Tonight, I’m wondering.
I’m wondering when and if I’ll ever find him.
I’ve dated for a while now. I’ve dated the lawyer. The medical student. The businessman. I’ve dated the Romanian lecturer. The Spanish professor. The R&B star.
I’m tired. And I’m too young to be tired. But I am. I am tired of feeling like my quality, my exclusivity, the very essence of myself, is being shared with men who are neither deserving, nor enticing. With each meal that I share, each movie that I sit through, and each coffee I sip, I feel like I am giving a small piece of myself to the young suitor who sits across the table, beside me in the theater, or on the adjacent couch at Starbucks. With each conversation, I feel like I am sharing some piece of myself with a man who is neither deserving of my time, nor of the access he is granted into my soul for that brief window spent together.
I never really believed in dating. I thought it was too conventional; inorganic, really. I didn’t believe in going out with someone just to “give him a chance.” No. I thought that dating, at least in my sense of the term, should be thoughtless. As in, you should meet someone in the grocery store and, amidst inspecting the tomatoes, he cracks a joke and you both smile. And you never have to question whether or not you want to go on a date with him because by the time he asks, after a series of pleasantries and easy banter, you just know you do. And so you say “yes.” Not only do you say yes, but you look forward to it. You enjoy the time it takes to select your outfit, to turn around in the mirror, and to call your closest friend for wardrobe advice.
I would like to call this ‘The Thoughtless Date”—the one you don’t have to decide whether or not to accept. The one whose sheer possibility fills you with unbridled excitement. Pure. Positive. Energy.
It has been ages since I’ve been on a Thoughtless Date. Worse, it’s been ages since I’ve been excited about someone. In fact, it’s only happened once. And I remember those days well: talking for hours about everything and nothing at the same time; feeling like he could anticipate my next thought. He matched the same principles, mores, and self-righteousness that defined my youth. And yet, he challenged me. In a way that no other peer ever has. He was able to take my best thought to the next level, adding perspective that I had neither considered, nor did I feel I could have conceived of on my own. And that’s where his partnership mattered. He complimented me. He stretched me. He was kind and loving. Protective and fierce. He exemplified, in my mind, the epitome of gentle strength.
He was the only boyfriend I have never had to work with. My mind was on cruise control when I was with him. I never had to work to be polite with him, as I have with many other dates, pretending to listen as they droned on and on about topics about which I didn’t care to hear. With him I did, genuinely, care. What he thought was interesting, I, naturally and of my own accord, also found interesting. With everyone else since him, I have had to politely listen as egomaniacs methodically stroked their own ego, simply wanting an audience to listen through pursed lips and furtive nods. I’ve had to attend events that I, quite frankly, could have died a happier person never having attended. I’ve had to smile politely as potential suitors made references to a future that I, in my own head, knew would never exist.
Yet I have neither seen those qualities nor felt that synergy since, and am left wondering if I ever will. So, after all the years, dates, and coffees in between, I wonder if I will ever again find a man who excites me. A man who, at the sight of his number on my phone, makes me smile like a freshman in college. A man who, upon hearing the sound of his voice on the other line, makes me feel reassured just knowing he’s there.
So I am hereby reinstating the dating embargo. Because when the date doesn’t work out, I inevitably blame myself. ”I should have been more discriminating before hand,” I tell myself, claiming that I could have saved myself the last three excruciating hours of mindless pleasantries and eye-gouging boredom.
Worse, with each underwhelming suitor, I begin to question my own worth. I wonder if he is all I’m worth, or all that I will ever have access to. ”What am I doing,” I ask myself, “to make this underwhelming creature sitting across from me think that we, in some misaligned universe, would ever be compatible? Are there fine men out there who are passing me up? Are they just ‘not that into’ me? Am I not hot enough? Not kind enough? Not smart enough?”
So, to prevent this insecurity build-up, it’s back to the basics for me. Old School. I will no longer go out on dates to be polite, nor will I go on dates because I am lonely and talk myself into “giving the guy a chance.” No. Not again.
Instead, I’m waiting. And no one knows better than me how unsettling it is to wait. You just wait until someone, well . . . “finds you.” And although this may be hard, I fear that the alternative may be worse. Because with each potential suitor to whom I give a small piece of my time, energy, and attention, he inevitably takes a piece of my heart; so that when I meet Mr. Man, I fear I won’t have anything left.