At various points throughout my early twenties, I have been unwarrantedly appointed the label of ‘chill’.
I find this hilarious because I am deeply, fundamentally and inarguably unchill. Ask my mother.
From a young age, I’ve been obsessive about everything I’ve wanted. Single-minded to the point of destruction, you might say. If I want that job, I will be waiting in the office lobby every day until they give me an interview. If I want to finish that project, I won’t eat, sleep, socialize or leave my apartment until it’s completed in exactly the way I’d imagined it. And if I want that person, I will go after them mercilessly, using whichever social tactics are available to me to win them over. I have no chill about what I want. I only have chill about the things that I don’t want.
And I firmly believe that we are all this way, to varying degrees.
Some people are a little more Type A than others. Some are neurotic about most things, whereas others (like myself) are just neurotic about chosen things. But here is what I know for sure: Everyone’s unchill when they want something.
I’m chill about some things – where I live, what I wear, who I’m dating (if I’m only dating casually). But other things I’m very unchill about. I’m not chill about work. Or money. Or the future or the people who I love and am loved by. If real emotion is invested, I care deeply. Introduce me to someone who excites me and my chill goes out the window. It’s this way for all of us, whether we want to believe it or not.
At some point in my life I realized that every time I’ve been called ‘chill,’ it’s been by someone who was slightly less invested in a given relationship or situation than I was. ‘Chill’ was the label they put on me to explain away my indifference – the same way I’d been labelling others as ‘chill’ when they were less invested than me.
And perhaps that is the exact truth we all seem to be failing to acknowledge.
When someone you’re interested in is treating you in an entirely ‘chill’ fashion – texting back sporadically, giving off an air of indifference, wanting you one day and then ignoring you the next, this is probably not the product of a dating culture that forces us to act chill. This is also not a product of the person you’re pursuing being an entirely laid-back human being. More likely than not, it is the product of them just not being that into you. We are most chill about the things that we don’t care if we lose – it occasionally hurts to understand this, but it’s true.
When someone really likes somebody else, they have no chill. Our most basic evolutionary instincts ensure this. We are physiologically aroused by the people we’re attracted to and every part of our nature compels us to pursue them – regardless of our gender or sex. We don’t forget to answer their text messages. We don’t bail on our hangouts last-minute. We don’t fail to initiate times to see them because we’re just too chill to do so. We do all of those things when we don’t care. And if we did care, we’d do something different.
If someone really likes you – and I mean really, genuinely likes you – they won’t be chill. And they won’t want you to be chill either. They’ll want you to answer your messages. To say you’re free when you genuinely are. To show up when you say you’ll show up and to admit to how you’re actually feeling.
When someone actually thinks you’re the bee’s knees, they won’t want you to take two hours to answer your text messages. They won’t want you to leave right after sex. They won’t want you to pretend that you’re busier and more important and less invested in them than you actually are because they’ll want your reality, not your shiny, public persona. They’ll want the all of you – every last, unchill bit.
We are most chill about the things that we don’t care if we lose.
The truth about feigning ‘chill’ is that as soon as you feel like you have to do so, you’re already fighting a losing battle. Anyone who wants you to be a less invested, more laid-back version of yourself is someone who just doesn’t care that much about you. And is that really the kind of person you want to go after?
I’m guessing it’s not. I’m guessing you’ve been dealing with ‘chill’ people for so long that you’ve forgotten altogether what it is like to be with someone who gives a shit. So here’s your reminder:
When someone gives a shit, they will not want you to be chill. They’ll want your nerves. They’ll want your energy. They’ll want your text messages and your attention and your presence. They’ll want you right there next to them, with your senses all heightened and alert.
Because the truth is, the words ‘chill’ and ‘indifferent’ are entirely interchangeable in our current dating culture. And having to tone yourself down, scale yourself back and limit what you truly want in order to fit the mold of someone else’s indifference is never a burden that you should be placing on yourself.
When they like you, nobody is chill.
And if they are chill, it’s your cue to keep moving.
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