There is something about 2 a.m..
Let me set the mood. Your friends have gone home, an empty wine glass stands testament to what is in your system. You’re sitting alone on the couch or in bed, Netflix playing in the background, phone in hand. The messages come flooding in.
Pick your poison: Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, Facebook even, for the desperately old fashioned.
“Hey, how’s it going tonight?” We all play stupid and respond, as if by chance someone is genuinely curious as to what would be doing in the middle of the night on a weekday. A message back and hopefully, courtship begins. Everyone involved in the conversation knows what is going on, but does not say it, not at first. Love, or at the very least sex, is a game. A game we have all become well conditioned in our pubescent years to play. If matchmaking and love were as simple as digital code, the message would just read, “I like your face, come over and touch my genitals,” or “Come over for some heavy petting clumsily disguised as cuddling.”
There’s nothing wrong with this. Most people like the chase. Messaging at 2 a.m. just invites all sorts of assumptions. The glaring one that nobody explicitly says or mentions is that someone on their preferred dating app so early in the morning is either horny or lonely. It’s mostly true, and I know too well that cringe-inducing mistakes and long-lasting love can be found at 2 a.m..
Now let’s switch the tables. The sun was over China in this last scenario, how about when it is right above us, banishing the dark shroud of liquid courage and artificial light that makes us so chatty and personable. How about we make it 2 p.m.?
You message the person you were talking to last night. You thought you guys hit it off, and you have time in between classes for a quick bite or coffee break. How about you guys meet up and talk? No pressure, just to get to know each other a little better. Beyond the digital realm.
You check your phone five, ten minutes later. No response.
A message comes later that night. “Hey, sorry about earlier, my phone died in class.” There’s a litany of excuses that come up in this situation, but they all lead to the same conclusion. This person is much more social when the sun goes down.
Why is it that we have become much more comfortable talking to someone online at 2 a.m. rather than over lunch at 2 p.m.? I think a lot of my contemporaries would blame the “hookup culture” of today’s youth, though I tend to think of that as a term millennials themselves have procured in moments of self-disgust. One-night stands have always existed in one form or another. It is just less psychologically damaging to think that our parents or grandparents in college were not as carefree with their sexuality as we are now. I assure you it was not so. As technology has done in all areas of our lives, it has just expedited the process. We can now instead of sweeping a room full of sexually-frustrated faces at a party, simply swipe left or right to those faces we find superficially attractive. This sounds negative, but let us not pretend it was not superficial for the generations before us. My point is that, in layman’s terms, these apps have just helped us find people to screw much quicker.
I believe there is a bigger underlying problem here, a mentality that permeates not only our love lives, but the lives of the under-30s in general. Every decision we make has immediate consequences that will lead to future consequences that go on forever. An infinite anxiety loop. We see it in people with test-taking anxiety. If I do not understand this question, I will fail this test, I will fail this class, that will lower my GPA so I can not get into the School of Business, which means I won’t be able to get the job I need to pay off these student loans, so therefore this single question decides my future homelessness.
It would be easy to explain if I were able to understand the root of this mentality in ourselves, but alas, I can’t. We just exist as very dramatic people. In this way, a simple meeting for lunch becomes what one is afraid to define as a “date.” If we meet for lunch, it is a date. If we go on a date, we are dating. I don’t even know you. I just met you in Tinder last night.
That is the paranoia. In much the same way that people struggle with relationship statuses. If you’re in a relationship that does not look straight down the line to the altar, we think, what’s the point?
Since the beginning of time, courtship is a way of seeing how things work out. We have progressed beyond the age of arranged marriages, at least in America. We can have fun meeting people, screwing people and not thinking so far into the future. We live in a time where people try their hardest to shy away from definitions and labels, while all the more feeling confused in their own relationships. Do not be afraid to get to know someone, love someone and hurt someone. There will be plenty more people to know, love and hurt in the future. That does not mean you have to throw every caution to the wind, playing or maneating your way to love, but it also does not mean minor commitments lead to trouble. Let us spend less time worrying about definitions or consequences, and more time on what we want. If you like someone, let them know it. Even if it is at 2 a.m..