Here’s something I originally posted in 2013 and updated for a reading last year. I decided to share the revision after a recent conversation with a friend about dating. She asked, “How has the process gone so…awry?”
They meet us at happy hour—colleague of a friend. They make eye contact on the metro the day the homeless guy vomits. So gross! I’m Trev. They view our profile on OKCupid. They swipe right on Tinder. They remember us from before we moved away in fourth grade and learn fifteen years later that their roommate knows us from high school; we both live in DC now. They Google us. She won second place in a photography contest in 2003. They send us a friend request. They start texting us every time the Packers play, then every time the Badgers play.
In the morning they leave without a kiss. We think, fuck them. Three weeks later they text again. hey hows life? They invite us to a party. We figure, why not. They bring us a new drink every time ours runs low, and as they introduce us to their friends their hands slide down our ass. She’s with me. They walk us home and say drunk things and laugh at themselves. I told my sister this, and I’ll tell you, too. If I were a woman, I wouldn’t trust a single goddamn one of us.
They initiate quirky routines that only we share. Every day they email us an uncommon word, and every day we look up the definition and write back using the word in a witty sentence. I don’t know, it’s just this thing we do. They tell us they love having such an intelligent woman in their life. You’re the best. They change their relationship status from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship with Meredith Jackson.” 137 people like this.
They make our friends recite rules to us from He’s Just Not that Into You: “He’s just not that into you if he is not dating you.” They tell our mutual friends what good people we are. They endorse us for the skill “nonprofits” on LinkedIn. “A man would rather be trampled by elephants that are on fire than tell you he’s just not that into you.”
They write an ambiguous comment in response to the girl named Sara who, we imagine, must be an old friend from high school (or something). Why else would she post a Destiny’s Child video from 2001 to their wall? We hate ourselves. For thinking they might be different. For being discarded—letting ourselves be discarded?—yet again.
We cry about it. We are self-respecting women with bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees and medical degrees and Car2Go memberships and well-defined Greek yogurt preferences and salaries that mean we can finally afford the kind of shoes we’ve always wanted. But we keep crying.
We need to get out of the city on Saturday. We drive to Virginia for a hike with a girlfriend. We huff our way up a mountain and vent about all the failed attempts to connect in our world of constant connection. At the top we shout into the hardwoods, in unison. Fuck text-based communication! We go home and write about it. Email, to our friend in Minnesota.
They do not respond to our email asking, “Hey, back from Uganda?” (they work in international development). They Instagram pictures of mimosas from their brunch on Sunday and on Monday text us that things have gotten really busy. They text again surprisingly soon, at 2:00 AM next Saturday. Hey wanna meet up? But later, Oops, meant for the other Heather in my phone. In seven months they will like something on our Tumblr—we had tried to forget they were out there—and ask if we want to get happy hour sometime. My girlfriend, Mandy, is new in town and I want her to meet only the coolest people first! Smiley face.
They make us wonder what happened to make it happen like this. What have we done wrong? Is it them? Is it us? They make us wish it were simpler. Where did the old way go? Like when our grandfather asked our grandmother to dance, and that was the beginning, and they both knew it was the beginning? And from then on, our grandmother’s life was—Jesus, how was our grandmother’s life?
They make us fear what we wish for when we wish it were simpler. But every day we grow more sick of how it is.