Listen to me, I know what I want.
If you’ve followed my writing, you’ve probably figured out that I go on a fair amount of dates. Despite rejecting many Tinder suitors for a wide variety of reasons, I still find myself going on a date with one or two new people every week on average.
Even though I’m dating plenty, I’m generally not looking for a relationship. Sure, if the right person came along and it felt worth it, I’d likely change my mind. In another life, I was in a long string of long term relationships — each lasting 4–6 years and ending because of the fact that I used to be (and still am sometimes) a complete shithead. Now, I realize that I have a lot to figure out before I’ll feel like I can be truly good to someone.
To be honest, writing about relationships has forced me to reflect on my own bad habits when it comes to how I interact with others as much as it causes me to reflect on and express how I want to be treated. In this case in particular, I have been on both ends of not-so-great behaviour.
Recently, I visited Iceland. It was my first vacation in my adult life, and it was absolutely beautiful. During the day, me and my best friend drove through the country, looking at waterfalls and lava fields, eating salami sandwiches and swimming in water heated by volcanoes. It was amazing. I had a lot of fun. I had trouble with jet lag though, and didn’t really sleep at night all that well. I deleted every single social media app that I had, I read The Wicked And The Divine, Archie, and Sex Criminals. I wrote a bunch. But, eventually I got bored and just started texting every single person I have flirted with or smooched in or cared about at all in the past 6 months.
The problem here, is that the time difference meant that I was texting them at non-optimal flirting times, and maybe came off as needy. To be fair, I was being needy. I was BORED. I forgot my vita. I’m horrible at taking time off. Whatever. It’s fine.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t text a lot on a day-to-day basis. I text so much. I love talking to people. I like spending time alone, but I’m kind of extremely extroverted most of the time and need a lot of social time. I am almost always the friend that texts first. I’ve accepted this and have communicated to my friends that it’s ok not to answer me because I know my relationship with my phone is pretty extreme. While in Iceland, it was maybe XTREME, with an X because it was practically a sport sponsored by Gatorade. Consequently, the following became pretty clear pretty quickly.
When it comes to new people I date, who don’t know me that well — sometimes the amount I text comes across as me being obsessive. To be frank, I really love buds. If I think you’re a bud I will try to talk to you when you cross my mind. I don’t really show any tact when it comes to me finding someone interesting. It doesn’t really matter to me if our relationship is platonic or romantic, because to be honest those lines are pretty blurred from my point of view. If you tell me you don’t like to text, I won’t text you unless I think it’s important. I don’t need to text everyone all the time. I just like to.
So, often, if I go on one or two dates with someone and I think they’re interesting, I will text them! Mostly because I want to know more about them and I want to be their bud. As I said, while I love to flirt and be cute — I mostly just really like to get to know people and right now find most physical intimacy pretty inconsequential in terms of something long term. But, my habits almost always instigate a pretty clear view of what the power dynamic is within the relationship. Either I find myself texting the person lots and them losing interest, or I’m not that interested and the person is left wondering why I am not texting them that frequently.
When it’s the former, I’m almost always served with the line “I’m not looking for anything serious”. This is a good line! It’s really clear about your needs. I use it often. But, I am trying to learn to use this line when I’m asked about what I’m looking for rather than just saying it. The thing about dishing this little line up without asking the person what their intentions are is that it both assumes what the other person is looking for and also asserts that they want more than you do. Additionally, it connotes the idea that you’re not interested in being emotionally responsible within the relationship.
Let me be clear, I am the king of not wanting anything serious. I really love being single. I work 3 jobs between running my Patreon, teaching, and freelancing. I am in 4 active music projects. I’m starting new music projects in Montreal. I have 3 major side projects that I can’t even talk about publicly right now. I don’t really have the time. If the person asked, they’d know this. They’d also know that, despite the fact that I’m really busy — I like to make time for people to check in. They’d know that I’m genuinely interested in what’s going on in their life. That’s who I am. It’s also a crucial part of getting to know me.
It’s for this reason, that the phrase “I’m not looking for anything serious” in the wrong context generally means that I end whatever romantic inklings were happening with another person. I don’t really have time or energy to repetitively explain my desires to someone who isn’t listening. Nevermind the fact that this phrase almost always comes from cis men and generally feels extremely gendered and weird because of the power dynamics built up in current social norms. It doesn’t help that often this phrase comes up when I react to the person being kind of rude: completely ignoring me, saying something awful, or behaving poorly. The phrase just holds a heck of a lot more weight now that I’ve dated so many people.
So, in response to my discomfort with this phrase, I’m trying to change my behaviour. I’m trying to ask “What do you need” and “What do you want” before I express my needs and wants. Communication, in every relationship (platonic to romantic), is both about stating your desires and needs, but also giving the other person the space to do the same. Be good to each other.