Dear Crush: let’s skip to being exes.
Is 24 too old to have a crush? My mom always calls them my “suitors” or “callers”, even though it’s abundantly clear that I’m the only one doing the calling…and texting…and Snapchatting. Is 24 too old to have a Snapchat?
Though my adult dating experience is relatively limited, I’ve gleaned enough information from recent months and my teenage years to form one finite, unshakeable opinion on the whole shebang:
Being a girlfriend is overrated. Being an ex-girlfriend is powerful.
Look, we can sit here and pretend to look forward to the honeymoon phase (a.k.a. the most expensive part of a relationship, when you’re surprising each other with roses and dinners and machine-airbrushed novelty “His Queen”/”Her King” tees from the mall kiosk). We can play the texting game where if you take 30 minutes to respond, I take an hour; or pretend to be doing anything besides watching Ozark and handful-ing Cheetos into our faces while we’re sexting like E.L. James’ wet dream. We can even speak exclusively in babytalk and make our friends deeply uncomfortable when we demonstrate in public. We can lie to ourselves and say that any of those things would be satisfying to us in the least bit.
Relationships are exhausting, no matter how serious or how long they last. It’s multiple extra birthdays to remember, let alone if there are any other important milestones I expect you to observe, like the deathaversary of my beloved betta fish (rest in peace, Bubblebutt).
That’s extra presents at Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever atheists do in December. That’s an extra ticket to pay for at every movie, concert, and escape room. That’s $25 on shitty “lingerie” you bought off Amazon to try to impress me but was too small so you spent the rest of the night reassuring me that I’m not fat while I cried and ate bread on your lap. And if you think you’re ever gonna recoup the cost of all your stolen hoodies, think again.
Do you really wanna fight about how you never wash the dishes and how I shouldn’t have been hugging your hotter, taller friend? I doubt you really want to go through holding my hair back when I throw up, and I certainly don’t want to hold your hand when you p**sy out at the tattoo parlor. I have no interest in finding out that you “accidentally” showed my nudes to your brother or in picking you up from Whole Foods because your dumb ass thought you could get away with parking for free at a paid meter for 45 minutes. I don’t want to sleep in a bed covered in Doritos dust or to stave off your late-night advances when I’m feeling bloated because somehow in that 45 minutes you forgot to buy the almond milk — the one thing I sent you for — and I settled for your 2% because goddammit I am a woman and I am not eating stale, dry cereal like an infant.
OR, hear me out: we just skip straight to the breakup.
Think about it. The best inspiration and the most beautiful art always comes from times of emotional distress. Just ask Taylor Swift, whose entire discography will be in my Spotify playlist titled [YOUR NAME] ❤ LOML alongside some British garage punk band your buddies threw together in high school, which I will pretend to really like. Yeah, really! It’s soooo good. I love how the cymbal just like, overpowers every other conceivable sound.
Picasso’s most #relateable period, the Blue Period, was borne from severe depression and loss. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, widely considered one of the best albums of all time, is a sonic orgy of angst and regret. On a similar level of genius was season 8 of Glee, home to the show’s most dramatic musical numbers and impressive acting performances, was significantly affected by the untimely death of Cory Monteith.
We can enjoy the instinctual protectiveness we feel over one another while staring up at the ceiling thinking about how we’re each probably in bed with someone else right now. It’s like twice the sex: physically with whoever we want, and mentally mind-f**ked by and with each other. Breakups are all of the emotional investment of a relationship with none of the financial.
I’ll weigh so heavy on your heart that about ninety percent of your weekly cardio is just carrying the burden of being someone I used to love. Sure it hurts, but so does normal cardio. When you see that I “liked” or commented on one of your funny little projects or a mirror selfie that provides a perfect view of the stress-weight I caused you to gain, you’ll disregard any other compliments and find yourself consumed with my passive-aggressive social media activity and strategically-published thirst traps. You have to admit there’s nothing like that little thrill you get when you see my handle in your notifications.
We can try to be friends — in fact, we should — and relish in the palpable tension when we both show up to a mutual friend’s party. No one pays attention or pours an extra drink for the happy couple pretending to compete in the world’s most cringy game of beer pong. The Recent Exes, however? Just imagine the whispers and side-glances when we get to talking. The hoard of girls like moths to a flame, crowding you in an attempt to distract you from me.
So let’s come up with a story about how we met somewhere exotic and split the bill over some handroll sushi because I was too proud to let you pay. We can say I fell in love first and that you said it back even though you weren’t sure if you meant it. We’ll talk about how the next eight-months-to-a-year were exhilarating and terrifying and beautiful; how we used to go to that Thai place every Wednesday night until you contracted e. coli from some sketchy yellow curry, and how I managed to kill our pet marimo ball who I named after your dead uncle in an attempt to be thoughtful.
I promise to write ballads in your name and to think about you when my acting coach says to make myself cry. I will subtweet you and put songs on my Insta story that are weirdly specific to you but just vague enough for other people to reasonably assume I’m just PMSing. I’ll drink about you and let you haunt me for every following relationship, constantly sabotaging my ability to trust anybody else with my now-fragile heart. I’ll help you develop commitment issues that ironically make it impossible for you to want to ghost me completely, thereby resulting in my partial mental ownership of you for eternity. I’ll be the girl that other girls will constantly tell you was waayyy below your league and not worth your time in the first place. I’ll be your go-to story when the bartender asks what’s got you down.
Life is too short to waste on halfhearted I love yous and stomach-churning dinners with each other’s families. What’s that quote ?— it is better to have loved and lost in an explosive, poetic inferno of heartbreak than to have loved and fizzled out like a damp matchstick.
If you’re interested, let me know which album you want to never be able to listen to again without feeling a zesty combination of nausea, lust, and soul-crushing heartbreak. I’m thinking The Wall.