(Not) Dating is hard.

COLLEGEThe last time I was really and truly single, I was still in college.  Apparently, dating outside of college is vastly different.  You can’t just walk into a campus coffee shop and strike up a conversation about the Advanced Renaissance Art final with some guy who has statement facial hair.  Now you have to get an online dating profile and you have to wear contact lenses and suddenly every person you’ve ever met wants to set you up with their friend/coworker/cousin.  You spend about two months being really sad about your last relationship and whining about how lonely you are, so your friends do the friendly thing and try to introduce you to new people who might be willing to make out with you.  And for some reason, because you’re being ‘set up,’ you want nothing to do with these prospective dates.  You just won’t have that charity shit.

Now you’re back to being a moody teenager.  You can do everything yourself, you’re your own person, you don’t need anyone’s goddamn help.  You got a 4 on your AP English Literature exam, does that sound like the kind of person wPANCAKEho needs help meeting guys?  Every day after work, when you just wanna go home and make pancakes for dinner — cause you can do that when you’re single! — your friend texts you, ‘Come to trivia night and meet my guy friend who has a beard and is single and wears plaid a lot just like you do!’ and you text back, ‘I DON’T NEED YOUR CHARITY WHO IS THIS ANYWAY!!!!’ Then you draw little angry faces in your pancakes with a fork, and you eat angry pancakes for dinner instead of just regular, indifferent pancakes.

Plus, you don’t even know if you want to meet someone new.  You’re beginning to do that thing your peppy chickfriends told you to do and ‘focus on yourself.’  You’re doing laundry every week, and you’re even separating the colors from the whites.  Yesterday, your jewelry matched your outfit!  You begin to look back on your former relationship and you’re realizing more and more how much time you spent talking about your feelings.  In retrospect, your relationship is looking more and more like one of your old Xanga entries.  You think about one of the last arguments you and your ex had:

You: What’s the matter?
Ex: I don’t wanna talk about it.
You: Whatever. Fine.
Ex: Are you seriously mad now?  Because I don’t wanna talk about it?
You: No, I just I think we should talk about it.
Ex: I don’t wanna talk about it!

Neither one of yohook whatu even knew what ‘it’ was.  You never found out.  But ‘it’ is probably one of the main reasons you broke up.

Still, you feel like you’re passing up some pretty cool guys just in the name of not accepting help.  Your friend introduces you to a super good-looking guy who goes to Julliard, but he’s wearing a baseball cap, so he and his fraternity brothers probably raped someone in college.  Your mom’s friend tries to set you up with her son who’s in medical school and just went through a tough breakup as well, so you’ll ‘have a lot to talk about.’  That sounds like a really fun date, you can both carb-load and then cry into eachother’s hair.  But you still go on that date, cause you figure maybe he can write you a prescription for Prozac (spoiler: he can’t).  Your coworker brings a guy to a party so you can meet him, and he’s a straight-up Ralph Lauren model.  No joke.  He’s a fucking model.  What is your coworker trying to do to you?  Make sure your self-esteem dips so low that you never leave your apartment again, let alone let someone see you naked?  You’d totally go on a blind date with this guy — if by ‘blind date’ you mean you would date this guy in a world where you were born blind and don’t know what either one of you looks like.  You begin to think your coworker is trying to ruin your life, so you do the safe thing and quit your job.ralph lauren

You just want to meet someone in a spontaneous and perfect way, not in some weird forced set-up pseudo-date thing.  You want to be walking down the street one day (preferably in October), in the rain (but a very light rain), in a perfectly form-fitting cardigan sweater, skinny jeans, and Steve Madden boots, and suddenly feel an unexpected gust of wind blow some tall, handsome, intelligent, funny, quirky, sweet, available guy (who really enjoys baked goods, cats, traveling, ramen noodles, poetry (but not in a gay way), and Lord of the Rings trilogies on USA right into your lap.  You wish all these people who keep trying to set you up with guys could be as realistic about relationships as you are.

Getting dumped is hard.

One minute, you’re walking along through life, trying to figure out what it is lying gameyou’re going to do for dinner — maybe you’ll be really ambitious and buy a cookbook, or maybe just order Chinese food online because that other thing sounds like a lot of work.

Or you’re just sitting in a coffee shop, minding your own business, playing your favorite game.  My personal favorite game is called, “Let’s Lie to Everybody!” and the rules are very simple.  When someone asks you what you’re doing with your life, you say, “I’m working on a screenplay!”  It’s a lie.  You aren’t.

shower nopeOr maybe you’re in the shower, thinking about how great it is that your ingrown toenail has sorted itself out, and then suddenly your boyfriend breaks up with you.  While you’re in the shower.

Oh my, wait, that would never happen, would it?  That’s something that only happens in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you say to yourself as your boyfriend breaks up with you while you’re in the shower.

‘I was gonna order Chinese food,’ you say in a haze after your boyfriend breaks up with you while you’re in the shower.  Then your boyfriend starts to pack his duffel bag.  He starts to leave with all of his worn-out t-shirts that you really love sleeping in, and you’re just not sad chinese foodready to part with those t-shirts, man.  You’re just not ready.  So you try bargaining with him.  ‘Chinese food!  I’ll pay!  Totally on me!’ But he doesn’t want to do that because he thinks that eating dinner together after breaking up would be inappropriate.  So you try to cry, but you were just in the shower so all the tears blend in with the water and he just isn’t buying it.  So you start threatening him.  ‘If you leave now, I will make sure the Chinese food place knows that you broke up with me while I was in the shower and they won’t ever serve you again!’  And then he and the shirts are gone.

Your peppy chickfriends tell you that this is a great thing, really.  Now you can focus on yourself.  But you have zero desire to focus on yourself.  No part of you is thinking, ‘Yay, I’m single! Now I can paint my nails whimsical colors and eat cake without being judged!’  You’re very worried about how this all will affect your cat, so you focus on that for a while, but then you remember she’s a cat and doesn’t care.  You begin walking under construction sites on purpose, fingers crossed that something will fall.  You try to go to the gym, but suddenly you realize how depressing your entire iPod is.  You’d think you have clinical depression if you didn’t already know that you have clinical depression.

the hostOne afternoon you go and see Jack the Giant Slayer by yourself, then start crying uncontrollably at the movie trailer for The Host.  You cry even harder at the Man of Steel extended trailer.  You walk out of your apartment on St. Patrick’s Day and it smells like beer, so you cry.  You wonder, briefly, if vegans can drink alcohol, and then remember that you don’t care.  You begin to feel like maybe Diane Keaton is your spirit animal, so you buy a bowler hat.  You wear it once and take it back.  You start watching the ‘It Gets Better Campaign’ videos and pretending that they were made specifically for you and not at-risk gay teens.  You stop showering.  The shower is where the bad things happen.

Then, a few weeks later, you go out to a bar.  You sit there and drink by yourself, and you feel a little bit liberated and powerful.  You’re not wearing a turtleneck for once, so you think maybe your alluring collarbones will attract an off-duty falafel truck owner or — fingers crossed! — an intramural sports star.  A guy buys you a drink — a cute guy, wow.  He doesn’t mention your collarbones — strike one — but he’s funny and his drink doesn’t have any fruit on the rim, so he might even be straighmolart.  And then he tells you that his name is Molar and he makes toys for a living.  You sprint home and decide to never drink alone (in public) again.

There is, perhaps, a lesson to be learned from every break up.  So you decide to go to a palm reader and see if she knows what that lesson is.  She tells you that you’ll travel Europe and find love there, so you pull up your bank account statement on your phone and wave it in her face asking, “EUROPE? REALLY? EUROPE? REALLY?”  You ask her if there are any nearby construction sites.  She doesn’t know.

And then one day, you’re walking along through life, trying to figure out what it is you’re whimsical003going to do for dinner — and there’s your ex walking down the street right toward you.  He gets within ten feet of you and you black out entirely, of course.  But you don’t melt into a puddle of depressed ooey gooey semi-matter, or turn around and run away.  You just do the unthinkable and talk to your ex for a cordial thirty seconds, then you each go your separate ways.   Maybe you cry afterward.  Maybe you don’t.  Either way, you buy a whimsically colored bottle of nail polish and throw it out the window later.