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Stop living in your future

Posted on February 08 2021



By Katie Young


Dear Advice For Trash,


So, I'm dating. Hinge, specifically. I just went on one date and it's fine. He's fione, if you catch my drift. He's conversational, we have a pleasant time, I don't want to support my friend in a dyer situation mid way through our interaction, ya know? Then there's another guy - he's personable, makes me laugh and has a bald spot with a mildly weird face. He makes me want to be the best, most fun and responsible version of myself all at once; what's not to love? Well, I have a hard time accepting people in my life that are actually good for me. How do I frame this in my mind to actually move forward with a beneficial outcome? Why am I holding myself back? What do I need to tell myself to accept better men in my life?


How do I change my thinking to accept the men that actually make me feel good? 



I mean, boys. WHAT ARE THEY?



Dear I mean…,


You’re right: good men are going to wander into your life. Really. There’s no trap to set. Nothing in the combined experiential knowledge of generations of man-daters that indicates there is any particular dance move or scent which attracts them. So, you’ve gotten that far!


And you’ve correctly identified your struggle to accept these good dudes, their good deeds, and the good feelings they give you. But you’ve yet to grapple with whether or not you’re actually interested in dating human men.


Stick with me.


Have you heard of “the ick”? It's a term that I learned from teens online (thanks, teens). It describes the repulsion you feel when you’re infatuated with someone and then you, say, see their buttcrack when they get out of the car. Your immediate want is to bully them relentlessly and/or never see them again. Your romantic, rose-colored state comes crumbling down around you when you're reminded that the person who is giving you butterflies is, in fact, a human. It’s very cringey and embarrassing for them, and it makes you want to run very far in the other direction. Perhaps giggle with your friends about their weird face.


But, all the best things in life are a little gross. Like coffee or truffle oil or stinky cheese.


Stop chasing after Lunchables because it seems less complicated. Do you just want a glossy full page dream boy to pin on your wall and practice kissing on? Or do you a real living man with a bald spot, a house boat, a mean mom, a doll collection, an anime interest, a mental illness, a freaky sex thing, or just something in his teeth?


You deserve to feel all the textures, smell all the smells. Don’t run away from what disgusts you. Call it up and suggest a second date. Then ask yourself, seriously and without being mean: why did that disgust and disturb me? Don’t come to any conclusions too quickly; just explore that.


And listen, I’m not saying you need to ever go to a second location with someone you don’t feel comfortable around or bully yourself into dating someone with a face you can’t stand. It’s just that you need to overcome your fixation on flaws. Either that or end up with a Gaston: someone self-obsessed enough to convince you that they’re great (if even briefly), or a Shadow: someone who won’t ever show up all the way because if he did, he knows you’d reject him.


The way that you categorize dating as something that can have a “beneficial outcome” makes me wonder what that means to you. It makes me think you may be taking your thoughts so seriously that your instincts are muffled behind the chatter. Our thoughts are basically Fox News on full volume, 24/7 programming, all sex and murder and always telling us what to be afraid of next. And if we give it too much attention, the ratings will spike, and the content will get more extreme. People who consider themselves rational decision makers often just spend too much time in front of the TV.


So on that note, how much time do you spend trying to obliterate the things which make you interesting? How much brain power do you use trying to reconcile who you really are with your perfectionist fantasies about yourself and your dream boat good man who will never fart under the covers and then laugh about it?


I’m afraid I’m being a little harsh with you, IMBWAT. But I think this is the kind of territory where a lot of people start to gravely misunderstand themselves and their life’s potential.


I know from personal experience. I know because I’ve fixated on these good and flawed men with the whole weight of my intense and weird imagination. And then I’ve broken my own heart every moment that they’re not playing the part I cast for them convincingly and with gusto. Currently, a very good man has wandered into my life, and I’m building weird little intellectual mazes around him so I don’t have to look directly at the goddamn sun. My solution to all of this is to call him and ramble about it for what feels like hours. And because he loves me (!!!), he listens and thinks I’m smart and pretty while he does it.


I’m not bragging, I swear. I’m clumsily illustrating the way that trash, man-dating maniacs like us can manage the unique experience of desperately wanting something while also daring it to bail.


Every man-dater I know has a secret fantasy/fear of becoming a cackling spinster witch in the woods, stirring up something funky and scaring away children. This fantasy/fear version of ourselves putters around, engaging only with what interests us and not giving a single fuck how glowing our skin is or how tight our bods are. In other words, the patriarchy’s public enemy #1.


But really, is this the worst fate for yourself you can imagine? Following your instincts, trusting yourself, and pulling the thread of what turns you the fuck on all the way toward something that may not have an “outcome” which is “beneficial”? Your life is a novel entitled “My Time On Earth,” and it's one of those really long, meandering ones. There’s no outcome, baby. It’s just you and your crazy little heart and whatever meaning you can make up about it.


Stop living in your future, where you find a good man and do everything right and never feel pain again. You can never be so perfect as to not feel pain.


You ask me how you can change your thinking, stop getting in your own way, tell yourself a different story. This is just a new way of asking me how you can be more perfect, more deserving of love. This is just asking how you can prove to yourself that you’re worthy so you don’t have to actually look at the man in front of you, in all his weird-faced glory. It’s not about rejecting him before he can reject you. It's about rejecting him so you don’t have to go near that unstable-feeling pit of vulnerability inside you, so you don’t have to edge so close to your freaky core, teeming with blood and impulses and chaos and hot, hot joy and fish out authentic love for humans like you. Ultimately, it’s about rejecting him so you don’t have to reject yourself.


It’s time to forget about this game. It will only wear you down and make you question yourself until you settle for something you don’t really want. You are not a dating show contestant. You are not a candidate for marriage with a vague job and a sassy gown, battling to out-perfect the other contestants. You are a scientist, and your area of expertise is deepening your understanding of who you are. Your journal is your research and your hypothesis. Dating is your experiment. You are the fire and the fuel.


Love ya! Mean it!




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1 comment

  • Berrey: February 27, 2021

    Wow, there is finally a word for it, the “icks”! All of my favorite lovers, both fleeting and full time, started with the “icks”. While in the middle of an enthralling conversation, while we are really connecting I would look over and see an off-angle tooth, or a blemish, or just full on say to myself, “wait is this person even cute?!?!”. It pays off to stick with it!

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