An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve met someone.

Yes, I know, he’s a rather – unconventional – boyfriend, but he’s nice and he’s always there for me. In fact, I like him so much I spend almost every evening with him! In a totally family-friendly way that I’m not embarrassed to tell you about. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me, mom. Get your mind out of the gutter.

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I have aptly given this post the one-word moniker accompanied by the end-all, be-all period punctuation because this is the best way to describe how this aspect of human interaction fits into a twenty-something’s life: Abrupt, obnoxious all caps with no context and a quick finish.

Okay, no to explain myself and make a little more sense…probably.

Unless you found your life partner in high school or college, dating is a giant gray cloud that hangs over all of our heads as twenty-somethings. We want to meet people, and most of us dream of meeting that one person we’ll enjoy being with more than any other, and frankly, most of us are impatient. We don’t want to have to wade through a bunch of duds to find “the one”. We want to just find “the one” and enjoy the perks of having someone who is always obligated to go to brunch with you.

At the same time, we’re not ready for commitment. We think about marriage and the first words that come to mind are “not now.” So we shy away from really, seriously dating or pursuing anyone. It’s a vicious cycle, though, because then we spend any down time we have thinking about how much we wish we had someone–but not just any random loser, “the one”–to do something exciting with, instead of being bored, sitting at home because all of our friends have plans and we don’t have any hobbies because this is the digital age and let’s face it, any time you could have learned a how to do something cool with your hands you were scrolling through Facebook and Twitter.

So then we turn to online dating because that’s easy, impersonal, and you don’t have to put pants or make-up on.

I held out for a long, long time on trying the online dating realm. I just didn’t like the idea of it–it seemed to me that you wouldn’t be able to find genuine people via dating sites because the only people (in my mind) who used online dating were weirdos who couldn’t make conversation with people in real life. And then one day, it dawned on me: I’m one of those weirdos. So I gave it a try. And I realized that it wasn’t just for weirdos, it is honestly the way that people are meeting these days. It’s the new bar. And let me tell ya, don’t go to a bar to meet people now days unless you really, really want absolutely zero commitment or investment in your time, because all people are looking for now days when they go to a bar is to get drunk with their friends.

I had a misconception about online dating, though. I thought–and here I have no idea why, maybe simply because I had zero familiarity with it–that dating apps were either for hookups, or serious daters (depending on which app you were using). And I figured that the dating app for serious daters would make meeting people extremely easy, because they’re basically handed to you on a plate, and there’s no question of whether or not their interested, because they’ve liked your profile. All you have to do is have a conversation.

Oh, was I wrong. Within the first week of having this dating app on my phone, I realized that online dating is really no different from meeting people in person, except that you know ahead of time that whoever it is you might be talking to finds you attractive, or at least, thinks there’s potential for attraction. Dozens of people will express “interest” by liking your profile, yet, for every dozen that “likes” you, only one or two will actually initiate conversation with you. And out of those one or two, maybe, MAYBE, one will respond more than once and keep the conversation going. And the likelihood of someone asking you to even meet for casual coffee or ice cream is slim. And if they do, it’s usually the person that you’ve already realized you’re not compatible with via your online conversation.

All of this simply to say that my stint with online dating has taught me one thing: There’s no easy solution or shortcut when it comes to meeting genuine people that you want to spend time with. And I still think that meeting people and making connections in person is the best way to live your life. It’s definitely difficult, because people hide behind their screens so much these days. But maybe, if we all try to get out a little bit more, and stop staring into our computers and phones 24/7, we’ll be able to make it a little bit easier on ourselves.

So go forth, my twenty-somethings, and make friends.


Everything I Know About Relationships I Learned From Harry Potter

Last fall, Emma Watson, being her amazing usual self (she makes the rest of us 20-somethings look like terrible slackers) interviewed my personal hero, J.K. Rowling for Wonderland Magazine. You can read the text of the interview here. ¬†And while you’ll find–if you read the article–that what Rowling and Watson actually discuss is not quite what the media made it out to be, journalists–and subsequently fans–were in an uproar because a quote leaked from the interview seemed to suggest that Rowling thought she had made a mistake in pairing Ron and Hermione together. Instead, it seemed as though Rowling thought Harry and Hermione should have wound up together.

I’ll admit, I was one of those fans that immediately felt the need to state to the entire world of social media that I was very upset by this suggestion. It wasn’t that I didn’t think Harry and Hermione, as characters, could have worked well as a couple. It was more the whole principle of the thing. Now, having read the entire interview, I am much less offended (I get very emotionally attached to the works of literature that I love, if you can’t tell) by Rowling’s comments. The whole ordeal has led me to consider why I felt so strongly about this bit of news, however, and this is what I realized:

Everything I know about relationships I learned from the Harry Potter series.

I think part of the reason Harry Potter became such a big hit was the thought that Rowling put into her characters and the Wizarding World. Every character had a background, story, and flaws. Rowling put a lot of thought into who would wind up with who according to compatibility and personality, not just because of she’d seen it in literature structure before, or because she thought certain characters needed or deserved love.

Though, apparently, this was less the case with Ron and Hermione.

I like Ron and Hermione together, though. Not just because that relationship was a long-time coming throughout the books. I like Ron and Hermione together because they aren’t perfect, and their relationship certainly isn’t perfect. So often stories get written as though romance is really a giant bandage that heals all wounds and covers all flaws. But it doesn’t. If anything, it fleshes out these flaws and brings them to the surface. Successful relationships are the ones that can acknowledge, work-through, and move-on from these flaws, accepting that these things are just a part of life. They aren’t going away.

People want to pair Hermione and Harry together because they are both strong, talented, independent and confident in their abilities, and that makes sense. But to me, that’s like when I was four and I would pair my ken dolls to my barbies according to hair color. It doesn’t matter. You could say that Ron and Hermione should be together because they balance each other out: Hermione is a confident, logical thinker, and Ron is a supportive, emotional thinker.

What Rowling’s novels taught me is that there is no right or wrong answer. There is simply knowing yourself well enough to know what’s right and wrong for you. Relationships are about accepting what you can’t change and working through it, like Lupin and Tonks; Honoring¬†one another in decisions, like Ginny and Harry; and Supporting each other in everything else, like Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

Oh, it also taught me that finding a date to the Yule Ball is a stressful affair and often winds up not living up to the hype.

Still, I think these are pretty good take-aways for a 20-something potterhead like myself trying to navigate this whole dating thing. Then again, if I’m taking dating lessons from a children’s book series, perhaps I need to re-evaluate a few priorities in my life right now.