A year ago, my average week was something like a “Sex and The City” episode. Maybe it wasn’t that funny, maybe my clothes weren’t that fabulous, and maybe there weren’t that many hot-yet-problematic men, but there were guys, quite a few of them. I’d never had a boyfriend in high school. Then I went to an all-women’s college. In my senior year, I was in a serious relationship. When that didn’t work out, I found a Pandora’s Box of pleasures in the City.It wasn’t exactly easy to meet a guy of substance, but it was relatively simple to get a date. All you had to do was poke around online, ask a friend to set you up, demand contact info of the guy you talked to at a party. Dating culture became intertwined with what I imagined to be the “New York lifestyle” of twenty-something working girls. At a certain point, I took it upon myself to look at dating as part of my job. If I was going to work in the media and writing about relationships — and myself in them — I might as well play the part and score the experience.
My week’s schedule was obsessively booked. At least one date a week. On a good week, two dates. On other nights, I was networking or out with my girlfriends, but my secret intention was finding my next rendezvous.
Most of the dates were bad, many epically so. Mostly, they were completely mediocre: guys who were cocky, guys who didn’t talk, guys who had boring jobs and lives, guys who talked about other girls. No matter, I thought. It would all be “practice dating,” so I would be completely confident in my choice when someone of quality came around. As for those “quality” types, there were a few false alarms: the ones who, after four dates, I would tell my friends that we were on the road to girlfriend-boyfrienddom. No. Not even close.
Some time around January, I stopped. Not cold turkey, but I slowed things down a lot. As if not wanting to admit to myself that I wasn’t made out to be a “dater,” I told myself that this slow period was about becoming more “selective.” Then, selectivity gave way to jadedness, where I’d laugh at most online profiles and think every guy at a party or bar was absolutely a douchebag.
After my “I need male attention” desire subsided, I realized how different things were. I couldn’t tell if they were better, but I had way more time to myself. I drank less and began to get really comfortable—for the first time ever—with being alone. Not “alone” in the sense of being single, but spending less time around other people. Once I left my office job, and became a work-at-home freelance writer, I was astounded. It was incredible! I could go for two days, sometimes more, without seeing anyone—guys or friends.
Now, I’m starting to realize how my comfort with being alone can become, well, dangerous if I let things go for too long without going out or catching up with a friend. But, for the most part, I can’t be dragged to any kind of evident singles event or bar with a hookup scene. Every day, I receive a dozen or so emails from the dating websites that I’m a member of. “He’s waiting for you in Manhattan!” “MrHotStuff345 Just Winked At You!” “Leonora, Your New Matches For New York City!” scream the headlines. Delete, delete, delete. Go. Away. I don’t even want to unsubscribe because that would mean I’d have to log-in, and who knows how that would make me feel.
Sometimes, though, I do start to wonder: Does this mean I’m depressed? Lack of romantic interest is a prime symptom, you know.
Whatever, I think. Things will turn around. For now, I’m going to take myself to a movie and eat dinner alone, thank you very much.