I think I am well past the Fairytale model of dating. I’m no damsel-in-distress. No Rapunzel stuck in a tower from which she can’t escape. I’m no sleeping beauty or snow white awaiting some hapless prince to stumble upon my prostrate form, offering kisses as a bridge to a better life. I’ve never seen myself as a princess in my love story any way. Maybe a delightfully wicked Queen of All the Realms or Benevolent Dictator, but never a mere princess.
While I would never say that I need (or even want) a man to “rescue” me, I’m not the most involved person when it comes to relationships. I, girl who kicks daily booty in almost every aspect of her life, am remarkably passive when it comes to dating. I mean, I actively date, but in a relationship, I take my foot off the pedal and kind of coast. I’m just here for the ride, fellas. Whatever happens, happens. Que sera sera.
This odd fatalism becomes most evident to me when I recall past dating conversations with my girlfriends. I am always saying something like: I don’t know why he can’t just decide. He obviously likes me – I don’t get why he has to be so stupid about it. My conversations about dating are littered with male pronouns: hes, and his wants and his decisions.
Of course, these conversations only seem particularly daft in hindsight when I realize that I spent a lot of (valuable) time considering someone else’s actions and wants and desires more than my own. It’s not just me either. Sometimes my girlfriends seem stuck in similar situations where they are waiting on someone else to make a decision for them.
Although I’d like to glibly toss out the last four years out of my dating profile for technical reasons (my life was awful etc. etc.), it’s still relevant. I don’t suffer from indecisiveness as much as inertia to changing things. Hey, if I like you and we are hanging out, I’m not likely to change that balance even if you’re on the fence. In fact, the more that I like someone, the less agency I exhibit.
Ah, agency. A simple word that means the ability to act in a situation. I forget that I have agency – I can change the situation (all by myself) without awaiting the fickle decision-making abilities of someone else. I can decide to leave or stay or hang out. I don’t have to wait to be chosen by anybody. (Though I am a girl who definitely wants to be chosen).
And now that I am in sunny California and in a much better place in my life, I will remind myself (and you) that Dating is not a passive endeavor. You have agency. You are an actor in your own drama!
This is not a spectator sport. Put on your jersey and suit up.