Four years ago today, I went on my very first date.
Four years minus four days ago, he said “I think it would be better if we just stayed friends.”
And that, my friends, is my one and only “relationship story” (albeit, the highly abbreviated version).
Humans are relational, bond-seeking creatures. One of our first instincts upon meeting someone new is to find out what we have in common, the experiences we have shared or still share. We swap our stories, tales, and yarns like social currency, the price of our admission to the greater human society. Whether it’s in person, online, or over the phone, we are constantly sharing the experiences of our lives with others in order to connect with them on some level.
Having just graduated from college, I am currently stuck in the vortex of “75% of My Friends Are Getting Engaged and Married.” And, contrary to popular belief, just because I am single as a slice of Kraft American cheese, I am not bitter about it.
On the contrary, I’m actually a big fan. You’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? Fantastic! Super pumped! Let’s get dressed up and have a party!
What I will admit to feeling amidst all these engagement/marriage announcements, however, is loneliness.
Yes, a part of that loneliness stems from the fact that I don’t have a “someone” of my own, but a very large part stems from one very simple fact:
They all have stories. And I don’t.
They have their tales of romantic dates and flirty texts and those butterflies they got in their stomachs when they realized they were in love. Even many of those who aren’t engaged but have simply dated before have stories of their first significant other and their first kiss and their first time meeting the parents.
I have one date. Yay?
See, that’s the thing about not having had an experience—there’s no story to tell. How do you regale your new friend with a tale about something that simply never happened?
Simple answer: You can’t.
Stories are what connect us to each other. They link and unite. So when it seems like everyone else can share the same story but you can’t, you wind up feeling isolated and alone, like you’re the only one who hasn’t had this experience.
And that’s the biggest problem. Because even though a lot of people have had that experience, there are also a lot of people who haven’t. But since it’s basically impossible to tell a story about something that hasn’t happened, there isn’t that easy common bond to bring those without the experience together. And that leads to the loneliness.
…does that make any sense?
tl;dr: Life is made up of both experiences and non-experiences. Just because we can’t tell stories about latter doesn’t mean we’re alone in them. We are most assuredly not.
And besides, it gives us more time to tell awesome stories about the time we ran into Billy Mays shilling some random product in a mall in New York City.
Okay, that one may just be me.