When I was little, still wearing pigtails and playing with Polly Pockets, I formed an attachment over the name “Mitch.” My parents have no idea where this name came from; we didn’t have family members or family friends named Mitch. To this day, I have yet to even meet a Mitch. But at age 5, it became the name I used to describe The Guy. The Guy that the little girls in my short stories would befriend, grow up alongside, and eventually marry. The Guy that I dreamt about in my teenage years. The Guy that I would go off to college and meet — and didn’t.
In my 20s, Mitch became a running joke with my girlfriends. We talked about “our Mitchs,” The Guys we would one day marry. I would say Mitch will be a manly man, but still be able to spend a night on the couch with me and a bottle of Yellow Tail watching some horrendous 90s chick flick. Mitch will be into sports, but not laugh at how horrible I am at them. You get the picture.
Last year, I embarked on a crazy journey to go on 25 first dates in six months. I met a lot of really different guys, but no Mitch. I spent a lot of time being angry at them and the guys I have dated since. But being angry doesn’t get me anywhere. I’m ready to accept and let go.
1. Dear MT,
Thank you for being my first something after two years in a relationship. You taught me to throw caution into the wind on that first date — ending up a pretzel breathing heavily on your bed. But you also taught me that sex can easily take over. I was so naïve back then, thinking we could be so much more — until I realized I no longer wanted that and neither did you. I hate that I stopped enjoying your random picture text messages and our nights watching Family Feud on the couch. I hate that I just knew sex was imminent every time you came over and even stopped enjoying that too. (Don’t worry though, I never hated seeing your super sexy body.) I hate that a guy I once found really charming and gentle, meant so little to me in the end. Thank you for teaching me that it’s possible to separate sex from emotion — but that the impact that it has on a relationship can be irreversible. Keep on killing the Fast Money round.
2. Dear TM,
I’m sorry I tried so hard when it was so clearly not working for you. I just actually thought you might-maybe-possibly be Mitch. You were funny, had a great respectable job, and I loved that side-smile thing you had going on. That first night when we danced for three hours and then fell asleep with all our clothes and the lights on — I really felt something there. I bitched to my friends about how you gave me mixed signals, but really I just didn’t want to accept that you weren’t that into me. It was really nice seeing you recently downtown for an afternoon. You’re still side-smiling and adorable, but I’m able to say goodbye and mean it now. Thank you for teaching me to read not only the writing on the wall but also the writing in the text messages, or lack thereof. Keep wearing those suits and kissing girls on rooftops.
3. Dear JD,
I just couldn’t figure you out. Eight dates and no sex? Four dates and all I got was a little tongue? I probably made you uncomfortable with how much I wanted us to be closer physically. We talked about so much over the course of two months, but without that sexual chemistry I couldn’t tell if you even liked me — or if I even liked you. I will admit it was nice spending time getting to know a guy without him trying to eat my face. That was new for me. I loved how you playfully made fun of me one minute, and pulled me in close the next. Thank you for teaching me about those little things — done outside the bedroom — that can turn me on. Thank you for respecting my space, even when I reeeaaally didn’t want you to. It was bad timing with us fizzling out right when I had surgery, but I laugh now about how we just stopped talking. There was no Goodbye Text Message or Formal Break Up. For all I know, we are still dating a year later! Seriously though, goes to show that we just didn’t have enough passion for one another. Keep on being a grown-up kid, but don’t be too shy to go after what you want.
4. Dear MS,
We only spent four dates together, but I learned a lot from you. You taught me what idiots we both could be when drunk. I started it. I had one too many and told you too much about last year. That freaked you out. Then you went out with friends and got wasted and came over to profess how my confessions the previous date made you feel. (Thanks for teaching me the term “special snowflake” that night too.) Great first date, but then I fucked up, then you fucked up, then it was beyond repair. Thank you for teaching me to hold back. I still look back and laugh about that damn Manhattan that put me over the edge, and I’ve changed my ways since. Keep on being a special snowflake — you always were.
5. Dear PS,
I ignored a serious blaring fire alarm in my head with you. Not that you’re a bad guy by any means, but who grabs boob in public on the second date? Maybe I said or did something to make you think that was okay — and for that I am sorry. Things were so up and down with us for so long. I mean the sex was spectacular, the best of this year by far. But then you would say or do something that got me thinking you were so Not Mitch that I didn’t know why we kept trying. I was so Not Your Girl either and you knew it. I’m glad we gave it our all. I knew on the second date this was going to end poorly, and I knew towards the end that it was a sinking ship, but I kept trying to fit that square peg into a round hole and now I just don’t know why. Thank you for pulling the cord finally. Thank you for teaching me that your gut knows shit way before you know shit. Trust it. Keep on pushing boundaries until you find that girl that doesn’t make you want to push.
6. Dear AC,
You were the first guy in a long time to really chase me. To really give me his all and actually attempt to “court” me and that felt good. I forgot what it felt like to not constantly worry and wonder if I was going to hear from someone. I forgot what it felt like to be taken care of and have dates planned for me instead of me planning them. I forgot what it was like for a guy to really want to sleep next to me for the entire night. Thank you for reminding me that I’m worthy of having that again someday. Thank you for showing me off and wanting to cook for me and take pictures with me. I’m sorry I didn’t show you that same affection. I’m sorry I was so lukewarm with you. You didn’t deserve that. Keep on loving with your whole heart.
7. Dear BM,
Our time was really brief but really intense. I shared a lot with you that I never shared on a first date. You said that you did too. I loved when you carried me to the bedroom and when you said, “We don’t have to.” I wish we hadn’t. I wish that time wasn’t against us and that I wasn’t so hungry. When we met, it had been a while since I dated anyone. I had decided before you that I was totally okay with that aloneness. I loved just being by myself. But then a warm bed felt so good. A person there when I woke up was shockingly addicting. I wish I could have recognized our one night for what it was: one night. Thank you for snapping me back to reality. Many things are really not what they appear to be, but most things are. Keep on (at least) trying to let people in.
In chats with my girlfriends, some of these guys were a jerk, a dick, an asshole, a player of games, a loser, a trickster, etc. That’s what happens when you let emotion speak in the moment (and when you get a few girls on a couch with vodka and pita chips). Now I can look back and honestly say that none of them were bad guys. None of them intentionally hurt me or tricked me, but none of them were my Mitch. For what I contributed to our demises, I’m sorry. For what they’ve taught me, I’m thankful.
And one day, Mitch will thank them too.