Dating Feels like Speaking Spanish

I was pretty good at Spanish at school. I took AP Spanish my senior year of high school and got a 5 on the exam. When I traveled to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Spain I used my skills with a decent amount of success.

But after 4 years of college where the only time I spoke Spanish was with a stranger at a bar in Belgium who mistook me for being Hispanic, my Spanish is….rusty.

I know the knowledge is probably in there somewhere, but it’s tangled up with my knowledge of Italian (roughly 1200 words, according to Duolingo) and Hindi (I know it’s not related, but foreign languages just get lumped together in my brain). There might even be some Dutch and French in there. The Duolingo Owl is probably going to murder me in my sleep one day.

That’s all to say – Spanish feels like a complicated yet familiar stranger. Someone who is difficult to know again, that feels just out of reach, because you’ve forgotten all of the rules. None of your friends speak the language either. And you’re perfectly happy in this ignorance. There are lots of other languages to learn, not to mention non-linguistic pursuits.

The analogy may have gotten away from me a little bit, but you get the gist. Dating is something complicated, confusing, time and money consuming. Maybe it’s because I’m a little older, or more mature, or just have higher standards, but this all used to make sense to me. I was bad at it, for sure, but I understood the technique. Not to sound like a curmudgeonly millennial or *gasp*, a Baby Boomer but everything! is! so! complicated!

I don’t have anything against telling my parents about my (pretty non-existent very uneventful) love life but I don’t how to explain the basic framework of dating as a 20-something in a city in 2019. There’s dating apps and swiping a specific name for all of the emotionally irresponsible things people can do to you! Such as ghosting, breadcrumbing, benching, etc. There are dating coaches now because dating has somehow evolved to be an extreme sport. Seriously, there are people on the internet who will tell you how to act or what to do to attract and keep the type of person you want in your life. Just like success, love is a commodity, and we’re all in a rat race to get there.

I’m not a cynic by any means. I love love but I have realistic expectations about the world and other people. Especially as I am, tragically, a woman that dates men (amirite, ladies?). But I wonder at its cost.

There’s a scene in Sex and City where Charlotte is complaining about singledom. Exasperated, she says, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen. I’m exhausted. Where is he?.” I have not been dating since I was 15 but I feel you Charlotte. The world we live in today is very different from the world of Sex and the City. While nuclear families are still the standard in many places, monogamy and even coupling up is general is becoming less and less necessary to live a happy and full life. And because I studied economics, a made up pseudo-science, if a romantic relationship isn’t necessary for a full life, what’s the opportunity cost of pursing this unnecessary, “nice to have” thing? Not to mention that the path to finding it is riddled with traumatic experiences, terrible people, possible abuse, broken hearts, etc.

What do we miss out on when we’re looking for love?

I always think of the books I could have read, the extra sleep I could have had, the money saved on pints of Ben and Jerry’s and wine. This is not to shame people in pursuit of that elusive person, but I really can’t help but wonder if personally, some of that energy should have been directed elsewhere.

Maybe my Spanish would have been better.

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