At about 3 AM, my phone rang and my best friend's name flashed on the screen. I assumed he was calling to boast about yet another hook up of his.
You see, he is your typical millennial with a big number of crushes and an even greater number of random hook-ups. As I picked up the phone, little did I know that he was going to pose a rather existential question that I'm sure everybody living in the hook-up culture has asked themselves:
"Why can't I just go back to the same person every night?"
"Because you're scared of commitment. You told the last girl who was into you that you don't belong to anyone, and well, you have multiple love affairs," I wanted to say.
"There are so many girls I hook-up with but I still feel lonely. I cannot spend the night alone. It is like I have slots for people just so that I won't have to spend time with my own existence. I don't feel emotionally attached to any of the people I hook up with and yet, I keep on doing that because I'm so scared of being lonely."
As I sat up to mitigate my friend's complicated dilemma, I realized that most of us go through this same motion of hooking up only to feel lonely every single night. We keep meeting new people, exploring our options, only to realize that despite the number of options, we're still lonely inside.
I find that the more advanced and open we've become, the more we've gone far from the idea of love. If you love, you lose. Your brain has tricked your heart into not feeling properly because no one wants to be a loser here. Going to find love, means opening up to the idea of getting rejected and ending up with a broken heart. No one wants to deal with that mess. But the problem is that we don't want to be single either.
We want to be anything but committed and we definitely don't want to be single.
Hence, we come up with our own model of relationships which works on a strict rule of ambiguity. We're all 'in talks' with someone at a given point of time. At times, it is more than just one person. This 'fling' means we're not single but the untagged nature of it means we're not committed either. We're always looking for greener pastures and more experience. When we're not into a person any more, we just take a non-breakup route and ghost them. No questions asked, no apologies given.
In a world where we're so used to everything happening quickly, be it ordering a pizza or finding a partner for the night, we're scared of anything long-term. The validation of a match, the thrill of witty first messages and the excitement of having so many options just a swipe away is somehow getting the better of our emotional selves. Rather than investing ourselves in just one relationship, we gravitate towards relationships that are shallow.
Our generation has started treating relationships like a tug of war. Never texting first, never tell them how you actually feel, replying late for leverage and a whole bunch of mind games have really just transformed the foundation of a relationship from love to a clear power struggle. We believe that expressing our real feelings will somehow take away from our power in the relationship.
And after always keeping an emotional distance and closing ourselves off to the idea of long-term romance, we wake up one fine night at 3 AM to ask ourselves why can't we just have someone to go back to every single day.
The solution to that question is really just simple: allow yourself to go back to a person every single day. Open yourself up emotionally and also to the possibility that you may get hurt. Keep your ego and power struggle aside. You'll discover that wonderful things happen when you allow yourself to feel.
We millennials with our dating apps and the hook-up culture often don't acknowledge our emotions. In fact, we pretend they don't even exist. But let's be honest, there are needs much larger than just the physical ones. We need to confront our feelings and figure out what we want. New dates are exciting and not having any strings attached is fulfilling for a while but what you need to fill your loneliness is a relationship nurtured over time.