“In this life, there are nothing but possibilities.” - Lucas, Empire Records, 1995
I truly don’t know how to date anymore. There are two dimensions to this. The first: I don’t know how to physically continue. At this stage in my single life, I recoil at the idea of showering, putting on makeup, picking out an outfit, and blow drying my hair even one more time in order to meet up with a name in my phone. Like you could ask me to do it right now and I would literally charge a fee.
I’ve probably gone on a first date over a hundred times, and I don’t think I have anything left to give to that effort. I have earned my bitterness merit badge and no one will take it from me. The money I’ve spent on wines by the glass over 11 years is a down payment by now, so don’t talk to me about staying motivated to conduct two hours worth of small talk over stale Sancerre with a guy I’ll never see again. Wait, that’s not right — I’m definitely going to see him walking down Park Avenue in seven months and avoid his gaze at all costs.
It’s the fact that he’s a stranger. I don’t know this person, we haven’t sparked yet, not in real life, anyway. There’s nothing really there to dive me toward excitement, and it’s that palpable lack compounded over 11 years of dating that leaves me feeling so empty. It’s not that I’ve been meeting terrible men (though...girl), it’s really more about the fact that dating for me has held such an absence of excitement, fun, and actual desire that I truly no longer see it as a valid use of my time.
And spare me about sparking online. I’ve done this dance too many times to fall for a witty text or two, I can promise you that. The girl he sits next to in his open office floor plan thinks he’s suuuuch a great guy even though she herself isn’t attracted to him and she wrote that adorable message to help him out because he has the wit of a dusty box fan. Honestly, don’t fuck with me.
Meeting people I’ve found through dating apps is (first of all, everyone’s primary means of dating now, let’s be real) for me, such a sterile form of connection. If I already knew him, if we met out in the wild, like in the ‘90s, I might approach my dates with more vigour. I’d have clues and indications that could suggest to me that I’d enjoy being around this person — some groundwork would have been laid. But now, all I know is that he went skiing last winter and has two sisters with whom his mom still makes him take photos with in matching Christmas pajamas. If there was any actual human connection attracting me to my dates, I might look forward to them, instead of approaching them like they’re a scary jar from the back of the fridge that’s probably gone bad.
I’m saving my blowouts and cute new spring dresses for dinner group and book club where I know they’ll be put to good use.
But since all I’ve got are a few text back-and-forths and the knowledge that the only reason this date is happening at all is because following two concurring right thumb swipes, I: a) suggested we meet, b) picked the day, c) picked the time, and d) picked the place, I can’t say I’m exactly overflowing with anticipation. I’m saving my blowouts and cute new spring dresses for dinner group and book club where I know they’ll be put to good use.
The second way I no longer know how to date is: honestly, what even are dates now? What do they look like? Where do they happen? How do you plan them? Do you catch them like Pokemon? Dating is not what it once was, I have been slapped with a wet mackerel across the face containing that knowledge, I can assure you. Every time a man suggests a sexual encounter with with me via an app and I fire back that he has the manners of the fruit flies in my kitchen I’m always reassured of my own ignorance with one sentence: “You know what Tinder is, right?” Pardon me, Sir, how silly of me. Shall I send nudes for prior approval? Should we have sex and then go for two drinks? Or is actual spoken communication saved for date two? Help me out here.
I’m apparently very old fashioned for wanting dates to look the way they did in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Now, dating is apparently a much more casual endeavour, so casual in fact I find it hard to find the line between dating and simply having a pulse. I shared a subway pole with a guy yesterday, was that a date? A woman gave me free Amaro when she brought me my check at a bar two nights ago, are we married now?
I shared a subway pole with a guy yesterday, was that a date? A woman gave me free Amaro when she brought me my check at a bar two nights ago, are we married now?
I’ve been a part of the dating scene for the last 11 years, I’ve seen it develop its personality. I’ve also seen it lose its groove. At some point, dating turned from fun to functional, kicking me down the road like a La Croix can along the way. It’s changed into something I no longer recognize or know how to do, and furthermore, it’s no longer something I want to do.
The end result is I really don’t date much anymore. That’s supposed to be scary, right? If I don’t participate in dating, how am I ever going to meet someone? I have to be honest and say it isn’t scary, it’s a relief. The absence of the inherent negativity involved in modern dating has left me feeling fucking fantastic.
I’ve been told the way I speak and write about dating comes across as if I think I’m going to be single forever, and my bad — that’s not the way I feel. I feel with 100% of myself that I will love and be loved by an actual human man one day. But I also feel that my path to meeting him has very little to do with an awkward hug hello, two glasses of wine in Williamsburg, and three repetitions of how to pronounce my name.
I don’t know how to date anymore, so I’ve stopped doing it. I don’t think that curses me, I think it frees me. I think I’ve cracked it. My very participation in my own singleness has morphed into something that contains much less pressure and senseless effort than it used to, and I’m into it. I don’t know how I’ll meet someone, but I know how I won’t meet someone, and opening up my view of possibility from only being able to meet via dating to meeting via literally any possibility imaginable puts the excitement of being single right back where I want it — within me.