Stop stressing about being “chill.” Why is that even hot?
I’m not much for eggshells. They’re great at temporarily protecting my breakfast, but as far as walking on them goes, I think not. The dating world is full of eggshells, or as you know them better, lies we tell other people in order to be accepted. We live in a dating culture that’s built itself atop a tower of eggshells, and we don’t know where the fuck to put our feet. Single women take in a lot of messaging, from society but also just from shitbirds on dating apps, that we have to approach something that matters to us a lot like it doesn’t matter at all, or else run the risk of scaring them away. Dating culture tells us that if we don’t lie, we won’t win.
You don’t have to be chill if you’re not chill. Let’s start there. Dating culture will ask single women to lie in a lot of different ways, but chillness is the biggest one. Our society treats finding love and lifelong (LOL) partnership as literally the most celebration-worthy thing a woman can do, but as far as searching for that thing goes, she’d better pretend like she couldn’t care less. Otherwise she runs the risk of not being “chill” enough for guys to like her.
There is something so archaic about women being asked to shine on aloofness, to perform a quiet cabaret for potential partners that communicates how disinterested she is, no matter how interested she happens to be. The gamification of attracting a man is exhausting, and quite frankly not met with a matched level of effort on the other side often enough. If we have to be stressed out about this, then by god so do you. It’s as if the common heterosexual male finds the notion of…I don’t fucking know, conversation, interaction, attention, affection and access to another human being simply too much for his delicate sensibilities. Quick, fetch the salts!
Not being chill is a very clever rebranding of optimism. It’s a twisting of reality that serves men in the modern dating space very well. It’s their way of minimizing the feelings of and attention required by single women so that they can do as little work as possible while still keeping themselves open to meeting people to sleep with or, potentially, even have a relationship with. Prioritizing chillness has broadened their options. I don’t think they should get away with that shit. Do your dating options feel broad? I mean do they?
Single women are allowed to give a fuck about dating. We’re allowed to give a fuck about finding love. Being open to possibility, and the vulnerability that requires in today’s dating culture, doesn’t make us annoying, it makes us fucking heroes. I’m very angry with dating culture for making single women feel wrong for having hope for their own futures. And I’m very angry with dating culture for dashing those hopes again, and again, and again, and again.
The prioritization of chillness has made single women think that we’re “too much” for being anything at all. It asks us to adopt a relaxed attitude toward something that maybe we don’t find very relaxing. It also puts us in competition with one other. Who can be the most chill? I bet the boys like her. When we’re asked to “feel less” than what we naturally feel, we end up walking through life perpetually feeling wrong. We feel wrong for feeling anything. Y’all.
I have no chill. But instead of the presumed “why isn’t he textiiiinnngg meeeeee” brunch wail, my No Chill involves having very little patience for bullshit. If the level of interest I’m feeling and displaying for another person isn’t reciprocated, I stopped paying attention to that person in any capacity a week ago. My level of stickaround is set to zero, so do something, you, or I’ll hold you no space.
It’s a reclaiming. Instead of minimizing my own feelings down to nothing, lest I scare away a potential partner, I’m centering them, and acknowledging that my natural feelings and way of operating in the romantic world cannot possibly be wrong—not for the person who is right for me. For everyone else, they’re a brilliant filter. Thus, I have to feel my feelings, and show them, or I might attract the wrong ones instead.
Feel it. Feel it all. Like someone. It’s okay. It’s better than okay, because it’s the truth. And if anyone you’re in contact with needs you to lie and minimize yourself in order to retain their attention, that person doesn’t deserve one more second of it. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this, but life is kinda hard. I’m not in the mood to add a layer of dating game difficulty to it by having to pretend I don’t give a shit about you when really all I want is to go to the movies and then fool around on the couch. Whoever he is, I promise you that if he needs us to lie to him by shrinking our feelings into as small and ignorable a package as possible, he is, quite frankly, unworth it.
The way you naturally operate in the world is not too much. The right person, or people, for you will agree. They’ll never ask you to be less you if they like the real version of you. Why would they ever want less of what they like? Would you?
You’re not wrong for having feelings. You’re not wrong for being yourself. You’re not wrong for being single. When you can raise the value of what feels right to you, you can hold less space for everything else that feels wrong. You don’t have to be chill to be worthy of love. The right people for you won’t find rightness in chillness that isn’t really yours. The right people for you will instead be perfectly delighted for the authentic you to keep them warm.
Shani Silver is a writer and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, frequently.