How I Learned to Take Control of My Love Life

We kissed a lot on the dance floor, it was very adolescent. I know because my friend made a mortifying video of it.

The next day we texted and decided to go on a date the following Saturday. By the time Saturday arrived he hadn’t answered in a while, so I assumed that wasn’t happening anymore. I felt the world sliding under me again, I fell back on my pillow and started clicking Instagram Stories to distract myself. I saw the thick, hairy wrist of a boyfriend’s arm on a table next to an Aperol Spritz, a plate of pasta with an egg in the middle, someone doing deadlifts in the gym , then something I really wanted to see. It was a screenshot a friend took of a conversation she was having with a guy who kept rearranging their date. “Sorry to start again, are you there next week?” ” He asked. “No worries,” she replied. “Let’s leave it here.”

It was such a delightful response, so much better than just ignoring it would have been, because then he could have been making up reasons why the date didn’t happen rather than knowing he was the result of his indecision. She always looked casual, so it was clear she didn’t care. And it was conclusive enough to allow him to move on without wondering if he could come back. I decided that if the date didn’t happen, I wouldn’t bother trying again, not because rearranging a date is always inexcusable, but because I don’t like what it makes me feel.

I thought of all the times I had imagined people never emerging, hatching wild plots to get their attention again. It drove me crazy. I wasted whole days thinking about it. I wasn’t going to let that happen again, and knowing that, I felt in control no matter what happened with the date. Instead of staying inside and stressing out all day, I went to get some ramen with my friend and laughed as the salty broth splattered my face. We were supposed to go to an exhibition but couldn’t be bothered, so we had some iced lattes and sat by the river on a bench to talk about things we wanted to write about instead, and I felt like I wanted to go home and throw it all on a sheet. I didn’t feel like I needed to check my phone, I didn’t feel sick, I could still hear everything my friend was saying to me.

Before, I never understood what it meant when women talked about taking control of their love life. I understand that you can be more proactive – you can go up to men in bars and introduce yourself, you can ask friends if they can put you in touch with someone. But how to fight against the control of men when they still have all the power? When the mass of great women available means the odds are stacked against you. When all the good guys have already slept with one of your friends. When none of them can sustain interest beyond a day of texting on a Sunday when they’re hungover. In this economy, what impact can you have by ignoring their messages or pretending not to see them at a party? You can play hard to get, but in the end, chances are it’s just you which “receives” nothing. As they walk away, they won’t be running across town in the pouring rain to pick you up, they won’t be sitting in the shower and crying thinking every time they screwed up. They will probably start liking a few of your Instagram Stories until they gradually forget about you.

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