The more I date, the more I love being single

“WOW!!!! Those are some mighty titts [sic] you got there [fire emoji x3]” is a thing that a person actually wrote to me on a dating app.

Well, thank you, kind sir! I’m happy that you think my tits are mighty and even more so that you took 60 seconds or so out of your day to write to me to tell (compliment?) me about my monumental jugs. I mean, I think they’re pretty great myself, but I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of them as mighty. And to think, all this time, here I was just living my life, not realizing the true immensity and prodigy of my rack. You’ve really opened my eyes and my life is different now. Nay, it’s better.

This is online dating, folks. This is what it is. Of course, not every note I get is of this ilk, nor is every man who reaches out to me to start a conversation, ostensibly in the hope it leads to meeting up for a date as, ummmm, poetic (?) as this gem.  But this is really what I experience quite regularly.

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In my last musing about dating, I think the tone was decidedly upbeat. Or optimistic, at the very least. My general thesis was that online dating is hard and weird and exhausting, but sometimes it’s really interesting and fun and I had hope that, with the belief that there’s a lid to every pot, if I just persevered, I might find my lobster after all.

I have to report, however, my general outlook these days is less optimistic and more, I don’t know, dystopian? Maybe I truly have reached a point of over-saturation in the online dating game, or perhaps I’ve finally reached the pinnacle of dating fatigue and have stopped being able to see the forest for the trees, or whatever appropriate saying fits here.

I haven’t really been active in the dating scene for just over a year now. After my last break-up, I decided I needed a breather. But, occasionally I tentatively dip my foot back into the dating pool (or, puddle, as I once referred to it) to see what it’s like out there, to see if anything’s changed or perhaps, and more to the point, to see if I’ve changed. So far, no dice. And I feel impelled to point out here that that could be totally about me, or if not totally, at least equally or partly. Perhaps I’m not mentally or emotionally in the right space to be out there right now. But, I have given it the ol’ college try a handful of times.

Case in point; I went on a date a few weeks ago, and while I wouldn’t describe it as a disaster, and didn’t even get a juicy or funny story out of it, it did succeed in confirming for me that perhaps I should stay out of the pool/puddle for a while longer. Or maybe forever. It was just a really boring date. He was a boring guy, with nothing interesting to say, who seemed incapable of basic conversation. I was giving it my all, I was being my charming, charismatic self. Hey, I am many things, but boring is definitely not one of them. I am self aware and do not feel any shame in proclaiming that I am a great date. I mean, I always joke that I’m so chatty and personable that I can make conversation with a lamp post, but this actually felt like having a conversation with a lamp post. No offence to lamp posts.

As I sporadically go online to read the emails I’ve been sent, or to browse through profiles, and more rarely, to respond to emails or even reach out to men who seem interesting to me, more and more I’m filled with a sense of….I don’t know, exactly. Exasperation? Annoyance? Disgust? Probably a little of all of that, culminating in what can only be described as an eye roll so deep, I feel like I’m staring at the back of my skull.

Beyond having to endure emails like Mister Mighty McTitsface’s, and sifting through other more boring, uninspired, clichéd or often literally cut-and-pasted messages, there is an undertone emanating from these sites which makes me fundamentally uncomfortable. There’s a sense that these men who message me think that I owe them something, just by virtue of being on a dating app. Like, even without real context, or having met in person yet, there is this really unnerving undercurrent that I get from a lot of men that there is an “implicit contract” in dating (or even just in interacting online) that I must adhere to in order to pass Go and collect my $200.

I posted the other week on Facebook about an article I read about this guy who was suing his date because she was texting during a movie (in a theatre). There’s more to the story than that, of course. But my post was about how I recognized a lot of what that particular dipshit Dudebro was saying in the interactions I have had with men online, both before and after we’ve met in person and it sparked all kinds of outrage in me. I said, perhaps boldly, about that particular example, that this is what rape culture is. It’s not as obvious as questioning a woman about what she was wearing or how much she’d had to drink when she was raped is, but the underlying presumption is there; it’s the notion that women enter into an “implicit contract” when interacting with men, that men are “owed” something in exchange for going on a date with a woman, and that, by extension, if a man doesn’t get from a woman what he feels he is “owed” he very securely assumes that she is defective, a bitch, or worse. In other words, she broke the contract and is therefore a garbage person and there is nothing wrong with him.

The point is that with the ubiquity of online dating, and how dating culture has evolved in the wake of the internet, people’s expectations of dating have changed. Drastically. I have a foot in both worlds, having dated before the rise of online dating, and obviously, now being fully immersed in it. I believe that, along with the damaging illusion of choice inherent in the endeavor of online dating, these expectations have contributed to a really toxic and sometimes, actually dangerous environment in which women and men blindly throw themselves. I believe it’s also why, and I will only speak for myself here, I am convinced at every turn that everyone lies and everyone cheats.

And that predominantly, despite being on an online dating app, most men (and maybe women too, I really don’t know) on said apps, have little interest in actually dating.

I have never, thankfully, found myself in a real position of being (or feeling) in danger, but I’ve definitely had creepy experiences. And I could list some of them here, but I don’t think that serves the point.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that online dating has evolved (devolved?) into an environment in which the Mister Mighty McTitsfaces of the world (or at least on the internet) feel totally justified, comfortable and I would argue, emboldened to send emails to women about their tits.

This is the world of online dating. It’s no wonder I need a break from that shit. Wouldn’t you?

Home sweet home…?

A conversation I seem to be having all over the place lately is some sort of variation on the theme of home ownership.

Does owning a house make you a grown up? That’s certainly how I grew up. I, like every other thirty-something I know, grew up understanding that the natural trajectory of adulthood goes something like this: graduate high school, go off to university or college, get an education which will lead to gainful (and hopefully fulfilling) employment, meet your lobster (perhaps with some exciting travels and cool life experiences interspersed within), get married, buy a “starter” house, start a family, enjoy life, save for retirement, maybe move to your “forever” home, grow old and live happily ever after. Sound familiar?

home-sweet-home

That’s irrefutably the narrative I was fed during my formative years. And when I say “fed” by no means do I mean that in a negative way. It’s not like our parents and grandparents were trying to dupe us into anything. I just mean that that was the mainstream belief, as it had been for many, many generations in middle-class North America. And it still is for many, many people. But, I believe we’re entering into an age of shifting values when it comes the perceived order of life’s milestones or the validity of those so-called milestones in the first place, particularly when it comes to home ownership.

Of those steps laid out by those who came before me, I would say I made it to number three before things kind of took a left turn for me. And I’m totally fine with it, really. In a weird way, I suppose I actually kind of like that I did things a little differently (not always by choice, however), that, like Frankie says, I did it my way. That is, if indeed those steps are what we’re measuring our relative level of adulting against.

To be quite frank, I don’t think home ownership is in the cards for me. And, honestly, I’m not mad about it. There are very real and practical reasons as to why I have basically ruled out the possibility. They include things like; I live in a very expensive city, where I will simply NEVER afford to buy – anything; a house, a condo, a semi, a patch of grass. Not unless I win the lottery. Sincerely. It might happen if I end up finding my lobster and he happens to be a millionaire, and we can make it happen together. But, that’s a lot of IFs.

Also, even though ownership is impossible for me here, I’m not interested in moving out of said expensive city, to somewhere it might be more possible, at least not now. I love Toronto, I love my work (it took me a while, but I did manage to attain that gainful and fulfilling employment I was “supposed” to get upon graduating university – better late than never, right?). I love the vibrancy of my surroundings, I love not having to drive everywhere (and not having the expense and hassle of owning a car), I love the diversity my big city provides, and I have zero interest in commuting hours of my day away so I can be house-poor in the burbs’ all for…what? Multiple bedrooms and bathrooms? A backyard? The responsibility of home ownership? An eat-in kitchen? No thank you. Well, full disclosure, I really would love the space to have a dining table so I could have people over to eat and sit at an actual table. But I digress.

Look, I get it. It’s a trade-off. That’s why it’s called a value. That’s what that means. Many people value owning a house because it’s a good financial investment for them, because they grew up in a house and can’t imagine raising a family (and all that entails) in any other way. And they value that more than, say, having to commute for hours to their well-paying job in the city that helps them afford the mortgage payments on said house. Or getting a different job in the town/city in which they can afford to buy a house. Because that’s how it ends up working, isn’t it? You find a city where you can afford a house, and move there, with employment a secondary motivation. It’s all about priorities, and I respect and understand your priority to own a house and all the things you may have to adjust in your life in order to make that a reality. I just have to say that simply owning a home is not a top priority for me. And to be completely honest, I kind of resent that people around me seem to subtly remind me (or not so subtly) that it should be.

When I began writing this, I thought that I should be careful how I position my stance on the home ownership front lest I offend the home owners among me. But, the more I thought I about it, I thought, well, people don’t seem to be concerned about offending me when they tell me I’m “throwing away” my money on rent. They don’t worry about offending me when they assure me condescendingly, you’ll get there, you’re not going to rent forever, you’ll settle down one day, when you find a partner you’ll be in a position to buy. Just because I don’t share the same value as you, however, doesn’t mean that I think everyone who buys a house is making a bad decision! I think it makes sense for many, many people. Just not me, not now anyway.

But all of that is to say, I’m no fool either. I know that I can’t live in my tiny one bedroom apartment forever; certainly not if/when I do find a partner, let alone, if I were to have a family. But even then, we’re talking about having to move into a larger space, not buying that space. I’m not an idiot. I’m just saying, for my life, right now, I’m totally fine renting, and I don’t lose sleep at night fearing that I’m throwing my money away, because you know what? I enjoy that elusive thing called rent control, in one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in Toronto. And because of that, I can afford to go on vacations, and indulge in occasional dinners out, and impromptu drinks with friends, not to mention, I can support my slight amazon.ca problem. I’m not financially free or even close to escaping worrying about money in general; all I’m saying is that I have a life that I wouldn’t if I had a mortgage. But that’s me. You may (read: probably) make a lot more money than me (or manage it better than me) and perhaps a mortgage payment might not be so restrictive for you. But cost aside, the important point is that I don’t feel that the fact that I don’t own a house makes me any less of an adult.

I live in a one bedroom apartment in a hundred-plus year old building, above a produce market in the west end of downtown Toronto. It’s old. Did I mention that the building is more than 100 years old? And with that comes the usual things you would expect with an old place. The plumbing is not great, there’s no air conditioning, so in the summer, it’s oppressively hot because the walls are all concrete and/or plaster, and they hold onto humidity with a vice grip that would make an actual vice jealous. Also, the door leading out to the fire escape doesn’t close properly, the place is small, the layout is kind of weird, I don’t have a door on my bedroom, the appliances are old and there have been occasional mice and a fair number of bugs (sorry, gross, I know). And oh, my landlord is DICK.

But, despite all of that, I’m happy to stay there, for now anyway. As I mentioned, I live in a great neighbourhood which I love. I’m also steps away from the main arterial streetcar in the city, close to a subway station, surrounded by some of the best restaurants and cool little shops I’ve encountered. I’m a five minute walk from High Park, I live upstairs from a produce market, and need I remind you I enjoy RENT CONTROL. And I value all of that more than (what I feel is) the arbitrary and perceived milestone of adulthood that is home ownership.

As my friend and brilliant novelist, Kerry Clare once posited, “were you allowed to be an adult if you didn’t own a house? If you didn’t have a house, could you possibly have a home?”

I doubt I’ll live there forever, but I’ve made a home out of my little apartment in the city and the fact that I don’t own it doesn’t matter to me one bit.