Crush, Date, Break Up, Repeat: The Trajectory Of A 20-Something’s Love Life



Given a lengthy list of qualities on a paper in college, I was told to rank them according to importance. Most were based on leadership preferences, others on thought processes, and few on personal ideologies. The results at the end would paint you a color. Four types of people existed according to this test. I disliked this notion of categorization and hoped I could forge a hybrid character to disprove what seemed like a stupid exercise.

Being Gold was unappetizing. You essentially follow the rules all the time and look to inspire others, allowing them to find potential in themselves while also staying safe within the confines of the system. Blues were essentially emotional. They had high powers of empathy, but this was uncontrolled and further description made Blue look like quite a crybaby. Everybody wanted to be Orange. Orange was cool, collected, adventurous, extroverted, and probably had a six pack. This left Green: someone who is calculated, almost to the extent of being cold. Green analyzed everything from an objective standpoint, and were distanced from the rest of the group.

The latter became my color, and while I didn’t care much, I struggled to hide my annoyance as others found out and immediately agreed with my results. As consolation, Orange was a close second, apparently able to reveal itself should Green ever become careless. 


It’s said that you can only hope to become a high-ranked chess player if introduced to the game at a young age. The brain wires itself differently as it learns to take advantage of tactical errors and develops affinities to different strategies. Picking the game up at 21, my teacher told me to worry about being elastic but detailed in planning, and to have a goal in mind, but never become so attached as to miss other potentially better opportunities.

Around this time, I knew a girl who was kind to others, knew mostly what she didn’t want, and had incredible work ethic. We talked casually in class, and exchanged numbers after being grouped together for a project. After some texts that seemed less and less about class, I expressed my concerns to some friends.

“Aww, are these feelings?” one asked. A brief thought of this girl as a partner outside of the class crossed my mind before, but I dismissed it; I hadn’t been on a “first date” in years and recognizing potential in someone was a virtue I lacked. Another pointed out all the signs were there, all pieces in place, and in the worst case, I would have a fantastically awkward story to share.

After weeks of deliberation and strategic questioning planted in conversation, she agreed to go out to dinner, where we talked for almost three hours amidst waiters and waitresses flashing looks of disdain, hoping to clean our spot to get another group in before close. The first time I thought I could get that “like you-like you” feeling, this new girl’s name was mentioned and I couldn’t help but smile, cueing other female friends that took an interest in my personal life to make jokes about what our babies would look like.

She stopped talking to me soon after. Still not over a previous man, she didn’t want to lead me on. I appreciated it, and went on my way, debriefing myself repeatedly on the events that transpired. It’s fairly difficult to play chess with someone when they’re actually playing go.


I enjoy the process of learning new languages. Language, in my definition, does not imply official dialects of countries or regions, but rather the ways different people communicate with each other. There are a myriad of methods for people to do this, and I pride myself on my ability to decode them and understand someone quickly.

I could not do that with this girl. My inability to figure her out drove me crazy, and that, coupled with the gut feeling that she was confusing by way of complexity and not inanity put me up to the challenge of the fabled “chase.” After navigating my way through sporadic and difficult contact, I succeeded.

After what I deemed to be a very successful second date, I drove home feeling confident I’d hacked my way to a steady dating situation. The day was full of wonderful clichés of hand holding and secluded stolen kisses, many not instigated by myself. We barely spoke after that, and I haven’t seen her since. She told me sometime after she was only interested in casual dating.

When someone truly doesn’t care about your advances, you can’t crack their code because they’re sending packets of scrambled information with no real meaning. You’re not gaining understanding, only sitting on the receiving end of a stream of insignificant binary.


One of my least favorite things about you was the way you needed to have the part of the bed that touched the wall. Regardless of the deep sleeper I was on my own, with you the roles were reversed, and once you fell asleep, you were out, leaving me to lay in a comfortable but foreign darkness as you unconsciously fidgeted with the covers, dreaming of a reality I could only hope to be a guest in.

Our arrangement was even more unnatural for me since I sleep on my left side the majority of the time. You took the inside with that wall that would cool you off if it was too hot under the covers, and made your disappointment known when I lay facing away from you. For a while I tried resting on my right side, facing you, but I’d always wake up next morning looking out towards the TV.

I would actually work on my own to fall asleep on my right side when you weren’t around, defying the indisputable facts that I rested much better on my left, but several sore necks and disrupted sleeps later, this proved hopeless.

Perhaps that was the big message I should’ve seen, that the two of us were eventually as incompatible as our sleeping arrangements, that the two of us did not fit together like the puzzle pieces you claimed we were. Then again, most logic didn’t work when it came to us.

There are some mornings, once every couple of months, that I will wake up feeling physically crappy, but mentally refreshed and ready for the day, and this happens after those rare sleeps when I wake up with a numb right arm, facing away from my own wall.


Music is perhaps the most fascinating subject for a multiple-front study because it can be approached subjectively and scientifically. I believe if I were to desire a color to describe me from combining the green and orange hues of my being, I would simply need to find someone with synesthesia to tell me what colors they see when they hear The Strokes’ “When It Started.”

When you came out of nowhere, I was surprised, but prepared. I was seasoned in the art of meeting new people, though I didn’t need any traditional methods; conversation flowed effortlessly as we drank our house-brews over mediocre singing to renditions of hit songs from the 90s and 2000s.

I’d love to say that everything that happened between us the ensuing weeks was planned, but it was spontaneous and despite that, genuinely fulfilling. As I kissed you for the first time, I couldn’t hear the background until I saw you up close, and the appropriately titled and aforementioned Strokes song hit its breakdown (at 1:30, because somehow I know the time), bringing about a hushed excitement I didn’t know for years. 

Spontaneous smiling became my regular thing at work, and decoding and strategizing for the future was rendered meaningless through a confidence in the unknown whose origin could not be traced. Maybe Green was showing signs of laziness and Orange took full advantage, maybe through you I was forging the hybrid I believed myself to be. 

It wasn’t until you told me you couldn’t see me anymore that I came to appreciate that feeling, however transient it was, and felt the spontaneity bleed out to leave behind familiar jade hues of collected calculations and a distanced mind. The divorce of those halves leaves a basic, but interesting idea: the separation of two pieces implies that they were once together, and this leaves something to either derive or discover, the route to which seems irrelevant at this point.