Navigating the Single Waters

These single waters are rough, man.

You guys already know about my human breakup. So let me pause for a brief moment and talk about my book breakup. We all know that I’ve been in a (mostly) monogamous relationship with The Book this month, spending two or more hours of quality time with him (her?) daily. It hasn’t been pretty at times, but you know I truly love you when I wake up at seven in the morning to entertain you before my classes. But guess what? We’re almost broken up! I thought it was going to end when NaNoWriMo ended (yesterday), because we had an agreement that after 100,000 words together, we would part. Yet The Book seems to want to spend a bit more time with me, say 10,000 words more, so we’ll stick it out a few more weeks before ending our relationship. We’ve had a good run together and I wish The Book all the luck in the hands of future partners, but holy effing hell am I glad to be breaking up. Who wants to party with me when we do? Hit me up. I am going to need a long time — and hopefully a paycheck — before getting into another book relationship.

Alright, enough about books. Wanna know how my human single life is going? Well, navigating the single waters is damned hard. I’ve been in a relationship consistently since I was 17 and I never really dated before that either. Though I’m enjoying my newfound freedom, being single is like taking a class. A senior-level seminar on you. Your likes and dislikes, your goals and dreams, your preferences and dealbreakers. Every date is like an exam of both the other person and yourself. It’s certainly not a black and white world in which you instantly know if someone is doing it for you. A guy who would be a great friend isn’t necessarily a great lover. A guy who would be boyfriend material wouldn’t necessarily be good in bed. You could meet a guy who is perfect on paper, and then you don’t have chemistry with him. Some people may be lucky never to have to settle, but I would guess the majority settles in some way. In the best partnerships, both people feel like they hit the jackpot.

Although I’m not sure about a long-term relationship right now, I’m dating to figure out what exactly I do and don’t care for. I’m dating to see if I would be able to sustain a casual or short-term relationship, which requires great mental maturity despite what most college-aged people would think. It’s a precarious balance of respecting the person enough to “spend time” with them (ahem, cough, euphemism), not liking them enough to catch feelings (which is generally unrequited), and being attracted to them enough so that you don’t feel gross afterwards. Friends with benefits aren’t for everyone and I’m still trying to decide if it’s for me. I already know that I don’t do one-night stands ‘cuz I actually need to like a person as a human being to consider anything further.

Let’s do an analysis of my last three dates, shall we? The first one, Ben, was the only one who had intentions of a serious relationship. He seemed like an awesome guy, so I had dinner with him. A third-year law student, he hailed from Kentucky and he liked one of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (he of The Little Prince fame). We got along great over text and he had a similar sense of humor. If I noticed anything off, it was the fact that he seemed to do this a lot — dating, I mean. That’s not really a problem for me, but if a guy is going on tons of dates and not finding anyone compatible for a relationship, isn’t that a bit strange? During our meal, though, I just didn’t feel a great connection. He reminded me a lot of one of my exes, and not in a good way. But because he said he had a great time and wanted to see me again, I had a miserable time turning him down.

The second dude, John, was too young for bars. Meaning he’s 20 years old, which isn’t a dealbreaker in of itself, but it’s weird to go out with someone who can’t drink legally, though I just recently gained that right. I actually had the most fun with John and I liked him enough as a person. He was fairly mature for a 20-year-old, but definitely didn’t have the level of maturity I would want in a long-term relationship. But this was casual, so I didn’t mind that much. While on our date, his roommates kept on texting him about the fact that they were all fighting over the weed brownies one of them had baked. He told me that they were annoying and this was normal. I just wanted to laugh so hard — in what universe is that normal?! Like the 420-friendly, liberal person that I am, I asked genuinely, “Well, whose pot is it?” I don’t think I’ll see John again, but it was fun for a night.

The third dude, Chris, was the worst. Of all the dudes that had asked me out, he was the most enthusiastic by far. He had to re-ask me out three times because I kept delaying the coffee date and I didn’t understand why he was so interested. In any case, the date happened and I had a sense from my first impression of him that I was not going to like it. As soon as I told him that I lived at home, he started making comments about how it wasn’t worth it and if my parents nagged me. Of course, my mother nags me. She’s a mother. But honestly? I like living at home now better than I liked living in an apartment on campus last year. To each their own. Chris gave me the impression that he would cringe if his mother called him and the dude is 30 years old. Please, if you’re 30 and you still act like a teenager who needs “freedom”, do not ask me out. When I told Chris about my novel, he kept suggesting that I self-publish and get my followers to buy it. He did not understand that I’m a writer not to make money, but to impact the world in a significant way and a traditional publishing contract is the best way to go about it. Not hating on self-publishing at all, but it’s my last resort. When he asked if we could see each other again, for something more “official” (what the hell does that mean?), I only felt a little bad when I said no.

Anyway, I’m done ranting for now. I don’t think I’m going on a date for awhile. I’ve decided that I hate the concept of dating anyway, and maybe the drunken hookups by way of bar are the way to go. Are you single and dating? Do you think it’s tiresome and not worth it, or do you think you’re learning about yourself and people in general along the way? Do casual relationships work for you? Tell me some of your stories!




11 thoughts on “Navigating the Single Waters

  1. I think most people take romantically-related interactions too seriously; there isn’t a need for such intentional and explicitly defined labels on everything. It’s completely reasonable (and advisable) to know where your personal boundaries are (such as not being down for one-night-stands), but I don’t think you should pressure yourself to categorize your interactions into what does or doesn’t “work for you.” For example, you don’t need to explicitly decide to be in dating mode vs. long-term relationship mode vs. fling/friends-with-benefits mode. As I’m sure you’ve discovered this to be true of yourself, humans are complex enough as it is, let alone when you combine them with someone else. Casual relationships can work with some people and not with others, regardless of the kind of person you are. There’s no reason to date just for the sake of dating or to not date just because you’re not in a “dating phase.” I believe that one should simply live their life “true to themselves” (as cliché as that sounds), and take each new interaction with an open mind, appreciating it for what it is, and letting it play out naturally in a way specific to itself.

    • I think you’re absolutely right that we’re all complex creatures and react differently in every situation. I also agree that each interaction should require an open mind and should be allowed to develop separately of preconceived notions. However, I must disagree that everyone can enjoy a casual relationship. This has more to do with personal boundaries (as you said) than sticking labels on things. I’m still trying to figure out if, with the right person, I can maintain a FWB relationship. I’m also trying to figure out what this “right” person is. Moreover, I think it’s perfectly fine to stop dating for awhile, meaning turning guys down when they ask you out. It gets tiring meeting so many new people and judging your interactions with them sometimes, so it’s perfectly normal (in my opinion) to take a break. But obviously if the perfect guy drops from the sky and sweeps me off my feet, I’m not going to refuse.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate the thoughts.

      • Whoops what I meant to say was that even if you are against/okay with the idea of a casual relationship, you can always meet someone that doesn’t fit under your pre-defined notion of what an acceptable relationship is. This is all just to reinforce the idea that we are too complicated for there to be too many (if any) hard rules when it comes to people.
        As far as finding “Mr. (or Ms. I ain’t judging) Right,” I don’t think it’s possible to accurately and sufficiently define who that is. From my experience, even people who seem to fit my definition of “perfect” can be off in subtle (sometimes even inexplicable) ways that make them assuredly into the wrong person. Of course, the opposite is true, as well. You can always be surprised when you meet someone that doesn’t seem at all like your “type” with whom you end up sharing something really awesome.

        Also- “perfect” guys don’t fall from the sky, unless they’re skydiving. They walk on the ground and you have meet them 😀

        • Oh yes, I’m not saying at all that I believe in a Mr. Right. Sometimes people who are perfect on paper just don’t work out in real life (i.e. my date Ben). I’m always open to people outside of my type — my most recent ex wasn’t my type at all. When I talked about the “right” guy, though, I was referring to someone I would be comfortable in a casual relationship with. I’ve realized that I need to respect and like the dude, so I guess it’s more about how he makes me feel than if he checks all the boxes.

          LOL one of my best friends enjoys skydiving, but he’s already found himself a girl. But the thing is…I kind of don’t want to meet someone amazing right now, because I need some time to be single and I have no idea where the next few years of my life will take me. 🙂

          • lol I feel like when it comes to casual relationships, the main criteria is whether or not the other person is hot- and I guess that’s really the beauty of it all, isn’t it? Since it’s nothing serious and supposedly without the emotional baggage of a “real” relationship, there’s a lot more leeway when it comes to… non-visual aspects of the other person haha. Then again maybe I’m just shallow/a man whore

            On a related note, I feel like it’s hard to start a casual relationship with a rando that you meet/date. To me, it feels either too serious or too much like a formality leading up to a random hookup (why bother with dinner?). I find it easier and more natural to let something develop out of a more friendship-based relationship; but of course, there’s always the issue of whether or not that bones the friendship (heh). What do you think?

            • Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more leeway in the non-visual aspects. But for me, I’m still picky. Even if the hottest stud on earth walked by, but he’s an asshole, I’d puke if he touched me. I have to be somewhat attracted to someone’s personality to get physical.

              It is kind of hard, but I managed to do it! See John, date #2. We met up over coffee and had a really nice, non-presumptuous talk before deciding to take things further. The thing with friends is that I usually don’t want to complicate the friendship. And if I’m attracted to a friend, then I would probably catch feelings if I slept with them, so no good.

    • Haha yeah we broke up. We always looked happy in pictures, but there were TONS of unresolved issues and I’m glad to be done. Being single is weird, but it’s better than being in a bad relationship.

  2. Pingback: Everything That’s Right with (My) World | Rebecca Cao

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