0

Tinderp Tale #9: I’m An Asshole Again

I had turned twenty-five at the end of last August. I threw myself an awesome birthday party that involved a Trump piñata, a jump house, and Pokémon balloons–an elaborate, immature attempt to repress my anxieties and dread of getting older but not any wiser, richer, or happier. I was still a virgin who hadn’t found what she was looking for (which was literally anything other than seeing a guy a couple of times then never seeing him again). I disliked my nonexistent sex life but stopped caring as much as I had earlier in the year. (Getting an IUD wasn’t a complete waste, I reasoned, because not having a period was pretty awesome.) I went on a few dates here and there–guys I met through Meetup, Instagram, a friend. (Her ex-Tinder date, actually. I told you I was desperate.) Nothing came of them. I wondered what it would take for a guy to like me enough to put in actual effort. I wondered what it would take for me to like a guy enough to let down my guard. Maybe I wasn’t the kind of girl a guy would give chase to. Maybe I wasn’t the kind of girl who could open her heart to a boy who wanted to open her legs.

Over the summer, I tried dating apps outside of Tinder with zero success. Bumble had too many uppity white dudes. East Meet East had too many passive Asian guys (and was also just a really terrible name, period). I was taking the initiative and composing messages to men in hopes of securing their interest. To be fair, they weren’t very good messages, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Like, wouldn’t you feel compelled to respond to this titillating message?

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Okay, fine. What about this one?

ear talk

OKAY WHATEVER AS IF YOU CAN DO ANY BETTER just kidding, you probably could.

I thought about how and why I was such a failure in the dating department. I thought about this often. There wasn’t a singular reason I could isolate. I had friends who were feminists and introverts and just plain awkward like me, yet didn’t have as much trouble finding what they were looking for, whether that was a casual hookup or a long term relationship. Other people were also confused about my spinster virgin status, but for the wrong reason. To them, being cute dictated I shouldn’t be single or a virgin. I knew that was wrong. Cute could only take you so far when you’re me.

There was just something in me that refused to compromise, that refused to flatten myself to appear more palatable to the fleeting desires of men, that curled up into a little ball whenever a guy came too close, that pulled flaws out of every single quirk and mannerism and sentiment expressed by a guy and immediately categorized them (and in turn, him) as unworthy and unforgivable, that hated uncertainty even though it was all I knew–especially when it came to romantic and sexual interest, that would prefer solitude over company if company meant having to spend time with a stranger through a contrived set of circumstances. I was impatient and unlikable and an unapologetic misandrist by default, and that was not going to change.

I started worrying about being alone in the long term. Did I have friends who would be there for me when I was old and frail? Or even now, when I get sick? Or would they be too busy with their spouses and future children? I needed to strengthen my safety net. I knew I couldn’t count on falling into a relationship for security. The idea of having a boyfriend was pretty laughable at this point. L***kana’s Boyfriend was a mythical creature, up there with the likes of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. He didn’t exist, except in the confines of my erratic imagination.

I realized I didn’t know how to live life in conjunction with someone else anyway. Being perpetually single had warped me into a solitary, eccentric creature with habits that were questionable and okay fine, sometimes downright gross. I talked to myself out loud. I danced alone in my room and occasionally attempted to twerk (then felt kind of embarrassed and guilty for having tried). I blew my nose and let the used tissues pile up next to me in bed. I clipped my nails and sometimes let them fall where they may. I preferred sleeping alone, watching shows alone, crying alone, reading alone, and writing alone. I had determined that I was pretty much a lost cause.

tinderp 9.1

Actual bedroom does not look like this.

Still. I figured I would keep going on dates anyway. It was similar to what I felt about patriarchy and white supremacy: I didn’t think anything was going to change, but I’ll be damned if it was due to a lack of effort on my part.

I ended up on Tinder again in September of that year. I was coerced into creating a new account by my friend Chelsia, who was interested in trying Tinder Social, a new feature that enabled users to go on group dates (and was probably created to increase people’s chances of participating in a threesome or orgy). She changed her mind, but I stayed on the app, sucked in by all the new prospective dates within reach of my fingertips. Dating in real life isn’t going to be any better, I told myself. Guys are still flakey. Guys are still boring. Things are still going to be awkward and confusing and disappointing. Might as well make use of an app that helps me get through them faster until I find Mr. 38-100 (See Tinderp Tale #4 for explanation).

One day, a guy I will call Tayo popped up on my feed. I knew he was interested, because he had Super Liked me. I skimmed through his photos. Only one of them made me think he was attractive. It was a high res, close up picture of him holding a turtle. I decided the quality of the single photo was enough for me to surmise that he was probably good-looking, and swiped right.

After matching, we talked a little about Pokemon Go (my current obsession at the time) and exchanged numbers. He hit me up via text right away.

9/24/16 1:38 AM
Tayo: Hey cutie. It’s Tayo #teamvalor

Where’s your name from?

Ugh. THIS question? He was a person of color, he should know better than to ask. (You may be wondering, what’s wrong with wanting to know? Well, nothing, if  a question like that is posed to everyone, but it’s not. Nobody asks Becky or John where their names are from. It’s lightweight racist and a microaggressive form of Othering, k.) We had barely chatted and already I was annoyed with him.

 Okay suck it up, or else you’re just trying to be a spinster virgin on purpose, I told myself sternly. I responded to him the next day.

9/24/16 10:21 AM
Me: Sup. Just woke up lol.

It’s Cambodian

Tayo: Sup lol. Well good morning to you. Sleep well?

Me: Actually I did! *beige thumbs up emoji*

Are you a night owl too?

Tayo: That’s good. I slept alright! No morning cuddles from you tho lol.

And yes I AM a night owl haha

Oh god, he was already shamelessly flirting with me. I had always felt that it was a risky move to be that explicit when you hadn’t even met the person in real life yet, but where had that attitude gotten me? Zero sex and zero relationships, that’s what. I decided to take a gamble and flirt back.

9/24/16 1:03 PM
Me: Cool cool cool

Maybe we can resolve the cuddling issue in the near future 😉

Tayo: I’d like that 😉

tinderp 9.2

State of Millennial Dating Culture, 2016.

We started talking about Pokemon again. He suggested we watch the show together sometime soon. I was fine with that until I found out he lived with his family and wanted to come over to my place. MY place??? I didn’t bring guys over to my place. I shared a dilapidated house with 3 other roommates. On top of being rundown, it was always messy and kind of grody (through very little fault of my own, or so I’d like to think). It was definitely not the kind of living situation you’d want to invite a guest into unless that guest was your really good friend or family member who you know for sure wouldn’t judge you and even if they did it didn’t really matter because you know they would like you anyway.

Regardless, the thought of having a guy over sounded awkward and potentially mortifying to me, no matter where I lived. I had never done it before. Would I have to give my roommates a heads up? What if my date and I ran into one of them? How would that introduction go? Was it even necessary? “Hey, this is my roommate Mackenzie. Mackenzie, this is…uh, sorry what’s your name again? Well, never mind, I’m never going to see you again anyway. Let’s go to my room and possibly fuck WHAT I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking okay bye Mackenzie!”

Me: Yeahhh let’s do something else hahaha

Tayo: Drinks?

9/24/16 5:09 PM
Me: Kk

We made plans to meet on a Monday night at a bar in Alameda I had never been to. After confirming our date, I assumed I wouldn’t hear from him until the day of, which was typical in my experience of online dating. But no. This bitch kept hitting me up over the weekend, asking me what I was up to. Honestly, I was weirded out and annoyed by his eagerness to be in constant communication with me and probably that was assholish of me, but c’mon! We didn’t actually know each other and we had already made plans to get better acquainted in person. No need to fill in the space before then with vapid small talk. Maybe OKCupid Learkana would have liked this pre-date back-and-forth, but Tinder Learkana was fed up with it and didn’t want to hear from your trivial ass until she could verify your fuckability IRL.

 Monday night came. I was late to our date because I had gotten sidetracked by discussing the first presidential debate with one of my roommates (aka ranting about what a mediocre racist sexist piece of shit Trump was/is). I felt slightly guilty but mostly apathetic. I walked into the bar and was unpleasantly surprised. It was filled with white people. I was slightly irritated because I like my spaces to be diverse whenever possible. A predominantly white space signaled to me that there was a reason people of color stayed away. But there was no backing out now.

Tayo and I greeted each other with a hug and got a couple of beers. Despite our racially homogeneous surroundings, I enjoyed talking with him. He was easygoing and friendly and it didn’t feel awkward at all. He was a dance instructor for kids at a local school, which I thought was pretty cool. The problem was that I wasn’t really attracted to him. That one picture I had depended on ended up being a fluke. In person, he was more compact than I thought he would be. He actually kind of reminded me of the turtle he was holding in the picture, but like, not in a good way. I felt bad, but it couldn’t be helped. I was also feeling a little uneasy, because I could tell he was still attracted to me IRL. He complimented me on my outfit and subtly touched me throughout the night. It spelled trouble in my mind. I pushed the discomfort away, kept drinking my beer, and blabbed on and on about Pokemon and books and music and TV shows. My attempts to keep things light and breezy were helped by the blinding white environment in which it probably wouldn’t have been safe for either of us to bring up the current election in great detail, although the white people in the background (for once) were pretty preoccupied with playing white people trivia. (Well, I assumed it was centered on white media, because the questions revolved around shows both Tayo and I had never heard of or watched. Could have just been a generational thing, but who are we kidding, probably a white people thing.)

tinderp 9.3

Actual bar was not this fancy.

After a couple of hours of chilling at the bar, we headed out. He walked me to my car, smiled and hugged me. “Text me when you get home,” he said.

I don’t remember if I had forgotten or if I purposely neglected to send him the requested text. (Knowing me, it could have been the latter. Yes, I can be an asshole, I thought we established this.) But a little while after I got home, Tayo checked up on me:

9/26/16 11:07 PM
Tayo: Did you make it home ok?

Me: Yes! Sorry I’m terrible at sending “I made it home” text messages lol I always forget [this is usually true okay]

Tayo: lol you totally forgot haha *laugh-cry emoji*

Thanks for tonight *smiling blush emoji* *rose emoji*

Were those emojis really necessary? What the hell was the rose emoji supposed to represent? If he had actually given me a rose in person, the emoji would have made sense in addition to being a much sweeter gesture, but no. Ugh, millennial dating culture. But anyway! This was bad. I tried to sound noncommittal in my response.

Me: Yeah! I had a good time [I mean it was true, just not in the way he wanted]

Tayo: Cool. Let’s do it again soon. We never watched Pokemon hah

Oh god, he was still fixated on that?! I cursed myself for flirting with him and carelessly indulging his Netflix-and-cuddle fantasies before we had even met up in person. Lesson learned: Do NOT flirt with someone until you’ve looked them in the face. (Or at least keep it to a bare minimum and don’t suggest intimate activities beforehand.) Watching Pokemon was probably a euphemism for fucking. Even if he had no ulterior motive, I still didn’t want to watch Pokemon with him. I was perfectly fine with reliving my childhood and retrospectively hating Ash’s arrogant, mediocre Pokemon trainer ass on my own, thank you very much.

If I was a decent person, I would have sent a very tactful response explaining that while I had a good time with Tayo at the bar, I regretfully didn’t feel much of a spark. But at the time, I couldn’t think of what I could honestly say without sounding like a total asshole. The truth was that I wasn’t physically attracted to him, and that sounded terrible no matter how I tried to spin it. I didn’t want to lie either. So I took the coward’s way out and didn’t say anything, which still made me an asshole–just a more passive one.

A few days passed. He texted me again, much to my dismay.

9/29/16 8:06 PM
Tayo: Hey u

Me: Sup

Tayo: How are you

9/29/16 10:05 PM
Me: Hella tired *dead-eyed emoji*

Tayo: I feel it. I’ve been falling in and out of sleep.
How is your week going?

I didn’t respond. The thought of texting either small talk or a politely worded rejection to him overwhelmed me. I couldn’t deal with it. Please just let him take the hint, I thought.

He didn’t. Or maybe he refused to. (Dudes are socially conditioned to be pursuers, after all.) Over a week later, he sent me another text.

10/10/16 2:19 PM
Tayo: We totally should go Pokémon hunting
around lake Merritt. I want more dratini’s lol

Goddamnit why couldn’t he just get that I didn’t want to see him again?! I wasn’t sure what to do.

“Just text him that you’re busy and will hit him up when you’re free,” said my friend Susan.

“But…isn’t that lying?” I said incredulously, as if my silence didn’t also make me an asshole.

“Just do it,” she advised. “That’s how dating works. If you’re not interested, tell him you’re busy. He’ll get the hint eventually.”

I unfortunately took her advice.

10/10/16 9:22 PM
Me: Hey! Sorry I have a lot going on right now, I’ll let you know when I’m free

Tayo: Ok

I wasn’t sure if he finally got the hint in that moment or maybe days, weeks, even months later, but I never heard from him again. I’m pretty confident that I reached new levels of assholishness with this exchange.

Looking back, I wish I had responded to his text message about wanting to meet up again with something along these lines:

Me: Hey, so I think you’re a great guy and I enjoyed hanging out with you. But I didn’t really feel the sort of chemistry I’m looking for in a potential dating partner. That said, it was nice meeting you and I wish you well. 🙂

Or maybe that message would have been more hurtful than what I did. I’m not sure. I’d like to think honesty is the best policy, but I know not everyone thinks that. I also know that pairing tact with honesty doesn’t guarantee a warm reception. “The truth hurts” is cliché for a reason. Suffice it to say, rejection sucks on both ends. (Although yes, quite a bit more on the receiving end. Ugh. I’m really sorry for my shitty behavior after our one and only date, Tayo…who will likely never read this apology considering that it’s embedded in a very wordy blog post written almost a year later and addressed to a pseudonym.)

If I was deeply invested in the idea of cosmic consequences for individual human actions, I would say that the universe probably wanted to punish me for how I treated Tayo, because my next misadventure ended up being the worst thing to ever happen to me thus far in my sporadic dating life. But that’s an excruciatingly humiliating and tediously complicated story for another time.

tl;dr Learkana is going to die alone and unlaid, probably! Learkana ghosts on a guy because she didn’t want to tell him she doesn’t like his face although in hindsight she definitely could have used her writing skills to offer up a more nuanced and considerate rejection! Learkana is an asshole!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Swell Bar
Rating: *
Review: Too many white people. But if diversity is not your thing, you’ll like it okay.

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Dying Alone and Other Exaggerated Concerns

I’m gonna die alone.

I say this a lot to myself.

It holds different weights at different times. Right after a disappointing date: I’m gonna die alone. The words are crushing. While I’m lying in bed watching fictional couples make out with each other on my laptop: I’m gonna die alone. The words feel like a weirdly pleasurable, masochistic ache. When I’m hanging out with one of my friends and her partner: I’m gonna die alone. They turn into a festering sore, oozing with resentment and pettiness. When my roommates are out and about with their significant others and I’m at home alone making faces in the mirror or talking to myself as I’m taking a shower: I’m gonna die alone. The words spill out, accompanied by gleeful, half-crazed laughter.

I’m gonna die alone!

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But what does that mean?

Well-meaning friends take it literally and tell me I’m being silly, of course I’m not gonna die alone. Which is true. The very least they could do is show up to my funeral and pretend to shed a few tears over my dead body, jeez.

But what society means and what I mean when I’m at my most heteronormative and melodramatic is, I am never going to find a guy with whom I can enter into a mutually desired long-term agreement of exclusively living and having sex together. No matter how staunch of a feminist I am, no matter how much I value my independence and my freedom, there are moments when I loathe how unlovable I seem to be, when I see my singleness the way society does: shameful and bitter.

Ending up single upon my deathbed wouldn’t sound so depressing if I had ever had anything resembling a love life. But all I have is a handful of unrequited infatuations and some blog posts that make like six people laugh. I’ve never gotten to the point of love. Hell, I’ve barely gotten to the point of mutual like. 

I know what it’s like to love and be loved platonically. I don’t know what it’s like to love and be loved romantically. It’s a foreign concept to me, nothing I’ve ever experienced firsthand. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and think, that kind of love may not be possible for me, no matter how much I sporadically yearn for it through what is probably just deeply ingrained social conditioning. I try to imagine myself in relationship-y scenarios and cringe. Gazing into each other’s eyes and celebrating anniversaries and all that shit. Fucking gross.

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At the same time, it’s hard not to feel left out when almost everyone my age has gone through those sappy feelings and rituals.

It would be easy to blame all my problems on my mom, but…

Some say my standards are too high. I’m too hard on guys, they say.

Well, why should I cut them some slack when society has already fucking done that, huh?! I’m tempted to shout back, but I guess I’m just proving their point.

Then I start wondering if I really am straight after all, if I seem to have such a clear disdain for hetero cis men and how the littlest things about them can turn me off instantly. But haven’t I acquired a level of self-awareness that would let me know if I was secretly a lesbian???? I don’t want to be some problematic bicurious Katy Perry girl who “just wants to experiment” either. Also there is a very specific kind of masculinity I’m attracted to, and if that isn’t a hetero cis thing to say, then I don’t know what is.

“Do you even know what you’re looking for?” my friend Susan asked.

I don’t. Sometimes I think I do, but now I don’t. But more importantly, I don’t know if the things I think I want to look for are things I should even be looking for to begin with, and I don’t know how to look for any of these things regardless so what’s the point of acting on things I don’t actually know and only think I know? You know what I mean?

I used to think, I just need to find a guy who has similar beliefs to me. That didn’t work.

Then I latched onto chemistry. Yes, chemistry is my solution. If I want to throw myself at him and shove my tongue down his throat, it’s a sign! Of something!

That hasn’t worked either.

People are telling me it’s about compatibility. I don’t even know what that means. I mean I know what it means, obviously, but I don’t know what it personally means to me in a dating context. I guess I’m supposed to figure that out, or maybe instinctively already know that, but I’m too overanalytical and cynical and tired at the moment.

I guess my problem is that I give up too easily on the guys I go on dates with. I think it’s because I’m afraid of getting roped into something I will regret or change my mind about, and I hate the prospect of having to reject a guy later down the road when we’re both probably emotionally invested to some extent and the fallout will be that much more awkward and painful. So if I’m not certain, I back out.

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I also used to think, fuck gender roles! Women can make the first move. And go Dutch on first dates. And be the first to text. But now…I don’t know. Some of my feminist friends who are more complacent about chivalry (ironically enough) seem to be in emotionally fulfilling romantic relationships with guys who like paying for stuff and seem like they aren’t total assholes. And here I am, the bitter premature spinster throwing middle fingers up at what I think is benevolent sexism.

“You can’t chase men,” my organization’s bookkeeper tells me. (Yes, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just shouting to the world, on- and offline, about my nonexistent love life. Don’t judge me. Or well, probably too late for that.) “Men should chase you.

“But–that’s so old-fashioned!” I splutter.

She shrugs. “That’s just the way it is. Men who want you will chase you. You’re a cute girl, I’m sure you’ve had guys like you, even if you didn’t like them. And how did you know that they liked you? Because they made it obvious. When a guy likes you, you know he likes you.”

My stomach sank, because the words were ringing true, in spite of the protests coming from the unapologetically hardcore feminist in me.

I hated the premise of He’s Just Not That Into You–you know, that rom-dram with Ginnifer Goodwin who plays this girl who falls for guys who don’t follow up and some bartender dude tells her that guys will go the extra mile if they’re interested and won’t if they don’t? And now I’m being told by someone I look up to that shit is true and so basically I’m Ginnifer Goodwin’s character except this is real life and I don’t have some cute assholish guy coming to my door and telling me I’m his “exception.” No, what I have is awkward encounters with the guy working at the liquor store down the street from me because of the one date we went on in which it was confirmed that I have absolutely no idea how to date in real life.

I’ve been trying to come to terms with Dying Alone (TM) for a while now. Off and on, since the year 2011, when I told some infatuated Kentucky boy to stop texting me, when I was in my third year of attending a women’s college, when I seriously began thinking that I wasn’t the kind of person who could fit herself into the constraints of a romantic relationship.

“I think, therefore I’m single.”

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

I think too much.

I think I value myself. I value myself and I value my self, my individuality. That’s part of it. I don’t want to compromise my values. I don’t want to settle for less.  I don’t want to make myself smaller or soften my edges or shut my mouth to make a guy feel more comfortable. I don’t want to get with someone for the sake of being in a relationship, or just because I’m feeling lonely, or because I feel kinda bad and they’re being kinda pushy and super flattering.

Evidently, all of these things combined make up a recipe for dying alone. (Add bitterness to taste. Serve with the possibility of regret.)

Pessimism aside, I think I will be okay alone, more so than the average person. My quest to find romantic love has never been an all encompassing desire or life goal. (Is that the problem?) It’s kinda been mid- to low-priority, falling somewhere between paying off my credit card debt and doing laundry well before I run out of underwear (“underwear” including but not limited to bikini bottoms and emergency granny panties).

I think I will be okay, but then I see my friends getting into serious romantic relationships or getting married or once again getting so much closer to the possibility of real, lasting romantic love than I ever have (fuck, even my mom recently  got herself a boy toy after 18 years of widowed singlehood), and I start freaking the fuck out because dying alone suddenly seems more like a grim reality than some happy-go-lucky abstract future.  Dying alone as in, lying on my kitchen floor choking on a partially frozen TV dinner with no one to help me because I live alone and my friends live too far away and are too busy being married with kids to check up on that one friend whom they used to invite to the occasional “girls’ night out” that inevitably devolved into radio silence over time because they thought she would eventually outgrow her perpetually single phase but nope she’s still single and weird and catless which somehow makes her less pitiable than if she had like two or three cats, then I would die right there on the kitchen floor and my landlord will find me a month later because I hadn’t paid rent and only my siblings would show up to my funeral and say a few fucked up words.

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Just kidding. I’m sure they’ll be nicer to my corpse.

I guess I was fine with dying alone when I thought I had accumulated an extensive support system. But seeing how fragile it is, watching/imagining it disintegrate before my very eyes, has thrown me into a panic.

The oscillation between fear and resignation, doubt and acceptance, makes me wonder: what state of mind will I be in when I close my eyes for the last time? And how will it correlate with my relationship status?

I can’t predict the future. All I can do is focus on the present and use cliches to distract from the fact that I feel very confused, disillusioned, and scared that maybe there’s something wrong with me after all.

0

Homosocial Lovin’: Confessions of a Straight Woman Who Loves Women

“We should go to a singles bar and meet guys,” my friend Natalie says over our boba tea drinks.

“You don’t need to go to a bar, you already get dates in real life,” I protest. “You have meet-cutes with guys just by walking down the street.”

“But they all end up being so shitty,” Natalie counters. “Like that asshole who reminded me that he makes more money than me. Ugh. The sex was so amazing though.” (Although we like to think of ourselves as liberatory feminists, our conversations as of late have not been passing the Bechdel Test. And yes, I know it’s for movies, but I’m a writer, the line between reality and fiction gets blurred, ok.)

“Where’d you meet that guy again?” I ask.

“From that party a few weeks ago. You were there!”

“Wait, what?” I distinctly remembered that party: dancing in the shadows with Natalie, our bodies shaking to the pounding music. Foreign bodies pressing in on us, too close for comfort. I closed my eyes and opened them again. A towering giant of a man had magically appeared in front of a tipsy Natalie. Where had he come from? Had he been there all along and I just hadn’t noticed it, being the terribly unobservant person that I am? He moved in closer to her and was eyeing her like she was a piece of meat. Ew, I thought, watching him watch my friend. He was so obviously repulsive to me I thought Natalie would just roll her eyes and turn away from him.

Instead, she shimmied closer to him. They were making eye contact, their arms on each other’s shoulders. She was actually smiling back at him.

She wasn’t dancing with me or the crowd anymore. She was in her own private world with Fucking Gross Giant Dude.

thirdwheel2

My chest became tight. My dancing became lifeless. The room was too small. I couldn’t deal with this. I needed air. I bolted from the room, away from the deafening music, the pushy crowd, the newfound couple trying to turn me into the third wheel.

“Remember that Spanish guy from the party I was dancing with?” Natalie says.

“That guy?” I blurt out. “But he was ugly!”

Natalie gasps. “He was not!”

I backtrack. “Okay, we have different tastes in men. Which is probably a good thing.”

“I’m just really attracted to Spaniards,” she says, staring dreamily off into space.

Gross. I start feeling that same irrational sense of betrayal that flooded my insides the night of the party. That night, I ended up sulking in the hot tub while Natalie called out my name, trying to find me. “Why did you abandon me?” she asked, upset.

Because you abandoned me first, I wanted to say, but didn’t because no matter how it seemed, I was not actually a whiny melodramatic teenager in a cheesy coming of age film featuring mostly white people. “You were dancing with that guy, so I decided to leave,” I said instead.

Natalie looked at me, her forehead creased. “Did you really not like him?”

“No. It’s just…” I tried to find the right words, but didn’t. I never could. Not on the spot. “I didn’t come to the party to meet some random guy. I came here with you.”

She still didn’t get it. “But isn’t the point to make new friends?”

New friends? Really? I wanted to shake her and shout: That guy was so creepy and disgusting! He was fucking you with his eyes! Quit acting like that was some innocent platonic exchange!

I stared at her, then averted my gaze. “Let’s just forget about it,” I mumbled, all the while knowing that I would never forget and possibly never forgive.

This was not the first time this issue has come up for me. I’ve had fights with female friends over the way they “abandoned” me in favor of some guy they were romantically or sexually interested in. Wanna make out with some guy instead of having a conversation with me? Bye girl. Only interested in hanging out with me if your boy toy comes with, aka forcing his company on me without my consent, aka expecting me to share the same level of emotional intimacy with your dude that I share with you? Well fuck you.

thirdwheel4

Even when my man-dating female friends don’t commit these transgressions, the paranoia is always there, eating at me: She’s posting lovey dovey photos of the two of them and I’m never going to see her again. She keeps talking about her boring boyfriend and will soon forget all about me. If I don’t feel close enough to the friend, the feelings of resentment will rot inside my corpse of a heart until they silently leak out and make room for all the other petty nonsense I feel on a daily basis.

Why Learkana, you rhetorically say to me. Perchance are you a lesbian?

Dear reader, I respond. Sadly I am not. Trust me, I’ve pondered deeply on this. It would make way more sense for me to be a lesbian: I’ve never had a boyfriend, am incredibly wary of and cynical about hetero cis men in general, and am deeply possessive of my female friends even when they backstab me with their heteronormativity. (Actually, this just sounds like a straight person’s idea of what a lesbian is, which just proves my point.)

But I’m not in the closet. 4 years at a women’s college with zero homoerotic yearnings or encounters confirmed this. Unfortunately, I am just as heteronormative as my female friends (the ones who are heteronormative, of course, which is many of them). I’ve just….taken a road less traveled, in cliche white dudespeak. 

Although I identify as heterosexual, I am way more homosocial. Which means I value my circle of female friends much more than any hypothetical dude who wants to wine and dine me or hit it and quit it, because the power of female friendships is way more seductive to me than romance or sex. Don’t get me wrong, though–getting laid and falling in love sound pretty awesome, but in my mind, nothing beats having a girlfriend who is pretty much my soul sister.

I’m not sure how my devotion to the whole “sisters before misters” mantra came about. Given all the mean girls I had the misfortune of getting involved with when I was a kid, it’s a wonder I didn’t grow up to be a full-blown internalized misogynist. I guess some part of me craved the kindness, camaraderie, and empathy that would be conditionally given to me by my (so-called) friends. Bonding with boys was out of the question. Sure, I would hang out with some of them from time to time, but it never crossed my mind to consider them my besties. Besides, most of the boys I knew enjoyed harassing me in ways that even seven-year-old me could recognize and try to steer clear of.

For the most part, my childhood was heavily segregated by gender. If you appeared to be close with someone of a different gender, people would whisper and say that you two were in love or having (prepubescent) sex, which when you think about it is really creepy and sorry I made you think about it but anyway the point is, I was conditioned to believe that female friendships were the only authentic form of closeness and intimacy I could experience. And so a shitty female friend was likely better than the male gaze, my younger self must have reasoned (probably not in those same exact words, but you know what I mean).

Today I am lucky to have female friends who love me the way eleven-year-old me longed to be loved after being told by my “BFF” at the time that I was only invited to the sixth grade girls’ sleepover because everyone felt sorry for me. To be loved unconditionally is a powerful, powerful thing, and I’ve been able to find that through my lovely lady friends. If I had it my way, I would live happily and radically ever after in a feminist commune with all my female/queer/gender non-conforming family and friends, where we’d wear fancy dresses or suits and drink boba tea and hold hands and dance to Beyonce whenever we felt like it. Any hetero cis men we’d take on as lovers would have to wait at our pearly gates until we sent for them.

friendsss

Sadly, this is just wishful thinking. The reality is that I live in a world that privileges a certain kind of relationship above others: romantic, sexual, and social monogamy. I can’t marry my female friends. I’m not going to offer them sexual favors. What I can do is be there for them, make them laugh, do really awesome activities that their significant others for whatever reason don’t want to do, and gripe about the white supremacist heterocispatriarchy with them. But that isn’t enough. And that’s what upsets me: the fact that culturally and socially, my platonic love isn’t as valuable as romantic/sexual love. Factor in the patriarchy and I’m beyond pissed.

But look, I get it. I have to get it because that’s how it currently works: I’m not your soulmate or your partner, because I’m not having sex with you or courting you. I’m not the first person you’re going to save from a burning building or the person you’re going to spend most of your time with. All I ask is that you don’t forget about me or take me for granted. That you still hang out with me on occasion without your partner (being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re literally attached at the hip, FYI). That you treat me with the same level of courtesy and respect you give to your partner when it comes to spending time together (You wouldn’t bring me along on a weekend getaway with your partner, right? So why would that not apply vice versa?). That hanging out with me isn’t secondary to going on a date or getting laid. Is that really too much to ask for?

Maybe it is. Maybe these are just the empty pleas of a premature spinster. Which is why I rarely go this deep in discussions or fights I get into with my friends over their partners/potential partners whom I am mistrustful of by default. It ultimately boils down to: Do you care more about me or him/them? I already know the answer. So I keep quiet and use my superficial arguments: “I’m mad that you ditched me.” “I’m mad that we don’t hang out like we used to.” Because I’m afraid my friends won’t understand. Or that they won’t care. Or that really, I’m just a weirdly possessive, codependent friend with a lot of mommy issues.

“I’m putting you in my calendar for Saturday,” says Natalie. “I know of a bar we can go to. This is gonna be fun!”

“Okay,” I agree, even though I could already imagine how it would go down: Natalie would hit it off with the first guy who approached her friendly smile and open body language. Natalie would go home with this guy. I would sit at the bar, sipping my apple cider in sullen resentment over being ditched while fending off strange men and completely forgetting that going home with a guy was the plan to begin with.

Or here’s another scenario: I sit at the bar with a shaky smile, fingers rubbing the condensation off my near-empty glass in circles, again and again and again. A guy approaches. He’s not bad-looking, and his jokes don’t make me cringe. Maybe we exchange numbers. Maybe I end up at his place. Maybe I let him in. Maybe I tell him all my secrets when he’s inside me. Maybe I wait until we’re married (for the secrets, not the sex). Maybe I keep telling myself, this will make me feel less lonely. Maybe I tell myself this enough times that it will eventually become true.

Name changed to protect the oblivious.

 

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To Random OKC Dude, with Lust and Squalor

Hey, you.

Here we are again. Well, this is the first time you’ve met me, but I’ve seen your type before. You’re nerdy, in tech, and you don’t care about zodiac signs. You messaged me because we’re a high match percentage and my profile intrigued you in some way. Was it the lack of sexual experience or my unapologetic declarations of feminism, the profanity or the comforting fact that I’m small enough to affirm your precarious sense of masculinity? It must have been the honesty, the honesty you maybe think is refreshing and oddly charming but soon you’re going to find uncomfortable and unbearably grating. Whatever it was, you wanted to meet up right away and see if we’d click somehow.

You probably think you have some sense of me, because of how prolific I was in my profile. Well, guess what. You don’t know me. How can you know me when I’m barely getting the hang of myself every day? Or you’ve come here because you want to get to know me. There’s nothing to tell or show. There’s so much shit going on in my head but nothing worth revealing. Sometimes I feel like an empty vessel of a person who can trick others into thinking I’m oceans deep. So when you come here and try to pry open my parts all you will find is disappointment and apathy, thin as the smile I give you when I tell you goodbye.

It’s not you, it’s me, as overplayed as that sounds. How can I trust you? How can I come to trust you? What do you want from me? All these questions start piling up until all I can do is mindlessly build walls. It’s not like I have any deep dark secrets or a tragic past to validate my black heart. It’s my pride. It’s my soul. It’s my mind eating away at my ability to play this game the way my peers do without a second thought. It’s seeing the shattered hearts of my friends, makeup running down their faces, voices heavy and broken telling me, he hurt me. He screamed all these things at me. He choked me. I still care about him. I still love him. It’s seeing you seeing me, this scrawny little thing in her shrill little voice steadily failing all your expectations. It’s the idea of being closed in, trapped, with no way out except the dagger of my words through the heart of this conversation, signaling my cue to escape, exhaling my relief, annoyance, terror, sadness.

How ephemeral must this kind of love be that we’re sitting here, face to face, two strangers who until now have never met, trying to forge a connection through sentences we’ve parsed from what we’ve written in an attempt to convey facsimiles of ourselves. Whatever this is, it’s so fragile. How can something come out of nothing? Words and people are so fleeting. Let them loose, and they disappear, forgotten or misremembered with little effort. We’re desperately flailing for the right words, the right gestures, so it will all add up to what? A first date is lesser than the sum of its parts. We are lesser than the sum of our interaction. Let’s just quit while we’re ahead. The silences stretch out. We’re thinking of what to say. We’re thinking of what not to say. I’m thinking, this is a mistake. I’m thinking, you’re thinking this is a mistake. I don’t know what to do with you. I don’t know what I want from you. All I know is, this isn’t it.

Wouldn’t I know? Or am I not trying hard enough? It’s agonizing, this liminal state of human connectivity. It seems like such a waste, to put in all this time and effort only to realize you’re no one to me except what I thought you could be, and what I thought was only a slight possibility, sprung from the loins of a feverish imagination that cancels out reality.

The same or similar lines repeated, a tired scenario played over and over again. I know you’re flesh and bone, a full, complex human being, but all I see is an echo of something I’ve come across one too many times. When are you real. How can I separate you from the motions. Why am I the way that I am. Your face may be beautiful but my fangs still drip with venom. You eat the apple and I watch you fall. We never see each other again.

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#spinsterproblems, aka “I think, therefore I’m single”

Hi, my name is Learkana. And I’ve been single my entire life.

I guess your natural instinct might be to reassure me that there’s nothing wrong with that (if you’re not a dude). Or you might be really surprised (if you’re a dude).

I’ve agonized and wrestled over my singlehood for a while now. I would like to say that overall, I have some complicated feelings about my relationship status (or the lack thereof). But of course being the neurotic overanalytical person that I am, I perceive myself as having complicated feelings about everything, so…

Let’s just be really clear about some things. Yes, I identify as a 22-year-old spinster. Yes, my dreams nonjokingly include getting my own studio apartment and potentially owning some hypoallergenic cats (or maybe just some cat figurines, I’m not much of an animal person tbh). Yes, I occasionally think to myself (and yes, occasionally out loud), “Learkana, you’re going to die alone.”

But that doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy BECAUSE of my singleness. Usually the thought, “Learkana, you’re going to die alone,” is accompanied by a lot of unexplained chuckling that causes my roommates to side-eye me and shake their heads. It’s just funny to me mostly (both the idea of dying alone and my roommates giving me weird looks). I think because I’ve come to terms with it–dying alone. (And my roommates giving me weird looks, I mean that’s just a given.)

“If you keep thinking that way, you will die alone,” Nicole keeps telling me. Yeah yeah yeah, the whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. But I personally think I have legitimate reasons for believing that I will very well end up alone (please note that by “alone” I mean “never having been in a fully and mutually committed, loving romantic and sexual relationship”). My personality, my identity, and my beliefs and values make it EXTREMELY difficult for me to attempt the dating thing, let alone the whole falling-in-love thing (look out for my anticlimactic dating stories, to be posted on here!). I’m a cynic. I’m sarcastic. I’m blunt. I’m short-tempered. I’m an unapologetic feminist (and if you think that the fact that I tacked on that self-identification after all those purportedly negative qualifiers as some sort of confirmation that they all make up a summation of what a feminist is then bitch, please, know that correlation is no causation–I could just as easily be a cynical sarcastic blunt self-hating misogynist). I’m introverted and enjoy being alone a lot more than most people I know. I’m also loud and obnoxious and crude and petty and spiteful. I spend a lot of time inside my head and my family conditioned me to feel shame and hesitance about my appearance, my body and my sexuality. So yeah, I have a lot of roadblocks on the journey to Coupledom, especially as a straight Asian American female. (Beware sexism! Beware racist fetishizing!)

But what if I don’t want to journey to Coupledom? Why does being with someone have to be the end destination? If we are sticking to this metaphor, I would like to take an alternative route to Somewhere Else, please. Preferably, Self-Love. Or Independence. Or Alone-But-Not-Lonely. I definitely need to reach those places. Not to say that these roads are mutually exclusive from the road to Coupledom, but…you know, when you’re traveling to more than one place you’re more likely to get lost. You might hit a few more bumps. You might take a wrong turn and…shit where was I going with this metaphor

crossroads

People have told me, “You’re going to find the right person.” “You’ll find a really great guy.” “You’re gonna find your soulmate someday.” But you know what? There’s absolutely NO guarantee! So quit with the hopeless attempts at consoling. Also, not to mention needless attempts–I’m not sure I’d want to find this so-called figment of everyone else’s imagination even if it were plausible, but I’ll talk more about that later.

coupleerant2

I think the idea of a soulmate is very subjective. I respect that some people feel that way about their significant others, but I think it’s more a state of mind than some kind of actuality. Even if I did put stock into the whole soulmate idea, realistically, only some people, not all, would have a soulmate. The mainstream idea of a soulmate is contingent upon what I’d like to call “coupledom essentialism” anyway, which I take issue with and is the real problem–er, topic–I would like to address. (Plus side of having my own blog: I get to make up my own fancy terms and have them sound all official-like! Woo hoo!)

Coupledom essentialism: the socially ingrained notion that a single person must be in want or need of another person to complete them, thus forming a more perfect union, or whatever.

Both society and mainstream media push the (heteronormative) couple narrative on each and every one of us. Don’t deny it–it’s everywhere. How many movies have ended in pairing everyone off? (What one of my favorite professors at Mills referred to as “the heterosexual embrace.”) Even if relationships aren’t the sole focus of a movie, the protagonist (usually the leading man, unfortunately) almost always has a love interest (usually the underdeveloped female object, unfortunately). How many songs are NOT about being in love with someone? (Maybe about 3%.) Even more disgustingly, our legal system privileges coupledom over singlehood, when you think about all the benefits you receive as a legally recognized couple (hospital visits, filing joint tax returns, getting family rates for shit, etc.). God, now I’m thinking about politicians and celebrities and how we have all somehow silently agreed that as a general rule, being married is a sign of morality and integrity.  “But he’s married! He can’t possibly have been a misogynist/child molester/adulterer.” Yes, because a piece of paper absofuckinglutely clears you of all douchebaggery and fuckups, amirite?

Okay back to the actual point. (Was there one?) I guess my personal qualms with being in a relationship involves the idea that I’m always supposed to be in communication with this person, and vice versa, and he’s supposed to be my other half or some shit, and it’s weird if we don’t spend enough time together or don’t call or text each other every five minutes. And you can accuse me of stereotyping, but c’mon! It’s fucking true. I’ve seen it in action, all the time. People’s behaviors are different when they’re in relationships (straight and queer). You’re supposed to be more accountable. I’m not really down for that. I don’t mean to say I’m not down for being accountable, because I’d like to think of myself as a damn good friend, but I mean being the highest level of accountable specifically to my significant other because twu wuv conquers all other social paradigms or whatever.

The main thing that bugs me about coupledom is that once people are sworn in, they aren’t really their own person anymore. Say you’re a good friend of mine and you’ve recently started seeing someone. And suddenly I start hearing about them a lot. Okay, fine, whatever. But then things start kind of getting serious. So when I call you on the phone, no doubt that someone is listening in. Or you’ve probably told them all about what I’ve ranted about exclusively to you. Then whenever I invite you to places, it’s automatically assumed that I invited that someone too. Then it gets to the point where I don’t see you anymore because you’re off doing couple-y things and since I’m not a couple it’s just weird and then you’ll cancel on me or not want to do things with me because I’m single and whenever I see you, you’re with that someone and what the fuck did you two hire a fucking doctor to surgically attach you both at the fucking hip or something gosh

singlefriend

couplefriend

Anyway, I know I sound super whiny and petty but whatever this is my blog I can do whatever I want and also, I did warn you about the pettiness and spitefulness (see a few paragraphs above). Look, if you’re actually reading this and are in a relationship and have been protesting every other line I’ve written because jeez, you are so totally you’re own person AND in a loving stable relationship, have I been living under a rock like some kind of jaded spinster creature? Well more power to you! Also, why on earth are you reading my blog?

To conclude, I don’t see myself being in a relationship anytime in the near future, in spite of having registered for an online dating website (trust me, I half-regret it everyday). I like my “me time” (as Nicole would say) too much, I guess. Getting to do whatever the hell I want without having to consult someone, being creepily obsessed with oblivious dudes without it being a problem, etc. I think I do want to have at least one relationship at some point in my life. I would like the opportunity to be deeply invested in someone romantically, platonically, and sexually, a three-for-one package! (Uh, sorry for the mostly unintended innuendo) However fleeting it may be, I would at least have a chance to look back and say, “Hey, I genuinely loved this person and this person genuinely loved me, things didn’t work out but they were pretty fucking awesome while they did.” But as of right now, that is not a priority. I am my priority, and having fun and being free is my priority. I’m still figuring myself out, and I don’t think I need the plus one and extra baggage on my journey to self-discovery. Right?

So is it weird that being in a relationship is basically just a figurative checkbox on my mental bucket list?

Probably. It also possibly means I have issues and should see a therapist (people have been encouraging me to for years), but hey, everyone has issues and should see a therapist. I’m not alone on that front, at least. 😉

tl;dr FOREVER ALONE

Note: I had actually set out to make this post as empowering, inspiring, and positive as possible but…defensive and resigned was the best I could do ok