Giving up on love at 22

First About People Blog piece! Participant numbers permitting, there will be a new post every other week pulled from interviews with friends, family or total strangers sharing whatever they choose to share – that could be popular or unpopular opinions, life lessons, personal stories, etc. If you would like to be featured, go here.

This week’s post is part one of a two part series. A friend of mine gave up on dating at a young age. Despite dating coming up on occasion as a discussion topic when we were in groups, I didn’t know this about her until recently and I was interested in hearing more about why.

*** 

“My first ‘romantic’ relationship with a guy was with one who just wanted a green card.”

She sits there across the table, cracks her knuckles, looks up and takes a deep breath. She looks at me and then looks down again.

“People always tell me I’m too young for this, but I’ve given up on dating. I just don’t see the point. It’s been over a year now and the more guys I talk to, the more comfortable I feel about my decision.”

At this point, she seems to be more at rest. She looks me in the eyes, this time without looking down.

“I don’t care if people think it’s just because I’m bitter. It’s gotten to this point for a reason. I’ve tried dating different types of guys, I’ve tried different approaches, but in the end, they’re the same at their root. Selfish, dishonest and inconsiderate.”

She says the words with a surety, as if it was simple fact.

“They’re unabashedly shallow, too. It’s incredible. And they either genuinely don’t notice it, or they really think people believe their bullshit when they say they’re not. I’ve seen it firsthand numerous times.”

She takes another deep breath. “Don’t let me get started on that rant.”

I look her in the eyes and say, “No, please do. I want to hear everything. Tell me why you have reached this point.”

She starts, “It wasn’t a single experience or two, or three, or ten… I’m not the type of person to quickly generalize. I tried, I really did, I wanted to find someone, even if things didn’t work out between us, to prove to me that not all of them are the same, but they are.”

This time, there is another layer on top of the surety in her voice – disappointment. She leans back in her seat and looks down.

“For a long time, I wanted it to be me – my approach, the way I was choosing guys, anything to stay hopeful… I tried changing all of that, and while things ended differently, the root of it all was the same.”

She goes on to give specific examples, sharing her stories of heartbreak.

“I’m not even sure what upset me more – the shallowness, lying or self-centered attitudes. Maybe it was a combination… No, you know what got to me? The ones who would swear down they were so different or that they were a ‘nice guy.’ Those ones were definitely the worst, because they genuinely believed they were good, despite being trash like all the rest.”

She continues — telling me about how she lost weight and noticed a difference in the way men began to treat her. She says they were more considerate and courteous, and even more tolerant.

“I had always said the best way to keep a guy around is to treat him like he doesn’t matter. And, when I treated them like that, they kept chasing me. The more ‘attractive’ I got, the more I could get away with. It wasn’t just me, though; I’d see it with my friends too. My attractive friends would treat their boyfriends like shit, cheat on them constantly, lie to them, and [the boyfriends] would just put up with it. Why? Because she’s pretty and that’s all they see. They’re so simple-minded.”

She starts to get worked up, but quickly stops and takes a deep breath. She leans back in her seat.

“That’s it.”

“What?” I respond.

“That’s it. That’s as far as I’m going to get into this. I’m done getting worked up over it. I’m not going to go on a long rant – I used to do that, but what I’ve already said sums up how I feel about men. Long story short, I’m done. The day I decided to give up on dating, on finding love… I felt this relief. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I used to see these milestones in life that I needed to meet and if I wasn’t meeting them, I felt like I was messing up, and when things didn’t work out with the guys I was seeing, I always blamed myself, I mean, it makes sense: If things never worked out, then it had to be me, right? So I tried changing – myself, who I dated or talked to – none of it worked. So I stopped. It just wasn’t worth it.”

“What do you mean by that last part?”

“I mean… I just accepted that what I’m looking for just doesn’t exist. People just seem to be in a competition of who can care less when it comes to dating. They’re too vague. I’m not up for that. Why do I have to make sure my timing is just right when responding to your text? What happened to talking on the phone? Why do I have to watch everything I say to make sure you don’t read too much into it? Like, no – that’s too much work that shouldn’t have to be done and all of it for what? Someone who may or may not want to be serious? And even then you don’t even know. Not worth it.”

***

We had run out of time, but I wanted to continue. This is actually someone I knew before having this talk, she had hinted at her feelings about dating, but never went into detail. I’d never seen her like this before – she always seemed to be in a good mood and even when she wasn’t, she didn’t really show it.

I appreciated how open and raw she was in the short time that we spoke. Regardless of how I felt about what she was saying, her stories intrigued me, her opinions, the way she expressed them — she was so genuine.

I asked if we could continue this discussion another time. She agreed. A couple weeks later we would meet again over drinks.

 

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