Nonconsensual Crushin’

Your arm hair is touching my arm hair and oh sweet jesus I am excited about it. Like, pile of Corgis / found twenty bucks in my jeans’ butt pocket / just ordered dope nachos hell yeah extra cheese level excitement. You’re facing forward because I guess that’s what normal people do while illegally streamin’ & chillin’, and I’m praying despite your godly appearance you’ve been cursed with horrid peripheral vision and won’t notice furtive fan-girl side glances. You’re endearingly immersed in a fantasy world where summers somehow last ten years and every character is named something that sounds like botched German, but all I can fantasize about is what this hair follicle canoodling means for “us,” purposely holding my IPA in my right hand so as to not cut the sexual tension because I’m so not fucking moving.

But then you do. You get up to use the bathroom and my limbs are left frozen in place, too scared to wiggle my feet out of their tingly slumber in the chance it’ll shift my whole body and create too wide a gap for accidental grazing. You sit back down but the moment I’ve created in my neurotically charged head is over. We’re two people sitting on a couch watching a show which just happens to be filled with other people banging. It’s like platonic porn, it’s whatever, no big deal.

Except… it kinda is. Because for months, I’ve been trying to close that gap. Flirting just shy of shameless in hopes you didn’t really mean it when you said “No.” Pretending if actions speak louder than words inaction must be fair game. Offering you another beer because maybe you need liquid courage to finally press more than a sliver of forearm against me.

I start to imagine the tables are reversed. That instead you are sexualizing everything I say and do and only feel marginally bad about it. That I’ve told you on numerous occasions I want to remain friends, I’m not emotionally available, I don’t know exactly what I want but I know it’s not this. Think to myself what if it were you drunk texting me nonstop, commenting on my physical appearance as if that’s all that matters, pressuring me to reiterate I am not interested in all the polite ways I know how.

Because that’s the expected narrative, isn’t it? Guy hits on girl. Girl acts gracious and apologetic for being on the receiving end of perversion disguised as flattery. She isn’t down but isn’t sure how to remove “I’m sorry, but…” from her vocabulary. Wants the guy to stop trying, move along, please stop making me tell you to stop. These are the Tinder conversations that get blasted on Buzzfeed. They’re the people reluctant to change “no means no” to “yes means yes” because they like their consent to have some grey area. “Friend zoning” is an acceptable substitute for misplaced misogyny, right?

I am “used to” unwanted attention from men. I am also used to “playing along.” I do not flinch when the sixty year old man at the bar leaves his hand on my waist while telling my blonde haired, blue eyed friend she “looks like a Kardashian.” When the man who works next door to my office leaves a note on my windshield telling me I am beautiful, I defend him to my coworker who thinks it’s sexual harassment even though I am too embarrassed to go my normal route through the backdoor because I know I will somehow end up thanking him. I have grown accustomed to believing my nos will always sound more like maybes, that I am meant to accept these advances with courtesy and feigned surprise someone else could find me desirable–by golly, what a compliment.

So when I finally do develop a crush of my own–when the sheer proximity of a hot dude who is intelligent, and kind, and respectful gets me all kinds of worked up–it’s difficult to hear my own arsenal of rejection echoed. The voices of girl friends claiming “He’d be crazy not to like you!” too loud to admit maybe he’s not crazy, or gay, or playing games but rather no-justification-necessary doesn’t like me. It is hard to accept he is being honest when his body remains two inches away, his hand never reaching even though mine is open-faced, waiting. I have watered down my own language to the point of drowning out his, trying to read in between lines that don’t exist as the episode’s end credits scroll up the screen.

We get up to say goodbye. I press myself against him in a hug, accept that’s all it is. Let him go.


Horny Beezy Countdown

I haven’t had sex in 37 days and I am losing my shit.

I understand to the Mormons and prudes and less neurotic individuals this may not seem like a long time, and I’m sure there’s at least one of you thinking, “Ok, hussy, I haven’t spread these puppies in over a decade and you don’t see me bitchin’ about it,” but for the past three years I’ve defined my attractiveness by a certain orifice’s activeness; bloomed late at 20, haven’t stopped getting plucked since; got down on myself if I didn’t have someone going down on me; so it’s difficult to feel desirable when the last thing to enter my nether regions was a jumbo tampon.

This hiatus shouldn’t be such a big deal. I don’t feel my virginity sprouting roots back through my fallopian tubes because there’s no undoing the poetic permanence of a Seis de Mayo cherry popping—but it’s like I have no idea who I am outside of having someone inside of me. All this time for “self reflection” is pretty much just masturbation and blacked out nights vomiting feelings for the boy who bought me the dildo to begin with. I’m trying really hard to find stimulation without penetration, to stop scanning the bar for some hottie to buy me a glass of poor choices—back row, tan shirt, ayooo, let’s go—to mature beyond the dirty puns and sexual innuendos but no matter what I do they just seem to Keep. On. Cumming.

Last week I’m in the dressing room at Forever 21 and I’m horrified, partly because I’m trying on a romper and it’s one giant diaper rash of disappointment, but mostly because the girl in the next stall is getting audibly upset over this dude Marcus who just, like, isn’t texting back. I can hear her friend trying to console her with the classics, you know, “He’s probably just circle jerking with his friends during Call of Duty and forgot his phone was on silent,” but I’ll bet you five over-the-pants handies Marcus isn’t sending a profound message by not messaging back. Maybe his thumbs got amputated by his insanely obese ex or maybe he’s taking selfies with kids in Uganda to make his Facebook feed look hella cool or maybe she’s right and he doesn’t actually give a damn but for the love of God, woman, there has to be conversation more titillating than griping about the last guy to suck your nips.

Of course I don’t say any of this because I’m not a total twat and my frustration comes not from eavesdropping or rocking a $24.99 wedgie but from knowing I’ve been that girl. I am the chick whose interests revolve around who might be interested; the one scoffing at threesomes yet inviting third party listeners into my relationships like a therapeutic orgy; the one secretly hung up on men that I joke aren’t even well-hung when the truth of the matter is I’m not even great in bed. I’m lazy and noisy and surprisingly sweaty despite said laziness and if what I can do with my body is all I have to offer this world then we’re all in for a seriously lame ride.

I’m tired of being yet another 20-something beezy posting about asshats from Tinder;
Of having “How’s your dating life?” be a synonym for “How are you?” when my answer’s never fine;
Of thinking about that time he called me Kristine, wondering if her version of cowgirl was rowdier than mine, comparing myself to a woman I’ve never met as if it’ll give me any more validation than a stranger’s whistle.

No, this isn’t about THE PATRIARCHY! or mommy issues or goddamn Emma Watson, this is a self-imposed mental chastity belt, an inability to like myself without someone else doing the dirty work and it’s exhausting. I am single and horny and constantly letting self-deprecation take me from behind, and it’s time I spoke up and said “Hey man, let’s switch positions,” because deep down in my depressed little uterus I know there is more to life than oddly angled dick pics.

I haven’t had sex in 37 days. And it’s about fucking time I stopped counting.

To Be Single At 23

The following is for the young woman who genuinely believes she is relatively sane and desirable. The one who is consistently told by friends and family she is such a catch and yet, despite donning many a flashy mini dress on a Friday night, is still waiting for a fisherman interested in more than a hookup and release. The gal willing to admit in spite of all that is feminist and all that is codependent/clingy/downright desperate that any other woman who claims she is 100%, wholeheartedly happy without a man is either a lesbian or a liar.

Like me, you are in your twenties. You are single. And you are getting fucking tired of hearing your love life be compared to anything remotely related to shellfish.

Before we go any further I want to make the not so convincing argument that I am not “boy crazy.” I’m, like, not some whiny girl who just, like, really, really needs a boyfriend. I fully understand being by my lonesome at age 23 by no means guarantees I will be found dead at 77 clutching a dildo and a carton of Tillamook Marionberry Pie Ice Cream surrounded by 15+ dogs. Or at least, part of me—the often hard to channel, nondramatic, self-confident part—knows this to be an unlikely demise (hello, a vibrator would be way easier for my potentially arthritic hands). I could go on and on about how liberating it is to be unattached, how glorious it is to frolic through womanhood in a montage of Yoplait-Tampax commercials, making no man a sandwich unless I very damn well please. I can easily remind myself why dating shouldn’t be such a big priority simply by uttering the names of all the guys who made the possibility of a monogamous relationship seem like the most asinine desire to ever waste my time with.

The problem is that despite all this—despite a litany of awful first dates and drunken nights crying “Why doesn’t he like me?” over a loser who takes two days to text back and two minutes to finish—I’m still warily hopeful I could be someone’s brand of crazy. Even with all my bitching and moaning about how dating is so exhausting, I continue to make room in my schedule for drinks with Mr. Right’s third cousin once removed, just in the off chance he might finally be the one worth bringing home to meet the MILF. While I’ve given up on the dream of a meet cute at Safeway as some beautiful boy’s hand reaches for the same bag of Cheeto Puffs, I haven’t entirely given up on maybe finding a cool fella whose love for me far surpasses my love for synthetic cheese.

I do want companionship. I want it bad, you guys. But I’m in a tricky place. I’m not willing to settle, but I’m too impatient to wait for the universe to do its match-maker thang. I’m not going to throw myself at any human with a bulge between their legs, but I’ve gotta meet people somehow. And such is the dilemma of being a single lady at our age. Because you see by now you’ve got enough experience to feel simultaneously jaded and idealistic. You’re a grown ass woman who has made the mistake of getting into bed with the devil solely because he could make you scream to high heaven. You’ve had initially cute, charming dates use too graphic colonoscopy anecdotes as a segue to ask if you’re into anal within your first five bites of chicken shawarma. Perfect on paper, total duds in person have pined for you while you were busy chasing after the idiot your friends warned you about. No matter how many suitors you’ve fallen for, stalked on social media, cut from your life and never looked back on, you’re increasingly frustrated to discover you still haven’t got it all distilled down to a cute dress & witty table topics at happy hour science.

By 23 you’ve learned condoms can only wrap certain packages in pretty little bows. Your number has started to exceed what you can track on one hand as fingering leads to lax standards about who gets to home base, horniness now euphemized as “exploring sexual compatibility” in the quest to find good dick attached to a non-dick. In a jumble of one/two/however many night stands you’ll try to pinpoint exactly when you lost your innocence—that booze cruise sophomore year? the moment you stopped asking “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?” in favor of “How many licks does it take to achieve orgasm?”—but will have difficulty reconnecting with your childhood self while so anxious not to pop out any kiddos of your own. Sex will still be special, certainly not something to get all willy nilly about when a willy is involved, but it no longer feels like the holy grail of intimacy. Whether or not you’ve been in love—you know, honest to God cared how someone wants their eggs in the morning, shared parts of your soul that made the dude think “Girl, your crazy’s showing, but don’t bother tucking that back in cause I dig it,”—letting a boy see your naked body no longer seems that revealing. You’re old enough to recognize that as long as you’re being safe and it makes you feel good, no one should give a fuck about the fucks you’re getting.

All this fun vaginal freedom sounds empowering until you realize the last four men you’ve been intimate with have all had their mattresses sans bed frame on the floor, and you can’t decide if that means they need to get their lives together or if you should reevaluate your own. Because at the end of the day you want a guy you can rely on before and after doing the nasty, when work and family and general existence are getting you down and you need more than someone going down on you. You’d like to think you’ve thrown out your checklist for exactly who this hypothetical dude is, that “nice” would suffice, but unfortunately your standards are set a lil higher than “not a serial killer and/or tech startup junkie.” And that’s just it. You know what you’re not looking for—not vain as all get out, not emotionally stunted and incapable of basic human functioning—but are forced to face the oh so shocking reality that people as a whole tend to be more complex than their corny Tinder bios let on. Combine that with the fact that you’re not always such a treat yourself, ya verbally abusive cupcake, and you’ve got a mess of affectionately intended sarcasm gone horribly awry. Shit’s tough, babe.

Considering the clusterfuck of hormones/insecurities/cash money it takes to survive the dating world, it’s surprising and quite frankly insane any of us still try. I’ll bet you’ve made jokes about joining a convent or going vagitarian. You’ve sworn off men, told everyone you’re going to focus on you and see what happens, self-love, ya ya sisterhood, you go girl. There are days where you truly appreciate your job and your friends and your own existence, and are so grateful not to have to pretend another’s annoying habits are endearing. Yet deep down you wouldn’t mind having someone out there to non-ironically call you bae. To send good morning messages and buy you flowers and do all the things that sound so vomit-worthy until they’re actually happening to you. To make you a better person not because you alone suck but because you’re just happier together. Other than the ability to eat chocolate covered everything and never get fat, isn’t that what we ladies are looking for?

Like you, I am in my twenties. I am single. And dear lord am I getting tired of waiting for Prince Charming to get his head out of his ass to come find me.

The One That Never Gets Away

Over the years my love life has proven to be quite the game of whack-a-mole. Except instead of moles popping up to say hello, imagine a variety of smirking penises, and instead of a mallet slamming each down with vehemence, imagine a pinky finger poking at them in a “Oh, uhm, hi… ooh, no… no no no… go back down there,” gesture. While some women would enjoy nothing more than taking any form of weapon to their ex’s genitals, I’ve somehow set the precedent it’s OK to keep trying to get into my holes without fear of aggressive rejection. A “keep playin’ till you score” mentality, if you will.

Every few months without fail a ghost from fuck buddies past will appear unexpectedly, usually with more facial hair and blatant cockiness than when we last spoke, eager to catch up and fill me in on whatever they’ve been up to, as if we’re platonic pals who’ve never seen each other’s junk. Either out of the kindness of my heart or some bizarre feeling of obligation due to the reality of said junk viewing, I don’t turn them away. I’ll meet them for coffee (because by now they’ve forgotten my abhorrence to the substance), or make small talk on the phone (because the rekindling of our bond requires the sound of each other’s voices), and they’ll slip intimacy into the conversation as subtly as “Work is going pretty well, I’m definitely eye fucking you right now, I’ve been thinking about getting a beta fish, prove I’m responsible, remember when you let me touch your boobs cause that was chill.” I’ll accept their thinly veiled compliments, very aware I’ve basically figured out my hair situation and how to contain my social anxiety to an endearing level, yet I’ll be pleased they noticed nonetheless. They like the new me, they’ll say, proud of themselves for knowing me back in my cocooning phase, unrightfully taking ownership for my growth and new cavalier attitude. When it’s over we’ll exchange a slightly too long, too tight hug, he’ll tell me we should “do it” again, and I’ll tell my girl friends oh my god can you believe that?

But I can believe it. I used to joke about the first guy I was ever with, telling friends “Just because he took my vcard doesn’t mean he gets an all access pass!” as if I wasn’t torn up he only wanted my body in moments of post-breakup loneliness. As if I wouldn’t go on to secretly sleep with him repeatedly every time he came around. And I can’t entirely blame these guys for having the gall to ask for another go. It’s more of a mutual using than I tend to let on. I keep myself easily accessible. I write brazenly about my personal life, sharing details about my relationships and mental health, the daily screw ups most individuals would choose to keep private instead of paraded all over the internet. Alcohol goes first to my head, then to my fingers, goading me into texting old hookups just because!, just to see if they might also be three Shock Tops deep and thinking about me, too. I’ve maintained an open door policy, letting guys come and go as they please, never locking anyone out because I might some day need their company.

I used to find it flattering to have them show up at my step unannounced, never with flowers or See’s caramel patties but always with half-assed apologies, harmless curiosities about what I’ve been up to even though they very damn well know. It was a reassuring discomfort to be so loosely tethered to these men, connected simply by the possibility of predictable sex, the promise of familiar conversations. To settle because it was easier than starting fresh, getting complicated, falling harder, trying. Cue staged aloofness, minimal groveling, a dash of delusion, and we were on again. I convinced myself every round two/three/four would be different. It was on “my terms,” I knew what I was getting into. I knew breakfast didn’t mean boyfriend material. 2 AM calls weren’t invitations to go star gazing and remain fully clothed. There would be no exclusivity, no introductions as anyone other than “my friend Katie.” And I was OK with that, for a time. I was content with a warm body without any surprises and the ego boost of their return into my life. I told myself their horny boomerang tendencies meant they truly did care about me, even if it was merely conditional affection.

I’ve heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’d like to amend that to sleeping with the same emotionally unavailable asshat over and over again and expecting a happy ending that extends further than the bedroom. Insanity is getting into casual relationships over and over again and expecting yourself to be any less of a sucker for any small semblance of romance.

As I write this I am in the middle of yet another round two. I have yet again agreed to be in a relationship with someone who hurt me and apologized (though in his defense, he did come armed with sunflowers and Cheeto puffs). Yet again I am going to claim it’s different. Because this time I’m actually in love with the asshat, something I’ve never experienced before. And despite everything I’ve supposedly learned, despite the seven month gap of self-doubt and insecurities between popping my “I love you” cherry and hearing those words returned, I can’t help but hope I’m not just kidding myself this time. It certainly hasn’t been easy. I’ve made little effort to check my emotional baggage, and am laden with worries of never being quite enough. I worry my worth will always be measured in comparison to someone else’s, that I’ll never seem like the right girl until other options are explored and eventually cast aside. I’m scared people will forget to appreciate me as I am in this very moment because they take me for granted, expect me to linger and wait around every time I’m set free. I have spent so much energy feeling like a consolation prize for the ones who never fought for me in the first place; a security blanket for the ones who thought they’d outgrown the need for a blankie, only to realize months later it’s been sold to the next schmuck browsing through Goodwill. I’m finally starting to understand why people close their doors, and I’m terrified I’m unintentionally shutting out the wrong guy.

I am not “the girl that got away.” I am the girl that gets let go, pretends not to care, and has no fucking clue how to use a mallet.

Twenty Questions

We’re laying in bed with legs entwined, his face so close to mine he has three eyes, a hazy nose, and no visible lips. I’m absent-mindedly thinking about lasagna and tax returns when he says, “Let’s play twenty questions.”

He wants to know about my first kiss. Who, where, when? Hears the story, decides the guy was a jerk, I disagree—next question.

“If you could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?”

I can feel his excitement through his jeans and I know the right answer but decide to go the morbid route. I tell him I’m terrified of my parents dying—that if I could be doing anything in the world right this instant, I’d be sitting down with them listening to all the advice they could ever want to give me. Bits and pieces to last through my thirties and forties and fifties and possible divorces and miscarriages and the inevitable meltdowns over not knowing what I’m doing with my life. With a puzzled look he tells me I’m sweet, but I can tell an answer involving globe trotting or sex would’ve sufficed.

On my turns I draw blanks, unsure how to craft the perfect twenty for this boy who is looking at me like every word out of my mouth could possibly be the cure for cancer. It’s our second date and I like him. I’m genuinely surprised by how much. So I want to ask something profound, something that’ll really bond us beyond splitting nachos and some beer at happy hour. I rack my brain for anything worthy but fall short, settle for “If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you pick?” like we’re doing some sort of high school homeroom ice breaker. Eggs, you say? Yeah, cool, glad I know that now. The suspense was killing me. Fuck. Next question.

“Are you happy?”

There’s such sincerity in his voice it actually catches me off guard. I’ve always hated when people ask me “What’s your favorite band/color/movie?” I never have an answer, and when they press I’ll make something up, which is almost worse than no answer at all. I’ve always thought it’d be romantic to skip past the normal “getting to know you questions,” the basic details about where you grew up and how many siblings you have. The what’s your major, when’s your birthday, what’s your middle name checklist. I’ve imagined walking up to strangers and instead of “Hi, how are you?” I’d ask about the last time they truly lost their shit and how they found the strength to keep going anyway; about who they think of every night before falling asleep and if that person knows; about the thoughts and feelings that make us who we really are but only come out when we’re sitting in a room playing a game forcing us to share.

Yet here he is, this strange new boy asking me such a simple and loaded question, and I don’t know what to say. I’m suddenly hyper aware of my bladder and the fact that my feet are at an odd angle. I’m breathing excessively loud out of my right nostril. It’s exactly the type of thing I’ve always wanted someone to ask, except now I have to come up with an answer, and it doesn’t feel as liberating as I thought it would.

Am I happy? Muse, purple for anything decorative but not for clothing, Almost Famous. Hey, let’s talk about the weather! What’s your dog’s name again? Stop telling me I’m beautiful, I don’t believe you.

Why is this so difficult?

There’s a reason most guys will ask your favorite flower before they work up to your biggest insecurities. Despite bizarre spelling, “gerbera daisies” is so much easier to let out than the real reason you’re so goddamn nervous to start over with someone. It’s easier than explaining you want to take things slow not because you’re a prude or because you’re not interested but because memories of the last guy you shared a bed with are still occasionally popping up to say hello, and you’re not really sure what the recovery process entails. That you don’t know anything about relationships other than what you (maybe?) don’t want, and any time you get past a third date you feel like you’re just passing time until something goes wrong. That you can’t honestly answer a question about happiness because your emotions change every two freaking seconds and you’re not sure how much of that neuroses is considered cute.

But I’m looking this guy square in his third fuzzy eye and realizing absolutely none of that has to do with him. So I say, “Yes, I think I’m happy.” He nods, unfazed by my belated delivery, and reaches out to hold my hand.

Next question.

How Tinder Has Changed My Life

bio copyYeah. I did it. I finally caved and voluntarily created an outlet for even more freaks to enter my life. I signed up about two weeks ago in a moment of post-breakup weakness, pleased to be instantly bombarded with endless shirtless pics of 20-somethings holding puppies. I always figured utilizing an app designed for cheesy pickup lines was just asking for more harassment, as I’ve already had my fair share of restraining-order-strongly-suggested paramours. I was also (and OK, still sorta am) incredibly judgmental, and thought meeting randos through an even more watered down version of online dating was embarrassing.

But you know what? It’s been pretty awesome. I’m learning a lot about myself, and how to interact with the opposite sex in this peculiar generation. I’ve been on 3 dates in the past 4 days, and I’m finally starting to understand why my mom loves being such a playa. Since I know how much you goons enjoy hearing me rag on the men in my life, here are some seemingly trivial yet honestly life outlook enhancing things that have happened since I announced to the (within a 25 mile radius) world I was open for business.

    • I reaffirmed the lesson I previously posted about here. A basketball game, for example, is not the best first date for a myriad of reasons. Namely, I find watching sports to be simultaneously boring and stressful, and am more inclined to enjoy other types of ball play. The pep band is also too loud to learn anything about your date other than their amount of school spirit, cheerleaders bring out my lesbian tendencies, and the Kiss Cam pressure is physically crippling.

    • I’m a lot more concerned with pheromones and how to successfully fabricate them. I’ve stopped relying solely on the scent of my hair products and started wearing perfume. In true noob fashion I apply it to my wrist and then all over my body as if I’m doing the Macarena, and am constantly afraid I am a walking Macy’s makeup counter clusterfuck.

    • I learned breakups are horrible, and no amount of “hey ur cute ;)” openers can cure you as well as time. My first day of Tindering involved sitting in my bathrobe with a container of Marionberry pie ice cream, sobbing with every left swipe and taking extra big spoonfuls whenever someone with the same name as my ex popped up. #mylifeisaromcom. I found that while getting chatted up by other dudes was flattering, nothing helped more than whining to my friends, trying to get back in shape, and just taking it one day at a time.

    • No one has asked me to sit on their face, and I’m mildly insulted. I dare say I’ve had an unusually tame experience, with this exception.*

    *I’ve since changed my age range preferences to not include 19 year old bebes.

    • I realized a three year old could probably use this app better than me, for in the process of taking the above screenshot, I accidentally liked a “moment” of this dude drinking a beer I’ve never heard of. What’s a moment? Why does swiping have to be involved with my coordination skills? Is this going to encourage more living room foreplay? Fahk, man.

    • I noticed guys can be just as sneaky as girls with regard to choosing their profile pictures. Upon first signing up I was heavily under the influence of the cheerleader effect. Every photo on my screen seemed to display an attractive, possibly soul mate quality male suitor. But don’t be fooled, kiddies. Shots taken at a low angle or with midget female friends can hide less than satisfactory heights, just as “cool” pics of riding motorcycles or doing backflips can really just be a ploy to hide unfortunate facial features. I’m not trynna be outrageously shallow, but it’s like the equivalent of girls upping the contrast to hide an extra nose, or knowing the exact angle to hide their permanent food baby. Finding the appropriate level of putting your “best face forward” without causing first meeting shock is key. Also, sad but true PSA: puppy pics don’t guarantee pussy.

    • I’ve scolded myself for a history of drunken first kisses, and come to the unfortunate conclusion that sober ones are rarely wonderful/exciting and usually more awkward/dinner breathy. I’ve gotten real good at avoiding eye contact and giving half arm side hugs instead of sealing deals I’m still apprehensive about.

    • I’m starting to adopt an “easy come, easy go” policy. As much as I’d like to believe I’m strong and confident, I’m prone to excessively checking my texts and inventing stories about how the dude must’ve fallen into a dragon infested lagoon, because why else wouldn’t he be replying?? I’m not going to fall in love every time my phone tells me Congratulations, you have a new match! and I need to give these men the same out. One good date does not a future hubby make, ladies.

While the above are all incredibly mind-blowing revelations, I think the most important thing that’s happened for me is a slightly better approach to meeting new people, and a conscious decision to really be myself, even if I suck sometimes. This is the first time in my life I’ve felt like I’ve had enough dating experience under my belt (literally & figuratively) to be able to know what I want. It’s the first time I can look in the mirror in the morning and give myself a wink cause I’m not half bad looking. It’s this magical moment where I’m young but legal, terrified but excited, spazzy but–with concentration–fully capable of using my opposable thumbs to just say why the hell not and swipe right already. Maybe I won’t meet my other half through this silly social experiment, but honestly, falling in love with myself and this time of my life is an extremely corny yet amazing alternative. And I’m stoked.

Pass the champagne, hold the groom

My mother is dropping hints about marriage and tiny humans, and I can feel my uterus revolting in horror. It started with an innocent You know, when I was your age… followed by reminiscing about her first hubby at the ripe age of 20-something (read: too young), and how she can’t wait to spoil her hypothetical grandchildren. How someday I’ll find “the one” and stop replying to these hopes and dreams with emojis of babies surrounded by fire.

Somehow she’s under the impression I moved to this cow town to start accruing a dowry. She must tune out our phone calls about my nutritious & self-sufficient popsicle dinners and how the like of my life is too far away to do any damage other than virtual bangin’. I don’t have the heart to tell her the last serious conversation I had about procreating with a partner was along the lines of

“Do you need a ride to Walgreens?”
“Nah, I’ll take care of it.”

after the previous night’s rubber malfunction.

My average dating attention span is two to three months. Just enough time for butterflies and doing the deed, but just shy of real, honest to God commitment/feelings/wtf-are-we-doing-ness. Sticking with one dude for all eternity so he can subsequently stick me and continue the circle of life is an entirely foreign concept.

I get that as a child of divorce I wasn’t raised with a lot of confidence in the “till death do us part” spiel. The broken family/oh god, mom’s dating another guy she found at the carwash/where am I supposed to spend the holidays bull can definitely alter a young lady’s impression on matrimony. I know I didn’t have many role models rooting for the lifelong monogamy thing. I can only think of one friend whose parents are actually still in love, and spending time with them is like observing a rare and exotic creature at the zoo.

But even witnessing other people’s happy, functional relationships doesn’t convince me of a happily ever after in my future. Sure, I’m a sucker for a cheesy rom-com, and I would love to have someone around at 85 to adoringly cater to my spastic senile bodily functions, but I can’t imagine that person being someone I met in my twenties or thirties. If anything it’ll probably be some grandpa from bingo who thought the way I handled my cane was sexy as fuq. Forever is a scary long time. To think I could find a guy at 26 that I wouldn’t mind snoring next to for 75 more years is insane. I don’t care what kind of deity you do or don’t believe in—if we’re all allotted one soul mate in a world populated with seven billion people, that’s a pretty shitty system (even if you knock off a few billion to account for the appropriate sexual orientation/make sure it’s not a jailbait situation, that’s still a lot of freaking fish).

Yesterday at work I spent 5+ hours entering wedding photographer contact info into a spreadsheet. Page after page of pastel-hued, googly eyed newly weds laughing into the sunset—it was like Pinterest barfed all over my computer. And while I’m sorting through all these sickeningly precious photos, half of me is thinking Yum, cake, and the other half is wondering how many of these men and women are going to end up cheating with someone from the bridal party. Touching, I know.

I realize I sound bitter and destined to be a lonely cat lady. But A. Fuck felines, and B. I think a little dose of realism is healthy. I don’t have the slightest clue how to snag a husband. But I know there’s more than one person out there that I could fall madly, deeply, nauseatingly in love with, and I intend to find those people. I plan to lead a life filled with relationships that yes, may have expiration dates, but will run their course as long as I’m happy (if you’ve ever tried outdated milk, you’ll agree forcing the issue is never worth it).

I’m not trying to discount those high school sweethearts whose side-by-side tombstones read “I love you →” and “← I love you mostest.” Really, kudos to them. I’m just not sure if that’s for me. Maybe down the road I’ll have a change of heart, but for the foreseeable future I don’t mind leaving paperwork out of my love life, thanks. Don’t ask me where rings or infants fall into this seemingly polygamous scheme of mine. All I know is I’m going to wear pretty dresses and eat cake every day of my life, and maybe find a few people who don’t mind if the dresses aren’t white or if I’m getting fat. Sounds like every little girl’s fantasy to me.