We’re All Bad at Dating
A common lead question in the world of online dating is: “What are you looking for?”
Aside from being a grammatical nightmare, this question poses its own set of anxiety-ridden answers. Because how hard in the paint do you really go in response to this question when you’re on the third line of a burgeoning digital transaction? The words that your thumbs manage to string together will inevitably become the foundation for any further communication (or lack thereof).
Sidebar. Dude, didn’t you read my bio? It clearly states, “Looking for a real life human with whom to do rad things. Sucker for good teeth, nice calves, and witty banter. Here for the shirtless gym selfies (you guys, it’s a joke).” Seems pretty self-explanatory to me.
My typical response to the aforementioned question goes something like this: “Surely not looking to get laid off an app. And absolutely not interested in receiving dick pics. Would be great to find a real-life male with whom to do cool shit who also believes in hand-holding, ass-grabbing, Netflix binge-watching, and tag-team Whole Foods shopping.”
Once upon a time, I had a younger guy respond to this answer: “But does our age difference bother you?”
Cough. Cough. He clearly wasn’t aware of my subconscious bias towards younger men.
I replied, “Age is a number. Maturity is a barometer for compatibility. Why? Were you simply trying to send dick pics?”
I’m sorry, WUT?! Respectable people say goodbye, or they’re not interested, or that they don’t find my humor to be as amusing as I do; they do not just act like [insert desired superlative here] and vanish into thin air (as if I wrote the book on this stuff or something).
Here’s the point. By all means, unmatch me. I don’t give any number of fucks about our premature termination of conversation. The guy I choose is going to choose me in return. He’s going to laugh at the fact that I attempt to turn him on by mentioning that I always return my shopping carts. He’s going to send me memes and screenshots of tiny houses. He’s going to share my affinity towards Mexican food and ask me for my LinkedIn profile instead of my SnapChat handle, and he’ll really mean it when he says that he’s not in search of a booty call.
At the end of the day, I have zero interest in entertaining a guilt-free ghoster. The issue here is the action. Because dammit, it’s hard enough out there. Can’t we all just play by some unstated rules that, at the very least, are governed by the premise of honesty?
I know. It’s asking a lot.
But that brings me to my next point. About dating. We all suck at it. Yes, all of us. I’m actually quite amazed by how many of us seek to individually claim this title from every rooftop, blog post, and digital message warehouse. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I just don’t think there’s anything unique about it.
We. All. Suck.
A small bit of evidence exists in our mutual affection towards Netflix and chill. I’ve seen enough dating profiles in these last few years to make one overarching and absolutely assertive statement: when given the choice, we’ll all opt for a night spent on the couch in sweatpants eating ice cream with our dog over any nightclub and party scenario. Seriously, I have yet to encounter any male in the digital stratosphere who prefers the latter.
Because, in my humble opinion, no one wants to find his or her significant other in a bar. Absolutely not. For some, sure, the bar provides a perfect backdrop for the infamous one-night stand; I’m quasi-drunk and you’re quasi-cute (could be up for debate in the morning), so in the words of Marvin Gaye, “Let’s get it on.”
But a match–someone who challenges us and makes our lives a whole hell of a lot better (even on the worst days)–yeah, we’re not walking into any bars with the expectation of finding a soulmate.
And, despite our current aversion to commitment that is fueled by our unrelenting fear of missing out alongside our limitless access to infinite information and individuals, we do want a soulmate. Not because we believe in this antiquated ideology that only one person was made for us. No, millennials don’t walk into this world with the Shakespearian belief that compatibility is reserved for a single Romeo and his Juliet.
We more appropriately approach the definition of “soulmates” as two people who show up to participate in a revolutionized companionship. We are a generation that fully understands the power of choice, and we want to exercise this right romantically as much as we want to frequent farmer’s markets in lieu of spending our dollars at chain grocery stores. We believe in making ourselves whole, as individuals, in order to more powerfully stand beside someone who is doing the same. So, we choose ourselves as the catalyst to choose our other.
And yet, even inside of this space of a beautiful and raw and authentic desire to find a forever partner-in-crime, we’re still ghosting and we’re still sending dick pics. I’m sorry, rescind. We’re still sending dick videos. Yes, apparently, I graduated into some upper echelon of male debauchery.
Let me expand. A guy who I sparingly chatted with months ago decided to Snap me one lonely night in February (if you don’t know what “Snapping” is, keep it that way). I opened the video (which is the extent of my SnapChat proficiencies), and bam, hello, hi. My brain immediately hit overdrive as I considered throwing my phone 23 feet across the entirety of my Airstream.
I’m sorry, I haven’t spoken to you since November – neither did any previous conversation incite such ridiculous swapping of privates – and I’m now supposed to be the proud recipient of your amateur x-rated video?! Please, no. PLEASE NO.
Of course, I fired back something saucy (as if I’m going to save the world one indecent digital exposure at a time). And in the spirit of true chivalry (insert massive eyeroll here), he said that it was a mistake: “Wrong Stephanie.”
I actually can’t even (read: bull-fucking-shit).
But my potential diatribe inside an app that was literally designed to delete user history wouldn’t be saving anyone. My only hope at such a stage is the block feature because, at the end of the day, I simply don’t have time for this nonsense. Much like I don’t have time for the old flame (think college) who thought it was cute to slide into my DMs with questions about the kind of underwear I happened to be wearing. Or, the fact that exhibit B continues to patronize me with pet names (even after we established, months ago, that a romantic relationship between us would simply be settling).
Newsflash: y’all aren’t cute. YOU ALL ARE NOT CUTE.
And around we go, hiding behind our phone screens because we want the one (or at least one of the viable ones) to drop into our lives with the same level of excitement experienced by teenagers across America when Usher finally released his third studio album, 8701.
If you ask me, the going around is getting quite old. In fact, my motion sickness is at an all-time high. In the metaphor, I’m projectile vomiting out the back passenger-side window. Don’t ask me who’s driving. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m not puking alone.
Fact one. We’re drowning in our individual and collective nausea without any idea of how to stop the damn car. Or, at very least, slow it down. And we sure as hell don’t know where it’s going.
Fact two. Together, we are more powerful than the driver. But I’m not sure if we believe that (yet), and if we do believe it, I’m not sure that we know how to take control of the wheel (yet).
Because I would hate for us to resign ourselves to the fact that this whole dating thing is out of our control. I would hate for our desire of depth to become clouded by our habitual superficiality. I would hate for us to throw away our integrity in the name of conformity.
And I write this to us because I write this to myself. Plot twist, people. I, too, suck at dating. My judgment of those without an inkling of digital wit is embarrassingly high. It is standard issue for me to ghost anyone who resorts to asking me about my day within the first 24 hours of communication.
We just met. It’s fine. My day was fine. Am I supposed to tell you what I ate for lunch? Or about the conversation that I had with my mom? Or the hours I spent browsing Amazon for a new duvet cover?
Seriously, ask me anything else. And, please, I beg you, be funny. And charming (but not too charming). Our future depends on it.
Case in point. In a land far, far away, some guy asked me if I’d ever seen a movie titled La Strada. Clearly, not English. My answer was (and still is) no.
He wrote, “It’s foreign, so you have to be okay with subtitles.”
Well, no shit.
Me: “Great, I learned to read at a young age and quickly surpassed all of my peers, so this is promising.”
*crosses fingers and begs for a witty response*
His reply: “I like that answer. I need someone confident in what sets them apart.”
*waves white flag*
I surrender. I absolutely surrender.
And by “surrender,” I mean that I simply fell off the face of the planet, never to associate with this poor guy (who probably had zero interest in sending a dick pic, let alone a dick video) ever again.
I just didn’t have it in me to push through in hopes of unearthing my very own Steve Carrell.
I’ll give you ten minutes. Make ‘em count. Effortlessly get me to laugh out loud, and I’ll strongly consider fraternizing as real-life people.
Hold up. Real. Life. People.
Yes, let’s be very clear, any digital union that transpires in human-to-human interaction is call for a good old-fashioned golf clap. Because it’s an anomaly by anyone’s standards.
So here we are. Together. Meandering through the airwaves and the land mines. Motion sick beyond measure. And I’d like to believe that we’re not helpless here, so my challenge is that we take control of the car. My challenge is that we align our actions and our words. Because there is nothing sexier than honesty. And honesty–honesty will save us. Also, humor. But mostly honesty.
We must be able to articulate for who or what we are looking. It is a common lead question because it is the question. It provides the foundation for action and expectation so, to revisit my initial commentary, we should go as hard in the paint as humanly possible (think Zion Williamson type shenanigans) in our responses. Because this answer allows us to proceed in a space where vulnerability is safe–whether we both swiped right in a sea of digital profiles or, quite literally, ran into each other in the singles line of our favorite chairlift.
You do not have to be in the search for serious. But you do owe the community your truth. The power is in your voice. And please, for the love of all things beautiful, let’s commit to considerate farewells that make “ghosting” so 2018 (as in, bye).
Speaking of bye and the singles line and chairlifts, I had to text my ex-boyfriend the other day to get back my second key fob for the entrance to my RV park
I refuse to pay the $20 for a replacement, okay. Judge me.
It had been nearly a month of not communicating, so you can surmise that it was a conversation that I’d been consciously avoiding. To be honest, I had stubbornly supported the idea that he should contact me first.
So I spent hours typing and re-typing and then re-re-typing some ridiculous message that started with a Nugget update and ended with, “Oh yea, I need that key fob back.” I then spent hours deciphering and re-deciphering and then re-re-deciphering his response: “No problem. I’ll bring it to work and you can swing by one day and grab it when you’re done riding.” Please note, there is nothing cryptic here.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous to, once again, look our honesty in the eye. Our ease had existed in our shared interest of doing the work. We had used our voices. And we both believed in the power of a considerate farewell. Also, laughing, there was lots of laughing.
For all intents and purposes, we were great. Apparently, our timing was not.
I’m reminding myself that, at the very least, this relationship taught me that there is hope for our collective whole to be better. It was the catalyst for me to shed an intense layer of distasteful cynicism. And for that, I can willingly embrace the uncomfortable.
It’s just two minutes. It’s just a key fob.
Dating. It’s still a game of numbers. And we simply need to, in all of our honesty, keep showing up.
Together, we can stop the suck.