The Reality of Dating When You’re An Emotional Masochist

By Kiran Edelstein

I remember the exact moment when I found the term “emotional masochist,” and the moment when I realized that that is what I am. Emotional masochists love the extreme highs and lows of emotions, we feed off them like a moth to a flame and as much as they hurt or exhaust us, time and time again we find ourselves back in the grips of overdramatics. This kind of masochism makes me feel as though I’m on a roller coaster 100 percent of the time and even though I recognize where I’m going to end up when I fill myself up with hope, I fall into the trap every, single time.

There’s plenty of writing in the world right now about how the Millennial generation doesn’t know how date. Apparently we just don’t understand courtship anymore. These articles, of course, are full of sweeping generalizations, but after actually sitting down and reading one a few days ago, I talked to a few of my friends about it, and we looked back at how many of our friends were in serious relationships during college and the answer was only one or two. If you look at our parents’ generation, so many of them met their future partners in college, it wasn’t uncommon to get engaged during undergraduate studies or immediately after. I’m not sure what switch was flipped in the Millennials, but we just don’t want that anymore. Maybe it’s the fact that a bachelor’s degree isn’t enough anymore to have a highly successful career, or things like Tinder have conditioned us to converse in such a calculated way with prospective romantic partners, and not even expect a long-term outcome. We want instant gratification, and relationships don’t always provide that.

Being an emotional masochist and trying to date in this weird, drive-thru romance (or lack thereof) world is difficult. I’ve only recently graduated college and didn’t have a single relationship while I was earning my first degree of many. I experimented with things like Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid… you name it, I probably tried it. I went on many classic horrible blind dates and even some dates that I enjoyed with people I found myself drawn to, but nothing ever went past one or two dates. While low self-esteem and high self-doubt would dictate to me that this fact had to be because of me, how I looked, how I carry myself, etc., I know that it wasn’t all because of that. When I meet someone of romantic interest I throw myself in wholeheartedly, if I feel remotely attracted to a guy I pursue it. Emotional masochists like to obsess over every small detail, whether it be good or bad.

I couldn’t even have functional friendships with guys until I reached my senior year of college. I found myself in a vicious cycle of having feelings for a guy and then ending up so far in the friend zone that I was emotionally wounding myself giving him all of my energy only to hear, “Kiran you’re a great friend, but…” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d have between $0.20 and $0.30. The obsessing annoyed my friends, and I know that it still does. Whenever a guy enters my life I’m sure everyone around me braces themselves for the crazy that’s about to ensue. No matter how old I get I can’t figure out how to stop myself from hanging on every little thing and investing so much so early on.

As emotional masochists, maybe we should tape affirmations to our mirrors and repeat every day, “I will not give a guy everything I have inside unless he truly wants to care for it.” I’m not sure if there’s a cure for it except for maybe having a great friend who will give you a quick slap every time you obsess out loud. I do believe that we are a growing breed, and the more that the Millennial generation shies away from the dating that our parents grew up on and doesn’t even consider committing to a single person before swiping left on our phones, we’ll become more unfamiliar with the emotions of exploring another human being for the first time. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad one for how our generation is going to head further into adulthood, but I sure do know it makes me want to pull my hair out every once and a while.


About Kiran

kiranKiran feels very weird talking about herself in the third person, but she’s going to run with it. She grew up in the heart of New England and then has found her new home in Washington, DC among politicians and hipsters. She wishes she could embody the spirit of Leslie Knope at all times and loves getting into a good feminist rant with anyone and everyone but mostly clueless men. She thinks dating is extremely silly and exhausting with too many apps and gadgets to deal with and would really just like to marry crafting and Netflix if given the chance. If you want to really get her excited ask her about her love for the British Royal Family and how many hilarious dating stories she hasmention either of those things and you’ll have her talking for days.