I started online dating last week.
That’s a line I’m sure you all wanted to read.
I started online dating for a couple reasons. One, I’ve been single for forever. Your grandparents were in high school the last time I had a boyfriend, and diapers the last time I had a decent one. Secondly, quite a few friends told me my being single is completely self-induced. They didn’t have an intervention per se, but the mounting side comments were enough to make me pause and think. [My friend Danika told me it was the energy I was putting out—whatever that means.]
Third and foremost, I did it as a personal challenge to myself. I hate talking to strangers. I absolutely hate it. I would rather have my eyelashes plucked out one-by-one than go to a networking event.
To sum things up: I started online dating because I’m twenty-seven years old and I decided it was time to [wo]man up. Coupled with an ounce of what the fuck do I have to lose, I decided to go for it.
I went on three swipe-right dates with people I’ll probably never see again.
I went on three dates in two weeks. The first one felt like a job interview, the second one wasn’t so bad, and the third….oh boy. This is going to need it’s own paragraph.
The third guy dressed better than me (way better). I was shocked when he ordered a beer (I think he was too). He lived in the suburbs because he didn’t think “DC was safe enough” (I hate the suburbs). And just when I was thinking, “My God this guy is such a p*ssy,” he ordered another round.
Inside, I could feel my forehead banging against the top of the bar.
“So what is it with girls in DC?” he asked, “It just seems like dating is—not a priority.”
I stared blankly. “Meaning?”
“Well, you just said you had been single for quite a while,” thanks for bringing that up again, “In New York, when you go out, there’s this energy that—“
I just want to pause right here—not because this adds anything to this post, but because this is one of my biggest pet peeves ever. I hate when people from New York talk about DC as if it’s not even a city. You people don’t have alleyways. What kind of place just stacks up trash five feet tall on the sidewalk? It’s disgusting.
“—I just don’t understand how women can’t be bothered with dating,” he finished.
As much as I hate the NYC vs. DC comparison, I suddenly found this conversation very, very interesting. For the next forty minutes we went into every minute detail of the sociological differences between our two cities, at one point comparing overarching priority lists between genders living in each.
“Listen,” I said, “I truly believe that when you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Meaning, if I say ‘yes’ to a two-hour date with someone that I may-or-may-not speak to ever again, that’s two hours I could spend with my friends—people I actually care about.
“Life is crazy busy here. For most of my life, my priorities went gym-work-friends-family-other crap-errands; with dating falling somewhere near the bottom. Now, it’s more work-gym-friends-tons of other crap…“
Spending time with total strangers is never a waste of time.
“I don’t see it that way,” he said. “My friends will always be there. You act like spending time with a total stranger is a waste of time. I’ve wasted hours binging on Netflix or watching mindless shows. If I spend two hours having a meaningful conversation with someone I never would have otherwise met, how is that a waste of time?”
Well, that’s certainly difficult to argue with.
He described the DC bar scene as if he had been taking notes on me for months. His account of women in this city were people who:
- Only go out with friends (me)
- Only talk to the friends they go out with (me)
- Don’t care about how they look because they have no plans on talking to anyone except the friends they came with (so me)
- Are completely oblivious to a guy literally staring at them from across a bar (me), and
- Return home after a night out wondering why no one talked to them (andddddddd me).
I found this entire conversation fascinating.
Never underestimate what you can learn from another person. Always keep your ears and mind open.
When I first came to DC, I always wore dresses, always got my nails done, always had my toes painted, and always wore heels to the bar. I recently went out wearing an XL flannel shirt I bought at a second-hand store, to which my friend Mike mouthed, “What the hell are you wearing?” when I walked in.
The difference between then and now, is I went out expecting to meet new people. Now, I love the life I created in DC (friends included), which creates an inverse-relationship with the effort I put into expanding my circle.
And here was a total stranger, someone who knew nothing about me beyond a two-sentence profile, who pointed it out.
The friends I have in DC are unlike any friends I had before. We come from different worlds—literally—causing me to think and see things differently. My friends, who I love more than anyone outside my immediate family, were once strangers I now ignore.
I make a point to write about the life lessons I learn from those close to me. But never underestimate the things you can learn from all people around you—even those who you will never see or speak to again.