I’d like to talk a little bit about faith. I’m not talking about religious faith or faith in God. I’m talking about faith in humanity. The kind of faith that I have had since I was a little girl: the faith in the goodness of others. My belief has always been that people are inherently good. Why do I have this faith? Good question. I think I’m going to thank my parents for that - because truth be told, I have had some pretty strong life experiences that should’ve steered my beliefs otherwise. But my faith has remained - and I’ve held strong that at the root of most humans is goodness; that if given the choice, we would choose to treat others well.
Well, people of New York. You have killed that faith. Dating, specifically has killed that faith.
It all started with an article. This article about everyone’s propensity to cancel plans last minute via text really got to me. It’s not some new mind-blowing concept, but it really struck a chord and reinforced something that had already been bothering me. The problem is two-fold:
Not only do people keep canceling last minute - but the rest of us allow them to do so by responding with “No worries!” The cancelers feel no guilt due to no accountability whatsoever. Our “no worries!” responses are creating an environment where it’s not only easy to treat others poorly - but it’s acceptable. You know what? There ARE worries. Worries indeed! It's obnoxious. You should be sorry for texting me 3 hours before our dinner plans because "work's been crazy."
People don’t know how to make plans anymore - and if they do make them, they certainly don’t know how to keep them.
And what is with the day-of "Are we still on for tonight?" text? How has this become a thing? Many people actually say that they "assume plans are off unless they hear from the person day-of." Really? That's my assumption for every other day. I assume we have no plans every day except for the one when [GET THIS] we have plans.
Whatever happened to Do Unto Others…? All of this flaking and lack of accountability is part of a larger problem: we’ve reached a point where we just aren't that nice anymore. We don't care how we make other people feel. We treat each other like shit. And if this is the way we treat our friends, how do you think we treat acquaintances and possible dates?
I am a single girl in my 30’s. I wish I could tell you it was flattering when people say “You're single? But you are SUCH a catch!” It’s nice that people think highly of me, but truth be told: I ain't the problem. I’m saying it right now and I’ll say it proudly again: I know I’m a great catch. But, I am not the problem.
Like most gals in this nightmare we call "being single in New York," my girlfriends and I have nicknames for the guys we go out with. Marcus the Mormon, Sweatpants, Sexy Lumberjack... One of my girlfriends went out with a guy we nicknamed “Rapey.” For real. “Rapey.” You can see how the names start to lose their cuteness and start to make you think. I don’t even have to tell you how educated and gorgeous and funny these single women are! Yet this is what we’re hoping for - a second date with "Rapey." This is the pool we think we need to swim in.
We are living in a world where it is not only ok, but accepted, to ‘ghost’ on someone (stop contacting them, returning calls/texts) as a way to end things. Gone are the days where people would say “Hey, I’m not interested but good luck to you.” We just disappear behind our screens instead. My married friends shacked-up before dating and texting came hand-in-hand so it's hard for them to understand just how bad it is out there. Since you may be equally as unconvinced, dear reader, I am going to share a few personal experiences from this past month alone. The experiences of X, Y, and Z.
It's been weird month.
X and I met on a dating app. We got along well via text and made a plan (actual plans!) for our first date - it was going to be brunch on a Sunday. A week before the date, he sent me texts and photos from an outdoor beer garden and we reveled in the nice weather. A day later, he disappeared. No more responses… even though we had a date and actual plans in the calendar. My last text to him was “So, are you gone forever? Is that what’s happening here?” Apparently it was.
Y was a man I met at a bar. I wasn't necessarily trying to date this man. My (male) friends and I were at the bar after performing in a show and Y sat down by himself for an after-work drink. Being the friendly person that I am, I included him in our conversation. Eventually, my friends walked away (trying to set me up for success with a possible suitor) and Y and I chatted for a bit about comedy and Brooklyn and music. Nothing mind-blowing, just mild flirting. It was around 1am and the bar was emptying out. He asked me if I knew when the bar was closing. I did not. Then - and this is really the greatest, you guys. Then, in the middle of our conversation he stood up, walked to the front entrance of the bar, walked out the front door, got onto his bicycle and biked away. Yes - mid sentence - he left the conversation and went home. No "nice meeting you" or "whoa I didn't realize how late it was!" I got ghosted in real life. It was absolutely bizarre. I thought I was on crazy pills.
And lastly, Z. I went out on a fun first date with Z. We had a good time, some physical chemistry, but nothing really long term there. He was currently dealing with a lot of personal stuff and I was looking for someone who was ready for a long term relationship. Keeping that in mind, we agreed that we got along really well - why not become friends with occasional benefits? I was incredibly clear and insisted that he knew that I didn't want to be his girlfriend and as long as he was ok with that, we could continue to hang out etc. It felt like a breakthrough. Clear Communication and Expectations? Great.
We texted often; talked on the phone sometimes. He even called me one day (on a telephone!) from his finance job to ask my opinion on improv teachers - since I had apparently inspired him to get out of his comfort zone and try taking a stab at a comedy class. We weren’t friends necessarily, but for 2 months we were friendly people who communicated a bunch. He asked me out a few times and I generally declined - usually due to my busy comedy schedule.
One night, I text him to see how he was doing. He responds to to my text with one word: “Unsubscribe.”
Let me just let that sit there for a second.
When I asked him the reason for his rude dismissal he explained to me (24 hours later via text) that as far as he was concerned, we had an agreement. His text started with “I mean, c’mon babe” and ended with if he wasn’t getting laid, then he feels like he is “wasting his time.”
Awww he called me babe! And they say chivalry is dead.
I wish I could tell you none of these incidents bothered me. (Who needs those dudes? You're better than them anyway!) Of course. But you know what? It does bother me. And more than being bothered - I feel hurt.
Is it too much for X to say “Brunch isn’t going to work out after all?”
Does Y not have the balls to say "It's late - I need to leave."
Can Z not communicate that he is unhappy with the current dynamic and wants out?
I have an idea - use your words. Be a person. SACK UP.
I am a nice person who treats people well - why am I not getting the same treatment in return? When did treating each other badly become the standard way to act? Chivalry used to mean going above and beyond to treat a woman well. Now it means, just not being an asshole.
I want to make it clear that I am not saying men are specifically the problem - nor that this kindness crisis is only happening in New York. I highly suspect this epidemic isn't contained just to my little island or this one gender - these are just my personal experiences. We all need to do better.
Let's Be Better
So... this is where I am at, America: I’ve lost my faith. The bar is so low and it's still somehow completely out of reach. Are people just not good anymore? I thought that vulnerability was the key to happiness, but now do I just need to shut myself off to others?
I have an idea: Let’s be the change. Let’s be better. Why don’t we - I don’t know - make plans and keep them. Why don't we hold our friends accountable for breaking plans instead of responding with "no worries." Why don't we try being honest with people we’re dating about what our intentions are and what we’re looking for. I do this with my dates and although it may scare some men away, those guys are clearly not meant for me anyway. I mean, c’mon babe, no one wants to waste their time.
New york doesn’t have a dating problem. It has a humanity problem.
We should do better. We can be better.
Let’s treat each other better.