I post a video of my roommate’s dog being teeth-grindingly adorable to my Instagram story. The views ensue, and I check to see if my roommate watched the video.
To my not-so-surprise, there you are; watching my stories like a ghost from the past.
You were an interesting guy: you worked in advertising for a production company that created commercials for organizations like the NFL and NBA.
But your true passion was screenwriting. That intrigued me. As a writer myself, I wanted to know more about that. I wanted to know your favorite books, authors, and publications. I wanted to hear about your favorite movies. I wanted to dive into a world with you in which I don’t get to explore often with others.
And we did, as we sat eating plantains and rice in a kitschy Cuban restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. You explained how you enjoy sci-fi thrillers in your spare time, but are also familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s most famous musings. You hooked me there — little did you know that Gladwell is one of my favorite writers.
We connected instantly. I felt it, and I know you did too. The way you kissed me, the way you pushed back my hair back as your lips pressed against mine, as if saying goodbye but I’ll see you soon, was magical.
And then, the text came.
Because even though you felt a connection, even though we had a great time, even though we were both writers that didn’t completely hate their lives (which is a hard thing to come across), there was one glaringly obvious downfall to us.
You lived in Hollywood, and I lived in Manhattan Beach.
That basically meant I lived on Mars and you lived on a remote island off of Madagascar that people haven’t discovered yet. Without traffic, it would take us 45 minutes to see each other. But let’s be real, this is Los Angeles. It would really take us an hour and a half.
So while it sucked to read your text explaining that the distance was too much, I understood. I didn’t want to waste that much time in my car driving anyways — no matter how deep my love for listening to audiobooks runs.
We exchanged a few “if you’re ever in Hollywood, let me know!” texts and then, it was over. Just like that. As quick as it started, we were just another failed Bumble anecdote.
That was months ago, though. So why is it that several weeks back, you started following me on Instagram? What prompted you to extend such a painstakingly obvious millennial olive branch? Or, less dramatic, why did you want to see what I’m up to?
And it’s not just you; I ask this to all the men I’ve dated through apps; from Tinder, Hinge, Bumble. All the matches that I took the time to talk to or meet IRL that still like my pictures and watch my stories.
I’ll be honest: I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want you to know how I’m spending my Sunday morning, and I don’t want you to like photos of me going out.
Because the fact is that we weren’t friends, we were never anything, really. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but what happened was we were two strangers that met through this crazy thing called the internet. Yea, we gave the whole dating thing a shot, but it didn’t work out. End of story — or so I assumed it would be.
Back in the day — like I know what dating was like “back in the day” since during that time, I still thought boys had cooties — I imagine things were much simpler. There was no social media; if you wanted to keep up with someone, you either had to call them or sit outside their house and stalk their every move.
If you went on a date and things didn’t work out, you could safely assume you wouldn’t have to see the person again. I mean, maybe the accidental run-in at the mall was a viable concern. But in that case, I imagine ducking behind the nearest kiosk would’ve been socially acceptable.
You could easily move on. And in no time the past would be where it was meant to be: the past.
But social media ruined that for us. And we’re stuck being reminded that our past can still keep up with us if they so choose to. Popping up, throughout the week, in our feeds as if to say, “Hey! I’m still here… remember me?”
And it’s not that I’m angry, upset, or uninterested in forming a connection with someone that could make for a great friend. It’s that the reminders bring up two emotions that I don’t want to feel from them: flattery and “what if?”
Ego already saturates social media. If I get sucked into that game, I start to lose myself completely. I’ll spiral into a scrolling frenzy, comparing my life to that of fashion bloggers living their #bestlife in Italy.
To combat that, I selectively curated the people I follow. I aim for content that’s a bit more uplifting. I frequently repost those cheesy motivational quotes and am not afraid to say that I live for the @DogsBeingBasic account. I want the reminder that I’m a badass woman in control of my own destiny while simultaneously indulging in my obsession for corgi bums.
So when I see a notification that a date from my Tinder’s past liked my post, I feel a twinge of flattery that is unwelcomed. I’m not posting content to have my ego boosted. I’d rather not know he thought my outfit from my night out was a bunch of fire emojis.
But I’m mostly concerned about is this: I don’t want to wonder what could’ve been. When things are over, it’s so easy to romanticize the best parts. Sure, our conversations were deep, and our interests aligned, but we also barely knew each other. I’m a firm believer that if things are meant to happen, they’ll come easily. If it didn’t happen the first time, I don’t want to fantasize about one day meeting up again.
So to the men of my dating app’s past: let’s leave what was meant to be fleeting behind us. There’s no point in dragging this on. We began as strangers, and we can go back to being almost strangers. If I see you on the streets, or at the mall for that matter, I will gladly say hi and ask how you’re doing.
But as far as my social media goes, you don’t need to be on it, watching what I do throughout the day.
That’s what sitting outside my house is for.