I have a job that I really
love, I signed with an agent this year to turn my blog into a book, I live in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in New York City, and I’m lucky that I’m a good enough saver that I make it overseas a couple times a year for a vacation. I’ve been pretty d*mn successful (knock on wood) so far in my 20s, but the one thing I’ve yet to master is dating. (Oh, and if you’ve been broken-hearted like me, here’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.)
It might be because it’s one of the most complicated, frustrating, irritating and yet completely necessary parts of life, but in the five years that I’ve lived in New York, I’ve had one boyfriend, a few almost-boyfriends, and more bad sex than I’d care to admit. And yet—yet!—I keep pulling up my big girl panties, putting on lipstick and swiping left and right to find the right guy. (Yes, that was a Tinder reference.)
And even though my Facebook profile might paint a different picture, here’s the truth: sometimes, I have terrible, awful, dramatic, immature breakdowns about being single. I let go of rationality and just let it all come out.
Nope, it’s not pretty. But it’s really normal. In fact, these are just some of the breakdowns you’ll have as a single 20-something fishing for your catch.
1. The one where I conclude all the good ones are taken.
My roommate and I have a theory that married men flock to the best bars just to taunt us. Okay not really, but there’s always that one attractive guy in the corner who keeps looking at you with a sly grin, but when you make it over to him, he slips the word ‘girlfriend’ within the first five minutes. I have the breakdown when I meet five of those guys in one Saturday night.
2. The one where I freak out on my friends for telling me it’ll be okay.
Bless my friends. They have more patience than I know what to do with, but each and every single time I start to wonder if there’s something wrong with me, if all the single men have formed a vendetta against me or if my life is basically over because I’m single, they’re there to comfort me. And offer me wine. And sometimes give me the tough love that I so (desperately) need.
3. The one where I think I’m really, really ugly at the wrong time.
I’m all for having a very healthy self-esteem and confidence in how I look, without worrying about what some dude thinks. But there seems to be some cruel trick from the universe where when I have a date I’m really excited about or I’m seeing an ex-boyfriend I need to piss off I get a master zit right under my nose. Or in the middle of my forehead. And then of course, I freak out, try to pop it and make it worse. Oy.
4. The one where I think I only have my career and then have a meltdown about my career.
On a random Tuesday after a profoundly poor date, I decided I was done with all of the men in all of the cities and all of the dating
apps, and I deleted ’em all. I took down anything and everything that reminded me of love and I started to map out my master career path. And then started crying because not only didn’t I have love, but I also needed to be making at least $200K a year to buy an apartment by 2016.
5. The one where I consider leaving it all behind and moving overseas.
I often fantasize about packing up everything I own, winning the lottery and moving to some exotic, fancy place where I wouldn’t have to worry about meeting someone. Instead, I would drink expensive wine, have massages every single day and suitors who bring me flowers. Hopefully, said fancy place has more men than NYC.
6. The one about being infertile.
What is it about seeing a really well-behaved, calm, adorable baby that smells like rainbows and fluff that makes my ovaries sting? I’m nowhere near the point in my life where I want to get pregnant (obviously), but when I see someone happily married with a babe, I suddenly fear that all of this dating is in vain and that maybe I can’t even have children in the first place.
7. The one about money.
It’s not a must-have that whoever I end up with has to make more money than me by any means. But I also don’t go out with guys who are unemployed or ‘artists’ trying to find themselves on the long, battered road. Pssht. So when I look at my bank account and dream of doing things that take two incomes (or a few best-sellers), I wonder if I’ll always be ordering from the happy hour menu instead of the steak one.
8. The one about not being good enough.
When someone who I think should be into me (or I think is a good match) simply isn’t interested, I go through a period of self-doubt where I crawl into bed and hide. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but after not meeting anyone I’d actually want to be with, sometimes I wonder if I’m just not cut out to be a girlfriend. Period.
9. The one about being alone forever.
Real talk: I’m 26 years old. I’m in great health. Most of the time, I’m very, very happy and content with my life. But on rainy Saturdays or after months of being celibate, I do wonder if I’ll ever meet someone. I might even cry in the shower, slam doors and give my dog the side-eye for not being my boyfriend instead.
But after the totally normal (I repeat, totally normal) breakdown comes clarity and the comforting reassurance that I won’t always be single, that I probably will one day have children, and that I won’t be the only one of my friends who doesn’t find her guy.
And even if he’s not here right now, I have myself. And if I can get through all of these freak-outs and still keep somewhat of a cool—then I’m doing pretty okay. And you are, too.