Lifestyle, Personal, Self Care
Comments 8

Body Armor.

tinder-012.jpg

I had a conversation with friends a few nights ago (over real apps) about dating apps, and can I be honest? I hate them. I’m not built for them. Do I respect some people’s affinity for them? Yes. Have I tried them? Yes. Are they amusing? Yes. Mostly because when you come across someone who is hopefully a doctor (but presumably Dexter) literally performing open heart surgery in their main picture, you have to laugh at the idea of swiping left or right based on your initial reaction.

Which, by the way is, “What in the actual living hell is this?”

But I finally realized what’s missing from the swiping and double tapping garbage that we’ve allowed present day dating standards to convince us we depend on.

Eye contact.

At a yoga festival recently (sup Wildvibes!), in the closing ceremony, they asked us to hold hands with a stranger and look them in the eyes for a few minutes. No words. No laughing. Just two softened sets of eyes showing up for each other without interruption, in complete silence. I can say for certain that it was utterly dismantling, letting someone see me that way, without my body armor.

IMG_5621.jpg

Eye contact is alarming.

You know why it’s alarming? Because we’re used to seeing people behind a screen and judging them based on six curated photos, a well-punctuated bio, and the perfect entry line. Unless their entry line sucks. In which case we dismiss them entirely. Imagine if we let that fly in the flesh. Imagine saying, “Hi, how’s it going?” or some other “wrong” opener over drinks. Now, imagine your friend/acquaintance/person-you-want-to-date-but-you’re-too-afraid-to-say-it-out-loud just got up and walked away mid-convo? Imagine being written off that quickly in real time. It would be ABSURD. That’s what we’re doing to each other, and it’s a real bummer.

We’d like to think we’re swipe-able, wouldn’t we? But in real life we are not always right swipe worthy. We are not perfect tens. Not even close. On good days when we’ve hit snooze sixteen times and skipped breakfast we are barely 6’s. On bad days we are 4’s pretending to be 6’s, expecting everyone we come across to be 11’s.

We have these platforms where we’re constantly sharing our highlight reels. We’re asking people to fall in love with our sunsets, and our concerts, and our cocktails without the context of whom these experiences belong to and what we’ve gone through to get here. It’s low risk to show people the parts of life we already know they like. But with low risk comes low reward. That gritty “how we got here” stuff? That’s the stuff that matters, especially if I’m dealing with another human that I want to be around for longer than 5 minutes.

DSCF3087

So we don’t look people in the eyes because we’re afraid of seeing too much of ourselves inside of them. When we’re in front of somebody, we’re somewhere else. When we’re somewhere else, we’re mindlessly tapping and swiping through an endless array of faces and bodies like we’re trying to upgrade our seats to “even more space” on an upcoming flight.

When we finally round up enough courage to let someone in, we mistake moments of silence for dissonance. It’s called listening. But hey, when it’s not artificially injected with watered down beer and equally watered down dialogue it’s harder to digest. Our systems aren’t used to doing that much work, so they’re shutting down entirely. We’re casually meh-ing way through life instead of giving authentic, powerful, and meaningful interactions a chance to unfold. What’s worse? We’re using this whole “Carpe diem! Life is short!” bullshit as our excuse for not getting to know anybody.

We’re being cowards. Every. Single. One of us.

Why has it become cause for consternation when someone enters our chasm of unloveable qualities and squares off with the beast we think we have become? Is it because we know very well they could devour us whole? They know deep down, we are not these calloused creatures. We are raw. We are soft. We are products of every amazing, and terrible, and shameful experience we have been through. We are tired, and poor, and starving, and filthy, and lonely. We are all missing parts. We are all misfit toys. We are brilliantly flawed. We are chaotically arranged. And we are enough, just so.

When was the last time you really looked somebody in the eyes and let yourself feel them looking back at you? When was the last time you came to the table alone, present, and bare? Your battle scars are your body armor; but armor is heavy, Darling. All that weight? Know where to hang it up at the end of the day.

Let them see you and all your gory details.

DSCF3058 (1)

Photos courtesy of Sam Nute [http://samuelnute.com]

Advertisements

8 Comments

    • haha!! I wish it HAD been pun intended. I have a soft spot for a well placed pun. Thank you for reading!!

  1. Mrs. P says

    Great post in this digital age! I didn’t understand most of the swiping stuff because I haven no need for dating apps…or most other apps but I get the concept.

    Looking someone in the eye can be really scary…but once you get over the fear factor and actually allow yourself to really get to know someone…it can be really exhilarating!

    I’m a dinosaur to dating but did meet my husband on-line. In lieu of apps we had a forum. When we decided to correspond off the forum I asked him twenty questions. Some were fairly simple but others some were deep. When he answered them honestly, I knew he was someone I wanted to get to know better. Ten years later…the rest is history.

  2. GERI says

    I could never handle dating now. At least in the old days, you went out and you may catch someone’s eye and they ask you to dance. If you are not interested, that’s the end of that. Otherwise, there could be another dance. Or you see someone interesting and you just happen to have mutual friends. Things were a bit simpler. As usual, though , you writing is so insightful, Carley.

  3. Absolutely amazing how you capture the real things and put it into words that seem universal. Or maybe they just are to me.

  4. “Eye contact is fucking alarming.” Yes. That. So, so true. For all of the reasons you said. And the fact that once I start thinking too hard I find myself which of the person’s eyes I should be looking into because it’s not possible to look at both at the same time. (Such a logistics person, man.)

    Yes. Eye contact is totally missing from online dating. My beef with it (yes, beef, thank you 90s kid) is that online dating is all about judging. That’s the point. You’re *supposed* to judge the person on the other end of the app. And nobody deserves judgment that harshly without being able to even say hello to someone else. I was on an app for one weekend and then had to part ways with it because of this.

    Loved this post. Thanks for keeping it real. Here’s to 2017 bringing lots of adventure, great conversations, and more eye-to-eye contact.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s