About a year ago, one of my dearest friends dragged me to go see How To Be Single against my own will. Say what you want, but I’m just not the biggest Dakota Johnson fan. (I know, I know, 50 Shades of whatever, I don’t care.) And, truth be told, I loved this movie. It really hit home for me because I realized I might have been taking being single and dating in New York City for granted. And as much as it sucks half the time, it’s something to appreciate.
Don’t get me wrong–it’s not always fun. As one friend once put it, “Dating in NYC is NOT for the weak.” And it’s so true. You really have to been top of your shit and you have to be AWAKE and you have to be strong and tough enough to hold your own against douchey dudes who unknowingly try to bring you down because of their own insecurities that they’re totally oblivious of, and yet, you have to be tender and vulnerable enough to enjoy a singular sexual escapade or an extra glass of wine even though you know this isn’t going anywhere past nice to meet you and be satisfied in the present moment of, quite simply, appreciating it.
After I saw the movie, I had a newfound appreciation. I went on so many more dates, and whether the guy was a total dud or a hot hunk, whether we had moderate chats or intensely passionate laughs and debates, I really did enjoy it all. I learned so much about single straight men in New York City (my friends have begged me to write some of those stories) and just as much about myself–what I bring to the table, what I don’t, how I approach a situation, how I can improve on it, and, most importantly, who I am as a single straight woman living in NYC and the woman I hope to become. Sure, this is an undeniably introspective take on “casual dating,” but as I’ve said many times before, we know I’m not the chillest, most unattached person ever.
I guess lately I’ve been thinking back on the movie because my fervent appreciation has, perhaps inevitably, faded. I notice this about myself, that I go through phases with dating. Sometimes I’m really into it, it’s fun, I can roll with all the punches, and then other times, I’m not into it at all, I have no patience or desire to meet another stranger for another drink, I’m tired and I’m discouraged. When I feel like this, I tend to get down on myself, thinking, Why don’t I enjoy this more? Why don’t I “live it up” more? One day if I’m ever settled in a committed relationship, I don’t want to regret not having more random sex or meeting more peculiar strangers that, for better or for worse, proved to be interesting and memorable experiences. Then I pause, and think to myself, Okay, but you’ve been working so much overtime and it’s just fucking exhausted. Give yourself a break. Why make dating stressful? Just show up for what you can and what you WANT to show up for, and enjoy it. Don’t overthink it. Yes, I often talk to myself and entertain hours of monologues inside my head all day long.
So I oscillate constantly between self-deprecation/total disdain for dating/deep pangs of loneliness and fun flirtiness/the thrill of the unexplored/the relief of total freedom and not having to respond to anyone but ME. Overall: a lot of highs and lows. It’s definitely a tough balance to strike.
The one thing I always come back to, though, no matter what, is that I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want something real. I want to be with someone who respects me, loves me, brings out the best in me. With a man who is tender yet masculine, who thrills me and lets me thrill him in return. Who likes the company he keeps when he’s alone and looks at me the way everyone looks at Meryl Streep. I want to be with an ambitiously driven individual who is intelligent and sharp and passionate about what they do, and yet knows how to slow down and enjoy a glass of wine at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I want to be with a self-respecting, self-aware man who is awake and alert about this life and this world, its complexities and simplicities. I want to be with an old soul who is artistically inclined or at least appreciative of the arts. More than anything, I want to be with a handsome, genuine man who really sees me when he looks at me, who is willing to get to know me, who understands that getting to know someone takes time and patience and romancing, is at peace with it, and wants to be known and romanced, too.
I’ve been told by more people than I can count that my standards are too high or that I ask for too much. I’ve been reassured by my closest soul sisters in this universe that that’s a fucking lie, and that I deserve to ask the cosmos whatever I dare ask it, and believe that do indeed deserve it, because I do. And, most importantly, I keep telling myself to not lose faith about it.
It’s not always perfect, but then again, what is?