3 Struggles of #Dating
“How’re the ladies?”
I ask my buddy Alex. Alex has been on and off the dating scene in San Francisco for the past 8 years.
“Oh I’m just … having fun.” Alex says nonchalantly. “Having fun” is code for “dating around.”
It’s 6pm on a Wednesday, and we’re seated for happy hour at our usual spot in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco.
With a decade of dating experience combined with years as a McKinsey consultant, Alex has become a guru in the dating world. He has optimized dating strategies to maintain a lifestyle in “just having fun” — from first hookup timing, to post-hookup texting etiquette, to DTR avoidance tactics.
“How’re things with you?” Alex asks as his eyes widen with curiosity.
Struggle 1: I changed my mind
“I was just messaging a guy that I met online, and we decide to meet in person. He asked me if I wanted to meet for a drink at 8 or 9pm. The thing is, I go to bed at 9pm. So I text him back saying: ‘Hey, I changed my mind. Don’t want to meet anymore because I am a morning person and 9pm is too late for me. All the best! Good luck!’”
“That’s ridiculous. You do realize that you could have just switched the time of the date, right?
“Oh, I didn’t think of that. You know how dense I can be.”
“So he replied back: ‘How about a morning or early afternoon date?’ To which I replied ‘Nah.’ To which he replied: ‘Wait, I’ve been excited to meet you! If you change your mind, ever, let me know!’
“I like this guy. And you messed that one up,” Alex concludes.
“Maybe I’ll reply and tell him I changed my mind again. I will go on a date after all.” I go.
“No, you clown. Just let the fish go. You don’t deserve a date with him.” Alex says affirmingly.
“Fine. Ugh, I wish I said something normal.”
“That is normal for Tia. Just not normal for everyone else. You do realize that the vast majority of people do not go to bed at 9pm, right? You need to shift your bedtime if you want to date people.” Alex says sternly.
His eyes narrow as his eyebrows slowly begin to furrow. Alex was once a computer science TA and occasionally his disciplinary teacher face slips out.
“Nah, I keeping my 9pm bedtime. I’ll be alone forever, but at least I’d have slept well.” I proclaim proudly.
We both laugh.
Struggle 2: I’m a crazy bitch
“Then sometimes, when I’m on a date and I feel nervous, I start lying about myself.”
“What do you lie about?”
“Recently, I talked about how I love strip clubs. And how my all time favorite stripper, named Daffodil, lost her Dad due to cancer. Daf is working as a stripper so she can put herself through school and she gives me amazing lap dances. ”
Alex is now laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of what I just said.
“So how’d he respond?” Alex goes.
“He broke it off. He said he couldn’t relate to what I was talking about.” I chuckle.
“Reasonable man. Why did you say all that Tia?!”
“Because I was sleep deprived, so I felt a little stressed out.”
“But why did you make up such an elaborate lie?”
“Dude, it’s coming from my reptilian brain. When I feel stres, it triggers me to fight or flight. But I’m not going to fight him. And I’m not going to run away because I like him a lot and want to spend time with him. So I do this weird thing, where I make up stories about myself. I’d project an image of myself that’s exactly what he doesn’t want in a woman. The guy was a serious Catholic, so I made up a strip club story. It’s a defense mechanism — I know if I project myself as clearly repulsive, he probably won’t attack me. And then I’m safe.”
“So you pretend to be a crazy bitch?” Alex says in disbelief.
“Exactly! When I get sleep deprived, my reptilian brain goes into survival mode and tells my frontal cortex to do what I do best — talk my way out of unsafe situations. Once, I told a guy that I had rage all the time, and that I was getting an anger management coach. Subconciously, I was just trying to convince him that I’m capable of fighting him.”
“Oh, guys love being with women with rage.” Alex chuckles.
“I am ridiculous.”
“Let me see if I got this right. You project a false image.” Alex concludes, “But that image is not a better version of yourself. By nature, you’re are warm and thoughtful. But you project yourself as angry and controlling. Brilliant.”
“Yeaaa… I need to get rid of this stress-triggered lying habit. I am just…struggling to control my reptilian brain.” I say wistfully as I channel Alex’s reprimanding frown to my inner reptilian brain.
“We all have an idiotic reptilian brain,” Alex says. “Look. Just be normal Tia. Which is interesting enough on its own.”
“Don’t lie. Shocking.” I roll my eyes.
“Oh I’m not telling you to not lie. Just continue doing whatever level of lying you’re doing right now with me.”
Now we’re both laughing uncontrollably over the ridiculousness of what he just said.
In that moment, I felt enormous gratitude for my friend and his ability to witness my idiosyncrasies.
Read the prequel to this story:
A Facebook event invitation pops up on my iPhone. “Birthday Drinks” from my buddy Alex. I tap to see details of the…medium.com
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