Love In The Time Of COVID-19. Online Dating, Alias Construct

I will begin this blog with the entry from Anais Nin’s journal:

I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness. In reality those who satisfy me are those who simply allow me to live with the “idea of them”

Anais Nin

There is something in this Nin’s quote I deeply identify with, and the reason I feel so much happier being single than being in the wrong relationship, for the sake of the marital status, social identity and expectations. Although a solitary life can feel lonely sometimes, it is still better to be single than living under the roof with the person that brings the worst out of you.

While it is natural for human beings to look to pair up, we are social creatures and having a partner promises a companionship, regular sex life, friendship and more. It also a promise of more fulfilling life, sharing your pains and joys, creating life lasting bonds that would lift one up during unexpected life storm. Perhaps this is idealized version of relationship, but if you rather spend your life with the companion by your side, keep the doors open to that potential right partner, no matter how long it will take to find one.

No matter how many times, you had been destroyed by living, toxic relationships, life disappointments, or tragic life events, as long as you are breathing this life, there is always an opportunity to create a world of your own, where you feel loved, welcome and cherished. Choose your friends wisely, they are a reflection of a part of you. Nurture the relationships that matter to you. You heard the cliche statement that relationship is like a garden, if you keep watering it, you will grow beautiful flowers. Our meaningful connections are our gardens, a place of refuge, a remembrance of truth and beauty.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”

 Anais Nin

I don’t have to tell you that dating in modern world feels like descending into Hades, into this dark dungeon of Internet, trying to find a diamond. Each time one re-emerges to the surface, one wants to take quick, refreshing shower, to scrub the filth off from surfing the dark tunnel. It can be so repelling seeing a shiny object, but quickly to realize they are seeking instant gratification, a quick release.

We are so used to ordering fast food, whenever we are hungry, we don’t even have to leave the couch. Order through DoorDash or SkipTheDishes, and the desired item will be delivered within half an hour. People adapt to the same mentality in online dating, it’s like shopping for your person on e-Bay catalogue. All you have to do is specify your preferences and the person that meets the criteria will be shipped to your inbox. We know it sounds crazy, but we can’t help ourselves, because that’s how online dating is set up, it works even if it doesn’t.

We are a culture of conspicuous consumptions and instant gratification, we consume a lot, quickly and in big quantities and dispose unwanted items faster that we acquire them, looking for the next shiny object, that is bigger, faster and better looking than previous one.

I know it sounds really boring, because it is, but we are simply obsessed with the superficial and meaningless, and we can’t control ourselves. I don’t know where this originally came from, but the first time I noticed this obsession with ‘the biggest, the largest, the highest’, it is when I arrived in Canada in 1990 and took Travel and Tourism Program. I was studying tourist attractions and noticed how much value we placed in North America on anything that fit into our obsession with these adjectives. The very first tourist attraction I learned about was The Spruce Goose, the largest wooden airplane ever constructed, and flown only one time. Even though this was a fact, there was certain language used in the course, to emphasize the importance of the size.

I lived in Edmonton, Alberta at the time, and West Edmonton Mall was listed as one of the tourist attraction in my city, because it was the largest shopping mall in the world at the time until 2004, and currently the largest in North America.

I came from Europe to Canada and remember strolling through West Edmonton Mall in the middle of winter. I was at the time with my husband, we stumbled across World Waterpark, what appeared to be a simulation of a beach with ocean-like in the background. I remember seeing people walking on man-made beach, located in the mall, palms coming out of the plastic surface, bathers skipping through mechanically induced water waves. I looked at the image with disbelief, and I remember feeling certain sadness, I could not explain to myself. I felt there was something wrong with what I was seeing. I was dealing with the substitute, and substitute will never be satisfying. It will never replace the real sandy beaches, the warmth from the sun one feels on her skin and the cool breeze coming from the ocean. None of these real experiences could be reproduced at the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall, not matter what scale of the building.

Another thing worth examining in the modern world of online dating is the concept of constructing a persona, an alias, a new fictitious identity in virtual reality, a fake construct. Unless you are planning to meet the person in real life, people have real trouble with living up to the image they created. I am not talking about the looks alone or clothes they are wearing in the photos, but things people say about themselves in profiles, that may be true, half true, or not true at all. Trying to live up to the image one created can be a real challenge, that’s why so many people prefer online dating, because they never have to leave their home, they don’t even have to meet in person. More people carry out online romance via texting forever, then break up in text. It’s just convenient, you live this imaginary romance, it’s all in your head, but such is a nature of modern online dating. Living imaginary romance sounds better than no romance at all. Why having a real thing if you can lie to yourself you are satisfied with substitute. Its like licking an ice cream through a plastic bag and never feeling the strawberry flavour on your tongue. It’s insane.

Illustrative of couple representing online dating

This fake, unreal, pretentious romance is a reality for many people caught up in online dating. It’s scary. The scariest part is that many don’t even recognize they live in this fantasy world, until it crushes one day, and it will, because illusions cannot last. It’s this shallow living, we are so addicted to it, while we fear the reality and our true selves. This is madness.

I must be like Anais Nin in the regards to a need to live and experience life deeply, because this quote below is like music to my ears. “I must be a mermaid Rango.”

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” 
― Anais Nin

When I arrived in Vancouver over a decade ago, I was discovering the city, getting to know the areas. I inquired about Yaletown, and a friend summoned it up in one breath: it’s a fake part of town. What do you mean? – I inquired. No one is real there, everything is fake – fake boobs, plastic surgery and botox. Whether it is true or not, that was my friend’s opinion, but Yaletown is known for its glamour, and often referred as “snobby” and most citizens of Vancouver would agree. A good chunk of the people who live in Yaletown are actually younger population, rich kids who have a lot of their parent’s money to spend on glamour and glitz.

To me it was interesting to observe how this kind of luxury was instantly linked to superficial way of living. While I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying and pampering ourselves when we can, but I see how superficial overtook our lives, our environment, our relations

“Luxury is not a necessity to me, but beautiful and good things are.”

Anais Nin

Last thing I want to reflect on in dating people. I find it’s important that we don’t burden our dates with our unfinished business, our misfortunes of the past, staying in the victim mentality. It’s draining to the other person. I am at this stage in my life, when I have realized we are creating our own reality, our mind is a gold mine, and I have to draw boundaries with people bringing their wounds to the table and expect me to fix their issues. I am not anyone’s psychotherapist, business advisor, Bank of Montreal. I will only open myself to my equal. I have limited time and resources on this mother Gaia, and I want to make the best out of it. I am hard worker and I am very resourceful, I have been moving the mountains, but don’t expect of me that I will figure your life for you. It’s like putting a horse in front of the cart.

I work hard for my living and try to help people who often live on the margin of our society. I spend all day, listening to human troubles, so when I meet a potential date, I don’t want to be fixing anyone’s life. Last night I was reading Nin’s Journal, and this really stood out for me, it’s a quote taken from Dr. Otto Rank’s writing to Anais Nin and worth pondering:

“I am tired of giving myself, of being used by others. I want to begin to live for myself. I am rebelling against sitting all day in an armchair listening to people’s confessions. I want to be free, Anais. I am never permitted to be a human being, except with you. When people do not defy, idealize me, they make me a demon, or a father, a mother, or a grandmother! Whatever they need to love or revenge themselves against. I am tired of sitting in an armchair when I feel so full of unused life, and I have so much to give in life”.

“I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.”

Anais Nin

Life is our work of art. If you love, you create something beautiful and if you give too much into negativity, the weeds will overtake your garden. To love this life, love with everything you got; with your heart, with your liver, your lungs and brain; all your vital organs. You need all of yourself, in order to manifest what you desire, whether it is a relationship, a job or new life opportunity. And don’t forget, it’s a life with only two hands and ten fingers. Use your time and resources wisely.

If you enjoy my musings, please like, subscribe and follow. Namaste.

Published by Marianna Maliszewska

“I cannot live without love. Love is at the root of my being.”― Anaïs Nin.

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