Now that I’ve been single for a couple of weeks, I’ve been upping my online dating game in hopes of meeting some eligible bachelors. I spent a solid three hours this weekend updating my OKCupid profile, adding new photos of myself and just seeing what’s out there, and I even created a profile on HowAboutWe.com. Since then, I’ve found myself chatting with a handful of potentials— a witty lawyer, a CrossFit enthusiast (I know, I know), a financial consultant and a bearded guy who works for an airline, whom I’ve appropriately nicknamed “Wings.”
In the past, I took a pretty reserved approach to online dating, letting others message me first and skimming through my messages every once in a blue moon. But this time around, I’m doing things differently. I’m going to reach out to the people I want to talk to and cut through the bullshit early on by being my most honest self from the get-go. If your first message to me simply says “hi,” without any thought behind it, I’m deleting it. If your profile is vague and you’re not making an effort, I’m not interested. The old me is gone, and the new, no-nonsense dater is here to stay. Thankfully, my new approach seems to be paying off. After multiple exchanges back and forth with Mr. CrossFit, I received a very straightforward message from him in response to my telling him I’m a “picky dater.”
“So am I,” he confessed. “So, let’s be straight with each other. What are your dating dealbreakers? Please, be 100 percent open and honest.”
In the past, I might have dodged his question. I would have found it inappropriate to discuss before we’d met in person, and would have wanted to see if there was chemistry before I dove into the deeper stuff. Instead of being taken aback, I found myself impressed that he was willing to ask a question that could potentially eliminate himself from my dating pool. I’ve wasted so much time dating that it feels refreshing to find someone who I know isn’t just trying to waste my time.
Much to my surprise, I found myself responding to his question effortlessly and quickly, not caring whether or not he liked what he heard. I finally feel like I know what I need in a potential partner, and to a degree, I think I’ve always known—I was just afraid to state it. The difference is that I was once willing to make excuses and accept less than I deserved. I allowed myself to settle for someone who was 90 percent right for me, but now, after many unsuccessful attempts at dating, I realize just how important that remaining 10 percent can be. Dealbreakers matter when it comes to my happiness. Around Thanksgiving, I made a wish list of characteristics I want in my future partner, but have since realized that my needs trump my wants every time. It would be great to find a man who is willing to pitch in around the house, but that’s worth nothing if he’s not trustworthy.
Here’s what I need: I need somebody who’s loyal. I’ve been cheated on in the past, so I have baggage surrounding trust. Thanks, Patrick Bateman! Because of that, I also need a lot of reassurance in relationships, both physically and emotionally. I need someone who’s communicative and open, who won’t stray away from talking about important or uncomfortable topics. It’s important I find someone who is determined, who has their own career goals and aspirations and isn’t afraid to go after what they want. I’m also doing the same, so it’s crucial that whoever I end up with is respectful and encouraging of my goals, as well. I need someone who is chivalrous, mature and respectful with a playful side. I don’t tolerate ignorance: racism, sexism, bullying or anything of the sort. While I’m independent and strong-willed, I’m traditional in the sense that I need to be in a relationship where I feel protected in all ways. I’m feisty and can hold my own, but I need to feel like someone has my back. I’m not very religious, but it’s important that I find someone who respects my beliefs, even if he doesn’t agree.
Not only was it liberating just to lay all my needs out on a list, but the thought of sharing them with a potential dating prospect made me feel like I was already off to a winning start.
I typed up my list and as a bonus, I told him I have a dirty mouth, parents love me, I make a killer margarita and consider myself a mediocre cook. I hit send feeling accomplished, knowing that everything I said was 100 percent true. This was me: the good, the bad and the needy. Even if I never heard from him again, I was glad that I could fully own up to my romantic needs; something I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing a year ago. In fact, a year ago I probably would have given him the answer he wanted to hear, as opposed to the truth.I was so determined to find someone, that I was trying to fit into the mold of what they needed me to be, instead of letting them know exactly what I needed.
I did hear back from him. About ten minutes later, a ping from my inbox alerted me that I had either scared him off or piqued his interest. But either way, I felt triumphant. For the first time ever (holy shit, new milestone!), I was able to look at all of my dating failures from the last few years and realize that it’s just as important to know your needs as it is your wants, and most importantly, to be honest about them. If I hadn’t dated the cheaters, the emotional robots, the physically unattached, the unmotivated and the ignorant narcissists of the world, I wouldn’t have realized how important it was for me to find someone the exact opposite of all of those things.
I opened his message.
“I think you and I will get along just fine,” he wrote.
[Photo from Shutterstock]