Five Down, Many To Go

Terrified that having a puppy (as lovely as she is) would ruin my social life as I know it — I’ve been quite the busy dater this past month. I can’t blame Lucy entirely for my new-found interest in getting back into the scene — it’s also the chilly weather that reminds me of cuddling under covers with no clothes except socks, the smell of pumpkin spice that remind me of home, and just how handsome men look with rosy cheeks and scruff that’s a little too out grown.

And also, the fact that I’ve been single for over a year now…

Given, I spent some time (okay, maybe a lot of time) hung up over Mr. Possibility. And even, yes, sleeping with him far longer than I should have. But now that my past is both figuratively and literally miles and months behind me, I have the urge to meet someone. Doesn’t have to be my forever-and-ever guy, but just a guy….would be nice. It’d be comforting and exciting — and hopefully, it’d spread some of my natural optimism into my romantic relationships, instead of the negativity that consumes them recently.

So, with a few clicks of my mouse on three online dating profiles (yes, three!), enticing friends to set me up with the eligible bachelors in their lives and throwing some flirting glances across practically each room I graced, I somehow managed to have five first dates in the past four weeks. For me — who walks a dog three times a day, works 40+ hours and runs three miles at least five days a week — dating can sometimes be difficult to budget into my time. But, with as much hope I could muster without making my eyes blush, I jumped head (not heart) first into the scary Manhattan pool of singleness.

The first date, the guy upped his height by six inches, which isn’t really fudging on your online dating profile, it’s just flat-out lying. And while I know how tall a dude is shouldn’t affect my taste too much — it really does. Maybe it’s my own personal hangup or my need to feel small and protected around someone I’m dating, but it’s not something I’ve been able to compromise. I prefer 5’10” and above, but if I met the man I’d been waiting for and he was 5’9″ — I betcha I could get over it. This particular guy arrived before me and was already sitting down, so I didn’t know his 6’0″ claim wasn’t true until after the drinks had been drank and the bites had been nibbled, and we stood up to leave that I realized his very white lie. I wasn’t wearing heels and at 5’4″, he wasn’t even a head above me. The conversation hadn’t been intriguing enough to entice me for another date and his shortness in character and in height made it easy to respond with, “Let’s be friends!” when he texted the next day. Of course, no response.

The second guy was interesting enough — but mainly because he reminded me of my gay husband, J. He was flamboyant, incredibly social and made some joke about how he psyched his parents out at Christmas one year by saying he may bring a guy home (Red, red flag!). He talked more than I did, insisted on walking me home and didn’t attempt to kiss me goodnight (which I didn’t expect, either) — and still texted the next day. I did the same routine as I did with the first guy and this one quickly stopped contact, too.

The third date was the best of them all — over sushi and some wine, I chatted it up with a friend of a friend. The rapport was fast and clever, the shared glances were subtle and enticing, and I understood why my friend thought we’d get along. However, as I’m prone to picking up on what could be deal-breakers way sooner than I have in past courtships, I noticed that the majority of the conversation wasn’t targeted at me, but about him. He was the classic one-upper (which would be his Mr. title if he actually made it into this blog for more than a paragraph), and by the time the check came and left, I was ready to not compete in the conversation anymore.

The fourth date was my first Match.com date, and I was excited to see how powerful their magical matching brew really is. I showed up earlier and caught up on reading, while waiting for him to arrive. I could tell from the first smile that he was shyer than most men I date. He was looking forward to going to Comic Con, came from a good family and lived on the Upper East Side. (Which frankly when you’re on the West Side, is nearly too much distance to handle.) I was attracted to him and his politeness was overwhelming, but I didn’t feel that thing. I know sparks don’t always fly in the very beginning and they sometimes take time to flicker, but I think you know if the flame can be ignited, even just a little bit, from the start. He walked me to the bus stop and kindly hugged me goodbye. We haven’t spoken since, and I haven’t noticed.

The fifth date was on Saturday, and is still a little too depressing for me to share in vivid detail. What I will say is that I now know that some preferences are set in stone. Like, I don’t care for someone who checks the score of the game — and talks about it — more than once at a dinner table. On the first date. Or someone who gambles or plays pokers… a lot. Or who doesn’t have respect for animals. Or is sexist about the toilet seat. But mostly, if they think voting for Mitt Romney is a vote for women. Nope, not interested. But proud of myself for walking out of a date for the very first time. I have a feeling it surely won’t be the last.

Needless to say, I haven’t really found someone I’m interested in, even after making a whole new commitment to putting myself out there. I always try to find the lesson in everything — the silver lining that will make it all make sense, that will make it all seem part of a grand scheme, or some predetermined fate that I can’t even begin to visualize yet. But really the only thing I’ve become convinced of the past month is…

…dating can suck. It can honestly, really, really suck.

It’s constant disappointment. It’s something being off even if you’re not quite sure what that something is. It’s trying to avoid the wolf underneath the sheep, and to find the sheep that’s hidden by your mesmerization with the wolf. It’s hoping for a someone you’re not entitled to meet just because you’re you. It’s a lot of scheduling and work, compromising and wondering when it’s all going to fall into place. Frankly, it’s so exhausting, I’m tired of writing about it — but…

…I still want to do it.

Even if five not-so-great dates turn into hundreds of bad dates. Even if I have to endure Republicans and receding hairlines, guys who are in denial about their height, ones who aren’t out of the closet yet. Even if I have to meet all of the very, very wrong guys that aren’t a great fit for me — I’d rather do it. I’d rather suffer through and keep going. Keep dating.

Because you can’t find the right one if you don’t know how to spot a bad one. And you can’t get what you want if you refuse to go after it. Or to let it go after you. You can’t have your heart feel those many wondrous things it longs to feel if you don’t open it wide enough to let someone touch it.  To capture it.

And even though it would be so lovely, you can’t skip the sucky first dates if you ever intend to find a guy who you can’t wait to go on a second date with. Or a third. Or five. Or many, many more…