The other night, I was scrolling through my text messages, trying to find my group chat with my friends, when I came across a message from a guy I’d met on Bumble that I’d read and never answered. He’d texted me on Thursday, asking what I was up to this weekend. It was now Monday.
In my defense, I was on a date with another guy when the message came in. And while that guy was collecting our drinks from the bar, I peeked at my phone, read the message, and made a mental note to respond to it later in the night. But after a few glasses of rosé, I forgot about it. And as my inbox filled with more text messages from friends, family, and other Bumble suitors, the poor guy and his note got pushed further and further out of my mind.
So here I was, four days after the message had come in, texting him an apology for not responding sooner. “I’m so sorry — I read your message and totally forgot to respond,” I wrote. Lucky for me, the dude was very gracious. But I realized as soon as I sent the message that if I were on the receiving end of that well-intentioned text, I’d be thinking one thing: Who does this fuckboy think he is?
I’ve always held dudes I’ve met to a high standard when it comes to “dating etiquette.” They have to text in a certain amount of time. They can’t ghost. If I suggest a date on Friday, they have to say yes or no — they can’t hit me with a “maybe” or “we’ll see.” I don’t stand for fuckboys at all. At 27 years old, with nearly five years of online dating under my belt, I can safely say that I don’t have time for that.
And my friends agree. I’ve been out to drinks with numerous friends — men and women, queer and straight — who are very much over the fuckboy. We’ll bitch and moan every time something goes south in our relationships. I recently had drinks with my friend Trish* who told me about a woman she was dating. “She’s so hot and cold,” she said. Trish then went on to recount a night when the woman in question invited her over, and then rescinded the invite for a bullshit reason, but then reinvited her.
At the time, I rolled my eyes and jokingly asked what the female version of fuckboy was, because that was what Trish had on her hands. And in that moment, I realized that being a fuckboy had nothing to do with gender — because, like Trish's date, I was kind of one, too.
If you act like a fuckboy and text like a fuckboy, you’re probably a fuckboy, y’all.
Just last week, I was meant to have a date with a guy I’ve been seeing for a bit who I know there isn’t a future with. (He doesn’t want anything serious right now.) The day of our dinner, I get a text from another guy I’d had a great first date with the weekend before, asking if I was free after work for our second date. So I ask dude one to move our date to next week, blaming a work commitment, and told dude two that I was free. Dude two then tells me he’s only free for drinks — he has a work dinner. So I tell him cool, no problem, and that I’m stoked to see him anyway. Then, I go back to dude one, and tell him that my work commitment is ending early, so I’d still be free for dinner.
Basically, I did the exact same thing as Trish’s girl. And those friends of mine who bitch and moan over their eggs Benedict about the men and women in their lives who ghost? They themselves have straight up admitted to ghosting. If you act like a fuckboy and text like a fuckboy, you’re probably a fuckboy, y'all.
The realization was both hilarious and startling to me. Hilarious because I am admittedly the most epic hypocrite on the planet sometimes. (My mother likes to remind me of this with relish whenever I back myself into a corner.) But it was also startling because it got me thinking: When the hell did we start treating each other so badly? Maybe the dudes who have been placed in my path have been karmic retribution for how I’ve treated other men in my past. Or maybe I picked up on these bad behaviors after nearly a decade of dating in New York City. But it doesn’t really matter which came first. What matters to me is how I’m going to move forward from all of this.
I’ve heard that you should always try to be the type of person you’d want to date. And if my behavior is any indication, I’ve been wanting to date fuckboys. So starting now, I’m attempting to change my karma and deprogram the crap out of my dating habits. I know that there’s a good chance that I’ll still get ghosted on, or run into commitment-phobes, or date guys who say one thing and then act a different way. But, as I’ve stated many times before, changing my dating behavior isn’t about “landing a man.” It’s about becoming the type of person I’m happy with. And that person isn’t someone I’d want people bitching about over eggs Benedict.
*Name has been changed.
After being raised on a steady diet of Disney movies, I expected to meet someone and fall passionately in love — but wound up collapsing under the pressures of modern dating. Luckily, I eventually realized that there's no "right" way to date, and that I need to find happiness within myself, no partner needed. It’s Not You is where I write to calm the voices in my head — and hear from all of you. Follow me on Twitter, on Instagram, or email me at maria.delrusso@refinery29.