It was a Tuesday night when Eric Wellington brought our previously super-hot tryst to an end. We’d been talking for about two weeks, so I was still really excited every time he texted me. Still announce-it-to-the-room excited. Imagine my disappointment when he texted me something so disgusting and vulgar that it led me to throw my phone across the room, rendering me unable to read it aloud to my roomies:
“Sweet dreams, beautiful.”
I never spoke to him again. Whenever his name lit up on my phone, I cringed. The memory still haunts me.
About a year and a half ago, something similar happened. I was getting ready for a second date. This guy insisted on picking me up instead of meeting me at the restaurant, and it occurred to me that he might arrive with flowers. I shuddered at the thought. When he showed up to my house with a beautiful floral arrangement, I instantly knew our second date would be our last. It took everything I had in me to even go to dinner with him.
Last week, an incident occurred that confirmed all my fears. We were sitting around the office when a piece of shit intern began talking about his upcoming date. He explained that he called her, like, on the phone to ask her to get drinks (which he’d later pay for with a gift card). Everyone gushed. “Oh, I’d be so impressed with a guy if he called!” “A text is such a cop-out.” “This was so personal and it took balls!” Me? I thought it was weird. And clingy. Weird and clingy. I retorted that I thought I might even say no if a guy asked me out over the phone. More realistically, I would have ignored his call, texted him back 20 minutes later, then gone through with it with some minor reservations.
And then it dawned on me: I actually fucking hate romance.
The flowers, the big gestures, the door opening, the sweet nothings–it’s too much. I’m not into it. It skeeves me out. Call me old-fashioned (new-fashioned?) but I prefer a guy who just plays it cool. Dating is hard, it’s inauthentic, and it’s awkward. You’re essentially signing up for a one and a half hour experience in which you are aggressively judged while you aggressively judge. It’s awful. Did he make me laugh? Am I okay with signing up for a life with a man who is 5 foot 9 and not 5 foot 10? Would our DNA mesh well enough to form a good-looking baby? Will I be able to look past the fact that he pronounces associate as “uh-so-she-it”? So many questions, and when you’re focused on IS THIS GUY PERFECT? at least one of the answers is bound to be “no.”
I hate it. I want my dates to be pressure off. Let’s not make a bigger deal out of this than it has to be. Let’s just grab a few drinks and see if we have fun. No need to buy me flowers, make an uncomfortable phone call, or tell me I’m beautiful just because some romantic comedy told you I want that. While I do want those things, I don’t want them from some stranger–it just feels inauthentic and cheesy. I don’t want them from someone who was saying and doing the same things two weeks ago on his last first date. Frankly, it’s a huge turn-off. I want them when they mean something. Buy me the flowers when I’m the light of your life and you just wanted to remind me to smile. Call me when you miss my voice. Tell me I’m beautiful because you see it with your eyes, and because you feel it with your soul. And if that stuff is never going to be true of me to you, then it certainly isn’t true on our first meeting, our first phone call, or our first date.