I used to be obsessed with finding love. For a long time, it mattered more than school, or friends, or anything else that I had going on. I would browse Tinder and OkCupid from my couch all night, and one night noticed that I hadn’t moved from my spot for four hours. Afternoons and evenings I had coffee dates, or I spent texting someone new to try to get to know them. All I wanted was to find that special someone and spend all my time with them.
But three years of dating young and immature men has left me pretty jaded. A series of events has made me numb to the idea of love. If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t even remember what love was supposed to feel like; it definitely shouldn’t feel like the yo-yo ride my dating life has been for the past three years.
Everyone has been telling me that I’m not going to find love if I’m looking for it, but I never believed them because I thought it was silly to not be able to find something you were actively seeking out. And I’m a go-getter -- when I want something, I’m not afraid to ask for or pursue it. I had a set goal: by the end of college, I would have found the love of my life. We would get married shortly after graduation, and we would pursue our goals together from there.
And now I’m 23, graduating college, and still single. It’s almost maddening because I’ve been trying with all my energy to get a boyfriend for the past three years. But in our dating culture, finding someone you click with is hard, and getting them to commit is nearly impossible. I never subscribed to the idea that our generation was all about instant gratification, but after spending a lot of time on Tinder (the only free dating app that a lot of people use) and OkCupid, and seeing that the vast majority of men are just looking to hook up, I’m starting to agree.
I’m finished with being someone’s instant gratification. I’m tired of being someone’s challenge: “If I just buy her enough drinks, if she just gets to know me well enough, maybe she’ll put out.” If I think about how trusting I was with men I didn’t know, it makes me sick. They could have said anything about themselves and I would have believed it because I wanted to trust in love. I wanted to trust the idea that most men aren’t scum.
But three years of dating men who only put themselves first has taught me that that's exactly what they are. Self-centered, immature scum.
So, I quit.
And I feel so much better already.
All that time I spent browsing dating apps has gone to other places. I have two jobs now, I’m keeping up with my schoolwork OK, and I see my friends on a more regular basis. I’m no longer talking about guy drama because there is no guy drama. I have time to call my mom and dad. I go home to see them on weekends.I spent so much time looking for romance that I didn’t realize I already have so much love around me. I live with a great roommate who listens to me and has been with me through all my hard times. I only have to drive an hour and a half south to get to a house I’m always welcome in (my parents’ house). Most of my friends would drop everything for me if I was having a bad day, and are there with me when I’m having good days, too. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t have that kind of support, so I feel very lucky.I have more time for the things I like, too. I can sit down and watch TV with my roommate. I can go out with my friends on weekends. I can browse social media and learn about what’s going on in my friends’ lives and the world. I’ve been meaning to start coloring again, and playing piano.
What happens when you finally give up on love? You realize you can take it or leave it. It becomes secondary to all the other things in your life which are, arguably, more important. You let go of numbers, like “25 is the age I’ll get married” because it doesn’t matter anymore. You start thinking, “Where will I end up in two years? What kind of job do I want?”
The big things you start wondering about are things you can accomplish on your own. “Where do I want to buy a house?" "What kind of cat will I get?” And you realize that you never needed love to accomplish the things you wanted in your life. You realize that your life doesn’t start when you meet the love of your life -- it’s already started.
And you have to live it while you can.