"So trust me when I say if a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a shit, he genuinely doesn't give a shit. No exceptions."He's Just Not That Into You
That quote is possibly the most life-changing thing I've ever learned about every relationship I've ever had, but especially about my romantic relationships. Once you've learned to accept this important piece of information, it's like you become some sort of relationship-guru. You give the best advice. You are able to avoid people who make you feel worthless. Everyone admires your incredible sense of self-value. It's great. It's absolutely liberating.
…and yet you're still single.
It's a fascinating thing, really, the entire dating ritual. Has anyone else noticed how incredibly screwed up it's gotten? The feminist movement, the economy, the invention of video games…these and many more have had both subtle and drastic effects on "the game," to the point that, personally, I haven't the slightest idea how it's even supposed to work. For one thing, there's no responsibility anymore. For one party to contact the other, I mean. Let's say you meet a guy on the El (Chicago's subway system), and you chat for a bit. You think he's attractive and interesting. He seems to think you're swell also. But he doesn't ask for your number. Have you ever noticed that? I don't think I've ever been asked for my number. Not in my entire life. But isn't that supposed to be standard if the attraction is mutual? In spite of never once having been asked for my number, I've given out my number, and I've also been offered the guy's number. What? When did that become a thing? Or, creepiest of all interactions, I've had men find me on facebook or text me when I definitely didn't give them my information at all. Yikes. (I've even had a couple of marriage proposals from random strangers e-mailing me on facebook. Amusingly, facebook files these messages as "Spam," so I generally don't see them until months later.)
So whose responsibility is it? If the guy doesn't ask me for my number, am I to assume he's not interested? To quote the movie, it is certainly plausible that if he didn't ask, he's "just not that into me," but on the other hand, cowardice has been spreading through today's dating scene like a plague. Okay, so maybe he's too nervous to ask or doesn't want to make me uncomfortable (that's not quite as harsh as saying he's "chicken," right?), so I give him my number voluntarily, and then he can do with it as he pleases. If he's interested, he'll call. Hopefully. Here's another depressing fact: I haven't had a guy actually call me to ask me on a date since high school. And even then I think it only happened one time. Our generation has a horrible aversion to voice-to-voice interaction. We order takeout online. We e-mail to make plans with our friends. And we text to ask each other out on dates. Think about it. When was the last time you talked to someone other than your mom voice-to-voice on the phone? You probably avoid it at all costs.
I'm not going to pretend that I have all the answers, but I'll be honest; I've reached a point where I will immediately discount any man who:
- Gives me his number instead of asking for mine.
- Contacts me before at least 24 hours have passed (worst of all, within the same hour that I gave him my number!).
- Asks me out via facebook.
- Doesn't spell the word "you" with 3 letters. (u kno wut i mean?)
It's not fool proof. It might not even be fair. (Who knows, maybe my Prince Charming has long since passed me by all because I found his grammar appalling and wouldn't give him the time of day.) But it seems to weed out most of the more unsavory men I've met. And yet there's just no guarantee.
A few weeks ago, I was traveling home to Chicago on the Amtrak, and I ended up sitting next to a man about my age. Naturally, I proceed to ignore him for the first 45 minutes of the train ride. Come on, guys. There was a new episode of Doctor Who out and I hadn't seen it yet. My headphones were in and my eyes were glued to my laptop.
But about 10 minutes before the train pulled into the station, he struck up a conversation, asking me how the new season of Doctor Who was so far. It was at this point that I suddenly realized he was not bad looking and had an English accent. (Don't worry. Having spent some time in England myself, I can detect a falsie a mile away.)
Oh God, I told myself sternly, please don't expose yourself as a British wannabe right now.
I managed to maintain my dignity, and we had a rather nice, short little conversation about the show, what we both do, where we're from, etc. etc.
We arrived. At the last second I thought, Y'know, why not? He seems like a pretty nice guy. So on a whim, I gave him my card, and, not wanting to come on too strong, especially if it turned out he had a girlfriend, I told him he should "look me up on facebook or something." I was sort of proud of myself later, being the Queen of the Slow Movers. (Seriously folks, I could lose a race with a glacier.) I also haven't been dating much for the last ever. So I considered it good that I was attempting to put myself out there. What's the worst that could happen? I thought.
"Well, he could be a serial killer, a child-molester, have a strange affinity for insects, or live in his mother's basement," I told my friend later that week. He had sent me a text the next day (avoided facebook and using correct grammar! Win!) asking if I wanted to "talk further over a drink sometime." Fantastic. Except that I'm personally extremely convinced that once a guy shows any kind of interest in me, it increases his likelihood of being a psycho or a sociopath by at least 90%.
A couple of days ago, our schedules finally aligned and we agreed to meet up for that much anticipated beverage. Being a very girly-girl at heart, I was looking forward to it. I even curled my hair. There have been a handful of romantic entanglements spaced out over the last couple of years, but it has been ages since someone actually took me on a formal date. We met up at 9:30 at night at a really nice bar (mood lighting, extensive beer and cocktail menu, and a 1920s speakeasy vibe), and the conversation was entertaining.
Holy crap, I thought, this is actually going well. He's even slightly more attractive than I remembered.
My drink arrived and then it happened. I had asked how he ended up studying law in Chicago, as he was from Abingdon, UK, and he had responded with a very long winded story that ended with, "and my wife lives in Florida."
"…AND MY WIFE LIVES IN FLORIDA."
Smile plastered on my face, I nodded and managed something eloquent like, "Oh. Okay." Inside my mind was reeling. What? How? I was racking my memory to understand how I could possibly have so wildly misconstrued this meet-up as a date. Clearly he had not intended this to be a date, right? Oh God, there was an actual ring on his finger. Sweet baby Jesus, what the heck was going on?
In retrospect, I probably should have tossed my drink in his face and gone home, but I was too baffled. I was convinced that I had misunderstood something and trying to figure out what on earth we were doing there. I finished my drink. The bartender offered me another. "I-have-to-be-at-work-in-the-morning," gushed out of my mouth instantly. GET ME OUT OF HERE!
He politely walked me to the train and proceeded to state that he "felt he owed me some further explanation" for the fact that he had a wife.
Oh please. Let's hear it, I thought. Perhaps it would turn out that he was separated or getting a divorce or even just having some marital issues at the moment. Not that that would excuse his behavior, but it would at least explain what on earth was going on.
But far from getting a divorce in the near future, he informed me that although the distance was tough, he and his beautiful bride were doing just peachy.
At this point all I could do was smile and nod because that's what you do to crazy people to keep them from attacking you.
And then he said something that made all the pieces fall together. "Yeah things are great with her. It's actually really weird. She basically told me I have a green light to do whatever I want while I'm in Chicago."
I'll bet she did.
"That…sounds like a trick," I said sarcastically, pretending that he had not just thrown that out there to see how I would react and that a married man had not just propositioned me after luring me out on a date under false pretenses.
I made it home and was finally able to process what had just happened. That had definitely been a date. No, I was not dreaming. It actually happened. My first words to my friend the next day? "I think I'm going to join a convent."
Except not really. It actually happened. I'm still recovering from the shock. He actually told me that he hadn't told me he was married beforehand because he didn't think I would agree to meet up with him if I'd known.
What a depraved, appalling, offensive human. I pity his wife.
In any case, that absolutely bizarre story finally spurred me on to start the blog about my thoughts and views on the dating world that I've been joking about but also seriously considering creating for some time now. I'm not qualified. I'm not a sociologist or dating guru or matchmaker or psychiatrist or anything else like that. I'm just an employed 23-year old woman navigating a sea of weirdos trying to find that special someone. This isn't going to be some sort of advice column or etiquette guide (although at times it may resemble either or both of those things), it's just going to be a space for stories and observations about what on earth is going on with my generation romantically.