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Gyarados, the Scariest Part of Dating People Under 30

·463 words·3 mins

“Your birthday’s coming up in another couple of months,” I say to CC. “You still won’t be quite old enough for me.”

I consider asking him to skip a birthday, to level up twice. But instead, we just cuddle.

I broke my personal rule to date CC. No lovers under 30. I broke it _badly _the first time we dated. And even though 2 years have passed since we first dated, I’m still breaking that damn rule. He’s still too young. Not even this birthday will fix it.

“Do you know why it makes me so anxious to date someone so much younger?” I ask him.

“Why’s that?”

“Because you’re not done changing yet.”

There’s a long-standing idea in psychology that we become who we are going to be, more or less, by age 30.  As William James wrote in 1890, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.”

Hardly an empirical finding, but later research bore this out (for example, the work of McCrae & Costa). You _can _change after the age of 30, sure. But it seems to happen less. And to take longer.

CC is a fellow psychology major. I remind him of these findings gently. That personality is very dynamic, tends to change quite a lot right up until 30.

He smiles. “So you’re worried I’m going to change on you. ”

Magikarp to Gyarados

“Right. It’s like Pokemon.  You level up too far, you evolve into another form.”

He nods, likely amused by how quickly I made the leap from talking about psych research to Pokemon. “Why is this a bad thing? Evolving?”

“Well, you don’t know exactly what you’ll end up with. Think of it this way,” I say. “You’re Magikarp. And I love Magikarp. I’m happy with Magikarp.”

Magikarp is an orange fish. All it does is splash around. Cute and comic. A very weak monster. The subject of ridicule in regular games but so beloved by fans it got its own spinoff app: Magikarp Jump. CC and I both played it some, naming fish after each other, texting screenshots.

“Magikarp is what you signed up for,” he says.

“So what do I do if you change into Gyarados?” The sea monster. What magikarp can grow into if you’re patient enough with the level-raising. A very powerful Pokemon. But not at all cute.

“Gyarados?” CC laughs. “I’m going to turn into Gyarados? Do anything to get my dick wet? Go full red pill? Buy The Game and the dude’s other 2 books and preach about them to everybody I see?”

I frown, nod. “Something like that.”

“Well,” CC says. He thinks for a moment. “We’ll just have to get me an Everstone then.”



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