In Which I Muse About Dating

It’s a jungle out there. That’s what I tell all my married and otherwise coupled-up friends all the time. “Be thankful you’re not out there anymore,” I say! “You’re so lucky to have found your person” I exclaim! Those are not empty sentiments, my friends. It really is a jungle out there, and I feel like I’m bushwhacking my way through it, alongside my jungle warrior sisters. It’s hot, with overgrown paths, surprising twists around every tangled corner, and things flying at me from all directions. It’s confusing, and exciting, unknown and yet thrilling. It’s also f-ing exhausting.

I have dating fatigue. I often joke that if dating were an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist. And like an Olympian, though I’m technically considered an amateur (because if I were a professional, that would make me an escort), I have years of training under my belt. I went on my first date when I was 11. It was with my sister’s boyfriend’s younger brother. And by date, I mean we got dropped off at the mall (the epicenter of pubescent discovery) and wandered around together for a couple of hours. It was wintertime. I remember being hot in my heavy winter coat indoors, even with the zipper unzipped. And my boots made squishy, squeaky noises as I walked.

He scared the shit out of me. But, I was intrigued. He had soft hair, a nice smile, and wore the shit out of his Randy River pullover sweater. He was a badass. A year older than me, he was experienced, nuanced, knowledgeable. It was intoxicating. So much so that when we were touring the mall together, discussing the pressing issues of our middle school lives, I let it go when, strolling behind an elderly woman and her daughter, my older and more worldly date began poking fun of the glacieroric speed with which they were moving. I was mortified, but being in the presence of such “coolness,” I felt that I couldn’t call him out on his rude behaviour. This was a boy, a boy I was on an actual date with, an OLDER boy who seemed to be enjoying my company (and who also thought I was pretty!), so I said nothing. I had a twisted knot in my stomach the whole time. It was all I could do not to throw up on his Adidas.

And thus, my dating career had begun.

Fast forward to adult me, and I have to tell ya, there are moments when I think back to my 11 year old self and think she really had things figured out. Men confound me. I don’t pretend to understand what motivates men (or people, really) to act certain ways, or say certain things, or to generally carry out their lives certain ways. And I should clarify here, that I’m talking about single men. Bachelors. At this point in my life, in my, ahem, mid-thirties, I have clearly, for various and myriad reasons, not chosen a partner and gotten hitched….yet. I can’t speak for all women (and I wouldn’t presume to), but I will say, for me, the fact that I find myself single in the city is more a result of sub-conscious decisions I’ve made throughout my dating life to not settle than any unwillingness or closed-mindedness or (major) emotional baggage on my part.  I haven’t waited this long, put in this many hours of bad (some really, really bad) and WEIRD dates to end up with someone who is just “OK.” Nope, I’m on a quest to find someone to truly complement me (as I don’t need to be completed, thank you very much!), make me happy, treat me well, and someone who I want to share my life and (future) babies with. Not such a tall order, is it?! I just want to find my lobster, guys.

I’m at an impasse. It’s tough to meet people out in the world. Let me let you in on a little secret. People don’t meet people in grocery stores (WHAT?!). It’s true, guys. Meet-cutes don’t happen in real life! If they do, it’s very, very rare, and usually met with skepticism, if not outright fear of the creepy-stalker factor. Let’s be honest, how receptive would you really be if a someone approached you in a bookstore, or on the street and basically wouldn’t let you leave without getting your number? Creeped the f-ck out, right? Aside from my one girlfriend who met a (now ex) boyfriend on the subway (they checked each other out on their shared morning commute for months before they spoke), I don’t know anyone who didn’t meet their significant other by a more traditional means i.e. through a friend, at school, at work, in a bar or at a party. Or, most commonly now, online.

It’s hard to meet people. This is why I turned to online dating years ago. It’s a totally viable way to meet other singles, especially in a big city and for a person who has a lot of things on the go in their life (like moi!). And I’m not saying it’s bad. At all! In fact, I’ve had some very good experiences with men I’ve met online…a couple of (albeit short-lived) actual relationships, some great first dates, some even greater second and third dates, and even a couple of friendships that are still a part of my life.

However, the other side of that particular coin is that I’ve also had some of the most frustrating, confounding and straight up WEIRD experiences with men I’ve met online.

I have received at least a few marriage proposals, which I believe are mostly serious, as well as direct and unabashed sexual propositions, along the lines of “Hey baby, wanna f-ck?” (That quote there, by the way, was the sole line of content in an actual message I received). I have been asked, on more than a few occasions, as to whether or not I have beautiful feet, and if so, would I be willing to “share” them? I have been the recipient of some very lovely compliments (on my smile, my hair, my face, my witty profile, etc.), and some not so lovely compliments, if you can call them that (mostly about my ample bosom and/or posterior, and once, I’m not lying, on my “child-bearing” hips), and the various things my would-be suitors would do with/to those body parts if given the chance.

I have been propositioned to bear children for a man who took great pains to explain to me that I need to have children in order to secure my legacy in the world and that he would be willing to help me with that endeavor in either the “traditional way” or, you know, “with science.” I can’t make this shit up, guys.  You’ll be pleased (or horrified?) to know that that same man messaged me again (almost a year after the initial knock-me-up offer) with this classic one-liner: “I will give you $20,000 to be yours. I love what I see.” I was touched. And hey, twenty grand is nothing to sneeze at.

Like I said, friends, it’s a jungle out there. Actually, maybe it’s more akin to a circus, complete with sideshow freaks, occasional unpleasant sights and smells and a whole lotta smoke and mirrors. So, it’s a jungle-circus freak show. One day I’ll tell you the story of a man I encountered who I’ve nicknamed “Pork Chop.” It’s a doozie!

But, you know what? I choose to believe, in the exactly the same way I (try to) choose happiness every day, that there are good people out there. I take it all with a grain of salt. Well, maybe more like a shaker full of salt. It will all work out in the end. And if it doesn’t seem like things have worked out, then it’s not the end!

Your Dating Maverick, AP


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