love

Is Ryan Gosling real?

You know how Ryan Gosling doesn’t exist?

I’m serious. He’s not a real person. I mean, sure, he occupies a corporeal form and is a great actor, but the guy from the memes, the one who wears sweaters made out of boyfriend material and who acknowledges that gender is a social construct but that everyone likes to cuddle and who breaks up fights on New York streets (oh wait that last one’s TRUE)? He is a figment of heterosexual female imagination, born of sheer desperate longing. There is (almost) nothing wrong with this. The only thing wrong with this is that real men are not at all like Ryan Gosling the Dreamboat. That’s why we had to invent him. Because he doesn’t exist.

EXCEPT HE DOES. He is a real person but his name is not Ryan Gosling.

His name is – get this – Rory. HOW CAN ANYONE EVEN HAVE THAT NAME? Rory is a real person with a preternaturally adorable name. We just have to deal with it and move on.

Rory is currently in the process of sweeping my friend off her twitter-pated feet. She is both embarrassed and ecstatic to tell us about Rory because she’s afraid of rubbing our noses in it. He is basically perfect. Let me paint a very shallow picture.

First, we’ve seen his picture. He’s a hottie with a body. Enough said.

Second, he’s a doctor. He saves human lives for money. If Rory were trying to fulfill a perfect man stereotype, so far he’s 2/2.

Third, he met my friend at a church dinner and politely asked her on a date. Since their first, he has continued to ask her on weekly dates, even though he only has one day off a week.

On these dates, Rory pays without hesitation. Gender roles and icky money stuff aside, this means that my friend never has to wonder if what they are doing is actually dating.

Their dates comprise EVERYTHING THAT TICKLES MY FRIEND’S FANCY: classic films, indie bookstores, Italian restaurants. They magically have the same interests and Rory is even more excited about everything than my friend is.

On top of that, Rory moves slowly. Eventually, on like their fourth date, my friend asked if she could hold his hand – and out spilled Rory’s history.

Turns out, that history is pure as the driven snow. He’s never had a relationship before, he was nervous, but he really likes my friend and wondered if she’d be his girlfriend? My friend said yes, of course, and they wandered blissfully hand-in-hand through falling leaves like lovesick yearling fawns.

Ryan Gosling doesn’t exist. But Rory does.

I hope that at least some of you were fighting your gag reflex while reading this. But Rory’s existence begs the question: What do we do with a guy like this? Is he setting the bar too high? Are these realistic expectations to have for someone we date? Which of Rory’s qualities are actually important ones?

When Not to Say I Love You*

  1. When you’re drunk
  2. In the middle of sex
  3. At dinner when you’re meeting their parents for the first time
  4. When you’re saying goodbye on the phone and hang up before they can respond
  5. When they’re breaking up with you
  6. After a fight about your ex
  7. When you don’t mean it

These may or may not be based on first-hand experience…

*for the first time

Memory vortex

It’s been a few months, but I’m still dealing with a breakup from this guy Heath that was totally mutual, totally loving, and totally mature. The relationship itself was rarely mutual, loving, or mature, so I have reason to be content with our split. But I’m not. My brain is thwarting any attempt at happiness BY TRAPPING ME IN A TIME VORTEX.

Not just any time vortex. A ROSE-COLORED time vortex. A time vortex wherein everything that occurred in said relationship was perfect and charming and cozy and sweet, and therefore I am a fool for having thrown it all away.

Now, I know very well that we fought like siblings, that the sex was underwhelming, and that we were terrible at communicating and responding to each other’s needs. I KNOW THAT.

So why, why, why do I miss him so?

I think it has a lot to do with the way human memories are not only incredibly selective, but also become warped and untrustworthy over time.

Call me crazy, but, in theory, I actually like that my brain does this. I think it says a lot about how I cope with and adapt to sorrowful events. My brain doesn’t want me to be full of regrets and horror. It pulls up the good stuff and represses the bad, idealizing the past so I can look back at my relationship with Heath with some measure of satisfaction.

Unfortunately, this has a nasty side effect of slowing down the moving-on process. I keep forgetting why we never worked in the first place, and I’ve been having to forcibly restrain myself from texting him late at night.

So, what to do? It sounds horrible to say, “dwell on the bad stuff,” but doing so might provide the much-needed reality check that our brains are reluctant to give us. Proceed at your own risk, however – only enter this territory if you are confident you can dwell without bitterness.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I’m not alone here, but for science’s sake, please tell me in the comments so we can know for sure. Anyone else out there have a “Heath”?

Gather round

*lifts an overly full glass of wine*

Here’s to the young.

Here’s to the restless.

Here’s to all the lovers and fighters and stay-up-late-at-nighters.

Here’s to bad dates and great sex, to awkward chest bumps when you meant to hug, to sweaty hands, to long kisses, to deep companionship, to the tingle of not knowing where you stand.

Here’s to OKC. Here’s to Match.com.

Here’s to “talking” to someone for months and hoping it turns into something more.

Here’s to all of us 20-something flounderers.

I’ve got some thoughts about the whole wonderful mess of millennial dating.

Stay tuned.