An Open Letter To All The Men I’ve Dated So Far


I just got your text message. I read it, three times, ran my finger along the length of your name at the top of my screen, smiled. I watched the time pass seven minutes and typed something coy, a virtually flirtatious response in fewer words than as many as you sent me. I threw my phone into the bed sheets. Now I am playing nonchalant – a performance only for myself – yet losing interest in my recent Netflix addiction. In a second web browser I click through your profile pictures, willing my phone to chime again. I feel frustration toward my own mother as her fantastically ill-timed text interrupts the time I spend waiting for your text. I am anxious your text will never come. I sift through your weird hair phase back in 2009.

Wait – this is modern dating, right? The game of Text Roulette?

The problem with the trendy diet of relationship columnists and Cosmopolitan: I haven’t a clue what dating is. Hell, I can’t be sure what constitutes a date. You invited me to your apartment to watch the football game. We drank two beers each and ate chips and salsa – was that our first date? We went shopping for Hanes shirts, mid-day. I teased you for your high school yearbook pictures and you lent me a play to read. You made me pasta with sauce only and we watched old Family Guy. I laughed when you laughed, pretended to not be annoyed of Peter’s fight with the chicken. You didn’t walk me to my car and the next day I texted you first. Is that where this, whatever this is, went wrong: are we not to talk the next day? I was always good at following rules, until you.

The thing about it all is, even the shoal and fleeting idea of dating makes me insecure. I don’t know how to impress you. I don’t understand the mechanics: how to be intelligent, but not so much that I am intimidating; witty, or, rather, clever enough to prompt you with a second joke; feminine, with a healthy investment in something athletic. Do you even notice how much make-up I am or am not wearing? I spend our time on the couch questioning my shoe choice, never sure if my hands are where hands should go. I rest my head on the part of your shoulder that’s all bone and I am afraid moving my head will make you realize we are fabricating chemistry here. Could you really commit to a person who puts her head somewhere uncomfortable and then settles? Is this uncomfortable for you, too?

And the thing about all that is, I haven’t the willpower to entertain these dating insecurities; being this paranoid is killing the mood. Nothing I say between the beginning and end of a bad reality TV show will impress you. The best relationship I have ever had began in his parent’s driveway, me serenading him (horrendously) with all 9 minutes and 36 seconds of Something Corporate’s Konstantine. I do not know how to use chopsticks or rollerblade or iron. I may be smarter than you, I may not be. I may be witty, but most likely I’m not. The only aspect of football I am invested in is the beer and that hot commentator, Kirk Herbstreit. The idea of dating you, waiting up for text messages, deciphering verbiage and occupying the space between conversations exhausts me. Pretending to be this busy all the time, while simultaneously and irrationally missing you, only results in irresponsible trips to PinkBerry.

And I am doing all this – I mean, I am sacrificing my sanity here – so I can find the man who will love me for me. I do not get the logic, Dating Advice Books. I cannot pick up what you are putting down, Friends Who Tell Me To Play Hard To Get. I refresh Instagram twenty times a day, but I can’t return a text message within the minute it is received? I spend the better part of my day either writing or reading fiction, but I cannot discuss the gender themes of a Hemingway novel without scaring a man away?

I am sorry, men I’ve dated, for deceiving you, for allowing you to believe, for however brief our time together was, that I am something of perfection. Well, you know that now because you’ve stopped returning my texts, but either way: I am sorry. I hereby pledge to hold strong my standards, to never be afraid to share my analysis on modern feminism or perform my best lawn sprinkler dance. Never again will I apologize for my intelligence or lack thereof, especially for my limited knowledge of baseball. Related, I will never apologize for disliking baseball. I promise to hold your hand until our palms sweat and then let go, because I do not like the feeling of sweaty palms. And I will answer your text, I swear, as soon as I see it. And if I do not, please, I beg, stop texting me. I just don’t like you that way.