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.