New York City. The land of the quick fix. By the click of a mouse I can have cat litter, craft beer and my folded laundry be delivered to my apartment. Human contact has become optional, if you so choose. Within the hour I can have weed and pad Thai at my door. In that order, obviously. Applications can tell you the exact minute your train will arrive and exactly how many feet away your next sexual tryst is standing. Disputes are settled with instant access to Google and my bank checks are deposited by my camera. It’s a beautiful time to be lazy, indeed. It is also a beautiful time to be productive. I do all of my writing on my smart phone during my daily commutes as well as practice my foreign languages and learn new things through my beloved TED talks. Some of my friends have tried to sway me from using technology to meet men. “You don’t need it, you can find someone easily” they say. I argue that dating aps are just another tool I use, not exclusively, to meet people. Sure, I have met some creepers and crazies, but I’ve also had a lot of fun.
Today my employee was teasing me about my shoes. “You got a hot date?” I laughed as it is not uncommon for me to wear cute shoes to work. My nurse chimes in “you look so good these days, you must be in love!” The assumption that I am the type of person to be positively giddy in love made me laugh even harder. I caved and told them that I did, in fact, have a date tonight. “Oooh is it “Scorpio”? Is he cute?” People in my life sometimes forget that I long ago stopped being excited about dates, but their excitable faces made me satisfy them with “it’s a new guy and I can’t wait!”
I know I sound pessimistic, but I prefer to see myself as a realist. I am a career-driven 30-year-old who doesn’t count chickens before they hatch. If I base my life on my current working theory that I will keep dating until I find the “one”, my math says that I will have dozens of break-ups under my belt when that day comes along. Forecast for a potential break-up? Likely. I have not completely thrown in the towel, as I do put my best foot forward on every date and occasionally my heart melts a little revealing my abandoned romantic side. Unless someone really special comes along who is worthy of my monogamy, I typically do date multiple people at once. This way I keep my heart and expectations in check. I also have noticed that I wax and wane through dating phases. Sometimes, I want a real boyfriend. Other times, I participate in what I refer to as “expiration dating”.
“Expiration dating” is reserved for that hot guy from Barcelona who is in New York for the summer. My mind is in a completely different head space when we get together. We will never work out long term, but we can have a blast in the here and now. “Expiration dating” is reserved for the guy you really don’t like, but you got drunk and invited him to your cousins wedding. “Expiration dating” is for the summer flings, winter spooning partners and anything with a limited shelf life. I have dated many men solely on the prospect of a good story. I even dated a guy once because he crafted the best date scenario ever: a library date where we make pop-up books, eat apples, duct tape each other to rolling chairs and push each other down the aisles.
I caught myself fancying another “expiration date” the other day. Kendall and I were discussing a recent date with a man that I hated within the very first sentence I knew him. There was literally nothing redeeming about this guy. I had gone against my better judgement and agreed to a date with an “actor”. I have learned this lesson one to many times, but I went anyway. He met me at a nice-enough bar and said “you are four minutes early, you couldn’t wait to meet me, huh?” He then talked non-stop for two hours. He spent the first thirty minutes telling me about staring contests he had been in and won. The rest of the time was spent telling me about how his dad was killed by an oncoming train, his pituitary gland issue got him bullied in grade school and about his intolerance for tickling. I had been double fisting red wine and shots of whiskey and decided that I was drunk enough to stick it out. As he was later walking me to the train, we took a shortcut through the park. It had rained that evening and the grass was so slippery and sloped that I was falling down constantly. He pulled me close for a hug and whispers in my ear “I had a lovely time. Did you know that touching is my love language?” I saw his wet lips coming at me for a kiss as I pulled away. I yell “no touching” as I belly flop on the grass and slide down the small hill. It was, truly, a new low for me. I had ran out on dates before, but this was the first time I would have road rash because of it. This guy asked me out on another date, and I got my ass back to my apartment. Kendall asked “so, are you going on another date?” Without thinking it through, I responded “ugh I hated him. But, probably.” I knew that I was on the verge of a story-date situation and I had to resist the urge to drink that Kool Aid again. Just because I hadn’t dated someone I hated before doesn’t mean that I should. This newfound logic is one of the only signs that I’ve grown-up a little. The “I’m dating this guy because he has gun shot wounds” attitude was super fun for a while, but it’s also gotten super old.
Currently, I am somewhere in-between the land of “expiration dating” and wanting something real. I find that a summer romance is exactly what the doctor has ordered, and if something grows from that then all the better. My heart vacillates between the land of the living and the land of the dead, but I am just fine with that. My favorite thing about being in my thirties is that I don’t have room in my life for shitty relationships- friends, lovers or family- and I’m ok with walking away when needed. I’m happy just where I am in life and don’t really give a damn if I’m following some arbitrary time-line for my love life. I may still enjoy my “expiration dates” from time to time, but I let go of my own expiration date on love. One of the most inspirational people in my life, Anne, told me about how she didn’t find her “honey” until later in life. She looked over a table at me and my single friends and gushed over pictures of her husband on her phone with the enthusiasm of a schoolgirl. If that kind of love is worth waiting for, then it’s time I throw my “egg timer” out the window and stop stressing so much. I can always adopt if I want to, and my life is fantastic without a perennial plus-one. Who knows what tonight will bring, or what will happen with the Scorpio, or if I will live as an international woman of mystery for the rest of my life. At least I know I have cute shoes and can handle my liquor. So, off I go….