A year ago, I was out with friends when a cute guy started to talk to us. In many ways, he was the type of person I’ve gone out with so many times before: educated, handsome, tall, in banking, a little bit of an asshole and a whole lot of charming. It might have been my frustration with dating at the time or that I saw so many ex-boyfriends in his eyes, peering back at me over his vodka water – but I just wasn’t into it.
He, however, was relentless.
We bantered for a while, but as soon as my friends gave me an exit, I turned away. He stopped me and I smiled, as I calmly said, “Look, you seem great, but I just don’t think I’d want to continue this. I’m trying to be smarter about who I go out with.”
He looked shocked (rightfully so), but he grinned as he replied, “I was about to ask you for your number. But you’re right, I was mainly trying to sleep with you. How long have you been single?”
I tilted my head, annoyed I’d have to answer that question yet again. At that time, it was a little over two years (it’s a little over three now). He put his hand on the small of my back, made eye contact and whispered, “You’re just about to give up on love, and when you do, you find me. I’ll be at this bar.”
A year later, oddly enough, I go by the pub pretty frequently. It was far away from my apartment then, but now it’s on my daily walk to work. I always look in, wondering if that guy is in there, and if he is, if he’s still staying such ridiculous things to women.
But then again, I consider, was he being that out of line?
Sure, it was a negative thing to say – but it’s also kind of true. In the years I’ve been writing this blog (and yes, been single, too), I can’t count how many people have confessed that they’re about to give up on finding someone and just settle in for a life alone or a life with someone they’re not that crazy about. I also can’t count how many times I’ve weighed those options myself – especially after yet another guy who can’t seem to capture my attention past a happy hour drink or two.
Dating in New York City – or frankly, anywhere – is a demoralizing experience. It takes consistent, constant, total commitment to putting yourself out there (both online and off), and even when you do happen to find someone you fancy, the odds are they’ll be distracted by someone else soon.
It’s a tough world to be a single girl in – but it’s also a pretty incredible one.
And I think I’m able to see all of the benefits and the beauty of this period of independence because I do believe in love. I haven’t given up on it. Maybe in some very low moments – like when my ex told me he met the girl he’d marry or after being rejected by someone I wasn’t that into in the first place – I’ve declared I’d thrown in the towel – but not really. Not completely.
Not really at all.
If I close my eyes, I can picture him. This elusive, mystical him that my friends have made bets on: “His name will be Dave!” “You’ll meet him in a year, I think!” “I bet you’ll get married before me, some whirlwind romance like your parents!” “You’ll know as soon as you lay eyes on him, I promise. It’s that easy.”
Like any girl who ever imagined her wedding day or her future life, I have an image in my head of what he looks like. I think about how kind-hearted he’ll be, perhaps even a little shy to balance my pep. I can hear his laugh, envision his touch, and see him sitting across from me at the dining room table, eating bagels we picked up and sipping on coffee from the corner cart, reading the Sunday Times. I dream of him sometimes when I’m laying alone in bed, wishing my Queen-sized mattress actually had the two people it’s meant to hold. These images, of course, are all things I’ve picked up from books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen. Things I’ve heard and stories I’ve been told.
I really have no idea what this man will be like – or (gulp) if he exists at all. Even so, I still believe I’ll find that love. A big ole’ love with him. Why? How can I still think it’ll happen after 100’s of first dates, 700 blog posts, three years of being single, and currently, six months of celibacy? After men who have cheated on me, disappeared, asked me to sleep with them on the first date, cried over their noodles, broke my heart and led me on?
Why? Why do I still believe in this man?
Because I see him all the time. He’s the guy in my office who proposed to my co-worker in the middle of Washington Square Park and surprised her afterwards at a garden full of her friends and family. He’s my best friend’s boyfriend who no matter how sassy she gets, he has a simple, beautiful way of calming her down, and never forgetting to tell her how beautiful she is. He’s the husband of my college bestie that takes such good care of their dog – and teaches it impressive tricks – that I know he’ll be an awesome father one day. He’s the fiance of one of my dear friends who didn’t see a proposal coming, and spilled coffee all over the table in some cafe in Brooklyn they had never been to. He’s the old man that I see walking around the East Village very slowly with his wife, holding her hand and looking at her in a way she can’t see anymore, but I’m sure, at one point adored. He’s the man I’m lucky to call my father, who finally joined Instagram and posted his very first picture: my mom giving him the why-are-you-taking-a-photo face and captioned, “#pretty #wife.” (Note: they’ve been married nearly 29 years.)
It’s hard to give up on something that you want so badly, even when it seems impossible. Even when all reason and all advice and all logic tells you that dating just keeps getting worse. Even when you dread going to meet someone for a drink. Even when you feel like love has turned it’s back on you, when all you’ve tried to do is make more people appreciate its power.
Even then. It’s hard to give up on love… when it’s everywhere. All you have to do is open your heart enough to see it.