5 Universal “Truths” About Dating I Don’t Understand


1. Never want it more than him or at least, never share that information.

The last guy I was dating seriously was so busy all the time that the majority of our relationship was typed out in that little text box on my phone.

Hey I’m out at X bar with some people if you want to join after work.

Hey I’m going out to dinner with some friends, can you join?

Hey movie?

Hey coffee?

Hey dinner?

Hey drinks?

Hey I think I’m having a relationship with your phone

Hey nevermind.

If I like someone, I don’t understand why I have to hide it just so I seem more desirable. To me someone who is acting aloof and busy is undesirable. I have my own life, but ostensibly I am looking for a partner who would like to share that life, which would mean expressing interest in hanging out once in a while or just texting back, even if it’s to say you’re over it.

I think it happened when I was breaking up with the inconsiderate academic who wouldn’t settle down and the not-so-great guy I was “seeing” occasionally. I can’t exactly pinpoint where in the middle of those years I missed it all, the dining a deux, the pairing off, the engaging, the walking-down-the-aisling, the childbearing, the mortgaging and the like. I’m not sure exactly, but I can remember crawling out from the crumpled sheets of that emotionally stunted, yet gratifying time and thinking: what the fuck.

I mean I was and am still learning to date. Still learning how to turn on charm, negotiate between witty banter and meaningful conversation, fighting not to get too drunk on nerves and bourbon as the potential of a night is discovered or uncovered. As it unfurls like a newspaper, all promise and smudgy fingered.

2. You always have to be playing a game, even if the game is no game.

It’s the reason that you put on that particular shirt or pair of pants, the way you fix your hair, the things you remember to casually mention or casually forget, the glint in your eye, the way you lean your body in, wrinkle your nose, purse your lips, feign interest when he starts mumbling on about how he used to drive a ‘96 ford focus but now moved into the world of foreign cars and he finds his Honda Civic far more dependable.

But that is the tiny shit. That isn’t playing a game, just following the rules. It appears that dating games have now gone meta? I have to play the game, which is not to play a game? I suck at all versions of this advice. I can’t play games full stop. So logic would conclude that I couldn’t play the game of not playing a game. If I were a chess piece I would have knocked myself over. Checkmate. That’s how you end a chess game right? I don’t know anything.

Dating. I’m at that age. I should be dating. People tell me that. Ask me that, it is now standard catch-up conversation, like it should be a fixture in my life, something that I am actively doing and seeking out. I should always be in the act of dating; or having just dated someone and working through that; or be beginning to date someone, anyone just so I am dating and staying up on the field of dating, which is meandering and ever changing and (let’s face it) fucking exhausting and on this particular July day, like the many that came before it, pathetic and without enough benefits to keep me interested in dating, other then to do what people tell me a 32-year-old woman who does eventually want to be married and have a family should probably really start doing. Like professionally. Like writing this down right now I am wasting several minutes of excellent dating time.

As if you haven’t run through it yourself, why you aren’t currently performing any act on the dating spectrum.

3. Try not to be so brainy, at least on the first few dates because they’re probably intimidated.

This not so loosely translates as: you should never know more than your date, never let him think you know more about something that he does and certainly do not use that extensive vocabulary you spent years learning because that dimpled dipshit across the table, sharing your pulled pork nachos may think you are, gasp, smarter than him?

What the fuck? Is this some anti-female bullshit or what? I’m pretty sure the last guy I dated did not get this advice before setting off to dinner with me. Why are we expected to subjugate our intelligence so a man doesn’t feel threatened by it? And why is it always women giving other women this advice?

I want a partner that is intelligent, that has a great vocabulary and ideally a great grasp on world history (since I am lacking in that area). And shouldn’t he want the same, or am I just supposed to be seen and not heard, still just a few holes and a hand that stirs the soup and pours the coffee?

When you’ve been single for the majority of your adult life, people think all you need is the right advice and then your current predicament (that of being single) can easily be fixed (that of no longer being single, read: dating or married) by taking their advice. But it will only work if you follow it exactly the way they say, if it doesn’t work then obviously you skipped a step, or didn’t believe in the process. Obviously.

4. You’re a woman.

Recently I had the benefit of meeting a pick up artist, bona fide. He has a book and everything. Generally he helps men pick up ladies, but I took the opportunity to ask him what advice he has for women who wish to get a date. He only had advice for getting laid, but I told him to lay it on me because I wasn’t being particularly choosy this month or year or decade or whatever. His advice: 1) have a vagina and 2) Go outside.

This has not been my experience nor the experience of many of my friends. I have followed both those directions: 1) Vag, check. 2) Went outside and…and nothing.

I even took it one step further and dressed myself up, took myself to a nice bar and…and nothing. I even talked to a man who I did not have any interest in to see if maybe I had not followed his directions completely, lest the advice not work (see advice parameters outlined above). This gentleman (my test subject) gave me the hipster cold shoulder, which if you are unfamiliar goes something like this.

Me: “Hey, nice tattoos, what are they of.”

Him: “This arm is my vintage and this one is my heritage.”

Me: “Uh oh, okay. Can you explain?”

Him: “Well, I’m Mexican and American, so this is the bald eagle.”

Me: (Perplexed look.)

Him: (Turns his head away from me.)

Conversation over.

Somehow he rejected me when I didn’t even want him. I think people seriously overestimate how easy it is out there for a lady to get lucky. I have theories as to why, but we won’t go into that here.

Last night I went on my OKCupid account — because that is what I do when I’m bored and feeling hopeful or a glutton for punishment and got the following message in my inbox: “Want to play” from Noah 0811.

And I got this strange idea like, if my soul mate had already died of some horrible childhood disease and I would never know him or the potential of the love we could share, or he was living in another state or country, separated from me and our star-crossed love by border patrol or one too many Culver’s, or he was already married and to a woman that was moderately attractive and dull, but satisfied his need for loyalty (because my soul mate would require loyalty) and he didn’t even know that I was just chillin here in all my amalgamations of dating waiting for him to wake up and realize he was supposed to be with the quirky, gameless New Yorker with the wicked sarcasm and scathing attitude towards undesirable things like conservative politics and restaurant salad dressing.

5. If I stop looking for love, a soul mate, someone to fill my time, someone to take me home, well that’s when I’ll find it!

This is the classic line. I’ve heard it from everyone from my mom to the lady at CVS, but really it’s bullshit. I call fucking bullshit on anyone who has helped spread this ridiculous cliché and called it advice. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t looking for “it” and still nothing came. Nope, pretty sure I was just living my life, dateless, without a mating of my soul. This assertion is usually followed up by, “Well, you weren’t really not trying then.” Oh, trust me. I was really not trying.

But now I guess I really am trying. I have been working on dating and my game, my conversational vocabulary and all while trying not to care too much about any of it because that is what people keep telling me to do. When really what we (and I am using we here in the interest of intimacy) just need to stop feeding each other these lines, these lies, these pittances of excuses to strangers, friends, ourselves. Sometimes there is no reason why. Sometimes we could have done nothing better or worse or differently. Sometimes things just are and people just are and everything clicks and most of the time it doesn’t and we are supremely uncomfortable with that as a society.

Because there is nothing I can really do to find him except try to be the best and truest version of myself everyday, ignore the Noah 0188’s on dating sites and swallow the disappointments and get back out there, which I think is harder than subscribing to all of these rules in the hopes that my soul mate is alive and single and waiting in a spot I would never expect (or want to expect, according to this advice) and who is proud of my vocabulary and caustic opinions about raspberry vinaigrette and the Citizens United judgment, but maybe in the end it’s easier too because even if it ends up never happening I get to look beyond it and just try to be myself, whoever that is.

And there is something to be said for being single. For example, I have a whole slew of pretty amazing dating stories.

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image – Legally Blonde