle reprieve. Like shit, it is only 1 o’clock in the afternoon and my ass is planted in a barstool, totally at ease.
The walk with her was a mix of bliss and pure terror. We spent the last 48 hours tangled up in each other, engaged in this pattern for weeks, utterly infatuated. And I use that word because sometimes there is only one particular word that represents a situation, a few syllables that capture it without fault. So infatuation–desire, fascination, obsession, passion, lust–all the things that can make a person feel alive. On fire. Confident.
And these past two days were no different, and maybe even more intense in ways. We left her apartment, her room in shambles, stumbling down the stairs giddy, while trying to pick a destination between kisses. We walked out into the most perfect day, the otherworldly kind that makes you forget how the bitter cold can torch your skin or how the heat can make you heavy and oppressed. This kind of day makes you appreciate that the sun exists, the air crisp, and you are warm nonetheless.
And here we are, ordering another round of IPAs, people-watching between pleasant conversation. But that’s the thing about infatuation–it’s typically short-lived, like a mirage of comfort and stability. It’s the flick of a wrist only a magician can conjure, the audience in awe of an illusion they pretend is real, even though they know. They want to believe in it. I want to believe in it, too. But, it seems, infatuation comes with a predetermined expiration date. And, even though these thoughts are climbing steadily up my spine, her hand is in mine and I am living in the present.
Things are like, good. No, they are great! I think…I think they are great, but I am kind of freaking, out. I just cannot. I cannot possibly explain why I am freaking out so much! I shouldn’t be, if I come to a logical conclusion about all of our interactions, and yet I am freaking out. God! She seems fantastic and different than a lot of the girls I’ve dated. She seems like she could possibly even maybe be a part of my future. She even video called with my sister when she was over this weekend! Geez. That probably was an awful idea. I really don’t know, because things do seem so great. And yet a part of me is unsure and hesitant and even suspicious. These past few weeks have been exciting, refreshing even. I genuinely enjoy her company even when we are just watching a show or cooking breakfast, waiting for the coffee to brew. It seems like we mesh.
She is everything I haven’t felt in a really long time, and in ways she is things I’ve never had. She is smart and quirky and a big, giant spaz. She LOVES to have all the fun, and she is stronger than she even believes, but likewise, possesses this quality that makes me NEED to take care of her. But…I feel confused and scared and overwhelmed. She is vibrant, but closed off. Open with me, sort of, but simultaneously has a brick wall up that the freaking Hulk couldn’t crack. She is sexy–endlessly sexual, and that obviously turns me on.
But does she get me?
Like, I don’t think she gets me. What I want. What I need. All of my goals and dreams to move around the country and be as successful as I can. I mean goodness, gracious, is she going to pick up and move across the country when I am good and ready??? Ummm…I have no idea! And this…this is what I am talking about. It is all so unpredictable. I am just going to get hurt or I am going to hurt her or we are going to hurt each other, an endless cycle of pain and suffering. And that is just too much hurt for both of us. Like, I don’t think I can handle that! I just really don’t know. I am endlessly worried! I look at her and then I soften a little. She is kind and considerate and I really want to kiss her right now. Ugh!
What do I do?!
Breathe. I will breathe. I will calmly and directly tell her what I feel and all the ways it can come crashing down. I will tell her that, even though I think she is AMAZING and I am endlessly attracted to her, and she is really, really great, that I just don’t think she can see outside herself enough to ultimately give me all I need in life. I have goals. I have HUGE moves to make. I don’t think that our situations will allow us to move forward. I don’t think she is capable of satisfying me enough, either. I mean…she has mostly been with men. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but I obsess over it. Maybe we just don’t fit. I just know we will both end up hurt. I think I need to say something, like, right, now. If I don’t, I can’t just keep seeing her, even though I want to keep seeing her. I am going saying something. I have to.
Here goes nothing.
As I am debating whether or not the intensely young, hot female, opposite the bar, heavily flirting with this eighty-ish old gentleman, is a gold digger or an escort (or perhaps they are in love?), I become unconditionally baffled.
Really. Really? What is she saying? Let’s talk about the phrase “caught off guard” as an understatement. Is there a word that is more powerful than understatement that describes how this conversation, on this day, was nowhere in the forecast?
I am astounded.
I don’t understand any sounds that are emigrating from her lips. I want to shout, “Excuse me? I am not caring enough? I don’t give you the attention and support you need?” Nevermind that we are, were, having an incredible weekend; I just thought things were good all around. We have only been dating a few weeks and I was in no way prepared for a conversation of this magnitude. Not only am I not equipped for a discussion about our relationship or our future (yes, she keeps talking future), it never even occurred to me that it was necessary right now. Everything has been easy and good. Great…or I thought so, anyway. Clearly I am incapable of correctly interpreting a relationship that I am a part of. If I can’t decipher this relationship, I wonder what else I am misreading in my life. Huh.
What the fuck?
She keeps talking and talking, and saying over and over again that “we will both end up hurt” and that “I am not going to be able to give her what she needs” and that “I just don’t understand her” and, for once, I am speechless. And every time I try to respond or follow-up on a comment or question she is asking, I don’t even have a full sentence completed and she just repeats all of the same lines again.
I have two questions:
- How can I understand her if she is not actually providing me specificity about the statements she’s spewing at me?
- How can she understand me if she is not giving me the opportunity to actually speak?
If she is not willing to effectively hear my perspective or listen to what I am thinking or how I perceive this situation, then surely there is no communication, but rather a one-sided rant…and it is confusing and I don’t want to participate anymore. Also? The few statements I manage to burrow between her stream of concerns and accusations of my inability to take care of her needs, turns out she isn’t listening anyway, not really. This makes me more confused, and admittedly sad. Do people really ever listen to each other?
Here is a person I thought I knew, or was getting to know, that I was sharing me with–I was being open and that I thought I could trust, and here I am completely sucker-punched with her reaction of me. Of me, being me. Maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe it really is me. Maybe I am incapable of being what anyone needs at all. It is hard to deter from these thoughts, when this is the outcome of a relationship I thought was going really well.
I try once more to see if she will sit down and talk or if we could walk and discuss her fears or hesitations or at least explain them to me so that I am able to grasp what in the actual shit happened. But she just continues to traipse ovals around my thoughts as she pays the check.
She hugs me then and says that she wishes things could be different (Aren’t they? Can’t they be? Has she just manifested problems that don’t truly exist? I think it really can be simpler than all of this.) and wishes me the best. She walks out the door as I stand there unsure of where to put my hands or what direction I should look, and I decide to order one more beer and try to figure it out, because what the hell.
Dating is hard. Maybe we should have just remained friends.
Concept + Artwork By: Erica Lescota – @phoenix_designs37
Concept Development + Text By: Lanaya Alexander – @writing.for.the.calm
Note: This is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, events, and places are results of the artist and author’s imagination. Anything that resembles actual places, people, or events is entirely coincidental.