I’m going to get all Carrie Bradshaw with this one and talk about relationships and love in 2016. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trapped in a perpetual state of horror and confusion on most days. I am supposed to be lumped into the group of people called ‘millennials’. The ominous ‘they’ define a millennial as someone 18 to 33 years old, born between 1981 and 1996. I don’t think I belong there. My age says I do, but my mind, my soul and my heart tell me otherwise. I don’t agree with this millennial world of life and love. It’s borderline madness.
I don’t understand the way both men and women treat relationships today, whether it’s familial, friendship, or intimate. It astounds me. I see people force relationships for the sake of being in one. I see people stay in relationships for a number of reasons other than love. I see people hang on to toxic relationships that no longer serve them. I see people pretend to be who they are not. I see people who are afraid: afraid of who they are, afraid of love, afraid to let people in, and afraid of what people think.
I see relationships of all kinds splattered over social media because there exists this need for constant connection and validation. It has invaded our lives in such a perverse way that we are compelled to highlight each and every moment we live. We also feel this pull to check in with everyone else’s lives, not just every once in awhile, but constantly from dusk to dawn. I will admit, I am guilty of this on both ends of the spectrum. It annoys the fuck out of me and it makes me want to punch myself in the face.
Instead of a phone call, we get a Facebook message or a Snapchat. We are now forced to get to know people not face to face, but through a phone or computer screen, through typed words and 10 second images or videos. We have to play guessing games about how things really are. Feelings are mostly expressed through Wi-Fi, if they are even expressed at all. We no longer use all of our senses to experience getting to know someone. There exists this disturbing element of avoidance and detachment. There are things called ghosting, situationships, and now even ‘passive’ ghosting. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Does anyone else find this ridiculous?
There’s no need to “catch-up” because we could just tap a social media app and see what you’ve been up to just by scrolling. True lines of communication are down. We’re forced to read into texts, snapchats, and messages. It’s as if face-to-face interactions are unwanted. Face-to-face means potentially dealing with confrontation, emotions, feelings, truth, eye contact, body language, our physical reactions to people, and oh my god… WORDS SPOKEN ALOUD to someone’s -FACE- (the horror!) Let’s just avoid all of that instead.
We’ve become too dependent on using social media to interact with one another. This keeps people at arm’s length. We only let people see what we want them see, let them in as far as we want them to go. God forbid someone sees the real you, in your raw and purest form, minus the filter. They might just run for the hills and never look back. Because aside from the highlight reels of your life that you choose to post or send, someone might think you’re boring, or stupid, or weird, or fucked up, or lazy, or crazy, or whatever. Even worse, they might end up liking you or loving you for the real, actual you. Those fools.
Is there something wrong with me? Because everything that most people seem to be running from is what I crave. I look for the in-between – – all the things and thoughts you don’t show to everyone else. I want your flaws, I want your scars, I want your quirky and your weird. I want your stories, your dreams, your secrets and your nightmares. I want what you look like when no one is looking. I want to be with you when you do the things and say the things that you might not dare to do or say on social media. Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give me the boring, the lackluster. I want it all, true to self.
Tell me how it really is. Tell me how you really feel. Let me like you or love you for who you are, the whole of you. Because this is how you truly know someone. This is how you understand and come to fit with another person. If it works, it has to work based on the truth, otherwise you’re selling yourself to people in a bullshit smeared box of false advertisement. People like you not for who you really are, but for everything you want them to like. Which not only hurts them, but it hurts you too. It’s such a waste of their time and yours. If your honesty, your weird, your truth, is something someone can’t handle as a friend or a lover, then why do they exist in your life at all?
As we get older, we have to learn something. Sometimes, we learn it the hard way. We have to learn that not everyone is meant to stay in our lives, no matter how long they’ve been there. It’s about quality, not quantity. Sometimes, people don’t fit. And that’s okay. It’s better to be yourself. Be happy as the real you. And let others be happy as the real them. Stop molding yourself to fit where you don’t belong and stop forcing people to change to try and fit into your life. We should only be and stay in each other’s lives as ourselves. Having to force something never really works does it? It’s choosing when to let go and when to hold on. It’s facing and walking that fine line between committing to put the work in or walking away knowing it’s not meant to be. But if you choose commitment, you have to go all in or you might as well let them go.
Love comes from within. You have to love yourself first. You can’t use relationships with other people as a security blanket. You can’t use the love of other people to fill your self-love deficit. It’s okay to be alone.
I repeat: IT’S OKAY TO BE ALONE.
It’s okay to leave relationships if you’re not happy, no matter how long you’ve been in them. It’s okay to continue to be alone even if you desperately want to find love because you’ve been alone for so long. Love doesn’t come by force or out of desperation. It’s okay to not be married by a certain age, or not to have kids by this age, or to live life differently than your friends or family. If you are happy, if the person and people you choose to spend this life with are happy, then that is all that matters. Fuck everyone else. Honestly. Stop half-assing life. Stop half-assing love. If it’s worth it, it’s worth it. If not, go find your happiness and don’t apologize for anything or anyone that might stand in the way of it.
I’m not afraid to be alone. I enjoy my own company, more so maybe than most. People think that’s weird. I’m also not afraid to tell people I care about them. People think that’s weird too. Admitting feelings for people is a foreign concept. It’s better to pretend feelings don’t exist at all because then you never have to be embarrassed that you got shot down or that someone doesn’t care about you in equal measure. It’s cool to care less. I think that’s a load of bullshit.
Never be afraid to tell the truth about your feelings for people, especially if they are good. The world has enough hate and enough people hiding inside their self-made turtle shells shutting out truth, love, and whatever else. Seeing people happy and smiling and laughing, in part, because you love them and you care about them in the purest way possible without expecting anything in return is the best feeling in the world.
I am only afraid of one thing: settling. Settling in life and settling in love. For a while now, I’ve been pretty torn up, thinking that what I am looking for in this life doesn’t exist anymore. That’s not true. We need to learn to wait. Be patient.
Bouncing from relationship to relationship doesn’t give you time to discover yourself. Staying in an unfulfilling relationship out of fear of never finding someone that will truly make you happy is stupid. I’m sorry. It just is. It is also really fucking stupid to deny yourself true love because of fear.
If you find yourself alone, just keep working on you. Keep at that self-love. Keep growing. Love is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be defined by one singular person. If you don’t feel whole all by yourself, then that means you’ve still got work to do. Stop searching for your “other half” or for people to fill a void. You need to be whole as you stand alone. You need to fill the void by yourself.
And for fuck’s sake, if you find love, or feel love, and you think you might be ready, let it in god damnit. It might scare the shit out of you, you might not fully understand what’s happening, but just go with it. Stop rejecting it, stop denying it. Don’t be afraid. You never know what might happen if you put your walls down, especially if you’ve found the right one. Believe me, you’ll just know.
I see some incredible relationships between people out there. Some of my very good friends are in these bad ass relationships right now. Some are old, some are new. But these are the relationships that keep my hope alive. They keep me patient. They keep me believing. Most importantly, they stop me from second guessing that the kind of love I’m looking for doesn’t exist anymore. Because it does.
There is a key to love in the 21st century.
I believe this key is keeping love old fashioned. In every sense other than getting married and having kids by age 23. These couples stay old fashioned.
They have true communication: a relationship where anything and everything can be discussed without fear. There is trust: trust that you can be your true self and trust that love is enough. And also, trust that if love ever falls away, that you will not stay. You will be brave enough to say it out loud and leave before infidelity, chronic unhappiness, resentment, or the feeling of settling comes creeping in. Trust that if you are there and you are in love, there is no room for anyone or anything else.
They have love based on friendship. Who they are with happens to be their best friend. They can walk through hell and back and they will still be there. There’s a loyalty and camaraderie and a kinship forged between the two of them. They have an understanding. These couples have found their “person”.
They maintain the ability to be separate from one another. They are two individuals who have forged a life together, yet remain separate entities. Negative co-dependency doesn’t exist between them. They have a love built from self-love. They spend time together but they spend time apart. They have things they love without the other person. They remain an “I” instead of melting into this “we” insanity.
Most importantly, these couples are removed from social media. They still value time spent with one another in private. They are not compelled to snapchat, status update, or upload photos galore. Sometimes, most times, they disappear together without any of us knowing what the fuck they are doing. They could be doing absolutely nothing or boarding a plane to France. We wouldn’t know until after the fact, if at all. Value is placed on the moments no one knows about.
So what if it’s talking in bed for hours about nothing at all, or taking a spontaneous adventure? They understand these are moments not always meant to be shared. Because honestly, who should give a shit other than you two? These are the couples that don’t find themselves reaching for their phone when they’re together – whether it’s to update the world about what they’re doing or to stay updated on other people’s worlds. When they’re together, no one else’s status update really matters. Notifications can wait for another time.
Some of the best moments of my life have no trace. I was too busy having fun and being truly happy and satisfied in the moment I was in to reach for my phone to record it. And I way too busy to check in on other people and see what they were up to. If I’m doing something I truly enjoy or I am with someone whose company I love, or better yet, both of those things combined, I forget I have a phone at all. It goes on silent and disappears to the bottom of my purse.
What do I want?
I want to hear your voice. I want to see your face so I can mentally record the lines of your smile and the sound of your laugh. I want to be together without the glow of a cell phone lighting up every five seconds. I want to exist with you in a space where a cell phone is irrelevant. I want your eyes on mine and mine on yours. I want to be present in the moment we’re in – together.
I want to care less about other people and care even less if they care about me, or us. I want you to let go and be you. I want to be me. I want to get to know you, really and truly know you, for all that you are and all that you want to be. I want you to trust me. I want to trust you.
I want to talk a lot sometimes, and at other times, be comfortable in complete silence. I want us to be wild and weird, to be quiet and boring, and to love and live without fear.
I want to be genuine with you. I want be loved for all that I am. I want to love you for all that you are. And I want to give zero fucks if anybody else even knows about it.
I want to stay old fashioned.