1. The Careerist
The Careerist spent her entire twenties in school, or working 65 hours a week on the Hill for $30,000 per annum. Now she is midway up the career ladder and consumed with climbing even higher. She thinks about dating, and even tries to sometimes, but all the men she meets are Mr. Saturday Night types or, at best, Braying Asses. The kind of sweet, scruffy grad school students she used to date have either morphed into one of the two types mentioned above or stayed sweet and scruffy and are totally threatened by dating someone who makes more money than they do. So, she eats her Lean Cuisines alone in her condo and ponders dog ownership, always deciding that she just doesn’t have the time for one right now, but soon. Soon.
2. The Gay Divorcee
Whether she has kids or not, The Gay Divorcee is exhausted and wary. She has seen the upsides and downsides of committed couplehood, and she’s not at all sure the pleasures of the first are worth the horrors of the second. She doesn’t quite fit in with her single friends, who are wistful for their own white weddings (and a bit jealous of her wedding registry KitchenAid mixer and heavy flatware), but to some of her married friends she is anathema — the worst case scenario, a living embodiment of the ultimate catastrophe. She has some trust issues. She has some anger. She has what you might call baggage. She is either deeply relieved that she did not procreate with her ex, or terrified that she’s missed her chance. The idea of dating makes her want to sleep for days.
3. The Upbeat Ugly Duckling
The Duckling is everyone’s best pal. She is a sympathetic ear for the emotionally conflicted, bridesmaid extraordinaire, the fun auntie who buys the best birthday presents, and on-demand brunch buddy for her gay friends. She bakes cupcakes. She’s a joiner — book clubs, volunteer tutoring, Improv classes. She has mastered the art of being the plus-one, the person who fills in at the concert when a date backs out at the last minute. There are plenty of people she could call at three a.m., which is great, but she wishes there were someone she could wake by rolling over and shaking his shoulder. Her romantic interests tend to be the kind of men who don’t commit, and definitely the kind who don’t come to potluck night with the gang. She has been waiting for the pieces to fall into place, and is becoming increasingly concerned that they might not, but she maintains an outwardly cheerful countenance anyway.
4. The Mouse
The Mouse is a nervous, timid girl, usually wearing a cardigan to counter a chill that no one else feels. Her hobbies are esoteric — maybe she sings in a choir, or takes ceramics. She hasn’t been known to date anyone for years, in fact, it’s generally assumed that she is a little afraid of men, their roughness and loudness and unpredictable natures. Her life is a china shop, and she fears the proverbial bull. She has two cats, each of which has an old-fashioned, multisyllabic name — Desdemona or Sebastian. The Mouse musters up the courage to put herself out there every once in a while, but psyching herself up for the Singles Volunteer Event or whatever is so exhausting that she’s always spent by the time it rolls around. Her shabby-chic apartment on a quiet street is her bookish refuge.
5. The Aging Party Girl
Well, she finally quit smoking, but she seems a little lost without the habit. The Party Girl still hits the old haunts, but now it’s mostly to reminisce with her bartender friends about old crazy antics instead of to create new mayhem. She used to sleep with the band guy back in the day, and now when she runs into him on the street she is stunned by how old and tired he looks; all gin blossoms and jowl. It makes her grateful for the feminine mercies afforded by makeup. Recently, she caught herself wondering for the first time if her outfit was age-appropriate. She promptly ordered a Grand Marnier back to banish that thought. She misses her old crowd, now mostly married and saddled with kids. The people she sees out now just seem so… callow, but what is she supposed to do, stay home alone?
6. The Determined Dater
The DD has chipper profiles on Match.com, eHarmony, PLentyofFish, and several even less reputable sites that she doesn’t tell people about. She dates like it’s a part-time job. She’s looked at so many profiles, and been on so many awkward coffee dates, that every man in the city looks vaguely familiar. When men make eye contact with her on the street, she smiles radiantly just in case it’s someone she’s kissed. She has a first date outfit for every season and rotates shoes according to her prospective dates’ alleged height. She has been telling herself that it’s a numbers game, but the more she crunches the numbers the more fearful she is that this particular account won’t ever balance. She sets deadlines for herself — If I’m not in a committed relationship by 37 I will go to a sperm bank — but gratefully lets them slip when a date seems promising. She has decided that she will spend her next tax return on matchmaking services, and the one after that on cryogenic egg preservation.
7. The Zen Mistress
This incredibly flexible, vegan, Zen koan-quoting quasi-Buddhist is concentrating on her body instead of some man’s. From her incredibly complex yoga schedule, to her weekly early morning power-walk with her Peace Corps buddy, to the food scale on her counter, she is in control of her life. Her therapist and her acupuncturist agree that she has made huge strides since she hit rock-bottom after her last long-term relationship died over her ex’s refusal to put a ring on it if he liked it so much. He went to Spain and opened a cafe with some shiny 25-year-old who looks nothing like her, and she wishes them well. As far as you know. The Zen Mistress works for a nonprofit and thinks deeply about whether shaving her legs sets feminism back. She has a tiny secret crush on the barista who makes her soy latte every morning. This is the only erotic charge in her entire cruelty-free life.