Intimacy, Affection, Sensuality, Romance, Passion, Love — Wherefore art thou?
As a psychotherapist I feel qualified to declare that many single people today suffer from Avoidant Attachment Style. And when I say many, I’m being generous. And when I say style, I mean lack thereof.
Two years of wearing pajamas bottoms and day-drinking alone in front of computer screens has only exacerbated this avoidant behavior, which is really just a preemptive mechanism to stave off possible future rejection and abandonment. Swiping left is the last remnant of autonomy and agency for many people, unless the family trust remains sufficiently robust to allow them to shop at Erewhon, where they can look down their noses at you in person.
If you do manage to match with a fellow human being on a dating app today and they actually deign to communicate with you, first you have to negotiate Covid protocol, which often devolves into conspiracy theories and the most divisive extant subject: politics. Thankfully most people where I live — Los Angeles — are too narcissistic to care about government, but the spate of hypocritical, virtue-signaling, self-righteous Instagram “Public Figures” pimping Alo leisure wear who are really Anti-Vaxxers is stupefying. (And if they were really Public Figures then they wouldn’t have to announce it, especially if the occupation box on their tax returns reads Life Coach or Yoga Teacher.)
Personally I believe that dating in Los Angeles should be listed as a crime against humanity as the process is as enjoyable as a colonoscopy without the propofol. First dates are akin to auditioning to incarnate a recurring role in someone else’s screenplay entitled, “This Is What I Think My Life Should Resemble.” Arranged marriages in Third World countries are more organic than first dates in Los Angeles are.
Contemporary romance is bewildering, all too often ending with either a text message stating, “Let’s just be friends,” which means “Don’t ever call me again,” or “Best of luck with all of your future endeavors” as if your date were the head of an HR department interviewing potential employees.
Getting such a text is a privilege in comparison with being ghosted where like a frog in water coming to a boil people disappear you. Subsequently when you bump into them at Equinox they don’t even remove their AirPods to scream, “Crazybusy (curing leukemia this week and cancer next week)! Yeah, I’ll definitely call you!”
“I’ll be holding my breath waiting for you to call.”
Most single people are change their passwords more often than they have sex. And from what I’ve heard, married people seem to be intimate primarily because their partners are geographically desirable (unless they are already sleeping in separate bedrooms).
The Authentic Happiness workshops that I teach at Esalen cite the long-term scientific research informing us that the only thing that correlates strongly with happiness is the quality of our intimate relationships. But how can relationships unfold naturally when so many people are avoidant, have unrealistic expectations for instant chemistry (otherwise known as lust), are subconsciously looking for red-flags instead of wonderment, have been conditioned to perpetually hunt for more-better-different, and there is no agreed-upon protocol for developing positive, supportive, compassionate, affectionate connections?
What happened to real intimacy? What happened to sensuality? What happened to romance? What happened to affection? What happened to passion? What happened to love?
The pandemic has exacerbated avoidance, which is really just a manifestation of fear of rejection and abandonment. We need to learn to lean in, be more vulnerable and compassionate, and revive the art of loving human intimate connection!