In the past year, I begrudgingly signed myself up for not one but many dating apps from Tinder and Bumble to the horrifying hot mess of OkCupid. (Literally, that was a nightmare and only lasted about five minutes.)
I forced myself to go on dates to get myself out there again, meet new people and simply just practice “dating.”
What IS dating anyway, right?
I’ve always been a relationship type of girl. The guys for me have always just been… around, whether they were friends I grew up with or college classmates.
It wasn’t until recently that I dove head first into the shark-infested waters of casual dating.
Lucky for me, I’ve yet to experience a truly bad date. The guys I’ve met this past year were decent enough, though I often found myself counting down the minutes until it was an appropriate time to ask for the check.
I started to wonder what kind of a stone cold heartless wench I’ve grown into until I realized this feeling was a mix between not being emotionally ready to date and simply meeting guys who weren’t right for me.
I honestly wasn’t sure what I was even looking for.
Do I want the kind I always go for? The extrovert who challenges my every move? Or do I want someone like myself? The introvert who can understand that sometimes I just don’t have anything to say out loud and that’s OK.
I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now.
I just hoped someone would spark my interest and finally, that day came.
After a few weeks of great conversation, I decided to meet someone. This time felt different than the others.
I actually couldn’t wait to meet him. I planned the date myself and I didn’t go through my usual “UGH, let’s get this over with” routine while getting ready.
Outside a coffee shop on the Upper West Side, we met and laughed instantly. For two people who have been talking for quite a while, it felt as though we had already met.
I was glad we had set up the date for the afternoon during Christmas break. Something about this made me feel at ease.
No unfinished work looming over me. No worries about getting home too late.
I could totally focus on myself, this date, and not letting anxiety completely tear me apart.
We walked along Central Park West up to the American Museum of Natural History. We discussed music festivals we’ve both been to, ranked celebrities we’ve met from best to worst. We even jokingly admitted to each other we’d been stalking the other on Instagram.
Maybe it was the drizzling rain and the way he chivalrously held his umbrella over me as I drank my latte, or maybe it was the fact that we shared so many of the same interests, but it was like talking to a friend.
We walked through the museum getting to know each other more and our mutual love for animals.
He impressed me by knowing the name of every bird we passed and made me laugh with ridiculous puns.
As the day went on, I felt the strangest feeling — one I haven’t felt in a while. It was a warm feeling but also an uncomfortable one, because I knew exactly what was happening.
Yes, I just met this guy, but I think I was starting to like him.
It’s a rare occurrence for me to like someone instantly, whether romantic or platonic.
As he continued to tease me for every outrageous comment I made, I felt myself giving in to him.
I realized for the first time on a first date, I was truly being myself.
I wasn’t pretending to like the same things he did and I wasn’t agreeing with every comment he made on science, evolution and the wonders of the world.
I wasn’t building the walls I usually do around new people. I wasn’t worrying about a future in which he wouldn’t accept me for who I am.
(We’ll see how long that lasts after this article posts… can you say #writerproblems?)
I was living in the moment and truly enjoyed every minute of it.
After everything I’d been through, I knew this was the time to be the most me I can be. If he didn’t like it, at least we’d only go as far as a first date. No harm done.
I expected him to bail and make up some excuse to end the date early.
But he stayed.
The day turned into night and what should’ve been a three-hour date turned into a 10-hour one.
From a great daytime date, to running errands in the city, and chatting at the bar with friends, this guy I had just met hours ago suddenly fit into my life like a missing piece.
I wasn’t sure if it was particularly him whom I felt had been missing. I refuse to believe that.
I hate to be that girl that falls head over heels after meeting a guy. This is not a Disney movie.
And I’m not that girl.
I realized this final push into dating broke my shell.
This is what was missing. This exhilarating feeling of the unknown.
It was the start of something new.
While he was a very nice guy whom I was and still am interested in knowing more, I realized my faith in love might have been restored.
He was quiet and humble and just as nervous as I was if not more. Maybe he had been through his fair share of heartbreak, I don’t know.
All I knew was that not every guy out there is looking to bag any girl they come across. They’re not all looking to mess around and they’re not all going to break hearts.
You just need the courage to get yourself out there.
It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be scary. You’re not always going to get a text back, you’re not always going to like them, and they’re not always going to like you.
But every now and then, hopefully more often than not, you’ll meet someone and see that you’re not the only one looking for love.
You’re not the only one with bruised baggage and you’re not the only one afraid to put your heart on the line.
While I’m not sure if this will lead to anything right now, I do know that no matter what happens, I’m not going to give up.
It certainly doesn’t put me on a dating spree, but when I do have the time, I’m happy to go out and live a little. In this new year, I wish for all you single gals (and guys!) to do the same.