by Alexandru Ciobanu

“Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You’re sizing people up to see if they’re worth your time and attention, and they’re doing the same to you. It’s meritocracy applied to personal life, but there’s no accountability. We submit ourselves to these intimate inspections and simultaneously inflict them on others and try to keep our psyches intact – to keep from becoming cold and callous – and we hope that at the end of it we wind up happier than our grandparents, who didn’t spend this vast period of their lives, these prime years, so thoroughly alone, coldly and explicitly anatomized again and again.” ― Adelle Waldman, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

We all do subject each other to personal examinations in the dating aspect of our lives, or “meritocracy applied to personal life, but [with] no accountability”, as the author puts it. But coming to this understanding somehow makes you feel better about yourself, doesn’t it? You’re smarter than those ordinary people that aren’t thinking of this like you are, which you took from a book you read. You’ve got it going for you way more than all of those other people, because you’re self-aware. You see things they don’t. But then you still go on doing all of the things they do, yet because you deconstruct and anatomize every single part of your life, you somehow justify your existence, worth. You’re definitely worth more than all those other people, you have to be.

What do you do? You definitely use dating as an opportunity to talk about yourself. Not that you’re not kind, or you don’t listen to them talk about their life, job, interests, but, yeah, this is coming back to me somehow, right? Something I care about? Something I can relate to? What are you talking about again? Oh, yeah, I don’t know, it’s not really something that interests me.

I mean, it’s important that people you’re dating get to know who you are, that you be an open book. It just so happens that your book is overwrought. You’ve worked too much on it, you’ve edited it extensively. You’ve subjected unwitting bystanders to several chapters of it, many of whom simply wanted to have a drink and maybe fuck you.

Your chapter on sex is rather desexualized. You don’t want to be considered a sexual being, that’s demeaning. You’re not like those ordinary people. You intellectualize things. You need to give greater significance to every action you take. So when you can’t hold an erection long enough to ejaculate, alongside the person you’ve been seeing for two weeks, that has to have a deeper meaning. You think too much, you’ve been alone for quite a while, there’s something holding you back, maybe just relax and stop thinking so much. But if you stop thinking, you’ll be reduced to a sexual being, controlled by desires. Is it control? People seem to have a handle on it.

You stop; you needed to pee. When you come back, you apologize for having ruined the moment. “Nonsense,” he says. And here comes a frank conversation of sex and desire, and how it manifests in people. How does it manifest in you? What do you like? Do you know? You don’t want it said out loud. You say some things through the mumbling and the pauses and he seems happy. You end up back in bed, and he acts on those things you uncomfortably laid out to him. He says those things out loud again in order to turn you on. It’s irritating. You can’t stand to be reduced to a sexual being, it’s demeaning. you’re better than that… I’m better than that. I eventually managed to orgasm. He seems pleased, so I say the first thing that comes into my head: “Don’t read too much into it.”