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Every lady knows and loves and yearns for this guy. The One Who Got Away.
By definition, he’s not in my dah, but he’s been in my life for practically all of my 27 years.
We met – as it were – as toddlers in the mountains, where our families vacationed at the same rustic resort. There’s a photograph of five-year-old, platinum blond, chubby-faced me staring at him across a wildflower field. He had long, curly, silken dark hair and in the picture, he’s wearing a red t-shirt and looking back at me cooly, like a miniature rebel without a cause.
If you go up to the resort even now, there’s a piece of driftwood where we both wrote our names in magic marker, probably that same year. He’s a year older than I am, so his name is spelled correctly and mine has a backwards B and Y.
It wasn’t until much later that I consciously knew I was in love with him. I was 12-years-old, with knobby knees and ears that stuck out, but I was still a sun-kissed, freckled blonde and had happily evaded the awkward ‘awkward phase’ that had stricken most of my friends during this time. At home in the suburbs, I was making out against lockers and in his bunk-bed with Rob The Hockey Player, though refusing every day to ‘be his girlfriend.’ I had that compulsive desire for male attention (even adolescent, slightly be-pimpled male attention), but I knew I was saving up my “official” love life for someone truly epic.
That’s when I re-encountered him, The One Who Got Away, on vacation with my family in the mountains.
Traveling out of town (I’ve been hanging out in San Fran & LA!) gives you space and perspective in life. But travel also can clarify some basic emotional truths. Like this one:
I’m at the mercy of a guy in my dah. My love life is pretty f*cked up.
As I walked along the Embarcadero Tuesday evening with my gay friend, lost in conversation about our dahs, I realized that we are both in love with the same kind of guy. Not a player, or an SJP, or The Unavailable Guy, or the Emotionally Unavailable Guy, or The Guy Who Just Blew You Off. No. The guys we are both yearning after are into us in a “more than friends” kind of way. There are play-non-dates in the picture. But these guys are not completely emotionally unavailable, as evidenced by the many “more than lovers” heart to hearts we engage in.
It’s a dah Catch-22.
I do not believe we have reached The End of Courtship, as The New York Times has just posited. I have been wooed by far too many emoji-riddled late-night text messages and been the recipient of too many deeply thoughtful gestures on the part of the guys in my dah to think we are living in the end times of romance.
Courtship is just different now.
Our generation has changed and evolved. As Ryan O’Connell pointed out (admirably withholding “duh” from the discourse), wouldn’t it be strange if everything in dating had stayed the same? In fact, given the over 50% divorce rate of our parents’ generation, we would be doing something wrong, nay, insane, if we were meeting and mating exactly in their way and expecting a different result.
Our current post-dating world, as we call it here at Dating & Hookup, has long been alive and well. In fact, we welcomed The Wall Street Journal to this modern romantic landscape in August of 2010. Traditional dates are no longer the norm. They’ve been benched on the sidelines for years as people connect and fall in love through all kinds of other ways.
Still, it can be hard to shake the notion that we should be dating. Guys should be asking us out, and bringing us flowers, and riding into our lives full-armored on white steeds. Right? Right? If he really liked you, if he was just that into you, if he was worth your time, he would date you right?
Alas, or rather, Hooray! People are falling in love every day. The journey to love and life-partnership could – should – be exciting, dynamic, and leading to amazing relationships (see: Dating & Hookup Book). We just all need to dive into our new romantic reality.
I got my post-dating wakeup call four years ago when, in an explosion of awkwardness, I inadvertently met the ex-wife of my (then) Boyfriend Prospect on our first date. Or, “date” I should say, because I’m pretty sure by any traditional definition…you DON’T meet ex-wives on dates.
God bless and damn the networking-non-date. The best and worst one I have ever been on started pure and innocently. They always do.
Tim was a colleague of mine who worked from home. We had friendly e-correspondence and I knew his address, because I processed his paycheck every other week. When I moved to his neighborhood, I emailed him to see if he wanted to get coffee or a drink.
I had no agenda! I swear! I didn’t even know what he looked like! I was really just in the market for friends, acquaintances, some work gossip and a few tips on neighborhood spots.
Tim and I met at a local bistro and one drink turned into several. An hour turned into two. Three? His hometown was a family vacation spot I knew well; we both had a passion for ancient history; we loved jazz; we had so much in common!
I was so frustrated I wanted to kill someone, or myself, on the elevator ride to the fifth floor. There was never going to be cell reception in the swanky, mirrored steel box. Still, I stared down my iPhone, willing the LTE to kick in, praying for half a bar of mercy.
Pressed all around me, the downtown literary types – who were probably going to the same cocktail party I was – tittered to each other. But I couldn’t draw my attention away from the phone. Why wouldn’t it connect to the network? The timing was awful. I was sure that in the 75 seconds I stood helplessly suspended in the air shaft, Nate would finally text me back.
Not that it really mattered. I knew that he would get in touch, eventually. We had been gchatting all day and had met for drinks three times in the past two weeks. Both of our offices were a block from The Modern and we’d become just as well acquainted with Akil the bartender’s gin martinis as we had with each other. But tonight I had to go to this book party in the Village, and Nate had a client dinner in Tribeca. We had gchatted about meeting up at the dimly lit, underground Australian bar on his block in Soho, later in the night. I loved the idea.
Because Nate had never kissed me, even as our knees and legs and arms and hands had touched and wandered as we sat closely on the couches at The Modern, even as his hands had found their way up my skirt in the cab rides we shared back home – first to his doorman building, then off on my way alone to the Brooklyn brownstone I shared with some girlfriends. I told myself each night that he hadn’t made a move out of respect. I was always a little tipsy during the cab rides; Akil’s martinis were strong.
And so it felt like tonight – on Nate’s block, near his apartment, without overt drunkenness – would be the night something would happen. He would finally kiss me. We could express all the tension, excitement, energy, longing that had been building up. I couldn’t wait. But he had to text me back! We’d been gchatting about the possibility of meeting up all day, but we hadn’t really made a plan.
In case we needed any further proof that dating is dead, I was asked out on a non-date BY A DATING GURU. Like seriously, a dating guru. I won’t reveal his identity because I don’t need the bad karma, but for real: this guy writes a dating column in a major NY publication, runs a private practice advising women on their love lives, and is writing a book about how to get guys to date you. And he just asked me on a Non-Date… But let me start at the beginning.
It was a typical NYC evening and I found myself at a book party full of publishing and media types. Over white wine and soft cheese, I was introduced to a tall, handsome man. “You’re both writing books on dating!” our mutual friend exclaimed and then moved on to mingle elsewhere in the crowd.
“What is your book about?” Mr. Dating Guru asked me, sidling in for greater intimacy. (This guy wants in on my dah, I thought to myself, but I’m going to keep it professional and see where it goes.)
A fairy tale it is not. In truth, it is pretty f*cked up. And by it, I mean my love life. Your love life. Our (collective) love lives in the post-dating world.
It’s been nine months since I’ve last written about the Hot Sex Prospects, OK Cupid Paramours, Guys Who Just Blew Me Off, and Manly Men who comprise at various times, and in various ways, my f*cked up love life. I could have had a baby in those nine months (sorry, Mom!) But instead, I have still been at “it.” Cultivating my dah. Opening myself up to my love life. Hoping to find love – and maybe myself? – amidst a crowd of not-so-shining stars, caught up in a never-ending, techno-romantic tornado of text messages, Skype convos, “games” of words with “friends,” and half-finished e-conversations, crashing, at times, to Earth – IRL – with the wind knocked out of me.
So there’s this guy I really like. Let’s call him Joe Smith. We met at a dinner party and for about a month have been eagerly texting, talking, hanging out and dancing to jazz records. We’ve been hooking up. We’ve had introspective conversations and shared silly inside jokes. When I was stressed at work one Friday evening, he texted me from a barbeque and wrote, “James Brown. Booze. Grilled veggies. Life.” And I thought – I could fall in love with this guy maybe.
I wasn’t asking anything of him, aside from text messages in pirate speak. We made no promises or commitment (geez – it had been less than a month!) I felt no need to “have a talk,” attach strings, tie him or myself down. In many ways, I’m in love with my independence.
It’s tough to know or realize when emotions sneak their pesky way into casual affairs. But as of a few weeks of non-dating this guy, I felt like I was riding fancy free and high.
And then I logged into Facebook.
Hey, Post-Daters! Becky here. It’s been a while since I’ve regaled you with my thoughts on porn, Disney princesses, my f*cked up love life and what’s not to love about the men of our generation. I’ve been focused on WTF?! business matters. But now! I’m back to blogging full time and can’t wait to be talking about poetry, libidinous TV shows, and WTF is up with media coverage on love and Millennials these days. And – of course – I’m excited to fill you in on the dah quandaries, triumphs and disasters of my love life, lately. So – ready or not – here we go!
“Darling, some of my best friends are exes…”
(paraphrased Tallulah Bankhead)
He’s your ex because you dumped him as soon as you got to college and realized varsity cross country runners were hot.
He’s your ex because he “wasn’t ready to commit” after a few days / weeks / months of…whatever…!
He’s your ex because you didn’t feel like yourself with him; somehow after years of growing together you somehow had grown apart.
He’s your ex because it just wasn’t working, and he wasn’t willing to keep working on it.
He’s your ex because. Yeah. Well. That text message. Moving on.
These (post-dating) days, there are endless varieties of exes. It makes sense, given the overwhelming complexity of our make-it-up-as-you-go, self-realized, technology-enabled lives. He could end up filling any number of roles in your dah, right? So it only makes sense that he would also play any number of roles in your life after your “relationship” ends.
Jess – I get the logic of your argument from last week’s Ode to Ugly Guys. Ugly guys are more fun and interesting than hot guys. The gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame also make the point rather well.
But what if I don’t want to have sex with that ugly guy?
Or, to put it visually.
These naked ugly guys are brilliant and funny (and for all I know geniuses in bed):
But, at the end of the day, I want to have sex with this hot guy (and so do you):
Such, evidently, is the predicament of the modern woman.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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