In his recent post, Ryan Dodge pokes fun at the tendency every couple feels to schtick-up their how-we-met story. He admits that his first date with his current girlfriend was forgettable, and he asked her out again because she was hot. But he admits that now, he feels pressure to make their “origin” story sound more interesting. And so do you — even in the relationship you don’t have yet.
The pressure to have the best, funniest, quirkiest, most magical “story of origin” is not only given far too much weight, but it’s getting in the way of your meeting someone special — especially if you have an “idea” for how it “should” happen. When you jump ahead to some imaginary future dinner party and worry about how you’ll tell Your Big Love Story, you’ve made the mistake of believing that the opening scene is what matters most. You believe it so much that you will restrict how and where you meet people. And it’s a big fucking problem.
Look, we all love a good story. How DO people meet and fall in love? For those of us doing the asking, we may be on a fact-finding mission to see if we have left any situational stones unturned. Who doesn’t love the tale of the soundtrack-ready romance in which an annoying fender-bender on I-95 turned into true love? That shit is why we go to movies!
But the expectation that every initial meeting must be a Meg-Ryan-esque moment where initial awkwardness melts into pure, unadulterated passion over a latte is silly, to say the least. Do not make the mistake of confusing your own real life with some Nora Ephron-fueled dream.
When I sold a set of shelves to a tall drink of water last summer, I thought “ooh good story. This is how we can say we met.” Except we didn’t last past two dates because he decided I wasn’t what he was looking for. I mourned the loss of the story more than him! So trust me, I get it.
Still, I’ve met more than a few single people (mainly women), who are so obsessed with the story of origin — of a relationship they don’t even have yet! – that they actually WON’T do certain things or go places to meet people because of how the story will read. Think I’m kidding? Nope.
Such as….online dating. Earlier in online dating’s brief, storied history, there was a sense of shame attached. And even now, with so many people hooking up online, people continue to “feel weird” about it.
But the trap is becoming so concerned with HOW you meet that you forget the much more important part – MEETING. I’ve met so many people online and in person that sometimes I forget exactly where I met them. I love that. The goal is to meet people, and to meet so many that you have to think really hard about whether you were introduced by someone, or met online.
And yet, I’ve met people who refuse to post an online profile because what IF they meet an amazing person on a website and then have to tell all their friends where they met? Note: This is insane. Granted, these tend to be the same people who will complain that there’s “no one out there for them.” Really?
Online dating is not another planet where questionable human-like beings are beamed in from another galaxy. They’re the same people you would meet within a 10-mile radius of your home if you happened to be at the same watering hole. Instead, you were both online. I think this is wonderful. But you may have determined through some arbitrary process of decision-making that it’s not a good enough story. The question is, do you want a story, or do you want a partner?
The bigger issue is this: How you meet doesn’t matter — that you met does. You go to lots of restaurants and bars and parties, and you’ve done your laundry a thousand times in the same room, and you will meet more people than you can remember. But when someone happens to catch your eye and you feel a stirring connection, ask yourself, “does it really friggin matter where I found this person? No.”