Don’t fake casual.
You aren’t too much. The existence of you is not an imposition upon the world. The space you take up, the desires you have, the facts of you—it’s all meant to be here, because it is here. Something that already exists doesn’t need permission to show up. You don’t have to apologize for what you naturally want, not even when the world makes you feel uncool for it. There’s nothing wrong with taking dating seriously, and you’re allowed to be fucking done with those who don’t. You don’t have you change what you want to fit people who aren’t actually your options. The right people for you will want you, will want like you. You don’t have to accept their lessers.
I’m sorry we’ve built a dating culture that punishes us for our certainty. I’m sorry that “knowing what we want” has been painted across us as intimidating, as opposed to what it really is, helpful. I’m sorry we live and interact in a world where the most nonchalant among us are prized, while the most solid of us are made to feel like needy, desperate, crazy, fun-ending human plagues. You are not a plague, you are perfect. You’re the truth.
You are allowed to take dating seriously, you are allowed to take yourself seriously. You’re allowed to approach relationships and partnerships with intention. You don’t have to approach them pretending not to care. If you care, you care, and that’s allowed, because it’s true. Caring is not a negative, but we’ve been encouraged to think that it is, by those who themselves don’t care. We don’t have to adjust our wants and needs for the most confused among us. Not caring won’t make you more marry-able. Not caring when you do care only makes you a liar. Don’t lie for these fuckers, they’re not worth it.
You aren’t uncool for wanting a future. Or a marriage. Or a family. You’re allowed to stop wanting a fucking boyfriend, and start acknowledging for yourself that there’s nothing lame about you for wanting a husband. The word “situationship” does not have to exist in your vocabulary. You don’t have to be okay with kind-of. You can walk away from what is not enough for you, because not enough is not all that will ever show up.
You are worth more than crumbs. You deserve more than tiny encouragements evenly spaced. You don’t have to be someone’s easy option if you really want to be shown someone’s extra effort. You are worth what you want, and I’m sorry we’ve built a dating culture that communicates otherwise. It is lying. A little bit does not have to be enough for you. A little bit can be the catalyst for goodbye. Get better at saying goodbye to less than a lot. You lose nothing.
A discomfort with casual doesn’t make you boring, it never did. Anyone who thinks it does has clearly never had anything serious. If serious isn’t hot, you’re doing it wrong. It’s casual that’s far more likely to feel flat. Feelings aren’t flaws. Attachment isn’t a mistake. Don’t let a bullshit system make you feel guilty for what comes naturally to you. Make the system feel guilty for its bullshit.
You are wantable. You’re not too old, ugly, or lame. You have the perfect body type, because it’s yours. The right people for you won’t have to be convinced of the wantability of you, they’ll know it for themselves. They’ll show you they know, too. Anyone you have to convince to want you is a prime candidate for deletion.
Be the truth. Allow your truth to be what attracted people to you, not what repelled them. That is a possibility for you. There is nothing wrong with taking dating seriously. There is nothing wrong with having a serious need for love and companionship. Taking things seriously is a sign that you respect them. You’re allowed to show respect for what matters to you. Anyone who doesn’t do the same is misaligned with your future.
A program will behave as it’s been coded. We’ve been coded and trained to come across as nonchalant, as free and as breezy as possible, even if we’re terrified and lonely and anxious inside. We’ve been coded to be those things, too, by the very system that’s also coded us not to care. Break the fucking code. Be the glitch, change the system. Acknowledge and celebrate what you want, do not settle for anything less. Know that anyone who can be “scared away” was meant to be. You are worth what you want, do not let the digitization of dating tell you otherwise. The truth of you, the passion of you, the worthiness of you—they’re all facts that need no validation or buy-in from those who can’t be bothered with the most basic of manners.
Be your lovable, wantable truth. That will always feel better than pretending to be less, better than lying to present a package that a twisted system has told you to be. People don’t find love in a system, they find it in life, in luck, and truth. I’m serious.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, frequently.