Humor, Love & Romance, Millennials

THE ONE WHERE I GO ON HINGE AND TRY TO FIND LOVE

“Do you want to date?” my psychiatrist asks.
“Ugh, no,” I scoff.
Ten minutes later. “I just really want to date!” I whine.
“You said you didn’t want to,” she points out, rightfully.
“I know I said that, but I lied,” I answer. I’m petulant, and she’s beginning to learn that.
“It’s kind of hard for you to be open to dating when you say, explicitly, that you don’t want to date.”

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She also points out that dating is work, and requires effort. These are two things that I am unaccustomed to, but I begrudgingly admit that she’s right. Almost to spite her (healthy?), and prove to her that I can date if I want to, I download Hinge, a dating app that purports to set you up with people within your Facebook friends-of-friends network.

Of course, I do this the week that Facebook is in the news for allowing Cambridge Analytica to siphon off private user information. With my luck, Facebook will shut down and I’ll die alone.

I picked Hinge for a few reasons – Tinder is essentially the new Grindr and Bumble won’t let me use a photo of me giving the camera the middle finger. If I can’t show my personality, then I won’t find love.

I also picked Hinge because that’s how Phillip Picardi, the digital editorial director of Teen Vogue and Allure, met his totally-crazy-hot boyfriend. And if there’s one thing you can say about me, it’s that I can operate with a near-lethal amount of optimism.

So I made my profile. I put in a few funny quips, but I tried not to overwhelm it with humor. Surprise, I use humor as a defense mechanism. I tried to be honest (and cute) and earnest (and cute) and actually give myself a fighting chance.

Yes, the photos I chose showcase me doing essentially the same pose over and over (I know my angles) and I will almost never do a smile that shows my teeth (I have good teeth, I just don’t feel like showing them off) but the photos are all recent, and g-damn I look good in all of them! I’m in a very – well, not right now because I made the decision early on today to wear a hat and, honey, it’s one I’m regretting – good place about my body and my face.

So I made the profile, and I’ve been trying to – without sounding like American Pyscho – lower my standards. Okay, yeah that sounds awful.

But here’s what I mean. I love quitting while I’m behind. Frankly, I love quitting. I love a good self-sabotage. I set impossible standards for the men I look to date – they must be funny, but not funnier than me; they must be tall; they must be mean, but not nasty; cute, but not hot; smart, but not intimidating; not annoying, not rude; not clingy, not antisocial – usually this pares the group of eligible men available to a party of one, and I can’t date myself. Not again.

I also fall into the dangerous pattern of finding men whose flaws I forgive, because they’re so unattainable – straight, or in a relationship, or dead – that I’ll never have to worry about coming into contact with those flaws. I can safely yearn from 500 yards away (not a restraining order thing, I just wear glasses now and I don’t need to be that close) and never get hurt.

I’m trying to quell the inner saboteur, that messy, clumsy-fingered little goblin, and try to find one thing to “like” about each profile I see. Surprisingly, it’s easy. The questions are designed to yield answers, and damn some of y’all are cute! I’ve been liking more than I’ve been disliking, and it’s led to some interesting conversations. Not amazing conversations, and certainly not any love connections yet, but still: progress.

However, since I’m admitting to be a greedy little goblin, let’s be hateful for one paragraph. Loving brunch is not original. Loving SoulCycle is not original. Be the hottest one in a group photo, or just do a solo. Stop posting photos from vineyards; frankly, stop going to vineyards. Stop talking about Antoni from Queer Eye (I am a “he cannot cook” truther to the grave).

There are certain things I am willing to forgive, but hawking avocado/being 20/loving Antoni are things that I simply, for my own health, cannot abide.

Okay, done being hateful.

My most recent foray into “getting out there” is coming to the realization that I’d like to date somebody. I denied this for a long time because I hate being vulnerable, and damn that’s lame to say that you wanna date. But I do, and so I’m gonna say so. I dated a decent bit in college, but that was easier because I was surrounded by people constantly. This is harder, and we all know I love things that require little-to-no effort.

Snow White found love, and all she had to do was sleep. Lucky.

While I am pale (and tall enough that I’m constantly surrounded by aggro little short men), I’m no Snow White. Me sleeping just leads to morning breath and unfortunate hair situations.

So I, awake, am going to put myself out there. If you know someone in his twenties, with a job, who is good-looking enough that people wouldn’t describe him as “having a great personality” but does have a great personality, send him my way. He can have a weird face; that’s fine by me, but then he has to have good hair. I will not bend on this.

I’m sure my 900-word diatribe about Hinge will not frighten him off in the least.

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Love & Romance

THE ART OF DATING: PAINT-BY-NUMBERS OR SMOKE-AND-MIRRORS

Has the art of dating been lost? Have we evolved past dating with the inundation of social media hookup apps? First, second and third base have WiFi signals. Everything is digital and nothing hurts.

I was talking to my coworker Amanda and we were dishing about bad dates. Awkward encounters, awkward kisses, awkward last moments. For both of us, we have experiences with going on dates with people who we had texted previously. Hers was Tinder; mine was Grindr.

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For me, he was goofily cute over text. Shy, clever, flirtatious. In person, he was a fumbling robot. He made bad jokes and couldn’t meet my eye. Not in an endearing, “He finds me too beautiful to look at” way. It was more like a “I’d rather be anywhere but here” way. All of the quirks I had enjoyed over text I realized were carefully edited versions of a truly awkward person.

For her—from what I remember. Frankly I’m not the best at listening—it was flint and steel and no spark. He fell flat.

We’ve grown accustomed to dating online. We’ve become used to existing online, and the days of “Hey darling, wanna go steady?” have morphed into Netflix and Chill and no strings attached and casual hangouts that have as much romantic confusion as Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Too far? That’s how serious I am.

I’m bad at romance. I’m uncomfortably aware of how I’m trying to be suave and sexy and effortless. I make a much better friend than date, and I’m kind of a shitty friend sometimes. I’m unable to see real romance staring me in the face, and the romance that I do attempt is fodder for blogs where I do that thing where I laugh so that I don’t cry.

Me @ myself

Me @ myself

But I like the idea of old-fashioned, gin & tonic romance. Straight-up. Simple. A little brisk and a little jolting but undeniable. I asked someone out on a date once. I mean, I’ve done it multiple times. But I actually said the word “date.”

“Would you want to go to dinner sometime?” I asked.

“Yeah!” He said, and I knew that this could be a casual friend dinner. I could escape with my dignity and my class.

“As—as a date,” I added, and I saw his eyes shift kaleidoscopically as the dinner took on a different color and texture. And instantly it had lines and numbers and a set of crayons to choose from to shade in the suddenly defined shape.

And I liked it. I liked the un-ambiguity. The Date. Not a hangout. Not a casual friend thing. A date. Four letters. Solid. Romantic. Unmoving.

We ended up at an upscale casual restaurant and wore variations on the same outfit and we argued about Miley Cyrus and he never returned my text for another date. But even though that didn’t end up—well, let’s get real, it was a flop—it was a date. A finite one, but a date nonetheless.

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“Would you like to go out?” I asked another boy. He looked at me with a measured gaze. We had been around this carousel before.

“In what way?”

“In a romantic context,” I answered. He said no, it wasn’t me it was him. But I knew that he wanted me to finally say it. To define it in a way that I hadn’t had the courage to before. To name it.

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I think we’re all scared shitless of rejection so we don’t define it. Plausible deniability. If it’s not a date, then it can’t end badly. Hangouts don’t end badly. They just end. But dates—there’s a definite ending. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book where if you skip to page 110, you get a second date, and if you skip to page 135, you get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and spend two hours overanalyzing that joke you accidentally made about the Hindenburg.

So we hide behind vagueness and romantic smoke-and-mirrors. Dodge. Deflect. Retreat. Live to fight another battle. Ask out another person to an ambiguous, amorphous “thing” that they’ll wonder what it is and you’ll wonder what it is.

But the problem with vagueness is that it leads to vagaries—sudden, unexpected changes (look it up). You didn’t set parameters, so you don’t have expectations. You don’t know how you want this to end. So you don’t invest. You retreat. You live to text another day.

But in the end, you’ve actually lost. You’ve lost the tingling electricity that goes with making a complete ass out of yourself by walking up to that cutie. You’ve lost the impetus. You’ve lost that chance at human connections and fallibilities. You’ve given all that up for safety and security and Facebook-stalking.

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And I’m saying “you” but we all know I mean “we.” I mean “I.” They said setting boundaries is good for raising children, and for raising dogs. And hell, kids and puppies seem happy enough. Who are we to judge? Set some boundaries. Define. Flip to the page in the dictionary and point to it and say, “Yes, that’s what I want us to be. Friday night. Dinner.”

I’m bad at coloring. But I think I’d like to have those lines to know when I’m shading outside of them.

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