You know how some people do that whole “start fresh” thing on New Year’s Day? For me, that day is my birthday. Every May 14th, I set a goal for what I want to accomplish over the next 365 days. This year, my big goal was to fall in love.
Let me back up here. It’s not that I was desperate for a boyfriend or anything, it’s that I’d had a rough few months getting over my ex. We dated all through college, and we were on and off for a year afterward. I’d spent a few too many of those post-breakup weeks in sweatpants eating day-old sushi in between sips of bad pinot grigio as I aggressively stalked my ex on Instagram and Snapchat, wondering why he seemed to be having so much more fun than me.
Well, in my 23rd year of life, that was all going to change. In the words of the legendary Britney Spears, my loneliness was killing me — and I’d had enough of it. So after months of my friends telling me to “get on it,” I finally worked up the courage to sign up for a dating app. After getting the encouragement of matching with a few guys I didn’t find repulsive, I decided that every day for the next two weeks, I would go on a date. With two weeks’ worth of first dates, at least one of them had to be boyfriend material, right? I knew it was ambitious, but I’ve always been someone who accomplished anything she set her mind to.
So I screwed up my courage, bought a few new (and very chic) outfits, and hit the ground running.
Before I go further, I should note that the first date of my experiment, which I went on slightly hungover the day after my 23rd birthday, was my first online date ever. I had no idea what to expect, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to grabbing a drink I probably didn’t need with Todd*, a med student at NYU.
But despite a long day at work, I put on a fresh layer of makeup, wriggled into a cute dress in the office bathroom, and headed to a bar within walking distance of my job. Todd was already there when I arrived, and I was relieved to see that he looked exactly like his picture. There was no doubt about it, he was cute — but as we settled in with our Bud Lites (his choice, not mine) it became clear that we didn’t have all that much in common. Where my ideal Saturday involves reading a good book at my neighborhood coffee shop, he much prefers to spend his precious non-working hours drunkenly wandering the streets of New York with his buddies.
As we said goodnight, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing each other again. But when Todd gave me a short, albeit not exactly passionate kiss on the lips, I smiled all the way home. He might not have been “the one,” but he was my first kiss since my ex — and that had to count for something, right?
From there, it was all a blur. Todd texted me the next day, but because I knew I probably didn’t want to see him again, I said thanks but no thanks and moved on to Gerald*, who I met up with over a delicious pizza dinner. I was immediately enthralled with him. He was funny, kind, and smart, and the selfless work he did for a nonprofit helping immigrant children had me weak in the knees. Sadly, Gerald didn’t share my infatuation. I texted him that night to let him know what a good time I had, and … nothing. Gerald ghosted me.
Luckily, I was getting new matches right and left, so I kept lining up dates. I went on coffee dates, dinner dates, bowling dates (I know, right?) and even took a leap of faith to go hiking with a total stranger about an hour outside New York City. Word to the wise: This is a better second date than a first date, because getting lost in the woods with someone you have no chemistry with (sorry, Cameron*) isn’t exactly … fun.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely exhausted after my first week of super-dating. My friends were annoyed that I’d disappeared, and I was having a hard time keeping up with the various text conversations with the different guys I’d gone out with once, but didn’t have time to go on second dates with. Still, I had another week of my experiment, and I was determined to see it through. Besides, I was surprised to realize that I was having more fun than I’d had in years.
Here’s the thing about falling in love: You can’t control when it happens, which I learned the hard way when, after two weeks of nonstop dating, I realized there wasn’t one guy I wanted to continue seeing — at least not in the romantic sense. But there were two guys who I wanted to stay friends with, and they were on the same page. The more friends the better, right?
So no, I didn’t walk about of my experiment with a boyfriend. But what I did gain was a renewed sense of the importance of having new and exciting experiences. I spent two weeks trying new restaurants and bars, participating in activities that got me out of my comfort zone, and meeting interesting people. Maybe I didn’t fall in love, but I was reminded of the fact that other guys besides my ex do exist — and most importantly, I learned how to have fun again. And that makes the whole thing worth it.
*Names have been changed to protect the experimentees.