Its a rainy Saturday morning in London and I’m listening to the last song on Taylor Swift’s new album and I feel compelled to write a confessional blog.
Most of my friends know how much of a hopeless romantic I was. I read romance novels by the dozen every week while I was growing up. Name every literary romantic tropes and I’ve probably fantasised about and lived through them, especially the tragic ones: the enemy turned crush, the popular guy you could never have, your best friend’s boyfriend, and of course, the unrequited love for your best friend.
I’m not going to get melodramatic, don’t worry. I’ve already exercised a Taylor Swift-style catharsis on all my past loves in one way or another, including a Facebook message to someone I should have said ‘I loved you’ to a long time ago that is as honest and candid as it is cringeworthy (I still CANNOT believe I did it.)
In this age of Tinder and Match.com (and endless stories from my friends of cheating, friends with benefits arrangements, and one-night stands) its hard to hold on to my starry-eyed belief in fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. Its hard to reconcile my unrealistic expectations with the very harsh reality that dating and relationships in the 21st century is not the stuff of Disney movies and Judith McNaught novels.
When I moved to London, I resisted the pull of online dating for a long long time. My hopeless romantic soul could not accept the idea that my future love story would be written with an opening line of “…once upon a time there was an app where you can swipe through all the single men within a 5-mile radius”.
As time went by and life got busier, I came to fully understand why those sites exist. It is difficult as hell to meet someone in this city and I say ‘bullcrap!” to those articles that say London has the most number of single people in the world. Where are those single, eligible people? They’re certainly not walking up and down the halls of the NHS in scrubs and clogs. They’re not buying Pret coffee or egg McMuffins with bleary eyes and tired faces, already anticipating a long shift at work.
So yeah, online dating: today’s version of meeting people in coffee shops and striking up random conversations. Almost the same, except that everything’s virtual. With much reluctance, I ultimately resigned myself to the fact that this is how people date now.
At least once a year every year I download an online dating app and try my hand at dating. And without fail, every year for the past 6 years I go on one or two bad dates and then I give up on the process. I delete said app and go back to living the life of an independent woman, telling myself that I refuse to date for the sake of dating and that if its right, it will be easy. I believed (and still believe) that there’s nothing lacking in my life just because I’m not in a relationship; having a partner isn’t what defines me and society can piss of if they tell me 30 is too old to not be married.
While all of the above are true, they’re also symptoms of someone who’s tried and failed too many times that it just became too exhausting to try, and easier to tell myself that I’m happier being single. And I’ve been really happy these past 6 years; my life has been enriched by experiences and adventures that have changed me for the better. And with the 20/20 vision that comes with hindsight, I realised that there are two reasons why I’ve always failed at dating (online or otherwise) where others have succeeded: I was never really ready, and I’ve been incredibly lazy.
My attitude towards online dating is a little like my attitude towards shopping at TK Maxx. Like I know that there are loads of amazing stuff there but I’m too lazy to go through all the rubbish ones to find that one dress that will make me feel like a million dollars. And then someone comes out with that amazing dress and I kick myself for not making the effort.
2017 is the year of the effort. I think that for the first time in a long time I’m genuinely ready for a relationship and I hope that my second-date-claustrophobia won’t rear its ugly head once again. I’ve had three meh dates and one bad one already this year and I’m still trying. I’ve had dates where someone’s nice but boring, where someone’s not boring but is only out for one thing, where there were sparks but no follow through, where there was a follow through but no sparks…and I figure that sooner or later, lightning will strike and all those elements will come together in one date (Please, God, I hope this is true. haha).
Baby we’re the new romantics, come on come along with me. Heartbreak is our national anthem, we sing it proudly.
New Romantics | Taylor Swift
I’m no longer the hopeless romantic that I was, and while some part of me misses the girl with the rose-coloured glasses, I’m mostly okay because I know she’ll always be there somewhere. She’s there in the way I giggle at every text; she’s there in the way I smile because he’s said something funny; she’s there in the warm feeling I get when he says something that means he gets me even though we’ve just met; she’s there, always, in the way I keep the hope alive that this time lightning has struck. But the great thing about being this new kind of hopeless romantic is that I know, even if I strike out instead, I will somehow find the fortitude to have another go at the bat.
Goodbye, hopeless romantic. Hello, Hopeless Romantic 2.0 – bigger (literally), better and stronger version.