Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with dating. I’m annoyed with the men I like, exasperated with the ones I don’t and completely disinterested in the whole, uncomfortable, seemingly fruitless “getting to know you” process that would occur if I invited any new guys into my life. As I reached a crossroads this weekend at which I was trying to decide if I’m going to buck up and make the best of the dismal Orlando dating scene or give up entirely, Rerun — who I finally told I wasn’t interested after initially ignoring his “I miss us” and “I guess our time has passed” messages — texted me.
Rerun (Friday @ 9:45 pm, probably drunk, definitely delusional) – FYI: You suck for never contacting me.
Me (Sunday @ 8:54 pm, accepting my fate that this guy is never going to leave me alone) – I told you that I don’t think it’s going to work out.
Rerun (Monday @ 11:25 am, apparently waiting 14 hours so as not to appear too eager) – It’s cause you never call me.
Although I appreciate that he consistently proves my long-held belief that the biggest challenge I face in dating is finding intelligent men (thanks, Rerun!), he did nothing to help swing my vote in favor of the “buck up and make the best of the dismal Orlando dating scene” option. Any desire I had to give dating in this city another go was quickly dashed by the reminder that I probably have a better chance of writing a detailed, best-selling novel about calculus than finding someone who doesn’t act like he’s the spawn of Gary Busey and Courtney Love. [Shudder.]
Dating is hard. (Big thanks to Kelly Clarkson for enlightening me on that one.) In addition to weeding through the clutter of undatable people to try find someone with whom you’d actually enjoy eating an entire meal, singles have to deal with rules, politics, and the general fear that you’re going to totally screw up with someone you actually like. When I reach the point at which I decide that staying home on a Saturday night and listening to Duran Duran’s entire catalog would be less painful than wading out into the dating scene, I know it’s time to take a break. And after nine months filled with some fun, but littered with disappointment, I’m there. I want a breather from thinking about men. (Unless a fabulous and dashing gentleman decides to sweep me off my feet in the meantime, of course.)
So, how am I dealing with my dating rut? Other than hoping that Rerun loses my phone number (a girl can dare to dream), I developed a few coping mechanisms to help inspire me to date again:
Listening to a constant loop of love songs. In an effort to overcome my cynicism and fuel a desire to be in an amorous disposition, I decided that it might help to play beautiful music articulating the enchantment and rush of falling in love. Listening to Frank Sinatra reminded me of someone with whom I romantically danced by candlelight in my living room. Playing Sade brought me back to a weekend in Tahoe, when I spent a fabulous night soaking in a bubble bath, talking, and ordering room service with a guy I dated. Norah Jones transported me to a magical moment when a man I really liked finally made a move and kissed me for the first time. And — just as I felt a goofy smile creep across my face and I was filled with a longing for the fun and romance of finding someone I really like — I heard a David Gray song and was reminded of the guy about whom I wrote really bad poetry before he unceremoniously dumped me for a Hooters waitress. I immediately switched to a playlist comprised of Tool and Depeche Mode, poured myself a glass of wine, and texted “I’m declaring an embargo on men” to my best friend in California.
Getting dressed up more often. I am notorious for my collection of dresses (many of them very, very short), but unless I’m going out, I usually play it pretty casual. However, I decided that perhaps if I put more effort into how I look each and every time I walk out the door, I might feel better and be more open to engaging with random, potentially interesting people. So, I’ve been dressing up for everything from running errands on a Sunday to drinks at a dive bar, and last Friday, I put on a cute sundress for a lunch with a friend. Earlier in the morning, I stopped by my coach’s office and got the “You look fierce!” nod of approval from a couple of gay men — including my coach, who never minces words — so I spent the rest of the morning strutting around with the confidence of a drunken frat boy at Mako’s on a Friday night. That was, until a man in his 60’s pulled me aside at 7-Eleven and told me that I should “reevaluate my outfit because upon closer inspection, [I would] probably be disappointed.” If I hadn’t been so stunned — and I were less of a lady — I would have told him that he should reevaluate shirts that reveal he clearly isn’t adhering to any kind of diet and fitness plan. Instead — regardless of receiving a copious number of compliments on my dress from strangers — I spent the rest of the day wondering if men were checking me out because I looked great or because I resembled Kirstie Alley pre-weight loss.
Spending time with friends in happy, healthy relationships. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a bridal shower for a friend who — after years of dating some of the most truly terrible men to ever reside in the state of Florida — is engaged to a great guy who is really good to her. She looked absolutely stunning and I’ve never seen her happier. I left thinking, “Hmmmm … maybe I want all that more than I thought.” So, I sought the counsel of my best friend — who is happily married to a really awesome man — to get her opinion on how I should approach dating differently to find a successful, happy relationship. She looked at me point blank in the way that only someone who knows you inside and out can and said, “You need to date someone who is actually good to you.” When I protested that one of my exes was good to me, he just wasn’t right for me, she waved her hand and interrupted, “[Name redacted] was a selfish, spoiled, self-important jerk who never once put your happiness or needs before his own, and you never would have tolerated him treating one of your friends the way he treated you.” With my dating judgment now firmly in question, I think I’ll just stay home this weekend and hide under the covers with my reliable boyfriends, Ben and Jerry, while my friends have date nights with their fabulous significant others.
Watching romantic comedies. I typically won’t choose to go sit in a dark movie theater, but staying in and watching romantic comedies on a Friday night is one of my guilty pleasures. I’m convinced that I could watch When Harry Met Sally every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it, and Bridget Jones’s Diary is pretty much guaranteed to help me feel like less of a spazz. So, a couple of weeks ago, I rented Something Borrowed, thinking I couldn’t go wrong; a light romance featuring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski seemed like a sure thing to make me feel wistful for someone special. However, the plot revolved around a cheating fiance’ who treats two women he supposedly loves like dirt and breaks up a life-long friendship in the process. I found it so infuriating that I texted multiple friends declaring that romantic comedies are the worst thing to ever happen to women. This weekend, I’m planning to rent a less depressing flick — like Steel Magnolias or The Wrestler — instead.
My unsuccessful rut-coping attempts aside, eventually I’m going to have suck it up, find some motivation and get back out there — because even though “alone” doesn’t bother me right now, it will bother me if it’s forever. There will no doubt be more annoying guys like Rerun and most definitely some I like who drop off the face of the earth after a couple of dates. But, I’m hopeful that eventually I’ll meet someone whose quirks I find tolerable — and who can deal with mine (because, God knows, there are a bunch). In the meantime, I’ll keep wearing cute dresses, stay away from the romantic comedy section of the Blockbuster kiosk and be prepared to tell rude 60-year-old men to stick it where the sun don’t shine. And maybe along the way, I’ll bump into someone worth dating.