Online dating kind of reverses the process of falling for someone. Instead of admiring someone from afar, spending time together in a platonic context, gathering the courage to make a move – this is what typically happens (very unromantically):
- Exchange some boring small talk questions on Tinder
- Meet up and rehash the things you found that you had in common
- Feel obligated to close the date with a kiss because you guys met up on Tinder, for chrissake – maybe even hook up
- Meet up again because you think a) they are attractive enough and b) they passed some threshold for personality
- Meet up again, try to search for something more than a physical and mental connection
It’s not a very conducive process to developing feelings, is it? In online dating, there’s a lot of playing up of some arbitrary criteria you find to be necessary since there are so many choices. For example: she’s an attractive Asian and is a UX designer who loves Death Cab for Cutie – she’s so great on paper I must wrangle an emotional connection out of us! If you’re jaded and picky like me, your line of thought will probably be a little bit more like, “Well, he’s handsome and surprisingly a socially skilled software engineer but he wears hoodies all the time, barf.” In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if someone is in a profession you find attractive or has acceptable style? These things are often heuristics that simplify your decision-making process but doesn’t a good connection make.
So it’s a little fortuitous that I have a crush now. It’s been a while since I’ve had a crush on someone, and I feel like I had to shut down the intellectual part of my brain and just relearn how to feel. I was regaling all these positive attributes about my crush and the nice things he has done for me when I was asked:
“Hold on, you’ve told me all these facts, but how do you actually feel about him?”
The question took me by surprise. I guess I hadn’t really paused to really consider my feelings. I said:
“Well… I think about him when I’m not with him… I like talking about him to my friends… I feel excited about him. I guess I have a crush on him!“
It was like a light had been shone on me. It’s a little amusing that I have to use inductive reasoning to determine my feelings, but hey, I’m a scientist at heart. Ever since that revelation, I’ve been in a tizzy. I feel almost delighted that I am capable of feeling crush-like feelings again – I thought I was dead inside, you see. I am also glad I feel primarily excitement vs. anxiety. It’s really easy to fall into a negative loop of “oh no does he like me, am I good enough, where will we end up” but I’m trying to reframe nervous anxiety into excitable anticipation and it seems to be working well.
This makes me think of a story. When I was 13, I had a crush on a friend, let’s call him Albert. Albert was very genuine, communicative, generous, and thoughtful. Lots of girls had crushes on him because he was so at ease with other girls and wasn’t a dick – that’s all it really takes to impress chicks when you’re a teenager, huh. He didn’t like me back, although we remained close friends. My mother knew about this boy and my crush on him, and had met him.
Cut forward to when I was 17 and applying to colleges, and I had my heart set on New York City. My mother was intent on keeping me in Singapore, while I was adamant about my decision. She reached out to my friends unbeknownst to me, beseeching them to persuade me to stay. She once revealed, “You know, I talked to Albert. Albert said that he doesn’t like you because you’re too stubborn. Why are you being so stubborn? Stay in Singapore!” (Albert’s the kind of guy who would reject someone with as much delicacy as possible, and that’s something he would have never mentioned to me.)
I was well and truly over Albert at this point, so it didn’t have the intended subjugating effect my mother was hoping for. He was also in a very happy relationship with a girl whom I’d consider meek (albeit very nice) – and are actually getting married next year! At that point, I felt relatively self-assured about being an assertive person – I wasn’t going to give a shit that some adolescent crush thought I wasn’t good enough and then change my mind about college.
When I met Albert in Singapore recently, he teased me by saying “Yes, boss,” when I wanted to go into specific stores or eat specific foods. It may have been teasing and lighthearted, but when someone casually teases you for being bossy multiple times within a session, you know they actually feel that way. And that’s fine, after my mother’s comment and meeting Albert’s
girlfriend fiance, it wasn’t new knowledge. I do have very strong feelings about women being considered bossy while men are seen as decisive and authoritative, so fuck that shit! It’s also unfortunate that women perpetuate this dichotomy.
Anyway, it’s nice to have a crush again. *excited dance*