Let me preface this by saying I don't understand the music festival Burning Man. And when I'm dating someone who loves Burning Man, it's a bit like dating someone from another planet. Who won't stop talking about that planet. Whether or not I even want to hear about it. This has led to some serious reservations.
And I know, I know: It's OK if you and your partner are into different things. But Burning Man is different. If you're dating a Burner, you almost have to be in it. It's not acceptable to be scared of the desert (me) or of being thirsty, hot, and dry (also me). It's not cool to scoff when he lists all of the drugs he consumed in less than a week, as well as all the things that were set on fire.
Maybe Burning Man is the kind of thing you have to see to understand. The thing is, I don't want to see it. Being thirsty and on drugs holds no appeal to me. But if you've ever dated a Burner, you know that Burning Man is never going to go away. The subject just keeps coming back, like an ex they have never gotten over, until every date seems to go something like this:
1. Second date. I think it's going well. Or is it?
2. Yes, definitely going well. We've been on this walk for 20 minutes, and he hasn't brought up Burning Man yet.
3. Oh, wait. Hold that thought. He's looking at the horizon with a far-off look in his eye. Here it comes...
4. "Dude, it's Burning Man season. If I were going this year, I'd be getting ready to pack..."
5. Sigh. Here we go. Another 10-minute, itemized list of all the different costumes, condoms, and whip-its he would pack if he were heading out to the festival this year.
6. Last week, he told me he had been nine times. Nine. Times.
7. Let's see, if he is 29 now, that means he started going when he was 20 years old. 20!
8. Do you know your brain isn't even fully formed until you reach age 25? And all the drugs you do before then permanently alter it?
9. Oh God, I sound like my mother.
10. ...but she was right.
11. OK, so he's telling me about a girl he met at the festival and immediately fell in love with.
12. Now, there's a star-crossed affair.
13. Yup, LOL, sure enough, she dumped him as soon as he got back to New York.
14. I wonder if he'll notice if I say something sarcastic right now.
15. "So you fell in love with the girl you met while doing whip-its and then you broke up? Wow, please tell me more."
16. Oh my gosh, he actually is telling me more.
17. I mean, this guy was nice, but I don't know if I can actually be with someone who doesn't share a deep sense of irony and an ability to distinguish sarcasm from a genuine statement.
18. ...or maybe he's just nicer than I am?
19. If I went to Burning Man, would I become nicer?
20. Nah, I feel like I would be trying so hard to have a spiritual experience that I'd end up having a nervous breakdown in some stranger's tent.
21. Probably while people were having an orgy all around me.
22. Or is that what I am supposed to be doing with my 20s? Am I actually 1,000 years old?
23. Should I ask whether he wants to take me to Burning Man next year?
24. LOL. Just kidding. I don't think I want to be in a tent with this person.
25. Should that be a make-or-break by your second date? "If you are not OK being in a tent in a desert with this person, it's not going to work out."
26. I mean, there are very few people on this planet with whom I would want to be in a tent in the desert.
27. And I definitely don't want to be around 68,000 other people.
28. Just because I don't want to do whip-its in a tent with this person, doesn't mean things aren't going to work out, right?
30. Oh, sh*t. He asked me a question. "Er... sorry, what?"
31. Jesus, he wants to know whether I have ever attended a group circle jerk.
32. I mean.
33. Would I even be invited?
34. Gosh, I wonder how many BJs this guy received at Burning Man.
35. I mean, I guess it's OK. Sex positivity and all, right?
36. But still. How often do people at Burning Man wash their hands?
37. Like, I know that no matter how many times it was for me, it wouldn't be enough.
38. Does that make me a prude? Am I boring?
39. Wow, I can't believe that Burning Man is making me feel so insecure right now.
40. Now, he's literally asking me if I would ever consider attending.
41. This is it. Moment of truth. Are you going to tell someone what they want to hear or are you actually going to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
42. *Clears throat.*
43. "I mean... I get sunburned really easily and crowds make me uncomfortable. And so do parties. And so do cops. And like, I'm definitely into wearing costumes and everything, but money is also a thing. Doesn't a trip to Burning Man run a couple thousand dollars? Like, dude, I have groceries to buy. Also, I like drugs, but after college, I really started trying to focus on my work, and frankly, it's been easier with out them. Plus, we don't need them to have fun, right!"
44. See, that wasn't so hard. Congratulations on being honest, self. I feel way better now.
45. My date doesn't look too happy, though.
46. I guess I know what's coming.
47. "Yeah, I don't think it's working out either."
48. Huh. I don't even know if I'm disappointed or not. Mostly I feel relief.
49. So now, I update my dating profile to specify "no Burners," right?
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