When I was 23, I dated a guy because he had a sweet DVD collection. Like, every cool DVD you could think of, he had it – and more. In the first week of us dating, he had a house party where all his cool friends showed up (one of them had a dreadlock), and he strummed his guitar in the courtyard. I got so drunk I had to puke. I wasn’t in a toilet at the time; I had retreated to the guy’s bedroom to nap. He found me there, and I explained, “I will vomit any second.” He grabbed an empty ice cream container (from where, I will never know) and caught my puke. With the rubbing of my back, cooing of my name, and reassurances that “it’s all good, sweetie”, I became his girlfriend – because that’s how dating worked in my 20s.
Look, we had an OK time together. We went DVD shopping, which was kind of redundant, since his collection of DVDs was already so big it required its own room (many of them he’d never even watched, although he insisted he would eventually watch them all, even if it meant dedicating his retirement years to the task), plus he worked in DVD distribution, so he received dozens of free DVDs every week. Still, it was something to do. And I’m pretty sure he loved me. He bought me an insane $2000 limited edition Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD set, just ’cos; he bought me every season of Degrassi: The Next Generation on DVD for the same reason. But did those DVD purchases make him the love of my life? Well, no.
I used to think that another guy I dated in my 20s was the love of my life (a guy who owned upwards of 4000 records), but am now pretty sure we just appreciated the same Simpsons references. There are other guys I dated in my 20s with whom I had even less in common. Why did I go out with a professional wrestler? Because I liked his zine. Why did I date a guy who did literally nothing but online gaming every day? Because I thought he looked like a lizard. Now, at 33, things have changed. I can’t just date someone because they resemble a reptile or have a super-impressive collection of shit – I need to connect with them on a deeper level. We need to share values and a perspective on life. Anything less isn’t worth my time, because I’m older and therefore closer to death.
But seeking something more meaningful has made dating infinitely harder. And, for the time being, shittier, too. I recently dated a guy who said I had the same “soul” as him, then took me to see the most boring film ever made (I think it was about a boat) and sniffed throughout it. With each sniff, he sucked more fluid snot back into his sinuses. I went out with an artist, who broke down after one drink, detailing every time he had failed at anything in his life. He kept laughing nervously, as if I was Michael Madsen, about to slice his ear off. I dated a scientist, who “loved” bacteria. We ordered drinks at a bar, then while waiting for them to arrive, he leaned in and drooled on my lips. I assume this was his version of kissing? Another man just burped in my mouth.
I’m keeping an open mind – and an open heart, too. No matter how many burpers I come into contact with, I remain optimistic. A best friend who is also my lover is out there, I’m sure of it. And the fact that I’m interested in dating fewer (i.e. no) people assures me (ironically) that I’m closer to finding a partner for life. But being picky means being lonely. I’m thinking of getting a cat.
This article first appeared in frankie magazine issue 76 (Mar/Apr 2017).