My Life is not a Romance Novel

You’re sitting on your bed and your friend sends you a message. She’s thinking of the boy who has swept her off her feet. The guy she saw across the coffee shop whose eyes inadvertently met hers like fate. He was charming, a little awkward, but with this charismatic manner that made her want to spend all night just talking about this and that. You’re happy for her, of course you are. But you also want that person in that story to be yourself. You want that sudden story that came out of nowhere and swept the pages of your narrative – writing itself while you stand back and watch in amazement.

Too bad you’re working on the last bits of your work assignment. The only mature man in your life is the boss who asked you to finish this project yesterday. The only coffee cups are the morning drive through as you rush off, lipstick stains on the lid because you didn’t have time to find the non-smear makeup.

That’s me. That’s me sitting on my bed wondering why I’m not the one meeting that cute guy in a coffee shop. I know, coffee shop moments are one in a million. They don’t happen to just anyone, they don’t happen to most everyone, but the idea is nice. There’s something ridiculous about expecting to walk into a place you frequent every day and the man of your dreams, or the next couple months at least, walks through the door, single and not looking, but still taking notice of you. I wonder if the reason this idea is so appealing is because it eliminates the sorting process. In the real world, we have friends, dating sites, dating apps, and family. Modern romance is a less magical attraction and “am I sure I want to even reply to this message?” I don’t really have any responsibility to respond to this person, I don’t know them. And when you’re busy you don’t, and now you definitely won’t be knowing them.

There are so many choices and in a lot of ways, it’s easier but also so much more difficult to date. When you open Tinder a five-minute swipe session means an onslaught of messages that seems more crippling than it does productive. Now, you’re rifling through such a large number of candidates in the effort to find someone just to say hi to and hope they don’t send you an unsolicited picture in return.

Today, apps seem like the fastest way to get a date. The very makeup of Tinder is supposed to feel like a video game, blazing through your choices because there are so many people around you. But they’re so impersonal and although the choice is broader the ability to eliminate choice is that much easier. He says he doesn’t like sushi? No-go. But I don’t care that my friends don’t like sushi, it’s not like we can’t eat somewhere else or share the same space with different meals.

So then I start thinking, maybe I should relax more, give the people on Tinder a little more chance. But then it’s weird comments, questions, and those who you do connect with it’s so easy to fall into the trap of talking and never actually meeting. Whether it’s them or me it’s hard to wrestle time with someone a tad bit too far away and it’s dubiously as difficult when all of your current free time is taken up with connecting with friends you don’t see as often as you should.

That’s the crux of the problem isn’t it? Time, or the lack thereof. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I don’t have time to waste. And maybe dating isn’t wasting time but when you meet four carbon copies of the same guy that you really didn’t enjoy the first time it definitely seems like a waste of time. I’m not saying every guy is the same but there’s something about sorting through Tinder’s algorithm that seems to produce more or less the same type of guy. So maybe it’s Tinder that’s the problem. Maybe there’s some truth to Tinder appealing to a certain type of person, the repeated I won’t tell anyone we met on Tinder would certainly suggest so. For an app that so many people use why should it be embarrassing to be caught using it? Unless if you just don’t want to seem to be the type of person to use it.

I’ve always kind of been iffy about meeting people recommended by a mutual whether it be a friend or a family member. It’s like mixing business and pleasure, I’ve seen groups of friends disintegrate after the great fallout of a relationship. They say you should date your friends or become friends first which I think is fine but it’s always difficult when these friend groups already exist because eventually, someone (whether it be you or someone else) will feel like they have to pick sides if things turn sour. That seems rather pessimistic because you shouldn’t go into relationships worrying about when they’ll end (that’s an easy way to make sure it does end) but the risk of failure is something I have to take into consideration – I love my friends too much for that. That puts a lot of pressure on the initial dates because you want it to be perfect – in a lot of ways, the elimination process starts looking similar to Tinder. You’re so worried about the minuscule things you miss out on the bigger picture. They ordered red instead of white wine? How could you possibly live with this person, etc.

Thinking of these things makes me realize the risks of dating are there but they’ve always been there. Is it really so different to go to a bar and “swipe right and left” in an attempt at finding a guy? Maybe he doesn’t send you an unsolicited picture but it’s pretty easy to eliminate someone when they approach you saying “hey baby doll” or any other let-me-roll-my-eyes nickname.

If I’m going to break down my problems with dating they fall into two categories: fear and time management. The former having a big impact on the latter. Fear makes me not want to waste my time and in turn, I don’t want to even pursue anything because I could be hanging out with friends or finishing chores which I know are for sure productive uses of my time. I think a big part of the problem is that dating just isn’t as much of a priority for me. Yes, the thrill of a relationship would probably bring me a lot of joy but when I’m dating myself I also enjoy just kicking it back and going to the theatres with my friends. The only real time I miss the comfort of someone else is those moments when I’m at home, my house is empty and I’m missing someone curled around me or even just a voice to bounce thoughts with because I know they’re chilling with me.

I guess in a way it’s not really dating itself I miss, I think more than anything I just miss the idea of dating. If I missed being in a relationship I’d put more effort into making room for dating. But I’ve chosen my work life for so long it’s hard to compromise the time for it. I’m not saying your relationship and your work need to fight each other but when you’re short on time they do. In a weird way, my job is impeding on my love live or lack thereof.

I’ve spent a lot of time single, probably more than a lot of peers. I’m not bitter about it but it does make me think I’m much more comfortable being single. Relationships are more like a memory than something I’m craving. Dating is more of an embellishment rather than a necessity. The only way to really make it work for me is to stop stressing about it. It’s important and it’s an option but it’s not so serious yet that I need to rearrange my life around it. Dating is dating, it’s not a lifetime commitment just yet. So the answer for me is to yes, give that guy a chance, but not worry too much about it. Do it while I have the time, not while I’m stressing out. And who knows, if I don’t find the time to cycle through those messages maybe some guy will catch my eye while I walk into a coffee shop after all.

Sophia An

Sophia is a writer/artist focused on learning as much as she can about the world. This can mean tackling unfavourable genres and point of views but it also means a more in depth understanding of history and context. Sophia is mostly interested in sci-fi and fantasy because it shows the unique spaces human imagination can create and provide. Sophia hopes to use her talents to eventually publish a comic that can host her specific voice and provide a different understanding of the world. She believes everything has a value and nothing is created without reason, whether good or bad there’s always something worth exploring and she’s out to find out what that is.

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