It came out after a bottle of white wine a few strongly mixed drinks.
I could tell that after she said it, she questioned if it was the right word choice or if she should have been so frank. Our conversations are based on the best fundamental I think two women could ever build a friendship on: utter, complete, sometimes-too-deep, honesty. But when you just had another sucky date with yet another definitely-not-for-you guy, it might not be the thing you want to hear.
“I’m so optimistic! And I’m putting myself out there! I’m doing all of the right things and it’s just not working! It’s so unfair,” I blurted out in a dark, loud bar in the Flat Iron district. With lazy eyes and a careful smile, she said the big B word that no girl – single or not – wants to hear.
“But Linds, you do realize you are a little bitter these days,” J said slowly, taking a quick sip of her Jack and diet.
Even though somewhere, deep down in this overly-idealistic, terribly romantic heart I know she’s right, the word hit me like a bag of bricks. I’ve spent my dating career (if you’d like to call it that) and the links on this blog trying to be exactly the opposite of bitter. I do everything I can to push my spirit high and let my freaky hopeful flag fly high and proud, putting all those naysayers to shame. I promised myself that no matter what the future held or how many men I’d have to date before I found my mate, I’d never believe that forever-and-ever wasn’t possible. Surely, if I trusted the universe and all of its powerful ways of tying two ends of fate together, then my reward would be a tall, handsome man with a loving heart and heavy savings account. Right?
But two years later — and especially after the last few months that have sincerely been void of any pleasurable success at all — I have been a bit down. And if I’m as honest with J and this blog as I am with myself, then I need to admit: I haven’t given up completely, but I’ve been doubting far more than I’ve been believing lately. I’ve thrown all expectations out the window and most of my dreams about what I think my next relationship will be have been all-but crushed by my utter lack of interest in anyone. I thought that maybe I was just a girl who knew exactly what she wanted – and wasn’t willing to settle or wait around (Mr. P taught me that valuable lesson) – and that I was more than a little picky, but what I really am is someone who is dating. And perhaps failing at it. And definitely kind of hating it.
And maybe getting a little bitter about it.
After one last round with J, the clock struck way-past-midnight and I grabbed a cab to take me up the west side highway all the way home. And like I’ve done too many times to count in my New York life, I rolled down the windows to feel the cooling summer air, ripe with smells I no longer can distinguish, and I cried. Even though I sincerely had nothing to cry about, and even though tears don’t even faze me much anymore, I let it all out. I cried for all the reasons I’m angry at myself for being angry about dating. I cried for the men who pissed me off and the ones who looked so right on paper, only to turn out so wrong. I cried for all the ways I’ve tried to be available, for all the times I’ve gone out on a Saturday night when I didn’t want to, for all the men I gave chances to that I shouldn’t have. I cried for all the things that everyone always tells you when you’re single and that no matter how good-intended they were, no phrase, no reassurance has ever made me feel any bit better.
But more than anything, I cried for the only reason that I’m so freakin’ frustrated. And that even though I swore I’d never become one, I’m somehow a bitter bitch about the whole damn thing. I might hate it, and as my grandmother would say, being bitter isn’t the most becoming look a lady can wear – but sometimes, it’s the only thing that fits.
There are many ways to write relationship advice and multiple ways to go about finding the right person. You can read this blog and do a Google search on anything at all, looking for the right way or trying to figure out the right time or how to do the right things that will get a man interested in you. You can put yourself out there and you can keep going out with guys until one turns out to be more than just a guy. You can have tantrums on Gchat, on the phone with a friend from home or while sitting next to your best friend in a bar downtown at 2 a.m. You can read self-help books, make an online profile and play by the rules or throw them out completely, and nothing – not one little thing – will change your annoyance. You’re still going to be annoyed after you have five first dates that amount to nothing. And you’re going to question yourself. And the type of men you select for yourself. And you might find yourself knocking down that shield of optimism and greeting negativity instead.
You might find yourself sitting pretty like me, trying your best to keep your head held high and your calendar somewhat open, even if your hope is a little lost. But if you do find yourself in my shoes, I think you should own it.
Let yourself let it all out and say all those things in your head that you fight, let those “what if’s” come out to play and let your imagination lay low. Get mad and get upset, reject a free drink from some guy you’re not interested in and peace out after one round with one guy you’d never want to see again. Say no to dates because you just can’t stomach another one, and instead, stay inside and try that absurdly hard recipe. Tell your friends and your family that you can’t take it anymore and be a little jealous of the ones who have seemed to find their perfect person. Roll your eyes at the couples walking slow in front of you on the way to work and come up with all the ways being single is actually awesome. (Because sometimes, it totally is.)
And then after you’re finished playing the role of a bitter bitch, stand up and take off that hard, scary, sad exterior, and even though it’s harder than anything you’ve ever had to do, try to believe again. Even if it’s just for one night, for one more date, for one more minute. Put that bitter bitch to bed and try to find yourself again. Just like you gotta believe he’s out there, you have to remember you’re out there too, happy and thankful that you went through all the men – and all the bitchy parts of yourself – to find one another.
Or at least, to find your way away from bitter and back to (somewhat, maybe, possibly, kind of) hopeful.