“I think that dating is awful. I just don’t understand people that can go out with someone and be so relaxed about it.” –Natalia, Girls
I’ve been dating for about a year and a half. This was after a substantial hiatus of over five years where I did a lot of work on myself. All the while I silently snickered at the articles I’d read about women in their 20s and 30s online dating and having a terrible go of it. Oh the horror stories! I’d sit there behind my computer screen stroking my cat on my lap and smirk away. I’d think to myself, “That won’t be me! I am a catch! I have my shit together! When I am ready to dabble in online dating I will pick good and sensible men and not get jerked around!” No really. I really thought I’d sign up for a online dating site, meet like three guys, and one of those guys would fall for my adorable good looks and charm and that would be it. Bam. Consider me off the market boys.
I’ve met a handful of men (I’m picky and you have to weed through A LOT of crap to find any decent guys. LIKE A LOT) and overall I’ve been pleased. They have been charming, good looking, educated, have jobs, have dreams, don’t live with their parents, and are genuinely nice humans. And they love their mothers and sisters (my mother always told me to judge a man based on how he treats his mother and sisters). But they all seemed to enjoy, what I have dubbed “The Girlfriend Experience”, in that they want to skip over the actually dating part right to the sweatpants and sex.
I am not a fancy gal. I’m not interested in being wined and dined by someone I barely know. All of these men I’ve met for a quick coffee and let it progress from there. Which usually brought us to my apartment. And I’ve had a really nice time entertaining a few of these gentlemen.
The evenings usually consisted of sharing a bottle of wine on the couch, some good conversation, and heavy petting. And while I am not one to shy away from casual sex it really isn’t what I am looking for at this point in my life. I need something more. Don’t get me wrong: I love comfy pants, wine, and sex. But didn’t we skip a part? Like the part where we get kicked out a poetry reading for making out and groping each other? Or having sushi and going for a walk along the ocean? Or exchanging dirty texts at 3 a.m. on Saturday night?
And after this happened to me a few times with a few different guys I named this behavior “The Girlfriend Experience.” After a while you start to feel like the girlfriend they have been with for a couple of years who they come home to, unload their day on, drink beer with, and give a quick bang to. Then you don’t hear from them for a week or more until they are lonely and want something comfortable to slip back into.
A good friend of mine calls this the “Comfy Sweat Pant” (where a guy treats you like a old pair of sweatpants they can throw on and veg out in). So how did we skip all the fun and get right to the part where you text me daily updates about your car repair and hectic work schedule after we’ve hung out twice? Or tell me you have “mild managed depression” yet have a bathroom full of anti-psychotics and only call me when you need someone to listen to your disturbed ramblings?
Now I am not trying to make this sound unpleasant. Like I said I’ve had nice experience with a few guys where the wine/couch/conversation/hot making out was a very enjoyable experience. However, this would lead any lady to the place where she also feels comfortable to expose herself to him by telling him how she constantly gets herself stuck in/between things because she often misjudges just how much room her voluptuousness actually requires.
Now if a lady is telling you one of the their secret shames then she is comfortable with you. Comfortable enough to text you something like, “Hey man I think you’re rad, I like spending time with you, and let’s get naked again soon.”
To which I believe the guy reacts like this:
Whoa now, crazy lady. What did you think was going on here?
Maybe my “no bullshit” approach to dating isn’t how the game is played. But I’m an honest person and I think that after spending time with someone for months it isn’t unreasonable to tell them you like the cut of their jib. It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve met and I’m telling you to pick a date for our vintage themed wedding in the woods where everyone will drink vodka and pink lemonade out of mason jars under the warm glow of candle lanterns. We’ve spent time together. We’ve been naked in front of each other. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say I like you. If you also think I am cool that’s awesome. If you don’t it’s okay just tell me. I can take it I promise.
I talk about dating a lot with other women. Often cringing when some never-actually-been-single friend thinks I’m such a kooky gal who just can’t snag a partner but nevertheless should be commended for my valiant efforts.
Dating is not for the thin-skinned. It’s hard. You’re exposing your vulnerabilities to someone new. You might get hurt. Or you might find that person who is going to hold you when your cat is sick. You need to be okay for the fact it may fall flat before it gets off the ground and a solid relationship with yourself will spare you from downing a bottle of wine and crying in the tub.
The only words of wisdom I can pass on through this experience is that the best gift you can give yourself is being comfortable and confident in your own skin. So what if that guy stopped texting? Clearly he’s got stuff going on in his life. Or maybe he just doesn’t feel the same way. Or maybe he’s just an asshole. Yeah it stings. It stings a lot. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am awesome and have a bangin’ ass.
Be okay with being alone. Be comfortable with yourself and in your own head. Don’t jump on the next lily pad the second the old one is cold. You’re just setting yourself up to settle for someone who doesn’t appreciate you and I’d be willing to bet is not good enough for you. Take a break from dating if you need it. Sometimes it all just gets to be too much.
Be picky. There are plenty of people out there. Don’t settle for someone just because they are a warm body to fill your bed with. Be patient and forgiving with yourself and the right person will come along. If you are a sassy lady bringing a lot to the table, expect the same from a guy. I do not date anyone who doesn’t meet my basic requirements of being employed, ambitious, and independent. I’m here to add something amazing to your life not to take care of you.
It’s hard not to take it personally. A lot of the time I feel like I missed the day where all the single people lined up got handed the rulebook on how to play the dating game. And some guys just don’t play fair.