Tinder is probably not the best response to your therapist telling you, “Melissa, you need to learn how to small talk.”
It was early January of this year and we were discussing my need to invite intimacy into my relationships in a slower fashion, when she had pointed out that I was not very skilled at a basic function which most humans have — making conversation about everyday things.
“BUT I HATE SMALL TALK,” I whined. “I don’t care about the weather or someone’s cat or what they’re drinking. I want to know who they are and what they’re feeling.” She smiled and said, “I know. But just try it.”
I was still not making the best choices so I decided Tinder would be a great way of doing this. You’re probably thinking, “Melissa, that’s a terrible idea. People don’t go on Tinder to small talk. They barely go on Tinder to talk.” You would be right. Most of the time. However, I went on Tinder and actually ended up having conversations with guys. I somehow managed to go deep diving into a few of their souls and they were like, “Whoa. Dude. What even is my life? Can we relationship? Can you come with me to PICK OUT A PUPPY? You’re right, *RIVER OF TEARS EMOJI* I shouldn’t have taken that super drunk girl home and tried to sleep with her. Can we be friends?”
And as someone who recently sent me this clip from Friends told me, “Men only talk to women they don’t know because they want to have sex with them. Eventually.” But, you know, I like to believe the best of people and think that wasn’t all game but I’m learning that you can be naive without being unwise. So, that experiment did not go as planned. I’d love to tell you about a couple of actual dates I ended up going on from Tinder where I tried to practice my small talk skills. Unfortunately, those guys know where I social media….so, my lips are sealed. Here’s looking at you, G.
I didn’t get the idea of taking things slow and allowing things to unfold at that point. I couldn’t fathom it. A month and a half later when I met someone that I wanted to date-date, our connection was instantaneous and I jumped in with both feet. Because I still had not learned my lesson. Three months later when that fell apart because a bonfire that isn’t built properly will either fizzle into nothing or burn down a forest, I decided to take a break for awhile. From the internet and from most humans. The world was silent except for the words of good writers, my family, and my crew.
It was there I began to appreciate the beauty in time.
Last night I had dinner with one of my friends and fellow writers, Hannah Collins. I laughed so hard, I almost fell out of the booth. She is vibrant and vulnerable — real beyond what most people are comfortable allowing themselves to be. We were talking about romance and friendships and this subject of slowly building intimacy and she said,
“Relationships should be revelatory. We are not art shows on display to be gawked at. We should be allowed to be revealed over time.”
Simple. Profound. True.
I told her I thought we as writers have the hardest time with this in our relationships. We’re so accustomed to sharing our truths in one big giant splash upon the page. We’re accustomed to getting feedback on them immediately and knowing how people feel about them aka us. We’re accustomed to imagining that the entirety of the universe must be made up of other humans that display just like us.
It isn’t true and in relationships, it isn’t healthy. We need the slow build. We need to learn the tiny details. We need to be revealed in increments.
This happened the other night in a conversation I was having with Justin.
“I’m going to tell you a secret about me,” I said. “DO YOU WANT TO KNOW IT?”
Of course he wanted to know it. We all want to know secrets. Secrets are the best. But I’m learning to unfold slowly so I didn’t bring some great, glorious thing to the table.
“I only wear one color of nail polish,” I told him. Now, c’mon. That’s just about the most boring secret you can tell someone. That’s like saying, “Hey, here’s a secret…I breathe.” Fascinating, Melissa. Let’s move on…or maybe not even move on. Let’s end this conversation now. That’s not what happened. The weirdo asked me questions, because you know what…he’s actually pretty darn good at small talk. “O really,” he said — because he does that odd thing I haven’t figured out where he doesn’t add the “h” — “why is that?” And continued getting further and further into the psyche behind my decision to only wear one color of nail polish until I felt like I even knew a piece of myself better.
We are meant to be revealed. Each of us. We are all universes waiting to be explored and known.
She loves gifts — giving and receiving, the purchasing and the opening. He hates only emoji text responses and phone calls and paragraph length answers. She has watched The Office while sipping Diet Coke or coffee 500,000 times. That one will put dill pickles in everything (including omelettes) if you let him and her, well, she likes honey and healthy things but also donuts and Starbucks and fresh baked bread. And this one…I am mostly fascinated by the fact that he can give anyone a full length lecture on the specifics of what their diet should be and why but still sends me questions about whether his shoes match his outfit.
Today is November 7th. Today I’m thankful I am learning to hold Time gently, swaying ever forward with her hypnotic slow dance instead of grasping her to my chest and trying to lead the way. Today I’m thankful I’m (finally) learning that all those tiny little pieces of small talk are learning who you are and what you’re feeling — it’s just a slower march toward the answer.
Today I’m thankful for the revelation of you.