Romance is Dying, and we’re all standing by letting it

It seems like my whole life I’ve been surrounded by men who only view women as things to have sex with. I do know a few men that break this rule, and I like to think that I am one of them, even though when I’m around the jerks that dehumanize women I will often uncomfortably laugh along with them because I don’t know what else to do. How do I explain to multiple people at once how negative the things they are saying are? Especially when I’m extremely outnumbered? Answers that I wish I had and hope I will one day with experience.

At my place of employment (I’m too fancy to say ‘work’ :P) today, something was said to me that was very surprising, yet very true.  My coworkers and I have a bit of a running gag because I told them that my ideal first date is a picnic.  I mean really, you get to listen to nature in a quiet place where you can talk and get to know each other while being in the sun, which is a proven mood elevator, and just really be together instead of some noisy restaurant where your phones are distracting and there’s always that awkward moment when the bill comes and if the guy doesn’t pay then he’s a jerk but if the girl doesn’t at least offer to help with the bill she’s a gold digger.  Plus, if you see a pretty flower, you can pick it and put it behind her ear because there’s just something about a girl with a flower in her hair that is so beautiful.  Based on what my coworkers say to me, I should be actively seeking as much sex with as many people as possible to get over my ex.  Let’s dive into this concept.

Anyway, this joke comes up again today, because to the guys I work with I’m sure a picnic seems “gay” or like it’s too much pressure on the girl or something.  So one of my coworkers says, “you have to be careful with that, girls just aren’t used to it.”  This seems so odd to me.  What aren’t girls used to?  It seemed to me he must mean girls aren’t used to men who are vulnerable, actively trying to create romance, or looking for something other than sex.  When I talk to a girl just to get to know her, I often feel dismissed, as if she thinks I’m making pointless small talk just to get in her pants eventually, but really I just want to be friends.  I think that it’s assumed that men are only capable of wanting sex.  We live in a culture where we don’t want any pressure put on us in a fresh relationship, we want to avoid any sort of real emotional connection so that we can jump ship as soon as we figure out what is wrong with the other person.  I think that the men who only want sex have ruined romance because it has caused women to believe that a man who puts effort into creating romance must be trying REALLY hard to get laid, which means he’s trying even harder to hide his flaws, so something must be really wrong with him.  I’m not really sure on the last half of that sentence, but I will continue my point.  In this way, it seems likely that if I walked up to a girl and asked her to go on a picnic with me, she would immediately think “what’s wrong with him?” and reject me because of that.  However, I contend that nothing is wrong with me, because when I ask someone for a picnic (or any other date, just using picnic as my example) it’s because I want to get to know them, and on the off chance that they are someone I could spend the rest of my life with, we had a damn romantic first date that we’ll be able to share as a wonderful story forever.  Does that seem too pressurey to hope she’s the one on the first date?  Maybe, but isn’t ‘the one’ what we all want to find?  What’s so wrong with openly looking for that person and not lying about what I’m looking for.  Men (and I’m sure some women) are shameless when they are open about only looking for sex, yet I’m ostracized and criticized for openly looking for a person to share my life with.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it should be the other way around.  Even the word ‘date’ is too much pressure for people anymore.  People don’t ‘date’ anymore, it’s always, let’s ‘hang out’ or some other non committal word.  Right off the bat, people are not communicating effectively in any sort of romantic relationship.  Since when has that word become so taboo?  I’ve been personally criticized for using the word date before.  “Don’t say date, it’s too much pressure.  Just hang out and get to know each other.”  But if we’re just ‘hanging out’ isn’t there just a ton of ambiguity right off the bat?

Also, is sex not enough pressure in and of itself?  I’m not sure if it is for women, but it certainly is for me and I think this rings true for a lot of men.  Anxiety blasts its way into my mind when the possibility of sex arises.  “Will I be good?” “Am I big enough?” “Am I hurting her?” “Will she finish?”  “Am I better than her past sexual partners?”  “If she doesn’t enjoy it, will she just ditch me?”  It seems like in early relationships we put so much emphasis on how good the sex is that it can make or break a relationship, but that’s to be expected in a culture where using another human being to reach orgasm and then never see them again is seen as commonplace.  There is nothing romantic about a one night stand, yet men are seen as idols if they successfully “hit it and quit it.”  I have often heard the “you would test drive a car before you buy it” analogy more times than I can count, but people aren’t cars, they aren’t something you buy, yet we treat relationships more like business transactions than intimate connections between social beings.  There’s always an “if you do this then I…” scenario, but that isn’t love, that’s quid pro quo, but love can’t be conditional or else it isn’t love (this is the best thing I ever learned from my ex, by the way).

I’m going to delve into sex for a bit, because it is an interesting part of a romantic relationship.  We joke a lot about sex in our culture.  Women will tell their friends if he was good or bad in bed, men will brag to their friends just for having it, but I don’t think there really is such a thing as bad sex.  I don’t view it as something to just have a moment of ecstasy and then it’s done, to me it’s a way to deeply connect with the person you are having it with.  I don’t enjoy when it ends, because then the connection is severed.  I enjoy the feel of her body pressed against mine, staring into her eyes, and the feeling of really being connected to this person so much that I’m willing to risk becoming a father just to share this with them.  Yet we are willing to completely cut ties with a person just because “the sex was bad.”  Here’s a dirty little secret most people won’t tell you, if you are patient, communicate well, and don’t base the entire value of it on just how satisfying the finish was, two people can almost always have great sex, given time.  Now, there will be exceptions, but I believe that we are too impatient as a society to give people more than one chance at things too scared of real connection to communicate how we feel, and even too confused about ourselves to even know how we feel sometimes.  Our culture seems to shame people if they don’t separate sex and emotion, but those two things naturally go hand in hand.

But back to my original point.  It always seems like the men who I often hear women complaining about, those that only want sex, are always getting the most of it.  Now maybe they are just bragging more than the rest of us, or maybe they are outright lying about the number of women they have slept with.  They certainly have traits that I don’t, like more self confidence and less social anxiety, but why are these traits correlated?  I don’t have the answer to that, maybe one day I will.  These men seem to just naturally be able to flirt and flatter until they get laid without ever actually having to make the time commitment that goes into forming a real emotional bond with another person.  After my own heartbreak, I can understand the desire to just find temporary comfort in between some random person’s legs with no strings attached to try to protect myself from getting hurt again, but that isn’t fair to either person.  I get it, we’re all human, we all have “needs” but too many of us are just content servicing our most basic needs instead of seeking higher ones.  Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy?  Yeah, that thing, why are we fine with satisfying the basic shit but too afraid to move up the ladder and seek real connection?  Men are just going out to get laid, saying anything that it takes, women are letting them get away with it, and no one is being honest with anyone else because opening up would make things too “real” and that would be too much “pressure.”

This post is getting really long and I don’t have a generic answer that will work for everyone, and maybe my experiences are different than yours, but I’ll wrap it up with this.  Men and women: Stop being afraid to be vulnerable.  We’re social animals.  Human connection is the crux of human existence.  If you want romance, ask for it.  If you’re going on a date, just call it what it is.  Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve, and you deserve to have actual love and romance in your life, not just random hook ups that lead no where.

My Love, My Lessons

Unrequited love is perhaps the most confusing experience possible.  You know you are deserving of this person’s love, and you know that if given the opportunity, you would do everything in your power to show that person just how much you care about their happiness, if only they would let you.  This has almost always been what I experience when I care for a person of the opposite gender.  I’m too stupid to recognize when a girl is flirting with me and too nervous to not look like an idiot when I’m trying to flirt with someone.  Except once.

We lived next door to each other in the dorms in college.  We had crushes on each other’s roommates.  We confided these crushes in each other and became close friends.  We then realized that we were chasing the wrong people and should have been crushing on each other.  I delivered a cheesy pick up line because I thought it was cute, and she said the single sexiest thing anyone has ever said to me.  My heart jumped to my throat and I realized she wanted me to kiss her, so I slowly leaned in, obeying the 90-10 rule whereby the man leans in 90% of the way and the girl leans in the remaining 10% as a sort of implied consent.  I leaned in my 90% and froze, waiting.  She grabbed me and pulled me to her with an intense passion that I remember fondly.  That’s the story of my first kiss.  That was two and a half years ago.

I had never had the confidence to do that in my entire life, and I believe it’s because we were friends already and I knew that even if she said no, I would be fine with it.  I was actually a bit nervous to do it because I was afraid that if we dated and didn’t work out, the friendship would be ruined, but I had to find out.  Lesson learned: always take the time to be friends first.  Barely knowing someone and then going on a date to get to know them adds so much unnecessary tension. “Is he just here to have sex with me?”  “Do I look ok?”  “Do I smell?”  “Did I put on too much cologne?”  When you have seen someone in their pajamas and no makeup with their hair up before you’ve even begun a romantic relationship, you’ll find them even sexier like that than when they are all dressed up once you start dating.  Or at least that was my experience.

We fell in love fast and hard.  It was my first relationship and it was going amazingly for a very long time.  But life got in the way, I fell into depression and couldn’t cope with the fear of leaving college.  I didn’t want to grow up.  I latched onto fantasies and lost my romantic touch.  I stopped doing the kind things I had done for no reason that I enjoyed doing for her, like writing her a poem, stuffing it into an envelope filled with rose petals and leaving it on her doorstep for her to find when she got back from class.  I don’t know why I stopped.  I think some part of me felt like I was owed something in return, like I had put in all the effort I needed to, like I could just coast on what I had already done until marriage, which was something we talked about and fantasized about together often.  Maybe we were just too young to realize we were wrong for each other, or maybe we just gave up because we had too much to figure out about ourselves still.  To this day I’m still not sure.  Lesson learned: relationships take work that will never be done.  Every day you make a choice to stay with that person or not, and if you want to stay, you better make sure they know how grateful you are for them.  It’s not about the big things all the time though.  I was always trying to make grand romantic gestures.  Most days it’s little things, like texting them back or cleaning the dishes or not leaving your socks on the floor.  I missed those things, completely overlooked them most of the time without even realizing what I was doing to her.  I was telling her I didn’t love her in my actions, even though in my heart I knew that I did, and I told her often.

She ended things.  That was 3 months ago.  I’ve learned a lot from her and I continue to learn, but we haven’t talked like we used to since then.  I love her now more than I ever did, but I’m afraid it’s unrequited.  She moved to another state for a job and it’s been a month since we last talked and the last time we did was because I needed some emotional support when my cat died.  I know that she still cares about me and wants me to be happy, I have no doubt about that, but I doubt she loves me like she used to.  And I feel the same towards her, but I have the same love I always did and I just want to hold her hand and cuddle.  And I don’t really know how to move on, but that’s my journey right now.  I’m getting that experience so that I’ll be less young and dumb when I get through it.  I try not to tell myself things like “maybe she’ll call me one day and tell me she still feels that way about me.”  I don’t want to give myself false hope because I know I messed up pretty badly for a long time.  That’s the past and I can’t change it, so I’m learning from it as best as I can so that next time will be better.  Lesson learned: while I hope next time gets to be a second chance with her, it doesn’t feel likely, even if I profess my love from the top of Mt. Everest and lasso the moon for her.

This is my romantic backstory and it feels very bleak.  Let’s look at the positive though, I get to go on adventures in love and romance and gain experience!  This is simply preparing me for the future and I’m excited to share this journey on this blog.  Who’s ready!?

First Post, Hooray!

I won’t lie to you and tell you I’m some amazing writer.  I created this blog for one reason, I have a story to tell, and that story could help others that go through parts of life after I do.  I’ve found that there is a particular truth to this world, all people go through almost exactly the same turmoils and successes, the only difference is the order in which they are done.  I hope that as you observe me going through my journey, that you can gain some wisdom from the stupid things that I did when in the heat of the moment.  I also hope that readers who have experienced life more than I have can offer insight into their own young and dumb adventures.  I don’t want this blog to be just me writing and ranting and talking, I hope to create a community of humans being human.

I am young (22), dumb, and hopelessly in love.  This is the point where I choose to begin sharing my story.