Romantic apathy is a dull, aching pain that weighs down your heart in spite of all of the freedom it claims to offer. You just don’t care. No one gets to you. No one makes you feel anything. Interactions are empty. Pleasure can’t be sustained in this state, so it is chased after within the confines of quick fixes and half hearted attempts to make a connection. It is never enough.
Maybe you got burnt. Maybe your heart got broken. Maybe you saw things that made you never want to be vulnerable. Maybe you’ve never truly let someone in, or maybe the person who you considered home made some very hurtful decisions that left you feeling betrayed and angry and hopeless. Maybe you were counting on someone and all the weight of your blind faith toppled them off of their pedestal. And now you feel very alone.
You feel alone despite all of your efforts. Maybe you’re a machine now, performing once meaningful acts in the most mechanical of ways. That gesture that once held so much tenderness becomes a simple process of consecutive steps executed with anticipated timing. You’re getting by. Maybe you’re hurting people along the way, maybe you’ve found fellow broken souls, maybe you just stay away completely. This part of your life is just not alive.
Romantic apathy is not like saying you aren’t ready. Some aren’t ready for that connection- some genuinely believe that they must be settled into their life first before going about anything involving love, and that’s okay and that’s their way. Romantic apathy is saying that you just don’t care.
The freedom of not caring, the liberty of no attachment, is a clever thief. It seems like you can do anything, experience whatever you want, go whenever and wherever without anything weighing you down. This privilege of detachment is only truly fulfilling those who are engaged and involved. Only those with an open and vulnerable heart ready to connect and share can fully enjoy the freedom, for it is a journey of exploration for them. For the apathetic, the world of possibilities is just an errands list of interactions.
Romantic apathy hurts. Sometimes, the severity of the numbness will creep up on you and remind you of its vice like grip. It will introduce a fracture that grows in your happiness, and you will find a way to overcompensate to feel like you’ve escaped it. Maybe you’ll be too focused on everything else in your life- a perfectionist and workaholic. Maybe you’ll chase the joys of the world- a dysfunctional hedonist hiding in the pleasures that keep you from feeling that empty quiet. There are so many ways to try to reconcile it. True happiness and romantic apathy can not be sustainably reconciled.
Like guiding a broken bone back into its correct place, healing from this apathy requires a little direction. Maybe you know what you want, maybe you feel like you have no clue. I have a feeling that after some pondering, the answer will involve connection and trust. The entire point of romantic relationships is to feel a level of intimacy, connection, and trust that platonic friendships can not achieve.
Getting out of this rut requires you to believe that genuine intimacy, connection, and trust are a possibility for you. Don’t make excuses. You have time. You have the energy. You will meet someone, and along the way, you will find people who show you little acts of confirmation. Maybe that one showed you a peek, the other gave you a taste. Notice these moments and appreciate them. They will grow and they will lead you to someone who you can share a world of it with.
Don’t go about romance in compulsivity. Take inspired action. Delay instant gratification and wait for something with more meaning. Don’t ruin opportunities for meaning by dismissing them as another way to get a quick fix. Don’t dismiss opportunities by deciding their failure before their actualization. Be open to what really can fulfill you.
Let go of your past wounds. It happened, it is over. If you’re reading this, you’re ready to move on. There is no closure outside of you. People are irrational beings most of the time, and yet we still gain so much from trying to empathize and understand. Their actions were driven by their own ideas of how to deal with their issues and desires. Try to see, from a balanced perspective, your influential role in those decisions of theirs. Maybe you had a lot of influence, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you made a million mistakes you were blind to before. Maybe you were a helpless child watching painful events unfold. Let yourself recall these details and let yourself be angry. Let yourself cry. Let yourself sob and loudly blame whatever powers you may believe in. Experience it- this is how you let it go. Let it burn up. Don’t try to drown it or bury it or throw it to the wind. You need to burn through it or it will come back. Closure is a job fit only for a fire and a fire will burn you clean.
Notice what you like about people. The way they walk with a spring in their step, the way they speed up or slow down before a door to be the one who holds it open for the rest of the crowd, the way their eye crinkles crookedly when they laugh at something no one else would. The more you let yourself love these little details, the more they will grow. Stay open.
The love you seek will not break you out of your apathy, unless you are very lucky enough to cross paths with someone who shakes you so completely out of it that it makes you believe and feel again. Still, romantic apathy is not the best energy with which to receive such a person into your life. Breaking your own romantic apathy is much more pro-active.
Expect it to come. Go about your days open. Appreciate it all, follow those details. Don’t be obsessive, and don’t be compulsive. Be alive again. Care again, and life will bring you someone to really, truly care about.