The College Dating Game: Whoever Cares Less Wins

It’s Sunday night and I’m sitting on my bed fighting for real estate with haphazardly placed pillows and dog eared textbooks. A jasmine scented candle is burning on my desk that’s so overtaken by books it serves no other use than storage. I’m eating an Asian pear and surfing Twitter. The essay I’m supposed to be working on is open in some tab in the background.

Tonight, like most nights, I’m on Twitter simpin about my boy problems. Yeah, I’m one of them. Don’t judge me! My Twitter bio even comes with a disclaimer.

I’m waiting for the tall, handsome basketball playing recent college grad I had been talking to text me back. What is “talking” anyway? It had been 2 days since we had hung out and the “fuck boy”signs were becoming all too evident. It was making me nervous.

He eventually did text me back 4 agonizing days later explaining some higher truth he had discovered within himself that wasn’t allowing him to get into a relationship with me. Who said I wanted one? I digress.

My pain wasn’t associated with the fact that we had spent time on each other and did what we did. I think so often we blame the act of hooking up for so many of our generations dating problems. Hooking up is NOT the problem…though I’ve learned its not for me. Hooking up has caused me more emotional pain and wasted time than dating ever has. Once again, I digress.

Phone in hand, I found myself getting really angry for caring as much as I did because as I explained my pain to him over the event VIA TEXT, his answers got shorter and shorter. It seemed like he was erasing me out of his memory as our history was still creating itself. I lamented my inability to do the same.

It seemed like he was erasing me out of his memory as our history was still creating itself.

The red hot tears streaming down my face on Tuesday night were due to the fact that I had hooked up with a guy who didn’t even have enough respect for me to call me and tell me he thought things wouldn’t work AND I FELT LIKE I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE UPSET ABOUT IT.

I ended up brushing it all off with a cool, “I totally understand, no hard feelings” text when I wanted to ask, “Why didn’t you tell me this before we spent the night talking about our childhoods and sucking each other’s faces.” Why couldn’t I act as mad as I felt? Why did I feel like I didn’t have a right to be upset?

I could only sustain this thinking for about a day before I seriously began to question my feelings on the entire incident. Why does our dating world in general seem like the person who cares the least wins?

Think for a moment about the delicate art of texting. There are so many unspoken but universally understood “rules” about how to text somebody your talking to. OMW, omw, and on my way! all have a very different meaning. I’ve talked to young women who ask me whether placing an emoji before or after their statement would imply sexuality. Seriously?

I had a conversation with my roommate a few days ago about her boy problems. Ready to share about the bullshitness of men I leaned in only to have this girl pass me a photo on her phone. In the close up candid of her and her boy both are laughing but the camera caught a moment in which she is looking so dreamily into his eyes. That picture was photographic evidence that she was falling in love and it scared her. She was scared that she was caring too much and becoming emotionally over invested.

I told would I have traded her a million times over for that problem but then I realized that her problem and mine are cut from the same cloth. I too was scared of letting myself fully feel the way I knew I did out of fear of attachment.

I understand the innate need to protect oneself but we have made the fear of over investment irrational and damn near crippling.

So what is the grand solution you may ask?

Sorry! I don’t think I’m in any position to offer one. I identified the problem but the solution is still in the testing rounds!

One thing I have been working on is leaning into my vulnerability. I’m a firm believer that life is meant to be lived boldly and courageously. Love is meant to be felt with one’s whole heart and as much as heart break sucks, in fixing it we are forced to be grateful for the times our hearts beat without a problem. Love, vulnerability and humanity are so intimately intertwined and when we attempt to separate the three life becomes safe and ultimately dull.

Having an open heart and allowing yourself to be vulnerable are CHOICES that you have to make in the times when it’s hardest to do so. I reject the idea that some feelings are more legitimate than others and that I should not feel certain things in order to fit into some mold. I totally reject the idea that the person who cares less wins. The person who cares more loves!

I totally reject the idea that the person who cares less wins. The person who cares more loves!

Talk is cheap so I tried it. One week after the hook up I texted that handsome asshole. I told him that a week later I was still really hurt by his actions and instead of bottling it up I wanted to let him know and release some of that pain and hurt from myself. I explained my newfound philosophy and told him I was alright with not winning this time, or ever if it meant bottling in pain. I also told him he didn’t need to respond, the action was for me and not for him. I took some of the power back in how I felt about the situation. I fought the feeling of emotional vulnerability with courageous vulnerability and it worked. For the first night in a week I didn’t fall asleep replaying the events in my head.

He didn’t text me back and probably rolled his eyes but for me it’s a step in the right direction. …I think.

I’ll let you know how this experiment ends.

Until next time,

Kel

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