In a place that can sometimes seem so hopelessly romantic, why did this meeting in New York make us hopelessly cynical?
This story is part of a weekly dating and relationship column by Alejandro Yau, a newly arrived single college student in New York, that discusses dating, sex, and everything in between.
It was the perfect date. Brunch then book hunt, my two favorite things. As I rode the subway, browsing through the new books I had purchased, I thought to myself that everything was fine. Before I knew it, they blocked my number and now I can’t walk around the East Village without fear of running into them. Thus began a downward spiral of masochistic torture, or what some people call: early 20s dating.
In a city like New York, there aren’t enough Taylor Swift albums to prepare you for the hell your love life is about to become. In a place that can sometimes seem so hopelessly romantic, why did this meeting in New York make us hopelessly cynical?
Relationships and dating have become so foreign to us thanks to the isolating reality of the internet. Our society has been divided into two categories: single and non-single. Singles are dying to join the singles and the singles are secretly hoping they will join the singles again. In high school, we thought relationships and loves were part of the experience. Has this expectation seeped into our college years? Are meetings at university extracurricular or part of the degree?
I decided to think of the non-singles first. What was it about them that made us so envious, and what was their secret? A quick count made me realize that almost everyone I surrounded myself with was happily engaged. Maybe I was unconsciously torturing myself. According to these couples, relationships aren’t essential at this point in their lives, but they couldn’t imagine where their lives would have taken them if they hadn’t been immersed in those relationships.
It made me wonder, ‘Where would we be if we were all a couple? Would we be better people? Would we be in a better place in our lives? Apologies singles, because that’s an incredibly lousy thought. Still, I asked myself, ‘Would all my problems be solved if I were in a relationship?’ However, the more I heard them talk about their relationship and how happy they were to commit to other people, the more I realized how torturous it can be to date someone. Needless to say, I got the clarity I so desperately needed.
On the other hand, I was thinking of singles. People I considered “hopelessly single”. Those who cling desperately to being with someone and hope they’re just around the corner. Be honest, we all have that friend who yearns for someone in their life and wonders why it took so long. In our heads we think we can never be that person.
Let me be the bearer of bad news: we are ALL those people. In a city like New York, the desire to be in a relationship can be as high as the rent. Everything we do would feel so much better – secrets, lunches, cab rides, cigarettes – if we shared it with someone.
Or, at least, that’s what the voice in the back of our heads is telling us. We’ve all had the universal thought of seeing couples holding hands while walking down the street or having a romantic dinner and thinking, “Why couldn’t that be me?” »
The thing is, it could be us and us can be these people. Just because we’re not right now doesn’t mean we’ll ever be, and it’s okay not to be. The world needs singles. People who are miserable in their relationships need someone to look up to. All kidding aside, singles just want what everyone who comes to New York wants: something comforting that belongs to them.
A few months ago I broke up a relationship and for the past few weeks I have been switching to a new one. It seems like everywhere I turn, I keep running into these people. But, as fast as my rolodex of failed relationships fills up, I have to stop and think, “Why am I doing this? I oscillate between celibate and non-celibate mindset that even my therapist can’t keep up with. This is the most emotionally damaging part of dating. When you get out of a relationship, you’re happy to bask in single life, but soon that happiness can turn to despair and you secretly hope they’ll bring you back.
College can be a very lonely experience at first. Studying in a city like New York does not necessarily help the situation. It’s hard to feel isolated in a crowded city. If your heart is set on committing to someone, commit to yourself. The relationship you have with yourself is the only one that will not fail you. This is the best kind of relationship; one that will constantly surprise you and always leave you wanting more.