The Unsent Letter to the Modern Love Column of The New York Times

Each month, I save up my free NYT articles to be utilized solely within the modern love column. When the freebies fail to satiate me, as is often the case, I move on to their podcast which I religiously listen to on my way to school every Thursday morning. Recently, they had a college contest in which college students were asked to submit an essay on what modern love looks like for them. To no one’s surprise, I did not participate. Be that as it may, I did think about the prompt and in my own way, attempted to provide a small answer to their very big question.

****

It’s everything but L-O-V-E

The dreaded four letter word

It’s when the sweetest thing a guy says to you on your first date is

“Can I kiss you?”

Simple

Somewhat obvious

And yet the question you’ve never been asked before

 

It’s tinder matches

Bumble advances

Grinder hook ups

Coffee meets bagel

Closeted igirl meeting iboy in an i-kind-of-world

 

It’s splitting bills

Making moves on the first date

Names such as life partner

Or significant other

Because the ‘boyfriend’ title is so 2000 and late

Plus gender roles for who?

 

It’s learning the hook up (love?) short text language

DTF?

The difference between ‘Hey’ and ‘Heyy’

Netflix and chill?

Aubergines and peaches (sometimes even flashlights!)

Everything but the actual thing

To say what you want to say

 

It’s the labels we claim and assign

Softboi

Fuckboi

Toxic

She’s cancelled

A community always pointing outwards but rarely looking inwards

 

It’s anxiety on overdrive

Anxious attachments and avoidant attachments

Love terms learnt from YouTube gurus and podcasts

It’s online tests on love languages

Self help books to break ancestral cycles of trauma

After all, with this thing called love

Our generation has learned that no faith and intuition

Can give you enough insurance to be vulnerable

 

It’s only dating woke people

It’s only dating queer people

It’s only dating black people

It’s only dating low income people

It’s only dating feminists

Love these days is drawing a line

Dreading the day that the line might be crossed

 

It’s the warning when joking about having daddy issues

It’s the vulnerability in sharing about being raised by single mothers

It’s the trust in admitting one’s need for therapy

When space, time and a bit of change allow for it

It’s the “I have issues”

As an act of self preservation

Shared trauma being convoluted for shared love

It’s being safe in being weak

 

It’s considering “Wife material” as an insult

“Can you cook?” as misogynist

It’s the single friends who preach self love

It’s the girl who is always in a thing

Let’s call it a situationship

It’s hating being in need of someone’s love

And yet dropping one’s cynicism

For a chance at the most irrational desire ever known to humanity

 

It’s knowing Valentines to be a corporate holiday

But still wanting to celebrate it anyway

Because #wearelivingourbestlives

It sometimes lasts a lifetime

It most times lasts a couple of months

It’s knowing it doesn’t have to be forever

To be something that’s real

 

This kind of love my friend

Is what the great authors and playwrights

Of the often-talked-about-millennials

Will be forced to write about

One heck of a love story, don’t you reckon?

LOL

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Published by

Atieno Otieno

An intersectional learner, unapologetic feminist, radical afro-centrist and holistic wellness enthusiast passionate about decentralizing knowledge and leaving an impactful footprint in this digital world.

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