For the last several years, I have long wondered about a very infuriating concept: Dating.
I believe it’s a vastly popular concept that nobody wants to spend their life alone. Everyone values companionship, a life partner, someone to experience the chaos of existence with. There are those who have little to no trouble attracting interest. Their looks are their top-shelf offering, while their personalities frequently belong in the clearance bin. Others have enough personality for a full-length Harry Potter novel, but are less successful in the visuals category. And there are those in the middle of the ground region that have the best of both worlds. Everyone has their own tribe that they belong to, and the parameters that they fall between. Some facets are assets, and others are roadblocks, but of course the general idea is work with what you have, which many people do successfully.
For anyone who knows me, I haven’t been the luckiest soul in the dating pool. I have been single for a full 26 years. I haven’t gone on any dates because you traditionally need someone else to be willing to go on one with you, and while I have come close to kicking it off my bucket list, it hasn’t happened yet. To give you an idea of my experience, I had a Tinder match offer to go out with me last year; I’m fortunate to live right next door to a popular breakfast restaurant in my city that’s open for most of the day and 24 hours on the weekends, so we were going to go there, and mind you he lived about a half hour away and was willing to come to Kalamazoo for the sole purpose of going out with me. A few minutes after confirming our plans, he messaged me again and said an unexpected issue was happening with his roommate and we’d need to reschedule, and I’ll leave it up to you to discover if I ever heard from him again.
And that’s how it’s typically been. I don’t have many opportunities to go out unless I decide to go by myself (which, from experience, is significantly less enjoyable), so Grindr and Tinder are my two main resources, and it’s very safe to assume they’ve been limited resources at that. A solid 95% of my outgoing messages go unanswered; I had one particular guy who looked like someone I’m acquainted with go so far to say he wasn’t interested when I happened to drunkenly message him one night, and I’ve always been the ‘one and done’ type of person: Message him, if he ignores you, move on. Simple. Of course Grindr itself is not prime real estate for finding Mr. Right, unless you’re looking for Mr. Right Now. I learned that lesson the hard way two years ago where a combination of an unexpected financial hurdle and the stress of being consistently ignored drove me into a depression that kept itself latched on to me like a vulture for a good two or three weeks. That is unhealthy. Even just downplaying things and searching for friends has yielded zero results; again, you typically need the other person to have some level of interest in you to establish some form of relationship. Of course I would never force anyone to talk to me or date me, but it nevertheless remains frustrating.
It’s also forced me to take a hard look at myself and what I’m doing. I’ve sexted multiple times, frequently with guys who don’t live anywhere remotely close to me. Do I expect anything to come of it? No, but it’s more or less a good exercise for me to keep my mind active sexually, to know how to stimulate a guy, should I ever happen to find one. I’ve developed crushes on people. A particularly severe one lasted for I believe a year before he brought it up with me, we continued being friends, and then I never heard from him again. But each time I’m brought back to the same question: What is the concept of love, why do we put so much weight into it, and what value does it really hold?
Society has put a tremendous amount of leverage into what it means to be in a relationship, and the value it brings, and while having a partner to experience life with is (I imagine) a very wonderful thing, it is not the only value and meaning to hold on to. There are multiple people out there who openly choose to not date and enjoy being single, and they deserve all the credit in the world because living your life single is not always the most enjoyable. Your workplace, your friendships, your community, and plenty more all have meaning and value as well; dating someone is not a magical cure-all to your ailments, and is not and should not be the sole mission for anyone in this world.
Historically, I grew up as a relatively shy and introverted person. My opportunities to engage in social activities were few and far between. I maintained a few friendships in middle school and high school, but it was never brought up to the point of consistent after-school plans, contrary to the lives of the majority of my fellow classmates. Much of my socialization revolved around my high school’s band program, and quite honestly, I would not have made it out of my freshman year alive had I not participated. Among the memories it instilled in me, it also cemented my love of music, which has been my primary driving factor for much of my existence. I also began developing feelings for guys in high school as well, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I fully embraced my sexuality and threw all notion of caring what others think out the window.
It’s no surprise to me that my introversion is also a contributing factor to my lack of experience in the dating arena. In recent years, I’ve grown to be far more outgoing. I used to tremble at the concept of talking to strangers on the phone thanks to my anxiety, but after working as a leasing agent for 16 months and using a phone regularly, it’s become second-nature to me. But still, here I am, heading into 2018 without a single relationship to my name.
And yet, my life has more value than my relationship status. In place of having a boyfriend to hold, take care of, support, and experience life with, I’ve instead put myself out there and have experienced other facts of life that have drawn great meaning to me. To date, I have taken 4 international excursions, with number five approaching in four months (this time to Spain, France and Italy). I have taken a few solo trips on my own that have given me time to fully appreciate myself, and I have given a lot to the various people in my life that have come and gone over the last few years. While the list of things I wish I could change about myself is slowly shrinking, having a boyfriend isn’t quite as much a priority to me anymore as it used to be. Just prior to the end of last year, I began eating more healthy, which has been something on my list for quite a while. Perhaps having a thinner body will attract greater interest; it’s no secret that gay men in general can lean more towards the narcissistic side, and if you’re a pound or two overweight, they’ll drop you faster than last season’s Ralph Lauren apparel (though I can say for a fact that not all gay men, or people in general, are like that). And if it doesn’t, oh well. I’ll still have myself (and a thinner body) to appreciate.
Love, as I’ve grown to realize, is far deeper than a meaningful connection with someone you’re in love with. It takes shape in nearly every facet of your life, from the attention you give people, to the time and effort you put into your passion or job. I’ve been on the receiving end of being ghosted multiple times by people, gay guys in particular who, for reasons unknown, feigned friendships with me. I’ve become much more observant of guys who actually put in the effort to talk to me, and have stopped giving so much of my effort into relationships that have become too one-sided, which has led to a much happier me. A guy I’ve been friends with for two years is taking one of the classes I am. Tuesday was my first time seeing him since July when he took me out to dinner, and while I know he’s busy with classes and work, I’ve long wondered about when his free time is. History will certainly tell us that if he was interested in hanging out with me, he would’ve made the time to do so at this point, and even if it was for only an hour or two, that would be fine with me. And of course there was the rather charming “fuck off” type of message I received back in October (full details are in the last blog post) that also made me take a look at the effort I was putting in to guys.
I’ve been so determined to make as many friends as possible that it’s also made me turn a blind eye into the elements that comprise of a friendship, namely the commandment that thou shalt not engage in one-sided relationships. My persistence to attempt to salvage some form of camaraderie, some form of interaction, preferably one that is both physical and visual, has led to more stress and more “woe is me” than I even care to divulge at this point. This has specifically been true for the guys I’ve been, or have attempted to be, friends with; every female acquaintance I’ve encountered has never given me as much hassle as trying to make plans with another guy, and a gay one at that. A guy I became friends with in July 2016 decided to not make any contact with me after I mentally gave him a two-week period to reach out to me. He then messaged me a couple months ago after zero contact, and now hasn’t made any effort to talk to me since; a message to him on Grindr has gone unanswered, and if that alone isn’t a signal, I don’t know what is. I visited my mom last week and attempted to make plans with a mutual follower, and after broaching the topic and telling how disinterested he was, I dropped it. Let the lesson plan here show that if you are trying to make plans with another guy, or trying to make an effort to converse with one, and you are getting little to no effort in return, RUN! Case closed. Point blank and the period. Anyone who claims to call you their friend should be making some form of effort to communicate with you, rather than, as an example, consistently post on social media and interact with multiple other people and give you little to no response at all, and while I certainly never expect immediate replies, I do expect a reply at some point. It’s a difficult lesson to implement, as I have had issues letting go of a few friendships over the years out of my hope that things can go back to how they initially were, but overall, it’s for the best. My happiness (and yours) is more important than any relationship, friendly or otherwise. I’ve been screwed over by guys, and have had my emotions trampled on with little or no care whatsoever, but life goes on, and it simply forces me to keep trying to change my circumstances.
The point of why I go through all of this is simple: I have learned, through my experiences, that being happy with yourself and doing what you love is the most important thing of all. Sure, I’d love to have some gay friends, and more people to hang out with. I’d absolutely die of excitement at the opportunity to do brunch, to go to Chicago or New York or Atlanta with a group of guys and just have fun. I’d love to go out on the weekend with them and hit up the clubs and get my drink on as much as the next homo sapien, but right now due to my current circumstances (see above), I don’t have that luxury, which is okay because it’s taught me to be happy with what I have currently. That, to me, is the best thing of all. I certainly won’t stop trying to talk to guys, and make new friends, maybe a sexual encounter here or there, but I will be happy one way or another. Do not let anyone or anything stand between you and what makes you happy, which, for 2018, is the exact mentality I’m going to have.