Unrealistic media expectations shouldn’t control my love life – The Channels

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Ryan Painter poses next to an apartment window on February 15 in Santa Barbara, California.

From right, Nicole Painter with her daughter, Ryan Painter, on Halloween night, 2008. Ryan was 5 at the time of this photo.
From right, Nicole Painter with her daughter, Ryan Painter, on Halloween night, 2008. Ryan was 5 at the time of this photo.

I remember rummaging through the old box of VHS tapes, my mind debating which Disney princess movie to play first.

I grabbed the tape and rushed to the television waiting to hear Ariel sing “Part of Your World” for the tenth time that week.

Growing up, I went from princesses to shows like “The Bachelor.” I found watching these types of shows only added to my unrealistic view of romance – where I kept patiently waiting for my prince to arrive on a white horse.

That hope of finding love depicted in the endless amount of rom-coms that people consume once too often began to fade once I left high school and came of age.

Watching my friends get ready to go out on date after date started to take a toll on my self-confidence. I began to wonder whether or not I would still wait for Mr. Right.

Meeting someone these days is extremely difficult, but the most popular method is the Internet. While I wish it were different, the Coronavirus has really made it a solid reality.

With a bit of social pressure and a few girly conversations, I was convinced to download a dating app.

I would supposedly meet new people and find relationships based on my own judgment of someone’s profile with a nonsensical swipe left or right.

I remember creating my profile — it took hours.

“This photo shows me smiling, but is it too inviting? And the one with my dog? This is so cute ?”

Before I even allowed others to judge me, I was judging myself. I was confident in myself, but something about putting myself on the internet made me feel vulnerable.

I dated a match I received in the second year of a pandemic, around the time when we still didn’t know if a handshake or a hug was appropriate.

The first date was not easy, nor was the second. I felt a little behind and clueless on how to act properly on a date after quarantine. I only questioned myself more inside my head.

I wonder now if these questions were not because I was afraid of losing my independence. Maybe if I didn’t push for a second date, I’d feel free for a little longer.

Nevertheless, I owe a large part of my growth to these dates which have made many unforgettable experiences.

Like the one who lived 1,000 miles away but swore we were meant to be. Or the guy who had to end the date early because he was going to bed at 6 p.m. The one who looked completely different from their pictures, or even the guy who happened to be John Mayer’s neighbor.

After what felt like months of small talk online, I came to the conclusion that it was time to retire the old dating profile and move on.

It was more important to spend that time working on myself rather than a conversation that never got far.

By focusing my time on more important things like the present, I have gained hope that the individual for me also improves so that when we align our minds, they are in the right place at the right time.

One day, maybe a good morning will turn into coffee and coffee into something bigger than I can imagine.

Updated: March 1, 2022

This story has been updated to correct editing that altered the writer’s original intent.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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