generational complaints and why I don’t hold with.

Two things about that title: evidently, understativeness is not immune to capitalization, but Swedish phrasing is immune to regular grammar. Take a flying leap, ending-sentences-with-prepositions rule.

All right. Have a thing.

This thing is, ah, the complicated nature of dating in “this generation.”

Let’s sidetrack to another thing. What the [Goldman] is a generation?

(I’m using that John Green trick of substituting curse words with favorite authors.)

This occurred to me the other day. The Internet loves to say things like, “Oh, I hate this generation” or “I was born in the wrong generation just look at those 50’s boys *heart eye emoji x4*” or whatever.


And I have been guilty of this too, deciding that my generation of choice would be the 70’s (or possibly the 1850’s but that’s for another time) or lamenting the fact that the “boys of my generation” are romantically pathetic or whatever dumb teenage gripe I was having that day. But nevertheless, these are some of the stupidest sentiments I have yet come across, for a couple of reasons.

1. You were born into the generation you were born into and that is FINE and it doesn’t have to influence whether or not you are inspired by the teenagers who came before you;

2. We live in a time which I call the conglomerate age: in previous decades and centuries, trends went in, they went out again, but now, through the proliferation of images from these previous decades and centuries via the Internet (where they used to be available only to the weirdos who actually wanted to pick up an encyclopedia; meanwhile, the cool kids just created their own new thing), anybody can bring back whatever trend they want, so if you want “your” aesthetic to be seventies housewife nobody’s stopping you.

So basically everyone thinks they should belong to a different generation than they do and it’s silly because they want it for silly reasons that it is entirely within their power to change, or ignore and do what they want anyway.

But, I may add, sometimes it doesn’t feel silly because they don’t want it for silly reasons that are within their power to change and/or ignore. For instance, people. Specifically other ones.

I read an article recently about how dating in 2014 sucks because it isn’t dating anymore. It’s Tindering and Snapchatting and playing the who-can-care-less game. Interestingly enough this was in Cosmopolitan, which leaves me (an admittedly conservative female) a bit surprised as to how the casual-sex-for-women bible can possibly be demanding more genuine relational connections, but that’s a personal soapbox and we’ll move on.

I am currently sort of playing the who-can-care-less game, and quite frankly it does suck. I was once broken up with by a boy who didn’t like our relationship because I wanted him to be more involved in it than he was and consequently I’m always afraid of liking the people I like too much lest they rebel and run away like that ex-boyfriend, and that’s a stupid fear if ever I heard one but it’s one of mine nonetheless. If there is anything about which to be honest, feelings are a pretty good candidate. And yet there’s a certain social taboo about liking someone more than they like you. Why?

It’s ridiculous.

Insert long-winded answer about how humanity has grown in an unfortunate direction where we cannot comprehend how a situation with an imbalance of love can be a good one, with a side note on the possible damaging effects of the buzzword equality.

I like people. Lots of them, in fact. Some of them seem to “like” me more than I like them, or at least to exhibit it more freely and more often. Some of them it seems more like I exhibit my like more freely and more often, if not that I actually harbor more of it. You never know exactly how another person is feeling, but actions speak pretty darn loud.

Let me refer you to L’Engle. As usual. (And I’m not swearing.) This is Dr. Ferreira speaking to Charlotte, who, in a surprising storyline, has left her husband because he doesn’t love her. Well, ish. There’s more to it than that. But to put it simply, he is the one who does not show his love as freely and openly and she got frustrated.

“Two people are never equal in the outward needs of a relationship. There is always one who is more physical, less cerebral, or perhaps only more insecure, who wants the constant reassurance of affection. But marriage is acceptance of this discrepancy. Of saying, I would like more of the outward demonstration of love, but this is the way I am and not the way my spouse is. He loves me in his own way to his own capacity. And I love him in mine. And you are quite right, Charlotte child. If you are the one whose love flows most freely you must be careful not to drown him. Not unless he is very well able to swim. I think, Charlotte, that if you will grow up, you will be an excellent swimmer. I think that is your vocation: to do the loving. But with discipline. Not with demands.”

(Have I mentioned how strongly I identify with Charlotte Napier, as well?)

This is important. If your love flows most freely you must be careful not to drown the other person.

Does that mean you hold yourself back? I think not. With discipline, as the doctor says to her. Not with restraint. As it is said elsewhere in the book, “Not with resignation, but with love.”

Understanding that your other person does not love you the way you love them and that this may be a bit difficult for both of you to accept (“what do you mean you love me when all you do is sit there?”).

And this can go the other way, too; understanding that this person who smothers you with affection, some of which you could live quite comfortably without, is loving you in their way, however alien to your way it is.

This was a thing I had to understand (and later did) about that breakup. The boy in question told me it was best for it to end when it did because of graduating and going off to different colleges and things. I cried to a friend that “Why would you not love as long as you could?” and the friend answered, “For some people, the pain is not worth it.” And when I demanded to know, in my seventeen-year-old dramatistry, how love could ever be worth less than pain, this friend replied, “That’s just not how he sees it.”

I still struggle to sympathize with the view that it is best to get the pain over and done with before it becomes too much, especially when it means forgoing the love that would have gone between. But other people do not see it the way I do, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or me.

This got quite a long way from where it started. Let me see if I can corral my wayward thoughts.

Oh yeah, dating.

I think I meant to say about ten paragraphs ago that a perceived imbalance of love does not make a situation a bad one, or one in which the over-affectionate is not respected. The other person probably likes you as much as they ever did. They just don’t need you to constantly reassure them that you like them. (Possibly because you already do it a lot anyway. Also, I may be talking more to myself than anyone else.) Or they’re too scared to ask, which brings me to my other original point.

As John Green would say, “Use your words!”

Like I said, of all the things to be honest about feelings are pretty high on the list. If you like someone, say so; if you need to know if they like you, ask; if you don’t feel loved by them anymore, say so; if you feel smothered, say so. Just say it. It is so simple.

I have expressed before that I wish more people would just be honest about love and so on, and that’s part of my problem with the who-can-care-less game, but the actual point I was going to make about the suckitude of dating in 2014 (as proposed by that article and some of its similar counterparts) is this.

So what?

(Hang with me here.)

This is how the dating game goes in 2014, as it appears. And that’s okay. Times change. I’d bet some pretty good money that in 1922 someone wrote an article about how courting had gone downhill, there were lists of “20 Courting Habits We Need to Bring Back,” someone bemoaned the descent of courting into necking on back roads in Ford buggies, etc.

This is how this generation shows its love, apparently. And I’ll agree that it’s lame and gross and doesn’t seem very loving and I intend to do my damn best to show my love in a better way, but this is how this generation shows its love.

And, if I refer those of us who have a problem with this back to the L’Engle, this is the way we are, and not the way those we love are. And we have to love them anyway.

I’ve said before on this blog that if you waited all the time for people who show love the same way you do to come along, you’d spend an awful lot of your life lonely, so it’s better to love the people you love no matter how difficult they are about it. And it’s not an Augustus Waters beautiful kind of pain. If you are me, it hurts in a very messy, uncomfortable way to be ignored by people you love. If you are the people I am constantly hounding for affection, it’s annoying to be constantly hounded for affection in a way that I imagine doesn’t make you feel like you enjoy the person hounding you, which, when you love them, is a difficult feeling. It’s hard. It’s not beautiful.

But, to invoke Maya Angelou, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time,” and this applies to people who approach love differently than I do, as well.

Phew. Okay. Let’s all go do something very trivial.


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