My roommate and I both went through a break-up around the same time this year. Well, to be fair, I started mine eight months earlier, but due to my ex’s and I’s back and forth, I wasn’t much further along in the process by the time she joined me in March. We followed similar emotional paths, our hearts hoping, hating, and everything in between’ing together. Our couch harbored hours and hours of relationship talk. Discussing how over them we were, how not over them we were. So, it made sense that a time came when we were both ready to hit the Singles Scene with a vengeance.
Partly because we just had to get out of that house. We could only listen to Adele so many times.
This was the first time my roommate had been single since I met her in college at nineteen – eleven years ago. So, she’s pretty much the world’s worst wingwoman. She has no idea how to hunt. It feels unnatural to her. And I’m pretty damn awful at it, too. Turns out being single longer didn’t make me much of an expert either.
But we felt like we should be doing something. So, we put on our cutest jerseys and hit the sports bars, dressed up in our sexiest Corporate America outfits and hit Happy Hour and wiggled into our hottest athletic gear to hike Runyon. We searched the internet for new spots, interrogated cute male friends for where they’re brethren congregate – rock climbing, golf driving ranges, the Mac store? We’d go on set-ups, hit house parties, hip bars, dive bars, local bars and bars an hour away. We tried it all. We’d go out in groups of six, three, mixed gender, Girls Night, just us. Hours of hair and make up accumulated in tiny outfits that we froze our ass off in… and for all that effort? We’d then stand awkwardly in the corner, talking only to each other and dodging all the guys who actually approached us… while wondering how we could get the attention of the ones we really wanted to meet. We never met anyone this way. Not one.
If we actually had to survive on our hunting skills, we’d die of starvation.
Since our only purpose of going out was to meet men – not enjoy quality time with each other, we were getting plenty of that on the Relationship Couch – we couldn’t help but leave these nights feeling swept by disappointment. Disappointment in ourselves that we weren’t better at this, disappointment in the general population of single men available – were all the good ones gone? – and sadly a little bit scared. We were both thirty (light-years different from twenty-nine) and we were starting to worry, what if we never find the right guy? What if the last guys we dated were the best guys we’ll ever have?
My roommate and I have a lot in common, similar senses of humor, life views, career goals, favorite reality shows. Too bad we couldn’t just date each other. It would be so much easier.
In the course of this year, I went out with twenty different men. Sixteen were the online dates documented on this blog – the last one being so traumatizing it left a permanent bad taste in my mouth from ever being able to go online again. The other four dates I met the old fashioned way. I met Date #19 at a bar over Halloween weekend and couldn’t remember what he looked like after. He was wearing a costume, I was a few drinks in and he’d been so speedy at getting my number that the whole thing felt a bit hazy. My friend who met him alongside me assured me he was cute. Since he was so proactive about calling / texting in the week to come, I decided I’d give it a shot. I held out the smallest amount of hope – maybe this is the guy that beats the odds. What a cute story that would make. We agreed to meet at the Century City mall food court. My roommate coincidentally was also at the mall so she talked to me while I waited for him to show up. When he did, I didn’t recognize him – not even slightly. The attraction level hovered just above zero. He looked incredibly young, had massive bed head and his face was so squished together, he reminded me of Mr. Potato Head. Clearly, my girlfriend who said he was cute had some major fucking beer goggles on. I gave my roommate a begging look to please not leave me. But what could she do? For the next hour, I was his. We picked out our Chinese fast food and he had us pay separately at the register. Clearly, a Casanova here. We sat down and he told me about himself. He was new to LA, extremely excited to be here, telling me all of the sights he wanted to see. “Have you been to the Santa Monica Promenade?!” His golly-gee naiveté exhausted me. I wasn’t even getting a free teriyaki rice bowl out of the thing. I just wanted to be home.
Nineteen unsuccessful dates is enough to make anyone lose hope.
My married friend gently suggested maybe I was being too picky, another asked if I should go back to my ex. But being by myself felt better than putting energy into the wrong person. In my heart of heart of hearts, even after nineteen bad or blah dates, I still felt it would happen for me. But for the moment, I couldn’t try anymore. When I wrote that Dating had closed for the Season on November 1st, I was relieved. I planned to sit in my room and focus on my other love, writing – at least that never left me with disappointment at the end of a night. As the weather grew colder, my single friends kept beckoning me across town in the rain to another bar on another Saturday but the idea of shimmying into another pair of skinny jeans felt like more effort than I had left. I declared quite happily that I was putting the topic to rest for awhile. Giving up the search. My roommate had found a good guy through a set-up and was seeing where that went, and my career was starting to take off. Production companies were calling, I was being courted by a literary manager who told me that he loved my voice, he got me, that I had a bright future ahead. He was better than any boyfriend. He was my professional soul mate. Friends said I was glowing whenever they saw me, it was like I was in love. I felt so passionate about what I was doing, it was enough to keep me warm at night. Over Thanksgiving, my Mom’s friend kept asking if I was sure there weren’t any new prospects (“Not one guy you’re interested in??) and I told her, with not the slightest bit of sadness, that I was so happy to be doing what I was doing right now. I’ll worry about the other stuff later. I no longer felt guilty for staying in when I felt like it, and when I went out with friends, it really was to see friends. Not meet men. It felt like a release. So when my new manager invited me to his birthday party on December 2nd, I knew I was going to have a great time. I would worry about love later, for now I had everything I needed.
That’s when I met him.
That’s when they say it happens, I guess. The sparks, the connection, the rush of feelings was instantaneous. It felt validating that I’m not actually too picky, that the heart knows the difference between a man you’re interested in and a seat filler. Obviously, it’s too early in to make any sort of long-term proclamations but it’s a message of hope.
If you’ve felt it before, you’ll feel it again. Love’s not done with you, yet. So, maybe if you give up the search and just enjoy the things you’re passionate about, men will recognize you’re glowing, too.
When you least expect it.