One of the first steps to a fulfilling dating life is, of course, to get out there and go on dates.
Once you get to that stage, the ball is in your proverbial court to fuck it up however you see fit.
But making it to a first date in and of itself can be rife with obstacles, especially when you live in a big city — and even if you find yourself with someone who is at least ostensibly interested in going out with you.
Here are just a few you might encounter, if you haven’t already.
Or, I suppose to put it more aptly, the vague illusion of it.
Many if not most of us have to (or choose to) work way more than 40 hours a week to feel vocationally fulfilled and to maintain a life in the city without going into crippling debt.
We often work late, sometimes unexpectedly so, because clients and many of our colleagues don’t really give that much of a shit about our personal lives, even if they feign that they do. And the urgent, last-minute “needs” always seem only to come up on nights when you’ve tried to make plans, but never when the only thing you have going on is heading home to wash your hair and/or pretend to work on a novel while what you do instead is look at your ex’s Instagram profile and contemplate drop-kicking your computer out your window.
On nights when you schedule a date, however, Wendell the project manager is almost definitely going to double-book you with a late check-in meeting even though you have “Actively attempting to not die alone!” blocking your calendar from “7pm-???!!!”
Then you have to cancel.
The high cost of living.
But we have to keep our jobs, do we not?
They’re how we can pay as much as, like, half of what we make for a mediocre-at-best apartment. (Meanwhile our friends from back home who found love on Farmers Only or within the minuscule dating pool of people with whom you went to high school all seem to own houses with enough room for their families and guests.)
Then, you know, there’s everything else that is marked up beyond any semblance of reason that we are powerless to change — like food and drink and even laundry, if you don’t have an in-unit machine. (And if you do have one, I hate you.)
It can be tough to make ends meet as it is while affording your necessities (like the drugs you probably shouldn’t try to live without, both prescribed and not) without adding dating to the mix.
If you’re going out regularly, it’s going to cost you, and if you’re anything like me you’ll eschew common sense and pick out something flashy to do or try even though you know somewhere in the back of your mind that you’re not on the search for someone who is overly impressed by these things anyway — that what you really want is someone you can hang out with while doing anything or, more pointedly, nothing.
Like, say, watching a movie at home.
After all, you pay out the ass for that apartment, so you may as well spend as much leisure and recreation time there as possible, so to get your money’s worth, but what are you going to do? Try and have a first date at your apartment? That shit is creepy and not generally well-received. You have to get to know someone a little bit before they’ll see you in a non-public place, and there are plenty of very solid reasons for that which I sincerely hope I do not have to explain to you.
They need attention. And to use the restroom. Sometimes outside. And humans have to facilitate that, which adds another wrinkle to what is probably an already pretty busy schedule.
Then, you know, there are pet allergies. I don’t believe in soulmates, really, but I do believe I’m destined out of necessity to end up with someone who doesn’t cohabitate with cats.
It’s Hillary’s birthday week (yes, she celebrates for an entire week) and she’s not going to alter her plans (or the date she came into the world) for you or fucking anybody.
And if you don’t show up to honor her on this thing she celebrates annually, then your friendship is fucking over.
You could be out there finding the love of your life instead of pretending like you care all that much about a person’s birthday, but instead another night is booked solid.
We all have things to do with our lives that aren’t going on our dates. It’s a shame that they get in the way, really.
(Also, what is the deal with birthdays? Especially on random years. It’s cool that our friends and loved ones exist, but if we think for a moment about it I think we can all agree that moms are the ones who should be celebrated on those days. I mean, they did all the work.)
The prospect of a long-distance relationship when you live in the same damn city.
Large cities are can be difficult and time-consuming to navigate. Sure, you might be willing to walk 500 miles and then walk 500 miles more just to be the man to fall down at someone’s door, but then if you have to turn around and do that again the next morning to make it to work in time (potentially adding in a stop back at your place for a shower and change), it can get pretty taxing after a while.
Punctuality can be elusive.
It can be very difficult to get to a place when you plan on and are supposed to be there when you’re facing things like traffic and public transportation delays.
And when it comes to dating, it’s a Murphy’s Law kind of thing. Whenever you set out to be precisely on time, something happens that makes you late. When you set out to be early, even early enough to give yourself a cushion for a pre-date drink, something goes wrong and makes you late, or at least not early enough for that drink. Then you go into the date stone sober and while this is completely fine and something you should be able to do as an adult, it’s also not ideal. (Maybe I have a drinking problem, but I like to take the edge off with one before a first date.)
Not showing up on time can be a big strike against you, especially initially, because people tend to view that as a sign of disrespect — and because so many of us have so little time to date in the first place.
We’ve all been waiting around for that person to come in our lives. We just don’t want to wait that long, and we don’t want to be terribly inconvenienced by the process.
The gigantic dating pool.
Make no mistake: dating in a metropolitan area is a fucking competition. People can and will find someone out there they think might suit them better than you. They may circle back at some point if and when things don’t work out between that person, but you can’t really count on that and why would you really want to?
This piece was published by P.S. I Love You. Relationships Now.