It’s 3 a.m., and I’m drunk off my ass on wine that’s not mine on a weekday (I’m not an alcoholic, I’m just irresponsible). I close my eyes and let Sufjan Stevens’ melancholy crooning wash over my being, suspending me in a cloud of cigarette smoke and heartbreak only the ending of “Call Me By Your Name” can invoke. As the song trickles off into silence I come crashing down to the hyper-awareness of just how alone I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I always prided myself in being a strong, independent man who doesn’t need a woman to feel fulfillment and validation. Hell, I reject the very notion of love. The idea of constant companionship and commitment to the same person is just something that I cannot visualise myself having at this point in my life, or wanting in the foreseeable future. Honestly, it sounds unhealthy. You’re essentially using your significant other as an emotional crutch, and in doing so, you erode into a codependent existence.
But that’s what love seems to me. I’ve never had it, felt it, tasted it, touched it, lay in its embrace on a rainy Sunday morning. My conception of love is what I gather from saccharine rom-coms, with meet-cutes and grand gestures and missed aeroplanes and kisses in the rain. Relationships to me are #couplegoals and anniversary Instagram posts. That’s not to say I don’t love — and relish in that love that I share with — my family, friends and interests, it’s just that I have a particular distaste for love of the eros variety.
I feel an itch in my pocket, followed by a twitching in my hand. My head tells me no, but alcohol/cuffing szn says yes, and my thumbs reach for the red and white flame.
Hana, 21, Yale University
Isabella, 20. “Looking for the Edward to my Be —
Anjali, 19, Quinnipia —
Even my inner cynic takes issue with Tinder. It’s reductionist, distilling compatibility down to a two-second glance at a couple of photos and a clunky five-word bio. People become two dimensional objects, playing cards that we keep and discard as we please. Realistically, I don’t see myself dating any of these people. But then again, we only “met” for 2 seconds.
Here’s the paradox: Despite my vehemence against love and my hatred of Tinder, I always end up here, crucified on my couch, swiping through Tinder in vain hopes of finding someone I might have a connection with. If I am so against love, why do I still actively seek it out?
Maybe I’m afraid of commitment. I’m a freshman in college, bright-eyed and ambitious. Everything feels up in the air, and at this point in my life I feel like anything is possible; like I could go to infinity and beyond. I’m afraid that if I allow myself to love, it would hold me back, that I would close myself off to opportunities because I’d let myself prioritize my love over my career.
Maybe I’m afraid of letting my guard down. I’m an impenetrable fortress, with no kinks in my armour. I don’t, I won’t show any signs of weakness. Is it pride? Is it my ingrained toxic masculinity? Is it my fear of my getting backstabbed by people I love and trust? Regardless of the reason, I won’t let anyone see me when I’m vulnerable.
Maybe I’m hedging myself. I’ve gone through 19 years of solitary existence, and not once have I ever felt (or let myself feel) any romantic intentions towards another person. I’m too proud and afraid of being destined to a life of loneliness and would rather pretend that it’s not something I want than face the reality of it being something I can never have.
Maybe I’m afraid of not being good enough. I’m not good with rejection. It’s not something I particularly enjoy. Growing up, I managed to get everything I wanted. If it wasn’t handed to me, I’d work my hardest to get what I wanted. But I can’t work my way to making someone love me. Either I’m good enough, or I’m not, and frankly, I’m not sure if I am. In the words of RuPaul, “if you can’t love yourself, how the in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
But maybe, it would be worth it. There has to be a reason every singer imaginable sings of love, and the joy, pain, and passion it brings to their lives. Maybe it really is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
Maybe I should stop being afraid.
Maybe I should stop making excuses.
Maybe I should give love a try.
Maybe I should stop getting on Tinder at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Enrique Chuidian | firstname.lastname@example.org .