Movies are not real life. This is a fact. This is a fact that people sometimes forget. I know this because I very distinctly recall a conversation with a friend many years ago wherein he miserably proclaimed that “it has to be like the movies though, doesn’t it?” and my heart kind of broke for him because no… no it does not.
Look, I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m sure plenty of people get to ride off into the sunset in reality, but the truth is that for the vast majority of us, life isn’t that extraordinary. We don’t get chased down in airports, we don’t develop kickass super powers, we don’t end up in weird love triangles with our life-long best friends and some slightly badass out-of-towner (thank God). For most of us, we just try our best to get by and make something of our lives and have a positive impact wherever we go, and that’s good enough (more than, in fact). Despite this, there are times where movies have this really annoying habit of striking a chord with us we didn’t expect. This happened to me quite recently.
I’d seen the movie When Harry Met Sally quite some time ago, but I guess because I was sleep deprived at the time I didn’t think much of it. Then, while in conversation with a friend, she drew a comparison between a story I was telling and the film. I couldn’t remember enough detail about it to follow her point, so later I found myself throwing it on Netflix in a bout of particularly badass insomnia. It was about the point when Sally tells Harry “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not your consolation prize,” that I found myself going “ouch. All of the feels.”
One of the issues with modern dating is that we’re bombarded with apparent “options”. Don’t get me wrong – spend enough time trawling dating apps and you’ll quickly realise that most of those supposed options aren’t viable options. But the point is that when we’re young, or newly single, we think the world is full of hot single people just waiting to date us because, um duh we’re amazing. Internet dating gives us this perception that maybe just maybe we’re settling for less than we deserve because LOOK AT ALL THE AMAZINGLY ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE I COULD BE DATING.
In isolation this isn’t a bad thing. We never should be settling for less than we deserve and if the spark or attraction isn’t there, then it isn’t there. You can’t change what you’re attracted to and nor should you ever let anyone act like you’re being a jerk when you’re not feeling it. However, sometimes this effect happens while we’re actually in relationships or in budding potential relationships and we find ourselves wondering if it’s worth toughing out the bad times when the “spark” seems to have faded when there might be something else out there.
The internet is not solely to blame for this phenomenon by the way – my entire dating life has been people walking away from me in favour of someone or something else and I well pre-date (hah see what I did there) the dating app trend. Sometimes it was because they’d already met someone else, sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes this happened before I was actually even in a relationship with someone. Honestly the amount of times I’ve been “seeing” a guy only to have him decide he doesn’t want to get “serious” only to have him get “serious” with someone else shortly after is actually laughable. Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful that such things don’t actually bother me now that I’m an adult with a fairly reasonable sense of self-worth. Your loss buddy!
The point I’m making is that this experience of seeing others “want something better” has kind of rubbed off on me, though not in the way you might expect. I’ve been single for ages not because I “want something better” or because I feel there’s so many options out there, but because I expect better. I expect a partner who actually gives enough of a shit to put themselves out there and take a risk by making their feelings known. I have almost always been the one to make the first move or been the first one to make my feelings known. I’m just a no-bullshit kind of person when it comes to dating so I don’t tend to buy into this whole “playing it cool” thing. I’m not going to text you 100 times a day and start planning our wedding, but if I think you’re awesome I’m probably going to say so. And yet… these days I probably won’t ask that guy I’ve been enjoying chatting to on bumble out to coffee unless he asks me first. It’s so cliché it hurts. I’ve become THAT person who won’t make the first move and then whinges they can’t find the right person.
So is this a bad thing? Honestly… I don’t think that it is. Life is not like the movies, yes, but I do think that downgrading my expectations from someone chasing me down in an airport to someone who bothers to ask me out for coffee is not asking too much of the universe (incidentally, preferably within the first ten messages please because who the hell has time to be glued to their phone messaging back and forth?). And for those that would accuse me of missing opportunities because now I’m the one not taking the risk and putting themselves out there, rest assured that if I was attracted enough to someone, I’d probably still end up making the first move because frankly I just can’t tolerate dancing around the point. I’d just be a lot more likely to back off quickly if I sensed my interest wasn’t returned. But is it unreasonable to ask that maybe, just maybe, it might be worth holding out a little for someone to decide they like me enough to say so?
I kind of think I’ve earned that.
What do you guys think? Do you make the first move or do you wait for someone to show an interest?