Dating. It’s an idea that should be filled with romance and a sense of adventure but instead is pretty much one big ball of bullsh*t and anxiety.
Instead of connecting with one another, it seems that the name of the game is to present oneself as ideally as possible in hopes that the other person will stick around long enough not to mind as much when the mask falls off.
Truth is carefully danced around, and what truth is told is spun to show ourselves in the best possibly light.
That’s fine: I get it. We all want to put our best foot forward. I think, however, there is one dating mind-f*ck we could all do without.
In my dating experience, the most challenging part has been to try to figure out whether or not someone is interested, and if someone is interested, where exactly do those interests lie. Is this a relationship? Casual sex? Friends with benefits? A one night stand? An outlet for your boredom? A focus for your loneliness? A pen pal when you feel like it? Are you looking for something serious or something casual or maybe something in between? Is this exclusive or not?
This is the dating mind-f*ck that we don’t need as adults. This isn’t high school. We’re all big boys and girls, and we need to start f*cking acting like it. None of us are mind readers. Let me repeat that:
We aren’t mind readers.
We cannot know what you want unless you communicate with us. And, no, we actually don’t want the bullsh*t you’re spinning. We actually want to know the unvarnished truth. What do you want? Where is this going? And why do we all sit around drowning in anxiety rather than just saying how we feel?
Now I should assert that I am a very straight-forward person, and I know that dating is anything but. However, I feel, as a participant of the game, I can choose how I want to play it. Personally, I’d like to play it with honesty and integrity, and I’d like to weed out those who aren’t on the same page by dispensing with the bullsh*t. I don’t like to wonder if you’re passing the time or genuinely care about me as a person. I don’t want to try to figure out if we’re friends, casually dating or something more.
Honestly, who has time for this?
Everyone I know who is deep in the dating culture seems to be dealing with more anxiety than excitement or romance. We’re not having fun. We’re popping anti-depressants and anxiety pills and endlessly trying to figure out your game. It’s hard to relax into the dating scene when everyone’s angle seems to be about keeping as many people on the hook as possible and never revealing true intentions.
Let’s use a fun poker analogy. I’ve never been much of a poker player, however much I might enjoy the occasional game. I have no poker face. Whatever I’m feeling is written clearly across my face at any given time for the world to see. And I tend to go all in—probably too soon or even if my cards aren’t always ideal. I don’t know how to be another way.
You see where this is going, right? It’s not that I don’t have game. I can play like a pro, if I feel like it. I know all the right moves, but I’ve lost interest. I’d rather lay my cards out on the table, and I don’t want to beg to see the hand you’re holding. I’m digging deep lately, and I don’t want to be a player in a game I will surely lose.
I’d much rather meet you here with an open heart and my raw vulnerability on display. I want to meet you without your mask or pretense and for you to meet me the same way. I don’t want to hear the flawless, perfect things you think I want to hear. I want your full unvarnished truth. Your bad temper and sulking. Your insecurities and the scars you carry. I want to know you and care for you for all of that and for you to do the same for me.
I don’t want to be loved only for my strength and quick wit or the comfort I have in my own skin. I want to be cared about for my insecurities and broken places and the terrors that wake me in the night. I want to come together in our wholeness as flawed individuals, in the purity of our truth and not with the illusions we try to maintain.
When I talk to my friends who are dating, they want the same thing. They just want to know where they stand. They want to come into a dating scenario being who they are and meet a real person and not a mirage. We’re not here for a half-life or a half-love or to water down our true selves so you’ll stay a little longer. We don’t want you to water down your truth either.
We’re tired of the mind-f*ck, the endless anxiety, the unreturned texts and the shifts in mood that we can’t interpret because we’re not actually f*cking mind readers but human beings putting ourselves out there even though it often hurts us.
And, yes, we realize that truth is hard. We know that it takes a lot of courage to clarify yourself when maybe you’re weighted down by your own insecurities, too. Keeping us off-balance isn’t going to answer your questions any more than it will ours. You don’t need to try to figure out how much we want you by playing games. In the end, we all just want an environment where we can enjoy the companionship of dating without the constant struggle to understand one another, a struggle that arises only because each party is trying to be perfect rather than real or to obscure an uncomfortable truth.
Keeping in mind that we’re not mind-readers, we can learn to speak our truth, even if the response isn’t what we may want to hear. Isn’t it always better to know? We could spend a couple more days or weeks second-guessing our gut feelings or ignoring the red flags or we can clarify where we stand and seek clarity from our partners.
We can put all of our cards on the table, knowing that to take that risk means that the other player might walk away. But we put them out there because we want a player who can meet us where we are. We don’t want to play anymore. We’re going all in, and you can raise or fold or just walk away. But we come to a place where the last thing we want in a complicated dating world is to gamble our happiness on someone who never shows us their hand.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Images: Movie Still/Pride & Prejudice
Editor: Travis May