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January 25, 2018

A 20-something’s Guide to Not Dating.

How to Love Yourself and Trust Your Path.

When I was 16 or so, I received an email from my long-distance uncle. It was a direct, super casual sentence or two stating something along the lines of, “Hey if you’re a lesbian, I support you.”

Maybe not those words exactly, but you get the idea. We’re a pretty progressive family, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one wondering. 

Now, I’ve had my fair share of girl to girl tongue swapping. My first, like, eight kisses were with my best girlfriends at a pre-teen slumber party (it’s true what they say about slumber parties). In fact, I was the most popular kisser that night after stumbling upon a pack of skittles, because well, what young girl doesn’t want their first kiss to taste like the rainbow. 

In my uncle’s defense, I had all the outward qualities of a teenager who might question her sexuality. I was a broad-minded tomboy with a wardrobe made up of vintage baseball t’s and carpenter pants, a nonconformist attitude, and absolutely no knowledge (or interest) in how to apply makeup. 

But the truth was, despite my affinity for candy-flavored kissing and openness to possibilities, I liked dudes—there was no doubt in my loins. I simply had less interest in formal dating than the average person.

Fast forward to today. I’m a wildly open almost 30-something with a nonconformist attitude, an extended history of kissing my girlfriends, a wardrobe and lifestyle that skews masculine, absolutely no idea how to apply eyeliner, and little interest formal dating. And yup, I still prefer beards to boobs—in case my uncle’s still wondering.

Here’s the thing: it’s possible to be interested in the opposite sex—or the same sex, and not date. At 29 years old, I’ve had exactly 3.5 boyfriends. And that’s if you include adolescence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no 30-year-old virgin. I’ve had a lot of chances to date. I’ve experimented, flinged, played house, have heard a few I love yous, and have certainly broken a heart or two.

It’s just that, dating has never been a priority for me. I like my queen-sized bed all to myself. I like dancing around my living room naked. I like belting out songs in the car, going on long walks alone, and spending romantic candlelit evenings by myself with a book and some tea. I like doing what I want, 100 percent of the time. I like exploring myself without influence and working unapologetically toward my creative and professional dreams.

I like me, you guys. Like, a lot. That’s not to say I don’t like touch, connection, co-creation, exploration, love, and coexistence with other humans. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I love me, and I love others. 

Call me radical, but I don’t feel like something’s missing without a partner. I don’t feel lonely or lost or empty or heartsick. What I do feel is whole and empowered. I feel revolutionary, independent, alive with possibility. I feel determined, eager, and exploding with curiosity for the unknown.

Just like some people are in no rush to get married or have kids—life experiences which I plan to explore, just not right now—I’ve never penciled in dating. I’ve never penciled anything in, but following my gut and living a life that feels most natural to me. 

By this point my parents know not to expect grandchildren anytime soon (they’re probably relieved). What they do expect is that I’ll follow my whole heart down an unbeaten path to wherever that leads me. 

And most importantly, I trust my path to lead me to love, to adventure, to a life of wild authenticity, courageous curiosity and remarkable happiness, on my terms.

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Author: Kalyn Parker
Image: Author’s own. Photo by Christina Maggio
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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