I know that some people out there love being single and dating around. It turns out that I am definitely not one of those people.

I plunged back into the dating pool a few months ago, and I’m exhausted.

My mom says that if you want to find a partner and get married, you have to treat dating like a second job. But I already have two jobs, which makes dating a third job that costs me money instead of making me money. Yes, yes, I know men are supposed to be the ones paying, but I prefer to split the bill on the first few dates, mostly because I don’t want anyone thinking I owe them anything, and because it’s a good attitude test. If a guy gets weird about letting me pay for myself, then I know he’s probably not going to like the rest of my feminism.

I have limited amounts of time and emotional energy; going on dates drains those resources. I’ve had less time for other things I’d like to be doing, like hanging out with my dog, Janey, working on Operation Buns for Buns and writing. These past few weeks, writing has felt like pulling teeth. My brain feels like scrambled egg more days than it doesn’t. I’ve started listening to Warren Zevon again, which is never a great sign.

I used to think I didn’t learn how to flirt when other people did because in middle school and half of high school, I was a closeted lesbian and terrified of anyone figuring it out.

Even after I came out, I didn’t want to ever make anyone uncomfortable around me. I didn’t want people picking up signals that I liked them, so I monitored my behavior and did my best to suppress anything that might cue interest. But now I’m thinking I might just have been born with a couple of missing parts, and one of those missing parts is any sort of subtlety.


More and more these days, I feel like I’m onstage in a play where everyone else got a script but I didn’t, so I’m frantically observing my fellow actors around me, improvising and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be saying and doing based off what they’re saying and doing.

I know how to ask people out. I know how to get them in bed. And I mostly know what to do once I’m in a relationship. It’s making that leap from a “situationship” to a relationship that’s proving difficult. Upon reflection, I wound up in my previous serious relationships mostly by accident. Trying to do it on purpose, now, is weird and confusing. Plus, a great deal of people my age seem to be looking for “chill.” I’m not chill. I have never once in my life been chill. My standard sources of wisdom have dried up; usually my mom gives great advice, but all her expertise on dating is now 40 years old and weirdly specific to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Going on date after date after date feels like I’m carrying around an old, beat-up, ugly purse that went out of style years ago.

I keep offering the purse to people, and none of them are interested in taking it. The polite ones say, “No, thank you, I’m looking for a different purse.” The impolite ones insult the purse. And I keep walking around offering the purse to people, hoping against hope that if I do it enough, eventually someone will say, “Oh, my God, I’ve been looking for a purse like that, it will go perfectly with my outfit!” In this convoluted metaphor, the purse is my heart. And the purse is not doing great.

Or: How about another purse metaphor? People see a designer handbag in great condition and pick it up off the shelf. Then they open it and the purse is filled with sardines. Not what the shopper is expecting, and vaguely repulsive to most people. Dating is great for my self-esteem when it comes to my looks. Lots of people tell me I’m pretty. Dating is not good for the rest of my self-esteem: I feel like I’m full of sardines. Logically, I know I’m not. I’m fine. There are people who like sardines, or so people keep telling me. I like the purse. I think it’s a perfectly fine purse; I don’t know what everyone’s problem with the purse is.

To make matters worse, the whole endeavor seems very high stakes because my biological clock has started ticking with a vengeance. Its alarm must be broken, or something, because the darn thing keeps going off. I’m the sort of person who needs routine, stability and predictability. Poor Janey has been thrown out of her regular routine as well, since I keep coming and going from the house in unpredictable patterns (I haven’t trained her how to read a calendar yet). As a Virgo, I need plans and a map. And yeah, I know all the sayings about life being what happens when you’re making other plans. I’m still going to try. I may be tired, but it’s time to brush my hair, put some fresh sardines in the purse and get going again. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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