Being 'IRL'

I have been dating IRL (In Real Life) for the better part of 2 full years now. Inconceivable! I have not swiped right for genuine human connection, doing it the way our mamas and papas (but I suppose more like papas) used to do it back in the day: cruising for chicks in meditation circles, summer camps, open bars, and getting down on the d-floor. I chose to deprive myself of the instant gratification of the mutual like for the uncomfortable world of face-to-face judgement for multiple reasons:

  • Often you will match with people, and nobody will make the first move - especially in lady dating world, which is usually nothing like the open textbook man-dating world of Grindr.

  • Text conversations build up expectation for weeks. It's usually room temperature conversation, followed by more weeks of scheduling time to see each other, followed by never ending spiral of re-scheduling. Why? Because nobody actually cares about meeting a stranger when they could be out with their real friends, binge-watching High Maintenance, or just sleeping for the first time in what feels like a thousand years.

  • I’m pretty sure I dated the entire city because profiles were starting to repeat themselves and that’s sad.

However, despite that short list of reasons, the main reason was efficiency. I have a hard time saying no. When people, any people, want my attention, I usually give it to them without question. And while this is a nice way to be - it’s a fast way to run out of energy. In this age where we all have a mild to severe case of ADD, my way of dealing with mine has been to try to cut away all the things the make me go SQUIRREL! And that meant deleting a handful of perpetually dinging dating apps that weren't returning on investment.

Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Match, eHarmony - you name it, I've tried it. I diversified my investments and it turns out, well, I’m just a shitty investor. How does someone with a heart literally made of glitter and sparkles try all the things, and still wash up on shore in rags and tatters?! I really did not understand, and felt like I just needed a time out from the madness. Along the way, I found that the reason I was a shitty investor was because I really didn’t know what I was investing in. Stepping IRL, I am finally learning how to be a good investor and it literally boils down to quality over quantity. Here’s what I’ve learned in this pilgrimage of the soul.

  • Disconnecting from my digital lifelines has been symbolic in leaving behind any and all future thinking. This is a sickness I have had for a while that just about ruins every nice moment I’ve ever had. Working on this has required that I remove anything that encourages me to think about ‘what next’, ‘who next’, or ‘what if’. I’ve definitely felt more grounded and committed to my present moment since deleting all the apps (this includes Facebook, although I still do have Instagram because duh, I’m not a serial killer.)

  • Real people love the confidence of someone who will be upfront about their interest. Tell them at the bar, or the book club, or give them a twirl on the dance floor. Our phones are just tools; our minds and bodies are what people become attracted to. Speaking directly to another person and putting yourself on the line goes a step beyond saying it through a box. It shows you are there with them, and you care enough about yourself to honour your feelings by letting them out in the world.

  • Even though you’ll meet people IRL, not all of those people know know to be IRL and that's okay. That means, even though you are ready for something, the other person might just not be ready to pick up what you’re laying down. You are in 2018 dating like you are in 1918. Expect some discomfort with the level at which you are being direct. The good part is that even though many people just aren't right for you right now, by narrowing the search, you're actually making it easier in the long run to identify the people who are right for you.

This is all strategy and practice, but being IRL has been a lot of self-care. It has been more self-investment than investing in others. During this process, I have discovered how nice it is to just be with someone without expecting anything from them, how nice it is to leave on good terms, and how nice it is when someone returns that loving freedom to you. I have discovered how opening up to people and being direct about the things I want isn't a death sentence but exactly the opposite - it’s making yourself fertile ground for whatever lands and plants itself there to grow real nice. I have grown a way thicker skin to face-to-face and screen-to-screen rejection and, as a result, have learned to forgive, forget and move on a lot quicker than ever before. These qualities of self-investment in 'singledom' are great skills to have in relationship.

So, this is what being a good investor is: it’s not using all your wealth to bet on random stocks. It’s not spreading yourself so thin that you just REALLY need something to work out. It's not striving to rapidly replenish your account, making up for the wealth you wasted by buying into futures that are always unpredictable and volatile by nature. Being a good investor means acquiring wealth - working for it, so you know the value of a dollar, and using surplus resources to take chances on the market. In love, it means loving yourself - putting money into your own bank account first so you know how valuable your currency is worth, filling it until you reach a point where you are always topped up and, then, affording yourself to freely give to other people selflessly, without expectation or resentment.

Being IRL is about being present and experiencing in the moment, working on acquiring your own currency. I’m feeling more and more that it’s just about the only thing that ever starts to fill our glass half full hearts right to the brim. And what a strangely obvious turn of events that this invisible force binding us together might not actually be wi-fi, but rather humanity's first 100% natural wireless fidelity.

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