It’s not cool to admit this, but I have times when I worry you’ve ruined me for other people.
Even if I wanted to actively date, I’m not sure I could stomach it anymore.
A lot has changed in the past decade or two. People used to meet primarily through their existing social networks. They were introduced by friends. Now it’s standard to order other people up using apps, with the ease that you use to hire a ride or order food — albeit with a higher rejection rate.
I haven’t done much online dating myself (I’ve still been meeting through friends and in general dating rather passively), but I’ve seen an awful lot of it by watching friends and lovers make the rounds.
And what I can’t help but see is how transactional it’s trained everyone to become. Even when you wade into a new connection in earnest, being your authentic self, you’re invariably met with a person who is constantly testing you, trying to determine how little they can put into you and still get a high yield back. There’s a mindset that’s become more and more common: That everyone has a secret ratio for the minimum acceptable treatment they’ll tolerate and still give you what you want. And that the goal of dating someone new is to crack the code and prosper with the least effort put into the relationship — even if it’s at someone else’s expense.
What’s the risk, really, of damaging that connection, after all? There are plenty of other fish in the sea. They’re spamming your email every day with new profiles. The fish are practically jumping onto your boat.
I’m Not Sure What We Have Is Even Possible Anymore
I remember when we got together so well, even now. There were no games. No safecracking. No codebreaking.
We were both stretched to our limits with other connections, life pursuits. And in our exhaustion we were real. Unguarded.
I’m not sure that’s even possible anymore in a world that’s trained so many to treat other people as no more than exciting promotional offers, so plentiful that they might as well be spam.
Again, it’s not cool to admit, but even with my heart wide open, a nonmonogamous carte blanche that has you cheering me on every step of the way, I still have times when I worry you’ve ruined me for other people. That the bar has been set too high for anyone to ever meet it again.
And that if and when this is over (whether that split results from conflict or the natural course of life), I’ll have to fall in love with solitude.
Books by Page Turner: