Editor’s note: In case you missed them, catch up on Nikki’s previous Dating Diaries posts here.
There are those weeks when you’re just bopping along and feeling good about being single. I didn’t realize during the year of on and off dating with the ex and some dates I wasn’t ready for in between just how much anxiety and unhappiness I was feeling. But however long it took me, I woke up one morning ready to tackle dating again. I felt…optimism?
I was excited to meet new people and put myself out there. Talk to cute boys and stay out too late with my friends. Listen to the happy Taylor Swift songs instead of the angry ones. I was looking forward to living my life as me, instead of this dour reject from my last relationship.
And all that is pretty unusual for me, as I generally just stand to the side with an eyebrow raised when it comes to all things. But there I was, dating champion — until reality set in.
First of all, staying out too late with your friends requires that you have friends who will stay out late with you. Almost everyone I know is in a serious relationship that by all estimations is headed towards marriage. I only turned 21 five years ago. Apparently that’s how long it takes to age out of calling someone for a beer at 11pm. And then there are the other disappointments.
Last week, this guy approached me, told me he liked my dress and chatted with me for a good half hour after I gave him my phone number before telling me he had a girlfriend. I was really annoyed that he waited to tell me about being in a relationship so he could act otherwise and then had the nerve to say he hoped I didn’t feel bad.
Later that week, I was at a bar when I managed to strike up a conversation with a tall, Prince Harry lookalike (Yes, I am a dating champion). Eventually, my friends joined up and my guy friend started talking about tailored suits with this redhead and pretty soon it looked like they would be the ones falling in love. Foiled by my alleged wingman once again.
It was all okay, because at the end of the night the redhead managed to ask for my phone number anyway. It got weird when his friend with the pinky ring invited me over to his house for the “after party,” though. The word dungeon was introduced, I don’t remember whether it was by him or me but suffice it to say, the vibe was definitely off. I got myself home safely and was gossiping with my girlfriend when I found out that the redhead used to date one of my friends and also happened to know this other mutual friend who regularly calls him her “skeezy friend.”
Neither of those things is the end of the world, but they’re not ringing endorsements either. It’s starting to feel like every guy I meet has already dated someone I know and maybe I’m squeamish about it, but I prefer not to date where other friends have tread.
These tiny setbacks add up to make dating frustrating. The man who is wasting your time and being a jerk to his girlfriend back home. The creepy guy who asks you back to his dungeon. The millionth cute boy who already has a bad backstory with someone you know. You start to be like, Come on, where is the one cute guy that’s never dated and who doesn’t own a dungeon?
I recently developed a pretty serious crush on a guy I know from Twitter. It’s silly, I know, and also mildly stalker-ish, but it’s my rebound. I see it as this safe way to transfer feelings from my ex-boyfriend to someone new and out of reach without being disappointed or hurt. The crush will fade away when I get bored, and nothing bad will have ever happened because we will have never met.
But then it occurred to me that this was actually a pretty cynical thing to do. Nothing bad will come of it, but nothing good will either. That’s just me giving up. And I’m not cynical anymore (I got the official optimism diploma in the mail), so in spite of all these little dating stings, I am telling myself to remain positive. If I turn up the Taylor Swift loud enough, I can’t even hear the negative rebuttals.