“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?” –Charlotte, Sex and the City
One year ago, I decided that I was tired of traditional dating and embarked on an experiment with online dating for the sake of journalism and true love (or something). Needless to say, my life is completely different than it would have been without the experiment. I can’t even remember all the sites that I joined last year – but the thing is, it didn’t stop there. As it turns out, the accessibility and shear promise that platforms like Tinder and OkCupid have turned them into something almost as addicting as Facebook. And so, after moving to a new city for grad school in August, curiosity and loneliness got the best of me and I reactivated my OkCupid profile.
Like clockwork, a number of milestones occurred: the typical bombardment of messages from guys who message everyone, talking to new people for fun, and becoming interested in someone who would end up breaking my heart. At this point, a number of patterns are emerging in my love life – I’ve been ghosted for the second time, I can never seem to find someone who is on the same page as I am relationship-wise, nothing good ever seems to come from online dating – and I’m still single. And here’s why: I choose the wrong guys. Actually, I make bad choices in general. I saw first-hand last year that online dating resulted in nothing but drama and sadness, but one year later, I’m still surprised to have been legitimately hurt by yet another person that I met online. A great quote by Einstein is fitting, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The same goes for the fact that I seem to gravitate towards emotionally or otherwise unavailable men who are not looking for anything that resembles a relationship (that isn’t solely based on things that I will leave for Gemma to tell you about). And just like I found out over the summer, it’s always best to be upfront about what you’re looking for in a relationship as soon as possible; but even then, disappointment always hurts.
When I first sat down to write this article, I was taking a break from crying my eyes out over a guy that I really liked who turned out to be yet another guy who would never return my last call instead of telling me he didn’t want to see me again. Since this happened to me last year, I got the hint early on when the texts slowed to a stop and, to quote myself, “Eventually, you take the hint and stop trying to contact them because the continuous feeling of rejection is just getting old.” But what I wasn’t prepared for was how upset I would be this time around – I really, really liked this guy. I feared waking up in the morning and having to remember that I would never see or hear from him again. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I would burst out sobbing even while driving alone in my car – I just wish I knew what I had done wrong. I started writing to organize my thoughts and to try and piece together whatever lesson there was to learn from this, and I just couldn’t. The paragraphs I wrote were dejected and hopeless and the best advice I could come up with was, “Just give up on everything, dating is terrible.” But that’s just bad journalism, so I took a step back and spent the next day with friends in an effort to not be alone in my apartment where I was doing nothing but crying for hours on end.
That’s when I learned my favorite lesson so far: I have some pretty great friends. Every time I move to a new city, I have the same worries about not making friends (even into my twenties and pseudo-adulthood, this remains a concern). But in just under three months, I’ve found wonderful people who will stay up with me in the middle of the night, who will eat junk food and then swear to go on a diet with me starting the next day, and who will sit next to me even when I’m crying in public. My very favorite part about breakups is feeling it pass. When you feel that moment of hope and clarity that everything is going to be fine. That moment when you laugh for the first time and forget about being sad. Oh, and listening to this girl for hours instead of crying for hours. Even if you can’t stand Taylor Swift or can’t stand her music, you can’t deny that she is having the time of her life singing these songs. I heard part of an interview on the radio where she said that she makes her friends promise not to tell anyone which song is about which of her ex-boyfriends. Contrary to her reputation, she insists that her songs about exes are not meant to call anyone out or to humiliate people who hurt her. Instead, they are meant for people to see themselves in her and to identify with the universal suffering that is relationships. She sings so that we won’t be alone. And if I can turn the pain of a breakup or a hard lesson into something beautiful that just one other person can identify with or learn from, then everything will be worth it.
“Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/But I’ve got a blank space, baby/And I’ll write your name.” –Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”