I have a confession to make: I don’t understand the world of dating. I don’t get it. Something about two people agreeing to meld their lives together sends chills up my spine. Maybe I am emotionally unavailable, as almost every woman with whom I have ever had a “fling” has told me. Maybe my mom did do a number on me, or I haven’t matured past the twelfth-grade level. No matter where my primordial fear of dating comes from, relationships scare the hell out of me.
I’m not sure why “going steady” and myself have never clicked. I’m moving into my mid-20s and I’m still at a loss about how two human beings decide to only see one another. It’s not even the exclusive sex arrangement that confuses me — it’s the concept of adapting parts of your life to fit the agenda and personality of another separate individual. Dating changes everything. Suddenly, where you want to attend graduate school becomes a therapist-mediated discussion, and a new job offer requires a resolution signed in blood by both parties. Why? Why do people do this to themselves? The young professional age is supposed to be the era of freedom.
Even among those closest to me, I am an anomaly. I recently became the last single male in the entirety of my friend group, a position that apparently does not come with a subscription to Margarita Monthly. My friends’ response to my situation is one of predictable concern. They treat me like the newly-minted Ted Mosby of the crew, constantly offering reassuring epithets like “the right one is out there” or “you will find her when you are meant to.” But what they don’t understand is that I’m not combing eHarmony for connections or checking my phone for Tinder push notifications, I just don’t subscribe to the endless cycle of romantic involvement.
Now this is not to say that I won’t one day settle down and start a family with someone I care about, I just think it’s far too early in the game to romanticize the prototypical suburban existence. Is it selfish that at this point in my life I only want to be concerned with myself? I don’t want to have to discuss my goals with another person or check with someone else before I make a big purchase. I’m not ready for the dating dichotomy.
I understand that not everyone shares my point of view. There are people out there who thrive in a relationship and prefer being taken to being single. I’m not criticizing those people; what works for me is certainly not guaranteed to work for anyone else. But why is there such an emphasis to be in a relationship as a young adult? My friends’ girlfriends have made it their mission to find someone that “would be perfect” for me, as if my being single is a disease that they have a civic duty to cure. My response to their attempts to set me up is usually a questionable crack about being in a relationship with whiskey followed by a shrug of the shoulders and a casual “I don’t date.” I can read the absolute confusion on their faces; I think for them my desire to remain single is a completely foreign concept. It’s like I’m clinically insane for wanting to go it alone for a while.
I don’t know what it is, but third wheel life just doesn’t bother me. I have no reservations about hanging out with the dog while everyone sits on the couch and discusses whatever TV show their Wednesday night routine revolves around. I don’t think that my lack of a committed relationship makes me any less mature than everyone else. After all, I’m not exactly watching cartoons in my underwear. But even if it does, is that a bad thing? We as a society seem to view single people as inherently less grown up than those in a relationship, as if the longer the inevitable pairing with another person is put off, the more likely I am to run down the street after an ice cream truck (are ice cream trucks still a thing or has Amazon pushed them out?). Either way, I relish that I can leave the house for any reason without explaining where I’m going or when I’ll return.
As I get older, my opinion on partnering-up may change, and I might find myself wishing for the comfort of having something solid romantically to fall back on as I walk through life. But for now, I am content with my biggest relationship – the one involving the four liters of coffee it takes to get through the average workday. Dating and I just aren’t good for one another right now. It’s not so much dating, it’s more me, I promise.
Now if you will excuse me, I have an appointment with last week’s Silicon Valley. .