I was getting changed in a locker room yesterday feeling really good about the workout I had just completed. I count going to the gym as part of the work day and, all in all, I had a great 10-hour shift. As I threw my gym bag around my shoulder and began walking back to my apartment though, a thought crept into my head that would keep me up until the wee hours of the morning.
“Are you going to be doing this shit when you’re 30, dude? Just going through the motions until the weekend so you can go to the bar and try to bring some random girl back with you? Is that what you want out of your life?”
Thoughts of the existential variety are nothing new for me. Anyone with anxious tendencies can tell you that thinking about the meaning of life and where we’ll all end up one day are par for the course. But on this day, I just couldn’t shake the thought that maybe this is the time to make some changes.
It’s been about six months since I’ve truly considered diving back into a relationship with someone and I know that I definitely do not want to be single in five years when I turn 30. Other than garden variety anxiety and what I’ll be doing to pay the bills in twenty years, nothing keeps me awake at night like the prospect of being alone forever.
Maybe it was the new Drake album I had been listening to for the past 48 hours. Maybe I’m finally maturing a little bit. What I know for certain is that I’m not particularly happy as a single man anymore.
Next time you’re out with a group of friends, take a look around you and see what the difference is between yourself and someone in the crew with a significant other. Are the people in relationships happier than you? Do you they possess personality traits like maturity and a sense of humor that you just don’t have? Or are these people simply luckier than you? I maintain that finding someone to settle down with is more luck than anything, but I’m a jackass of the highest order so my two cents is probably worthless. And therein lies my problem.
In your mid-twenties, there’s no real way to answer questions about why your sex life isn’t satisfying anymore or why you can’t seem to settle down with someone. Some people are just better at finding companionship than others. It isn’t about anyone being nicer or better looking, it’s more about perseverance and determination. Finding a person to settle down with isn’t all that different from finding a job. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult, but if you really want one, you can get one.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that the sustainability of a relationship lies in the tiny details. Two people don’t stay together for the sex, and if they do they’re stupid because sex is merely a component of a healthy relationship. Obviously sex is a critical part any relationship worth its salt but let’s not pretend like every couple who has phenomenal sex is good together.
A couple stays together because they enjoy each other’s company and can, at the very least, bring each other around their friends and not have them go Hiroshima on everyone’s ass (a skill I have yet to master). We hear the phrase “looking for love in all the wrong places” constantly because it’s partly true and also because it’s a go-to caption for both aspiring and full-fledged Instagram models.
We search for a companion at bars and on dumbass dating apps even though statistically speaking the next girlfriend or boyfriend we’re going to have is someone whom we already know and regularly hang out with. Hitting the gym, eating right, and generally being a good person? These are all things that we do because it’s attractive to the opposite sex. Would anyone frequent the gym at all if it wasn’t for television and movies telling us to that everyone should strive to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club when they’re naked?
All of my failed relationships with women have one overarching theme: an inability to change the things that my counterpart doesn’t like about me. Yes, everyone has things about their partner that they don’t like. General uncleanliness and opinions on NATO or Beyoncé – these are just examples of issues that people can (and usually will) change for the sake of a relationship. But what I’m talking about are the things that aren’t so easy to change.
There are some personality traits that I truly don’t know if I can change and it’s a little bit unsettling. I can be the romantic and I can be the affable type when I really feel like doing so. But I can’t be the nice guy all of the time. I’m fully capable of working a room when I go to party or a work event, but I can’t be the only one who thinks about heading to a party sometimes and thinking “I would literally rather have my head sewn to the carpet than go to this fucking party.”
Being “on” like that all the time is really difficult, and I envy a lot of my friends who seem to be clicking on all cylinders every single weekend. So is it me or is it the girls I’m seeing who have a problem?
It takes effort 100% of the time to be in a healthy relationship, and if you’re not in a relationship and looking for one it takes 110% to find someone. There are nights in all relationships where you just want to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that no, actually, you don’t feel like going to their friends party because you can’t stand the thought of going out with those people.
Putting on a facade that you want to be somewhere is hard, and it’s even harder when the people who you’re going to be around for an entire night are objectively awful. I’m not even in a relationship and the thought of bending over backwards to appease a significant other sounds incredibly daunting. That is the reason why I sit here writing this without a girlfriend. I am single because it’s easy and if I want that to change I’m going to have to put my fake smile on and try harder. .
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