As a 24 year old female, I am saddened to say that dating never turned out the way I thought it would. Surprise, surprise! It’s not a groundbreaking revelation. In fact, I would hardly consider it a revelation. More like a fact I knew was always there, but unwilling to accept. An ever-present shadow I chose to ignore. A voice in the back of my head I silenced.
However, I take full responsibility. Before I could read, I would take out books from my rickety bookshelf and read aloud to my stuffed animals, making up the words and creating happy endings the only way I knew how; romantically. In Goodnight Moon, the little bunny is so in love with the moon that he ends up marrying it. In The Hungry Caterpillar, the caterpillar is so in love with food, that he ends up becoming it, filling himself to the brim and consuming his love before anybody else can. These ideas sprouted from the movies I was watching as a child and I can say with utter disappointment that I was heavily exposed to the Disney Princess genre; and therefore, I was doomed from the start.
Once I was able to read, the endings became more diverse, but I chose to delve into the idyllic works of Stephenie Meyer, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell. Although these authors aren’t notoriously known for their happy endings, they are the epitomes of a good love story (besides Nicholas Sparks, but honestly I’ve never been a fan and wasn’t allowed to read those for quite some time) so the exposure was still there and thus, prompting me to start writing of my own.
From the ages of 13-16 I spent hours in front of my computer. Both reading love stories people had written online for inspiration and writing my own. I was transfixed, I was awestruck, and most disappointingly, I was lead astray.
By the time I was old enough to date, I didn’t know that people kissed people, slept with people, or dated people just for fun. All my life I had been taught in fiction, cinema, and other works that people kissed people they liked, cared about, and wanted to be with. So imagine my disappointment, at 16 years old, when I went down into the basement with a boy named Alex who had been texting me nonstop weeks prior, and who had then put is wet, slobbery lips on mine. I went home and told my best friend about it, “I can’t believe I’m going to have my first boyfriend,” and when he texted me later that night saying the kissing meant nothing and that he just wanted to “have fun,” I felt the ground crumble beneath me. That was a revelation.
I eventually played along. A few months into my senior year of high school I learned how to navigate the murky waters of adolescence and teenage hormones and I was proud of myself for eventually learning how to kiss, fuck, and even lay with no feelings attached whatsoever. Once I had endured a few more Alex’s during my junior year, I had finally learned how to play it, and eventually, I was winning every time.
Fast forward to now and I have had two boyfriends since college. Both of which just proved to me that even (semi) successful relationships are never the way they appear to be in movies, in books, or even in your own mind. The feelings I’ve felt watching people happily fall in love in movies had never once struck a cord in me with either of them, or anybody for that matter. And now, at 24 years old, as a single young lady in a thriving, hip city, I fear I must prepare myself to be underwhelmed for the rest of my dating career.