Around September of 2014 I stopped lying to myself.
I stopped the charade of not wanting a relationship and “loving the single life.”
I stopped convincing myself that my one-sided friendships were fulfilling enough for me, and I was happy without a significant other.
I also stopped believing that it was socially acceptable to go on dates with people I met on Tinder. If you take anything from this, please, I beg you, don’t go on any more Tinder dates.
People on Tinder say the most heinous things. These are 100% real first messages I’ve received on Tinder:
“Are your legs Nutella because I’d like to spread them.”
“What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your butt?”
Also, it’s not a date.
If you think it’s a date, you’ve found a masterful liar, because he doesn’t think it’s a date. He thinks it’s a date the way Richard Gere thinks taking Julia Roberts to that fancy meeting inPretty Woman is a date.
It’s not a date!
There’s no anxiety.
There’s no awkward conversation.
There’s no hope of a future.
It’s just some guy who’s trying to make you think he cares about what you’re saying while counting every Black Label he buys you as a potential sexual favor later that evening.
Let me paint you a picture:
Like I said in the beginning, it was 2014. I finally have a job and benefits, I just stopped driving a car that had duct tape on the bumper, I was living in an apartment with semi-matching furniture. I’ve started to track my credit score. Some people would say I was on the up and up.
Not quite. Even though I was getting my life together and making decisions that didn’t make my mother cringe, my dating life was still in the shitter.
Between the “music lover” who’d only been to a Nickelback concert and the guy who was always drinking rum and cokes when we corresponded because he was clearing out the alcohol stock from the wedding he never had, I was starting to think something was seriously wrong with me.
Then one day, I looked up, it was 2015, my oldest brother was married with three kids, my other brother was married with one kid, and I was at ABC Tavern watching every single Cavs game with my best friend.
2015 Josie was eligible for a home loan, but she was still single and not making much progress.
2015 Josie had the same pathetic dating experiences as “cool,” irresponsible 2014 Josie. I kept making terrible decisions on the men I chose to date and even worse excuses for their terrible behavior and in hindsight, complete lack of respect for me.
Even though my brothers were in shoddy relationships, they were both weirdly happy with the partners they had found. I wanted that. I wanted a counterpart that was as weird as me and thought I looked good even if my weave was matted, I had lipstick on my teeth, and I hadn’t showered in days.
I couldn’t find that continuing to go on Tinder “dates.”
So, I decided to get serious about it. I started going on dates with people from the likes of Match.com, Hinge (Tinder with a Masters degree), and OkCupid. All I got was even more weirdos, classed up duplicates of Tinder profiles, and a solid understanding of what love is not.
Like, I’m more than positive true love never starts with someone initiating conversation with the smooth, “I’ve never had sex with a Black girl.” But for some reason, I found this endearing? Maybe I wanted to live out my dreams of being a great conqueror, like Christopher Columbus, but I kept finding myself in the position of the indigenous people – fucked over.
I’m not sure why, but I thought it was okay, and went on more than one date with more than one man that said that to me.
Yeah, I was serious about dating all right. Pft.
It’s no wonder why these relationships didn’t work. In context, I should have seen it.
There were three guys I went on multiple dates with; all three of them dropped this line on me. Not only were these guys sexualizing me because of my race, two out of the three were still technically married.
I couldn’t catch a break.
I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure anyone who still financially and emotionally supports their ex-wife doesn’t have room to fully love you. It took #2 about three dates before he told me his “ex-wife” he’d been telling me about wasn’t technically his ex-wife.
They were “still legally married for financial purposes” and “she needs a lot of mental support to get through nursing school, but don’t worry, she lives in Utah.”
#3 waited until our second date (which was just me picking him up from a happy hour at 7PM because he was too drunk) to tell me not only was he still technically married to the ex-wife he casually mentioned, but she lived in Akron, not out of state like he said, they were still in contact, and he had a child by another person. She was born “during the war,” and he’s never met her. He just sends money to her mother every month. This guy obviously had some sort of drinking problem and was a liar, but my main issue with him was that he was 30 and “The War” ended in 1945.
Fuck you, man.
Then it happened.
After six months of sifting through duds on the World Wide Web, I lucked out. I finally found someone who possessed every quality I didn’t know I was looking for. I’m sorry, I know no one wants to hear that, but I am lucky. I found the guy who is just as weird as me, and literally thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I look like. He believes in me, and boosts me up at every opportunity he gets. I feel so much more confident and strong when I’m in his presence. I didn’t think this level of happiness was attainable.
At the beginning of our relationship, I was initially put off by how nice he was. I know this is messed up. When he started pursuing me, I had just broken my foot and couldn’t leave my house for two weeks. I had become so used to people saying completely outlandish shit to me that I thought it was weird that he wanted to know how I was doing, how much pain I was in, and if I was bored on bed rest.
I thought it was weird that he never objectified me. I complained to my girlfriends that he might not like me because he didn’t try and sleep with me on the first date. Instead, he met me out for a nice brunch, pulled out my chair, and made great conversation, displaying the presence of a brain. He made plans for a second date. Even though our first date went as well as a first date could go, because he didn’t try and get in my pants, I was convinced he wasn’t interested.
By the third date, I knew what we had was something I’d never experienced before.
So yeah, I’m new to the whole love thing. I’m really into it.
I’m no expert, but my dating history leads me to believe I know some shit about what love isn’t.
I am so thankful for him. He’s 100% worth it – worth every horrible date. Every bad line. Every first message comparing my legs to Nutella.
Josie Woodall is a Cleveland blogger and travel writer. An East Side native, Josie migrated to the West in 2013 and resides in Brooklyn Center. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2011 with a BA in English Literature and a concentration in non-fiction writing. When not conjuring up ideas to write about or slangin’ industrial supplies at her day job, you can find Josie cheering (probably too loud) for the Cavs.