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  • Writer's pictureParis

Longing in Lemoyne

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Dear Paris,

I'm twenty-five, and I feel like everyone around me has paired off and moved on. I don't have a partner, and I'm not even sure what I want in one. What can I do to get myself to the next stage in life?

Longing in Lemoyne


Dear Longing,

My first instinct, and likely anyone else who you've expressed these feelings to, is to tell you how young you are and how much time you have and how great time alone is to "really get to know yourself." But that's bullshit. I mean--it's all definitely true, but it doesn't help you in terms of how you feel right now. If you could just reason your way into feeling good, you wouldn't be writing to me.

I can tell you this, I only know like two couples my age who have been together since they were twenty-five, and in the decade since, they have had to deal with their partners growing up into very different people, a process that is some days a joy to watch and other days a painful commitment to ride out the storm for the promise of sun. You're changing, too, at this very moment without a partner. If your person comes along tomorrow, you'll need someone who complements that version of you, not the person you were yesterday. That will be true every day for the rest of your life. It's ok not to know what you want because that won't stay the same. The girl who grabs your eye because she can drink the room under the table might need to turn her attention to being a great mom in a few years. The dude who looks like he never leaves home without a kettlebell might fluff out a little if he decides to pursue a career that keeps him at a desk all day.

The important thing about your long-term partner if you choose to go that route is that they share your big picture values, and I can almost guarantee those are things you can already identify about yourself no matter how in flux you feel. What's your true north? What has been important to you since you were little? Are you a family person? Are you spiritual? Intellectual? Hold those things high, and it'll be easier to weed out the wrong ones. If you're a rocket scientist, you're probably not going to be able to put up with someone who vehemently believes the earth is flat, and no matter how much potential that dummy has, you shouldn't try to date someone who you need to change to be happy. Because they will change, and you won't know how. That's really scary sometimes, but if you're building a life on the same foundation, it'll be easier to keep it together when that happens.

Having said that, timing is important. I've known successful pairings that are built largely on the fact that they both wanted the same things at the same time. If you're ready to settle down, being honest and upfront about that may be a major factor getting you closer to that goal. Some relationships are goal-oriented, and some are hearts and rainbows, but at the end of the day, if they don't evolve into having some of both, they might not last.

In the meantime, have fun when you want to have fun, and step back when you're sick of the grind. A little swiping and meeting up doesn't hurt if you want some companionship for a shorter spell, but you can exhaust yourself looking for a soul mate around every corner. It also doesn't hurt to ask a good friend if they know anyone. Hopefully, your social circle shares some if not most of those values we talked about. They might be able to see connections that aren't as obvious to you. Just make sure if you go that route, you're very clear that you're looking for a good fit, not just a fun double date partner.

For example, when I was sixteen, my first love shattered my heart. My best friend swooped in with her boyfriend's best friend and band mate. He was a bassist and my god, the curliest, longest, prettiest, blondest hair that he had to constantly shake away from his forehead during shows. He was also brokenhearted. We fell fast and hard. We even started a side project called Seventeen Year Lotkests. (Get it? Like the cicadas but also like the Norse god, and you guessed it, this was seventeen years ago, and they're coming back, and you may be asking yourself, "Is this entire example a vehicle for her to talk about the cicadas?" The answer is yes, absolutely.) Our one and only song was one I wrote with such brilliant lyrics as "I was bleeding, bleeding, bleeding in a broken rage, but where was your hand?" I think it was about my ex-boyfriend but also Jesus but also my dead father. Anyway, I have a photo of me with this kid in April on my birthday. We did not even make it as a couple to the arrival of the cicadas in May, and there I was thinking he would be the one. You know why we broke up? Because that very same best friend TOLD HIM TO BREAK UP WITH ME. I was furious, and she was sorry, but she was also right. It was never a good idea to fix her friend up so she'd have someone to hang out with during their boring, shitty band practices. Guess who are still friends and married to way better musicians? Us. Just as the children of our last cicadas are emerging, so are newer versions of ourselves, with partners who shared our values much like the cicadas share the singular goal of being loud, making babies, and littering the whole region with their carcasses.

Anyway, Longing, I don't have a magic answer for how to get to the next phase of life, but I can say you don't need to wait till you have some archetypal version of yourself because that will never come. I won't pretend it doesn't or shouldn't hurt to feel lonely like you do now. It does, and I don't know how long it'll last. I do know that you're more likely to attract friends, partners, or dive-bombing cicadas if you're out in the world doing your best to have a good time, letting your light shine for them to see.



Paris of Harrisburg | Advice Column

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