Many of us have taken to the internet or to an app on our phone to date.
There are a few of us who still lament this process just as much as we dislike going to the bar and hitting on a random stranger.
It seems as if we are all lemmings pushed to the edge and falling into the abyss of our desires. These desires have not changed over time, but the avenue in which we fulfill them has.
Let me be clear, all of these behaviors are incubated in the womb of deceit. We have not yet evolved to a place where we can fearlessly communicate. In the sex trade of prostitution, the transaction is understood: sex for money.
Although the hookup culture mimics sex trade behaviors, the expectations are not as clear-cut. Further, and this is the important part, we want different things from different people but often become obsessed with the notion that “being in a relationship” is the correct way to get what we want.
Simply, the majority of the dating population is delusional when it comes to the level of investment required to have a healthy relationship. Many view it as salvation rather than a place to be of service. Therefore, when one is required to give to the relationship, it can often result in befuddlement, terror, or rebellion.
We are a nation coddled by convenience, which has made perpetual adolescents of us all. Further, quasi-self-reflection has become a billion dollar industry. I know, because I worked in drug rehabilitation centers that were not invested in making a real change in people’s lives, but were more focused on the business.
We are never going to grow into who we are if we keep dying to fit into a fucked-up system.
The point is, being a “grown ass adult” has little to do with what we do for a living and how we supply for ourselves.
In regard to romance, a secure adult wears their heart on their sleeve, is invested in the well-being of those who they are in relationship with, has firm yet adjustable boundaries, and, above all else, knows how to ask for what they need.
This is not what we are seeing in the age of digital dating because those who remain in the dating pool are in a rinse and repeat cycle. The struggle is real.
I’ve heard people use the phrase “we are all adults here” as a permission slip to enter into a sexual conversation where they are doing little more than sorting out dominant and submissive roles. This sort of exchange is less about being an adult and more about an assertion of power.
This dynamic is often hidden underneath romantic overtures, vain promises, and an addendum to “keep things casual”—after attachments have manifested. Motherfuckers!
This power struggle has a grip on all of us because we have bought into the notion that a relationship is a possession.
It is not in fact ownership—rather, we become possessed by ghosts and demons. Have you noticed how love is also equated to madness? Is it any surprise that when we are void of ourselves, we succumb to being the perpetrators and victims of licentious behavior driven by the impetus to be significant?
This is not a sermon on the correct way to date.
This is not a warning against bad people—because we are all bad. We have all fallen short. We have all disappointed someone. The real sin here is the rate at which we lie to ourselves about the nobility of our motives.
I’m writing in service of those who want to move freely in the dating world without pretense or pretending to be saints. The narrative of deception is distinct from the proclamation of truth.
So, in the next few lines, I shall illuminate the truths and the lies of ghosting, love-bombing, bread-crumbing, gaslighting, and sport-fucking.
The lie: An early onslaught of texting, conversation, and even physical interaction that devolves into gaps in responsiveness and finally fades into an eerie silence.
The truth: This isn’t a fit. Thank you for your time. Onward.
The lie: I want to be married and we could have a life together. You are the most special person I have ever met. I hope we capture each other’s hearts. I want to spend all my time with you. I’ll keep in constant contact with you, and you can feel how much I care because I get upset when you do things without me. I’ll never let you go—but surprise: now, I’m gone.
The truth: I’ve never known love without possession. I’m full of unmitigated anxiety. I’m desperate to be soothed, but I am completely inept when it comes to being able to do this for myself. Therefore, I am constantly seeking external solutions to my inner turmoil. I simply do not know how to ask for help. Do you still want to fuck me?
The lie: Let’s meet up soon. We should totally hang out. Good morning, pretty girl—let’s get together soon. The things I would do to that body. I’m a total flirt and I flirt with everyone. I’m just really busy but I do want to spend time with you. I want to keep my options open but you are my favorite. You are the best sex I’ve had.
The truth: I’ve zero intention of backing up what I say. I’m not at fault if you “catch feelings.” I’m actually terrified of connection. I desperately want to feel close to someone, but I know that they will abandon me. I don’t know what my needs are because I’ve denied them for so long—so I definitely don’t know how to get my needs met. I live in fear and manage it through short spurts of connection.
The lie: You are making me really upset. I don’t know why you are so unreasonable. If you would just calm down and act different, this wouldn’t be an issue. Stop overthinking things. I can’t believe you’d accuse me of dating someone else. This isn’t my issue to deal with, it’s yours. You just aren’t “doing your work.”
The truth: I am totally dissociated and have no connection to who I am. My identity is fractured. I have several disowned parts that will never be integrated into my being because I am blinded by self-righteousness. You cannot affect me. You will not change me. I feel justified in my fears. I’m numb.
The lie: I’m not hurting anyone. We are all adults here. I’m having a good time fucking as many women as I can. In fact, I’m aiming for “the perfect week”—a different lay each day of the week. They want it and like it, and I like it too.
The truth: I’m empty inside. I never got the approval of my father and so any approval I get, no matter how petty, makes me forget. I don’t want to exist anymore. It is too difficult. I feel trapped. I don’t know how to change. I am isolated and lonely. I feel totally unloved and angry at God. I’m lost.
The one thing all these lies have in common is that they are a cry for help from souls suffocating under the weight of their ignorance.
Injuries that are never met with the fresh oxygen of awareness turn into a cancer that not only feeds on its host but devours those who come in contact with it. We succumb to the lowest common denominator. Disorder and entropy become a harmony we cosign in order to remain in relationship with the ill.
Very few of us know how to navigate this kind of emotional cancer. The first impulse is to fight it. But, the real healing begins when we join with it, when we become unafraid of what lurks in our shadows. We forgive the behaviors that hurt us and others. We claim our hearts as whole.
Is this easy? No. Can it be taught? Yes.
It is the willing students who experience the miracle:
We stop fearing loss. The truth takes hold. We dance staccato through the valleys of unfamiliar space. We give ourselves grace enough to learn as we go. We clean up our messes. We try again. And all that was nefarious transforms into a sovereign life by virtue of complete and utter surrender.
Nothing lasts forever. Not even the lesson. So, let go of the grief. Trust in the wisdom of your heart to guide you in and out of the shadows. In truth, connection is yours to create. Be brave, and live to swipe another day.