Two contradictory narratives persist about how young women in their early 20s ought to behave when dating. First and foremost, we are expected to exercise selectivity in our sexual endeavours. Sex is socially acceptable only once in a committed relationship. We want to believe that we have escaped the chains of misogyny but the truth is that we have long ways to go. Many girls still feel more at ease when remaining discrete over one night stands. People still flinch in reaction to girls engaging in casual sex. The impending label of ‘slut’ still lingers over our heads. But on the other hand we are constantly lectured about our youth and the importance of playing the field before settling down. Young marriage and an early start to a family is always met with pessimistic frowns by individuals convinced of its doomed failure. We are of course too young to really comprehend what future we want. The 20s are a time for fun and exploration.
Wait, so we are too young to pursue serious relationships but at the same time it is abhorrent for us to engage in casual arrangements?
I have never been one to allow my sex and romantic life to be influenced by society’s standards. I have been known to accelerate relationships much too quickly. I have fallen in love after a month of dating and I have also embarked in a long distance relationship after only 2 and a half months of dating. At the other end of the spectrum I have also had my fair share of ‘no strings attached’ affairs. I have always done whatever I wanted to do without much consideration of what others thought.
But subconsciously I still succumb to the pressures of fitting into both boxes. I have hesitated to declare my love and I avoid flaunting my one night stands. In every arrangement I still feel a tinge of shame for not fulfilling the other category well enough.
Never have I felt this more than I do now. Having recently emerged from a serious relationship that drained the life out of me, the thought of entering any kind of relationship overwhelms me. I am not ready to prioritise anybody but myself. I just cannot be selfless right now. But there is a new man in my life that gives me butterflies, makes my knees shake, makes the world stop spinning, the whole works.
I am not lying when I say that I don’t seek a commitment from him. I have already stated that I am not ready for it. Like those that warned me before, I do feel that I am too young to tie myself down to arguments, compromise and sacrifice. I too am just looking for some fun, a person to spend a little time with and keep me company. But the truth is that my feelings for him are stronger than it should be for a fling. I take his desire to see other women and ignored messages like a stab to the chest. I feel myself yearning for the security and boundaries attached with the labels.
So here I am attempting to achieve the impossible task of juggling two contradictory societal expectations. I am involved with a man that I have strong feelings for, and therefore am not engaging in meaningless sex. At the same time I am not rushing to commitment as is apparently appropriate for my age. It is absolute torture.
When you like the person you are having sex with it is hard to remain content with a casual arrangement. It stings every time the person leaves as soon as the deed its done. You always feel paranoid about where you really stand with the other, and most importantly your heart is frazzled in a state of confusion. Controlling your amounting feelings whilst maintaining a fun relationship really is an impossible task. Personally, I am just waiting for it all to implode.