If anyone knows me, they know that I loved online dating. Wait, I should clarify. Really, I loved exploiting my own horrible dating stories, because dating in NYC was a shit-show. Most people don’t move to The Big Apple to become a great boyfriend/girlfriend; people move to NYC to be in the midst of thrill and opportunity. Sure, some people meet, fall in love, and get to share the rent of a NYC studio apartment and…I hate those people. I was super jealous of those people for years. My experience was more like cutting through an uninhabited jungle for the first time with a butter knife. I found that many of my dates were cheap, rude and asked me to do drugs on date-#1. To be fair, I know that there were also a lot of lovely men and I was their weird-o date. After all, we get what we give, right?
Ok, let’s get back on track…one of my first dates was a guy from work. Scandalous. I went and bought a totally sick outfit from Urban Outfitters hours before (just overpriced jeans and a basic t-shirt) and was totallyyyyy ready. The date was within walking distance (YAY), but it was also 90 degrees out (BOO). The combination of tight new jeans, a short walk, NYC humidity, and nerves propelled me into a sweating fit for the first 30 minutes of our Stella Artois’. Surprise twist of fate, he loved it. That should’ve been the first red flag, honestly. I was sweaty and disgusting. What kind of sick-o wants to date that? Really, I think he liked to feel powerful and no one would feel more powerful than standing next to this gross little mess without a clue. So, we dated for about 6-months, but he ended up being a bit of a cheater (bummer) and in retaliation because I was totallyyyy over it (not over it, pining badly), I started my online dating quest. The beginning of the end for my sanity.
I could go on and on about my dating fails and triumphs, actually triumphs would be a short list. Really, my only triumph would be my recent engagement because he manages to find a positive twist on all my very obvious flaws. That’s the dream though, isn’t it? The reason I’m writing this, however, isn’t about the journey, it’s about the beginning.
My first online (retaliation date) was in October. I walked into my favorite dive bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I was nervous. Mostly, I was nervous that I’d have another sweating-fit, but also, I remember thinking…what if I don’t know what to say? Then, WAZAM, I thought about an acting class I took where we practiced listening. Yes, listening. It sounds like some hippie-ass NYC shit, I understand, but that’s really what acting is! It’s being totally in the present moment, listening to someone, and trusting that your natural reaction is enough. There is nothing worse than when you’re watching an actor “show us” that they are sad, right?!
In real life, when we converse, our minds race a million miles per second. The person can’t even finish blabbing about their dumb dream before we jump in to talk about ours. We are natural conversationalists. Then, we get put on the spot, and BAM, our minds go blank. What do I say? How should I act? Where do I put my hands? Am I chewing weird? We transform into odd little robots with sweaty pits.
Well, luckily for me, I had practiced this art of listening in my hippie-dippy-acting class (that I loved, to be clear). They preached things like, “If you listen to your partner, you will know what to say.” You see..acting is all about practicing to… well, not act. I know, that sounds dumb. It’s about allowing your natural reactions to come through. It is about embracing your instincts, which makes you authentic. So, I took a couple deep breaths and I decided, I am just going to listen. I will sit my butt at the bar and see what comes naturally. It could be funny, it could be weepy, it could be…quiet, but either way, it’ll be motha’ flipping’ authentic.
Truthfully, who knows how it actually went. I’d say we can ask him, but surprise, that relationship didn’t turn out stellar and it’d rather not crack open that egg, if ya know what I’m saying. Regardless, this practice of just listening kept me grounded, prevented some serious sweats, and allowed me to own my power back. If you just listen, you will know what to say. It’s when you pretend to listen that you are a weird robotic freak. Lesson over.