What it feels like

Part One: Meetings

It’s not quite the same as a first kiss under the full moon when a girl responds to your message on a dating application, but it’s nice. It’s welcome. It’s reassuring. Yes, there are people out there who both like your face and want to hear your words. Or read them, as it were. On the ladder of self-affirmation, you’re allowed to ascend a rung. Maybe just one rung, but that’s a step further from the ground, which, in this tautly stretched metaphor, is the black abyss of dying alone.

So you chat. Virtually, of course. There’s safety in the texted word. Time to think, time to reconsider, time to adjust and fine tune and perfect each word into the lexiconical equivalent of sushi. Time to think up a word like “lexiconical” and wonder if the girl will appreciate its whimsy or find it dreadfully pretentious or find it utterly baffling or simply not notice it because there are a million other things she could be doing besides hanging on every word in a silly message in a sillier dating application.

There’s time to fret.

Part Two: Fretting

The fretting usually begins when you realize it’s no longer Friday night and you’re no longer confidently drunk when sending messages to this girl. Now it’s Sunday morning and you’re thinking “Hey, she’s still pretty” and “Hey, maybe I should put some thought into this.”

That’s a slippery slope, however. “Put some thought” in this case means, “agonize over details.” The fretting isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it rounds out the day, filling in all the little cracks of time that would otherwise be spent doing something useful, like scrolling through pictures of an ex-girlfriend on facebook and wondering what’s wrong with you.

But fretting is time consuming. You can feel the minutes drain away like clumps of hair and soap in the shower as you stare at the blinking cursor on your phone. Thick, milky chunks of turgid time leaking through the thin cracks between your impatient fingers.

What should I say? you wonder.

What’s typically next in a conversation? you consider.

What does a young, confident, attractive man say in a situation such as this? you fret.

Part Three: Deciding

At some point, you have to decide whether to go for it. Is this just some meaningless, time-wasting word romp between you and an unknown girl who looked good in a handful of photographs? Or does this seem like something that could lead somewhere? It’s that point in the maze where you’ve run out of bread crumbs; you either turn around and go home or forge ahead blindly.

This is the worst part, though, because there’s also a secret third choice in this tangled maze of virtual love – you can simply choose not to decide. Don’t make a decision for several days and presto, the decision is made for you! There’s no reason to wonder if the conversation is going to lead anywhere because the conversation is dead. You can reconcile the loss several times over (“She wasn’t that interesting/pretty/likely to marry me anyway”), but you’ll still find yourself twinging and cursing quietly every time you recall the missed opportunity. As missed opportunities pile up, you twinge more often, until you’re a twitching mass of muttering flesh sprawled on the ground beneath the self-affirmation ladder, which now appears to be gently drifting upwards as if tied to a child’s red balloon.

When you’re not responding to potential mates, you also have a great deal of time to spend hammering nails into dead metaphors.

Part Four: Responding

Say you don’t opt to let the clock run out. Say you actually attempt to forge ahead. Say you *gulp* bother to try.

Okay, maybe this is the worst part.

The fretting was fine when the conversation was frivolous. Now that goals and purposes waltzed onto the scene, the ante has been upped. Each word is a crucial piece in the grand puzzle that is “asking this girl to get a drink sometime.” Having completed this puzzle all of pretty much zero times before, you’re naturally unsure of the words.

So, you spend some time imagining things.

The drive to and from work is perfect for this part. You can sketch out an entire conversation in your head, followed by the first date (both successful and unsuccessful versions of it), as well as the second and potentially third date, not to mention the eventual marriage and dying in each other’s arms in a barrel going over Niagara Falls when you’re 800 years old. It’s a fucking fantastic twenty minute drive and you can’t help thinking it would be a lot more productive if any of it was actually input into your phone, particulary that first part where you say, “Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?”

“Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?”

“Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?”

“Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?”

You say it over and over again in your mind, a mantra that will hopefully make its way down to your fingertips, where the words will explode forth into the message window without your actually having to think about pressing those tiny virtual keys.

Hours can pass this way, sometimes days. Sometimes you find yourself back in Part Three, abandoning hope as the buzzer sounds. It’s hard to concentrate on anything during these periods. Work is completed in short, intense bursts. It’s tough to talk to people because this other imaginary conversation is swirling through your head constantly. How do you focus when you have to determine every possible response this girl could have to, “Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?”

Somewhere deep down inside you know the only real potential responses are “Yes,” “No,” or silence. But that’s unacceptably simple. Life is a roiling fountain of opportunities and to simply allow that there are only three real responses to any one question is completely absurd. Anything could happen. Anything. And you are compelled to imagine and prepare for that anything.

Part Five: Sending

At some point the thousands of threads of conversation weave a dense enough cloth that your head feels like its going to burst into a really nice woolen shawl.

Jokes aside, you feel physically ill. You know what to say. You’ve had the words with you all day. “Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?” She’s going to say “Yes,” “No,” or nothing. It’s really not that complicated.

It’s really not that complicated.

You’ll be surprised how quickly “it’s really not that complicated” can become a new mantra. Suddenly, it’s not the vast conversation shawl that’s filling your brain, it’s the self-flaggelating whips of the new words excoriating your neurons. All things considered, this is a just a dating application and you’re just asking some random girl to get a drink. It’s not asking for her hand in marriage – it’s not even making a move on her couch during a romantic scene in Titanic. It’s a few offhand words that every man in the world has probably asked at least once, if not ten million times, because every other man in the world is better than you at this, more capable of wooing women, more capable of even just talking to women, just holding a simple fucking conversation whip whip whip

The blood flows from fresh wounds and fills your mind like a volcano on a fault line that’s eager to shift.

JUST DO IT, you think in all caps. JUST FUCKING DO IT ALREADY. GET IT OVER WITH AND GET ON WITH YOUR GODDAMN LIFE. FUCK.

So you do it. You type into your phone, “Hey, you wanna get a drink sometime this week?” And then you pause.

Pause.

Pause.

Pauuuuuuuussssssssssssseeeee- Send.

Part Six: Whatever

By this point, you’re so mentally wasted that the concept of the girl actually responding to your message seems like the onset of World War III. All that effort just to get a simple message out the door and now you realize that if she responds – especially if she responds with a Yes – there are miles yet to go.

This is just beginning. All of this fucking anguish just to take a step away from the bread crumb trail. And even then, she’s an attractive, easygoing girl who probably fields requests like this every day from similarly attractive, easygoing suitors. Guys for whom the asking-to-drinks part is second nature. Guys who probably worded it better than you. Guys who could probably star in a romantic comedy whip whip whip

Oh yeah, that’s still going on.

And so it goes. Does she respond? Does she not? Does it matter? You can honestly say you would be thrilled if you never heard from this girl again. Not two days ago this girl bumped you up a rung on the self-affirmation ladder and now? You’re down two, three, maybe even four rungs. You feel like shit. You’re considering opening a bottle of bad wine and writing a blog entry about what it feels like to talk to a girl on a dating application and maybe try to ask her out.

Yeah, like anyone wants to know what that feels like.

(It feels awful)

  2 comments for “What it feels like

  1. Nicole
    December 4, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Dakota… I’m just trying this myself, although not with tinder, and it’s just as awful on the other (aka girl being asked to get a drink, or pondering doing the asking) side. Or maybe it’s just those of us who have brains that don’t shut up. Sigh… hang in there

    NK

  2. anonymous
    December 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Your poor brain. It’s always “ON”.

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