Who has time to delay replying to a text? I accidentally broke all of the modern dating rules and ended up in a relationship.
I broke the dating rules and ended up in a relationship.
It’s not like I consulted the Big Book Of Dating As A Hetero Black Chick In The 21st Century and decided to say, “fudge this.” I mean, maybe I would have if such a book existed, but most of the dating rules are unwritten, learned by observing friends and making an ass out of yourself. Unfortunately, most of these unwritten rules are oozing with the same qualities that Alana Massey mentioned in her essay “Against Chill” last month. For example, not responding too quickly to texts from that guy or gal you met via Tinder last week; not seeming too enthusiastic on a date lest you come across as a crazy bitch; not texting too soon after your hook up, etc.
But I actually did all of those things, not as a blatant disregard for the rules of chill, but because I honestly didn’t know what the fudge I was doing. Reminder: This foray into romance was my very first. I never had a boyfriend, let alone a date, let alone a first kiss prior to last year, at the age of 23. I’d never dealt with the nervousness of watching the iMessage ellipses bubble for a minute straight, only to watch them disappear and never return; I definitely never knew what it was like to go to a bar with a dude and talk about myself for an hour straight. I barely knew how to kiss. I didn’t know shit about shit, so I not only made some understandable mistakes, but I also made some major faux pas.
Without giving away too many details, I’m going to share some of the things I did before eventually–months later–I started my relationship with my boyfriend. It started off as millennial as possible: Trying to hit it off through a dating app, specifically OKCupid. Cool. I was invited over the next night to watch some TV with him and his friends. Cool. Kinda sorta hooked up. Cool.
Here’s where I, apparently, lost all my chill and fudged up: I texted him later the next day and told him I had a great time and would like to hang out again.
I was pretty confused and a little hurt. I mentioned what happened to some friends and a couple suggested that I jumped the gun by texting him so soon after our hook-up. I didn’t really see what the big deal was; it’s not like I texted him the second the door closed behind me. I wasn’t figuring out the size of my ring finger. I just sent a perky, upbeat text.
A few days passed. No response. I dealt with the same reaction after a previous OK Cupid date when I asked if he wanted to hang out again. A couple of days later, he politely declined. I wasn’t at all broken up about it. But this felt a little different. It’s probably because it was my first time doing anything vaguely sexual with another human being, so maybe I got a little caught up. Mostly, though, I just don’t understand why people don’t reply to text messages. I’d rather be rejected outright than never spoken to ever again.
So then I made faux pas number two: I texted him again before he got a chance to reply. Not only that, I asked him out on a date.
At this point, most people I talked to about this debacle told me to forget about this dude–which is absolutely fair–but also a little second-hand embarrassment that I even texted him again without a reply the first time. Apparently, his initial lack of response was enough of a clear message. But I was too optimistic, I guess. I assumed he was just busy or something. Although, let’s be real: Who’s too busy to reply to two texts within the course of the week?
The writing was on the wall, but…
I did it again: I texted him. I know, I know. Even my inexperienced ass would have told a friend in the same situation to get over it and go on a date with someone else. The thirst wasn’t even that strong, y’all. I know I probably looked crazy to send a text a week and a half after the initial one. But this was really doing my head in. After consulting an older, more experienced co-worker of mine, she suggested that if I really wanted to send one last text so badly, I should just ask if he’s breathing and if he wants to hang out, friendly or otherwise. So I did just that.
I got a reply. I was almost dizzy with relief, even when he half-rejected me, half-left the door open for hanging out again in the future. I basically said I was cool with that and didn’t expect to hear from him ever again. I was a little bummed because we had a great couple of dates–so I thought–but I felt so much better.
To make a long follow-up short, the dude actually hit me up a couple of weeks later to hang out, and soon after that, we started hanging out on a regular basis. As a way to make up for the lack of chill I exhibited early on, I ended up participating in the same stupid dating rule behavior I condemned earlier; playing mind tricks with myself about text response time so I wouldn’t seem too eager, exhibiting a blasé air about hanging out, trying to come across as super detached. But that tranquilizer level of chill just stressed me out and made me more neurotic than ever. Once I stopped trying to pretend like I didn’t care about anything–when I stopped acting like a fudging robot–this whole dating thing became a little less stressful. Of course, it’s scary to put your feelings on the line, but acting fake is emotionally exhausting.
It’s been a year since all of this bullshit began, and we’ve now been in a serious relationship for several months. Will it last? I have no fudging clue, but I know we’re both cool with how things ended up and where things are going.
So here’s what I’ll say: I had no chill, and everything seemed to work out. I’m aware that this is a weird anomaly, and I know that there were plenty of other factors involved, but it’s wild to think that my demand for a proper rejection in this era of shrug dating led to my current relationship. I’m still incredibly hesitant to encourage people to do what I did, but I think it’s important to show people that you can totally break some dating rules, and it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Even if nothing serious comes of it, I think that there’s something to be said about being a little more forward than the unwritten dating rules suggest.
Romance is weird, life is weird, and both are too short and too fleeting not to take a chance.