I had all sorts of hope when I decided to start dating again after a long hiatus. For the first week, all the online profiles seemed shiny and new, like clickable Christmas presents. I was excited to check my email and see what gifts were waiting under my tree, so to speak.
“You have great style!” “I like Rilke too.” “What kind of writing do you do?” “Want to grab some wine?”
YES! YES! YES! Unwrapping feverishly. Options galore. Hark! The herald angels sing!
Two weeks have passed and I’m like a sulking child, facing the reality that Christmas is fleeting. All discarded tinsel and bows and presents that are no longer new. I’m left to grapple with more disturbing questions like: Why can’t I find it within myself to be attracted to short men? WHY?
I’m talking about when dating fatigue sets. When you’ve binged on dating to the point of nausea. Every profile tastes the same to you. Steaming heaps of pictures of him traveling through India. At a friend’s wedding. His love of Michael Chabon. The Macbook pro he can’t live without. The kind of whiskey he likes to drink. You can’t keep stats straight anymore. Who’s looking for an intelligent woman with a wicked sense of humor and who’s looking for a partner in crime again? You don’t remember. You just show up at the wine bar and figure out who he is once you get there.
On dates you find yourself: restless, listless, disengaged, unengaging. Conversation is like squeezing water from a stone. Drop. By. Drop. You fake a steady drip well, but you’re boring yourself. You’re talking about student loan interest rates and how you had a deep friendship with your childhood dog. This is bad. But this where you’re at right now. This is what you’ve got to offer. Didn’t I used to be more fun than this? Have I always been boring and just didn’t know it? you wonder. You find yourself sipping a glass of Malbec, forcing a smile, caught off guard, not sure how to answer when he says, “Promise me you’ll go out with me again.”
You say “Sure! That sounds great!” because you’re so relieved you weren’t boring him as much as you were boring yourself. That, and you don’t have the energy to tell him that you’ve already dated enough guys who aren’t sure what they want to do with their life to know that you don’t want to date any more. The last one repeatedly asked you help him with his resume. And then he dumped you once you’d turned in a final draft. Never again.
The disturbing thing about dating fatigue, is that like dating drought, you think it will never end. You think the desert of men-who-are-really-nice-and-well-intentioned-but-just-not-for-you will extend on forever and ever. No oasis in sight. Not a drop of butterfly in the stomach. Just student loan interest rates and boredom for the rest of eternity. You’ll die there on that dry island populated with men whose lips will never touch yours. Die of guilt for not liking them. The spoiled she-beast you’ve become, the woman who thinks she deserves excitement.
Before you know it, you are as interchangeable as a Jenga piece, and this game that is supposed to be fun, is more like getting a root canal. You’ve never gotten a root canal. But you sense its awfulness. You wish there were Novocain to inject or laughing gas to inhale as you listen to him tell you how about how he used to skateboard or how his ex-girlfriend is now in love with a woman. You want to care, you do care, don’t you about the issues he has with his father? You’re not a misanthrope, you’re just suitor saturated and your love life looks like a pointillism painting. You’ll have to walk away, miles away to be able to make out a face.
That’s kind of what it feels like. But I hear, it only takes one decent date with someone you want to kiss to reinvigorate you. So on I’ll trudge. With the faintest whisper of hope in my heart. But in the meantime, feel free to send cupcakes.