Dang. I have hit a wall.
Just a week or so ago, I was patting myself on the back. I met not one, but three people who I wanted to see again. After so many terrible first dates, choosing folks who merited a second date felt like it meant I was getting better somehow. Choosing more decisively, training my dating app extra-sensory perception. It’s weird that I fell into that trap, because I’ve always believed that a huge component of meeting someone you click with is simply luck. You can come up with all sorts of tips and tricks for it without any guarantees. Somehow, I briefly though I’d gamed the system.
Then I plateaued. I may be strong enough to face first date after first date without flinching, but trying to meet the same person over and over feels hard as hell, even when I like them.
I had rescheduled this second date three times, citing cramps, the heat, a job application. All real excuses, but an excuse is an excuse. We prioritize the things that matter, and meeting people more than once hasn’t been mattering enough. To try and make it up to her, I offered to go wherever she wanted, and she ended up choosing a bar directly across from her apartment.
Of course, I got there early and she was late. This is how I move through time, speeding to the start of things, rushing off before they’re finished. While I still tend to plan dates at my convenience on some level, venturing to meet people somewhere new can be nice. The bar had big open windows and good music and I was literally the only person there at 8pm on a Friday. Here are some observations I made while waiting for my date to show up, swiping away on Bumble:
1. Find the least flattering photo on someone’s profile and divide the level of attractiveness there by half, and you will have some idea of what they look like.
2. So many people show their anger in their bios, their frustration with dating. They list the things they hate, the things they don’t want, the clichés that frustrate them. Too much time on dating apps puts a chip on your shoulder, but cover that shit with a cape.
3. One day, people will feel deeply ashamed of all photos taken with captive dolphins and elephants, because they’ll be serving in Congress and doing a much better job than humans ever did.
4. Telling somebody that you just started seeing someone is the new brush off.
My date showed up, and we had a nice time talking. She is very easy to be honest with, which is refreshing. She tells me she had described me to her roommates as a masochist, because I explained this project to her on our first date. This rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like to suffer or punish myself at all. In fact, I’m addicted to my own comfort!
“I think I try to take something from every experience,” I try to explain. “Even if it’s bad, I ask myself why, or why I engaged with it for so long. Aside from needing the blog.”
But I do need the blog. Why else would I push myself to figure out what’s next? Long term, what’s next after the blog. I’m halfway through and there’s no clear answer.
You can guess what’s next short term when you’re at a bar across the street from your date’s apartment. I noticed the next morning that I had a hickey, my first in six years. Not thrilled. When I was a teen and in my early twenties, a hickey was a badge of honor, an imprint you could show off that proved how carried away someone got just from the taste of you. Now it seems like bad make out etiquette.
That could be the difference between learning to like and learning to love—whether or not you want someone to leave a mark.