In case you couldn’t already tell, I love to read. My taste in reading material has changed a lot since I graduated from school; in college, I read about a novel a week along with endless chapters on literary theory, and now, I read lots of blogs, websites, the news, and tend to lean toward non-fiction/memoir type of books. I’ve discovered that I like reading real stories about real people, by real people, from real lives. And I’ve also discovered that that’s really all I want to write about too.
Earlier this year, right as summer was approaching, I was spending the morning with a friend of mine. We met up for coffee and visited an art gallery in Chelsea before we went to the Whitney, and then spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Manhattan and eating and meeting people along the way. It was so fun and so lovely, as it always is hanging out with him. A day really well spent.
We had many more days like this together. Many. I always liked him – he was interesting and kept my soul alive in ways I never wanted to forget. But it got to the point where I was at first subtly and then later just blatantly repressing and ignoring my growing feelings for him, and I didn’t like the feeling of that. Then one night, we got really drunk (gee I wonder what happens next) and he made a move on me. We were at a bar and he wanted to start dancing. He held my hand and pulled me over to him, ran his hand down the side of my thigh. And it made me so angry. Here I was, and had been, putting myself through the trouble of holding back my honest emotions all these months for the sake of our friendship, and here he was, not giving one fuck. I immediately questioned why I had been going through all that trouble at all, when clearly, we both could’ve been getting laid this whole time. On a more serious note, I was seriously upset at the realization that he didn’t seem to reciprocate the same respect for our friendship.
I ignored him for a few weeks, too upset to indulge him. And during those few weeks, I gradually came to the realization that, well, if we like each other, then there isn’t really a genuinely platonic friendship to risk losing, is there? Hi, slippery slope of sweet temptation, I see you! Don’t judge, you know we’ve all been there.
It was a long slope, and to be honest, I never hit rock bottom. As tempting as it was, as much as I knew deep down we liked each other, something (a lot of things, in retrospect) held me back.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of Mark Manson, via which I stumbled upon this great article about The Four Stages of Life. “Life is a bitch. Then you die,” begins Manson. “So while staring at my navel the other day, I decided that that bitch happens in four stages. Here they are.” First, mimicry: when you are just trying to learn how to be human. Second, self-discovery: when you do every drug and fuck every person and make every bad decision in the world and learn something about yourself in the process, hopefully. Third, commitment: not necessarily to a person or limited to the idea of marriage, he says, but rather, commitment to knowing who you are, what you want, what works for you, what doesn’t, and pursuing the good in all of that, whether it’s marriage or a spectacular career, or both. And finally, the fourth stage, legacy: when you get to sit back on your yacht and enjoy yourself and all that you have accomplished. Manson’s characterizations of each stage seems to be spot-on; stage two, the one about self-discovery, resonated with me in particular.
You see, I had two major “self-discovery” relationships in my life: my college boyfriend, and the guy I met after my college boyfriend. Each experience was wildly different than the other, but both were equally eye-opening and necessary. I feel as though I wouldn’t be who I am today without either of these experiences. That being said, they were both arduous, messy, addictive, destructive, and while they each had their high points, I wouldn’t necessarily repeat them any point in my life.
Which brings me back to my friend from earlier… I think what was really holding me back from sliding down that slippery slope and into bed with him was the gut feeling I had in the pit of my stomach, in the depths of my soul, and at the bottom of my heart, that doing so and being with him would be just another “stage two” life experience. And as attractive as he is, unfortunately, I’ve been there-done that-got the T-shirt. I don’t need to do it again. Would it be fun? Hell yeah. Would I regret it? Hell no. But do I know better? Yes. Yes, unfortunately, I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m too smart for my own good, and I don’t mean that in a back-handed complimentary kind of way. Sometimes I wish I didn’t put two-and-two together. Sometimes I wish I could be careless and destructive and eat the whole tub of ice cream and have all the teenage fun in the world. But, alas, I’m no longer 18, no longer 22, and I know full-well the myriad of consequences to such reckless actions.
So I didn’t do anything about my feelings. Not with him.
Instead, I did something else, something I never thought I would ever do.
I decided to try online dating.
I have always been weary of it, feeling it wasn’t my natural “thing” to do. But I knew if I didn’t meet anyone new, I was sliding right down that slope and into deja vu of another stage two life experience I’ve already had and didn’t need duplicates of. So I joined a site, made the cheesy profile, and let the internet do its thang. A lot of weird people messaged me. I messaged a few normal, attractive guys. All but two responded. One of them turned out to be a jackass without even realizing it. And the other continues to surprise me with his decency, humor, and nerd charm. It hasn’t been long, but it’s been fun. It feels right, it feels healthy, like a step in the right direction. It’s good.
What about you, homeslice? Have you tried online dating?