Let me tell you something real.
I've been dating the last few months, swiping left and right on various apps, and it's been an interesting experience. I've never really dated. I've never met dudes organically, locked eyes from across a crowded bar and exchanged numbers over vodka tonics. I've never met someone at work, flirted during happy hour and carried on a clandestine relationship. This just hasn't been part of my life experience.
I've been on several first dates, a few second dates, and it's been weird reliving similar conversations, asking and answering the same questions over a drink or two. I find myself searching for some vulnerability, some opening that would allow me to understand this person beyond the superficial. Because that's all I want from someone I'm dating - I want their fleshy insides peeled open and laid bare for me to explore. I want to know them immediately within the context of their lives - what events shaped them, molded them into the persons they are today. I want to know what fucked them up and made them stronger.
I'm attracted to vulnerability, to the secrets that lie under other people's skin. Perhaps because it's a trait I try to cultivate in myself - a sense of openness, an invitation.
Dating casually has been a bit of a challenge for me - in most areas of my life, I want intensity or I want nothing. In dating, I don't have patience for surface-level conversations. I want to lean into the uncomfortable, to uncover the ugly, the grotesque. And I want to feel a certain kind of magnetism, a gravitational pull. I want an electricity that runs in currents and fills the air between us. I suspect that this is rare, or perhaps doesn't really exist, but I still find myself seeking it out in all of my interactions.
Like other daters, I've been searching for connection, trying to unearth common ground upon which me and another person can stand firmly together. Sometimes on my dates I'm able to feel out the threads of a potential connection, pull the strands together to see where they lead, and other times I know that there's nothing there to hold onto. It's been both fun and exhausting; not an unfamiliar experience for most, but for me, it's new - strangely, sickly, excitingly new.
I've enjoyed getting to know people, poking around their histories and piecing together their identities, but I'm also looking forward to what comes next - to the prospect of a shared vulnerability, of knowing someone wholly - their scars, desires and all - and them knowing me similarly.