Editor’s note: In case you missed them, catch up on Nikki’s previous Dating Diaries posts here.
I write a dating diary for a lot of reasons. I get paid to do it. I like to write. I like to think about romance and relationships and watch movies and listen to songs about these things. I had already been writing about dating, though not in diary form, for a few months when my editor at HowAboutWe suggested that I start one. So I said sure, why not?
My main concern when I started the diary was that I wouldn’t go on enough dates to make it interesting. That fear was realized almost immediately. Sorry, guys. What I didn’t really worry about at the time was my own privacy and the privacy of the people around me. After 9 months of entries and the growing sense that what I’m doing is inappropriate, I feel like it’s necessary to explain myself.
Looking back, it seems naïve of me to think that no one would really read my diary, but that is genuinely what I thought. Since I started the whole writing thing at my high school newspaper, my own mother didn’t read my clips unless I explicitly asked her to. My first published piece in a major newspaper was about whether you should shave your dog for summer so I don’t really blame her.
When I started writing the diary, it was my hope that complete strangers living in Brooklyn or Ohio might stumble upon my romantic failures and relate to them. When people leave comments that they understand what I am going through, that makes me feel better than nearly anything in the world. When I write a piece that I am particularly proud of, or something that I think will start conversation, I do Tweet or email them occasionally. But because so few people ever responded to me about them, I figured that those links largely remained unclicked. Now I know that’s not entirely true.
Inevitably, a guy I went on a date with Googled me, found the diary and read about the date we went on. Call me short sighted, inconsiderate and dense because that’s all true, but it didn’t occur to me earlier that this would happen. I thought that I had inherited from Sex and the City, David Sedaris, and basically the entire Internet in general the ability to write about my life and the people in it with impunity. That’s when I realized I could hurt someone’s feelings with my writing for the first time.
I really am not trying to Taylor Swift anyone over here. It took me too long, but I did finally learn that I should talk to the guys I’m dating about my feelings before I just put them online. Better late than never, right? I don’t use the names of the people I’m seeing, but of course I do use mine and if you know me, that pretty much eliminates their anonymity.
It has always been important to me to put my real name on my diary because I don’t want it to seem like I am hiding or ashamed of my choices. After all the times people have said I overshare, will never be eligible for political office and warned me that what I’m doing is wrong, the number one reason that I write a dating diary is because I want the realistic story of what it’s like to be a single woman to be out into the world.
I want to live in a society where when I say that I have sex and use birth control, it doesn’t come out in a shaky voice. I don’t want to watch any more movies about childish men growing up to get the girl. I want to watch movies about women growing up and making mistakes and not getting the guy. I want to normalize the common, everyday experience of getting rejected a lot, sometimes rejecting others, being super confused, feeling both unattractive and attractive and feeling both loved and unloved. That is my experience, which is really the experience of being anyone. If we’re all lonely, let’s be lonely together. What I do on this tiny section of this website that only so many people read doesn’t come close to accomplishing that. But I’m just trying to be honest.
Honestly, writing a dating diary has sometimes messed up my life. But so has dating. Love is pain, man. Let’s talk about it, maybe over a drink.