What Happened When I Consciously Looked for a Meet Cute

From the outside, the dating world terrified me. At twenty-two years old I’d never had so much as a first kiss let alone a boyfriend. And that fact made me self-conscious and hesitant when it came to talking to a romantic interest. Being shy and socially anxious didn’t help matters. Back then, I looked at my life as though it was a story, purposefully unfolding with grace. Since my love life had yet to commence then, it meant it wasn’t time. I continued believing this up until my senior year of college.

At the beginning of my senior year, I was finally on the road to recovery in terms of my depression and anxiety. The messy battle that included a dark breakdown made me realize my life isn’t some book plot. It’s much more complicated than anything on paper and here’s no writer carefully plotting my HEA (happily ever after). Hell, there wasn’t even one plotting a little bit of flirtation. And if there was one they were doing a terrible job at getting things started. I got tired of trying to figure out if my author was suffering from writer’s blocks or planned to leave me single until further notice. It was time to shake off the notion that something would unfold without me triggering the rising of action. My plan? Like many other people of my generation, I joined a dating app. Creative, huh?

Even though I had a new attitude towards putting a conscious effort in my dating life I still tried to keep a little skepticism in my every interaction online. We’ve all heard of horror story after horror story of people coming across a mixed assortment of the sleaziest individuals dating online. I decided if anything this would be an experiment on how life would look like if I cautiously put myself out there. I told myself to not have any hopes of finding “the one.” Just pure curiosity on what it felt like to date. And after two months of text conversations with guys ranging from Marines to gas station owners, I found him.

He scares me in a ‘wow, maybe there was some writer busy penning this character’ way. Perhaps the reason they took so long is that it is complicated to write a decent hero. Ask any romance writer.

We meet on Bumble and spoke on there for one night. I cut the conversation short so I could get back to finishing an assignment, but not before offering him my actual number. Two months later we met at a movie theater to see a horror movie he was beyond excited to watch. I hugged him when I walked up to greet him and when I pulled away I translated his expression to one of surprise. And after talking to him before the lights dimmed and the movie started I concluded he wasn’t interested in me in a romantic way anymore. He had kept his eyes forward most of the time when answering any of my questions. I would laugh but his smiles were harder to come by. His answers to my questions were amazing though and right off the bat, I knew he was someone I wanted to know. The feeling didn’t seem to be mutual from my perspective.

Later that night, when I got back to my dorm to change into something more comfortable and give myself an ‘it was just for the experience’ pep talk, my phone buzzed. It was a long text from him and the main part that stood out to me was one line, “You have my attention.”

I’m not writing this to say make an account on Bumble because there you will meet an individual blooming with meet cute/relationship potential. I’ll give it to you straight, in two months of talking to people online I had only gone out once. I got very lucky that the once was enough for me to find someone who I am now in an amazing relationship with. What I am saying is that the perfect meet-cute isn’t always the markers of a budding romance. His and mine was quite uneventful – and to the outside eye, boring. But, it did what it needed to do which was get two people together with the hopes they’d enjoy one another’s company.

Meet-cutes in books, television, and movies are very precise. Though a good writer makes it look effortless, nothing can change the fact that the meeting is heavily edited. Life can’t be like that, no matter how hopeful you are. From now on I’m saving my hope for happy accidents when it comes to consuming romance stories. Life’s more fun when you’re being conscious of your involvement in creating your own story.

Honestly, Still a Bit Embarrassed about Loving Romance

I love romance. It’s a declaration that took me years to make to myself and others. I’m not alone in my embarrassment, I know this much. But as a twelve-year-old girl only excited by the love-centered The Babysitter’s Club editions, I sure felt like a boy-crazed preteen that probably turn into a man-crazed woman who would be obsessed with finding and keeping love. At least, that’s how all the adults in my life made it seem. Especially my mother. I remember having a conversation across the dinner table that felt more like a standoff when she realized I was into The Clique – and their impressively active romance lives.

“So, you like books where girls are boy crazy?” She challenged.

Well, I liked books where people fall in love and out of love and around love and basically love. Because they were never just about girls fawning over guys to me. Of course, I didn’t say any of that. None of that matter to her. So I simply replied, “Yes, I do.” She banned me from reading romance heavy ones whenever she could. I still managed to sneak a few passed her. My fine-tuned stealth scored me a copy of Twilight one day and I consumed every word it all in one night.

Now, I’m sure that doesn’t sound like an act of rebellion but for me, it was as close to it I could get at any point in my life. I was a shy, socially anxious teenage with acne that wouldn’t let up and jeans that wouldn’t reach my ankles. I didn’t enjoy much but when I sat down to read a Judy Blume novel that included a love interest you could be sure I was going to have a good time escaping.

I’m now a twenty-two-year-old woman who won’t shy away from admitting she likes romance and spending all her extra time reading them. But I will shy away from being caught reading a certain type of romance. There are two main types of romance in the book industry: the ones with highly sexualized covers and the ones with subtle hints at a love story. I’m a sucker for both, but the suggestive covers are more difficult to explain than the tame ones. The difference often has me too embarrassed to display on my bookshelf, tuck into my purse on a road trip, or even leave on my carousel on my Kindle. This half-ownership of my love for romance has got me curious as to why this embarrassment continues to hold me back? Why do people see women who read romance and think they are desperate because they’re hoping for love? Especially since love is something girls have been feed to believe since they were children watching Disney Princesses. Is there a conspiracy where society desires to encourage girls to want romantic, sweep-off-her-feet love and then, shame them when that’s what they go for when they grow up? Is the shameful voice in my head partly my mother’s, reminding me that my own sexual expression is not okay? Or am I just reading into this like I do with everything else life? Hmm, we’ll see. That’s what I’m going to explore on the blog. My obsession with romance: the good, bad, and extremely bad that it’s almost good. My shyness when it comes to my own curiosity about sex and romantic relationships. And a whole ton of delving into romance in pop culture. Because I love me a good shipping debate.