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Dear Swipe This!
I recently went out on this amazing date with this guy. It seemed that we really clicked and he really liked me. The way I know this is because he flat out told me! He held my hand the entire date, asked when he could see me again, and began talking about relationship things with me.
The date ended weird because there were some sketchy people in the coffee shop we were in and I got anxious so I asked to leave. I am not sure if this turned him off or whatever because since the date, he hasn’t messaged me.
It has been two days now since the date. We tentatively made plans for Monday but I am not sure if they are going to happen and I feel crushed. I did message him yesterday but his answers were short and then he didn’t reply to my last message. What is going on? Also, should I confront him?
Crushed and Anxious
Dear Crushed and Anxious,
When you’re in the early stages of a romance, every little bit of attention can feel like magic. A touch of your hand can feel electric. The ding of a text message can set your heart aflutter. Someone looking into your actual eyes and saying the words, “I like you” can send you to the clouds! You could find yourself fantasizing that this is it. This person is the person. And if you’re enough of a romantic, you may even walk away from a first date feeling like you really did visit a castle in the sky, and your feet are still hovering just slightly off the ground.
I love that feeling. Don’t you?
But ultimately, that feeling is just a feeling. In the realm of reality, when the cloud castle we’ve built for ourselves and our charming new love evaporates, we have to accept that their gestures are just gestures. Did your date show you that he liked you? Absolutely. But can you use his behavior as an indicator of exactly what will happen next? No. These are simply human signals that express interest and can, over time, build to something bigger. But the keyword here is time. Good things take time.
I have found this to be true in all parts of my life. Whether I am working, playing, creating, or loving, the best relationships and the most valuable experiences I’ve had in my life have taken time, patience, and effort to blossom.
From what I can see, you’re willing to put in plenty of effort. Look at how much mental energy you’ve already spent calculating whether this guy is still interested in you. Look at how carefully you’ve scanned yourself for signs of faulty behavior. You are definitely willing to work on this. But you don’t have a lot of patience. And I wonder how you feel about time.
Often we create arbitrary rules for ourselves regarding time. By this age, or by this date, we believe we should have accomplished certain goals or developed specific relationships. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the rush is? Where are you going, and why are you in such a hurry to get there?
I wish I could offer you an instant solution that would quell your anxiety and wave away your fears. The truth is I can’t. This guy might ghost you and leave you wondering what could have been. Or, you might hear from this guy again and go on to have a series of less magical dates where you slowly realize he’s not so fabulous after all. Or, maybe your hunch that this is something special is right! Maybe you’ll have a fabulous romance that leads to a lifelong partnership.
I don’t know—and neither do you. And that’s actually totally OK, even if at this moment in time it’s making you feel absolutely crazy.
What I do know is this: If you want things that are valuable, you have to be willing to be patient. And if being patient makes you uncomfortable, then you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Consider this: You are already uncomfortable. You’re uncomfortable that he hasn’t texted you. You’re uncomfortable with your own behavior. Like it or not, your discomfort is already with you. So why not embrace it and accept it and put it to good use? Can you see this as a moment where you get brave enough to accept that you simply don’t know what’s next?
One thing that stands out to me is your evidence that you may have turned him off. You say that you expressed a personal need. You were uncomfortable, so you asked to leave. This seems totally healthy and reasonable to me. And yet you are worried that expressing a simple preference for your own comfort and safety might have blown everything up. To me, that is a big red flag. Not against him, but in terms of your relationship with yourself. It tells me you are uncertain about your right to have and express needs. You don’t want to be uncomfortable and wait for a text, but you’re willing to alter your behavior and mute your own requests for safety if it means someone might like you a little more for a little longer.
You’re willing to be uncomfortable in all the wrong ways.
This isn’t your fault. Society has conditioned us to imagine that there are right and wrong ways of winning people over. Especially if you were assigned female at birth and socialized as a woman, you have probably gotten plenty of signals that you need to be extremely agreeable at all times. And, of course, you have been taught that you have to show men attention—but not too much attention—so that they can feel like they are earning something when you finally text them back.
But I call bullshit on all that. First of all, it’s ridiculous that we are taught to be likable without ever being encouraged to think about what we like. Instead, we are taught that we have to be chosen and desired, which leads to a whole mess of anxiety. The worst part is even if you follow all the supposed rules of dating, you can end up deeply unhappy. Pretending and posturing in the hopes that someone will like you creates miserable relationships where we feel we are always one step away from losing love.
I get that you felt a little spark with this guy, but from the little bit you shared, all I can see is that you liked that he liked you. Do you know if you like him? Or have you been so consumed with your anxiety about being liked that you forgot to even ask that question?
Maybe you really did like him. But if that’s the case—and if you want him or anyone to like you back in a meaningful, lasting way (and it sounds like you really do)—I believe you have to be willing to be you.
So if you are the kind of person who texts people twice, go ahead and text him. If you are the kind of person who likes check-ins and firming up plans, you can tell him that. Or, if you like it when the person you’re dating to makes the next move, wait. Give him the space to actually do what you want him to do. But please stop imagining that you are one false move away from spoiling the outcome.
The truth is that you can double, triple, or quadruple text him! There is nothing wrong with going after what you want. You can also never text him again. And guess what? Neither move matters if it isn’t coming from a place of who you really want to be and doing what you genuinely want to do. Stop trying to be who you think he wants you to be, and start being you.
Nayomi Reghay is a frequent contributor to the Daily Dot, covering body positivity, feminism, sex, relationships, and gender. She is also the author of the advice column “Swipe This!” A former New York Teaching Fellow, her writing has been featured in Reductress, Rolling Stone, Mic, Someecards, and more.