Tonight, I’m wondering.

I’m wondering when and if I’ll ever find him.

I’ve dated for a while now. I’ve dated the lawyer. The medical student. The businessman. I’ve dated the Romanian lecturer. The Spanish professor. The R&B star.

I’m tired. And I’m too young to be tired. But I am. I am tired of feeling like my quality, my exclusivity, the very essence of myself, is being shared with men who are neither deserving, nor enticing. With each meal that I share, each movie that I sit through, and each coffee I sip, I feel like I am giving a small piece of myself to the young suitor who sits across the table, beside me in the theater, or on the adjacent couch at Starbucks. With each conversation, I feel like I am sharing some piece of myself with a man who is neither deserving of my time, nor of the access he is granted into my soul for that brief window spent together.

I never really believed in dating. I thought it was too conventional; inorganic, really. I didn’t believe in going out with someone just to “give him a chance.” No. I thought that dating, at least in my sense of the term, should be thoughtless. As in, you should meet someone in the grocery store and, amidst inspecting the tomatoes, he cracks a joke and you both smile. And you never have to question whether or not you want to go on a date with him because by the time he asks, after a series of pleasantries and easy banter, you just know you do. And so you say “yes.” Not only do you say yes, but you look forward to it. You enjoy the time it takes to select your outfit, to turn around in the mirror, and to call your closest friend for wardrobe advice.

I would like to call this ‘The Thoughtless Date”—the one you don’t have to decide whether or not to accept. The one whose sheer possibility fills you with unbridled excitement. Pure. Positive. Energy.

It has been ages since I’ve been on a Thoughtless Date. Worse, it’s been ages since I’ve been excited about someone. In fact, it’s only happened once. And I remember those days well: talking for hours about everything and nothing at the same time; feeling like he could anticipate my next thought. He matched the same principles, mores, and self-righteousness that defined my youth. And yet, he challenged me. In a way that no other peer ever has. He was able to take my best thought to the next level, adding perspective that I had neither considered, nor did I feel I could have conceived of on my own. And that’s where his partnership mattered. He complimented me. He stretched me. He was kind and loving. Protective and fierce. He exemplified, in my mind, the epitome of gentle strength.

He was the only boyfriend I have never had to work with. My mind was on cruise control when I was with him. I never had to work to be polite with him, as I have with many other dates, pretending to listen as they droned on and on about topics about which I didn’t care to hear. With him I did, genuinely, care. What he thought was interesting, I, naturally and of my own accord, also found interesting. With everyone else since him, I have had to politely listen as egomaniacs methodically stroked their own ego, simply wanting an audience to listen through pursed lips and furtive nods. I’ve had to attend events that I, quite frankly, could have died a happier person never having attended. I’ve had to smile politely as potential suitors made references to a future that I, in my own head, knew would never exist.

Yet I have neither seen those qualities nor felt that synergy since, and am left wondering if I ever will. So, after all the years, dates, and coffees in between, I wonder if I will ever again find a man who excites me. A man who, at the sight of his number on my phone, makes me smile like a freshman in college. A man who, upon hearing the sound of his voice on the other line, makes me feel reassured just knowing he’s there.

So I am hereby reinstating the dating embargo. Because when the date doesn’t work out, I inevitably blame myself.  “I should have been more discriminating before hand,” I tell myself, claiming that I could have saved myself the last three excruciating hours of mindless pleasantries and eye-gouging boredom.

Worse, with each underwhelming suitor, I begin to question my own worth. I wonder if he is all I’m worth, or all that I will ever have access to.  “What am I doing,” I ask myself, “to make this underwhelming creature sitting across from me think that we, in some misaligned universe, would ever be compatible? Are there fine men out there who are passing me up? Are they just ‘not that into’ me? Am I not hot enough? Not kind enough? Not smart enough?”

So, to prevent this insecurity build-up, it’s back to the basics for me. Old School. I will no longer go out on dates to be polite, nor will I go on dates because I am lonely and talk myself into “giving the guy a chance.” No. Not again.

Instead, I’m waiting. And no one knows better than me how unsettling it is to wait. You just wait until someone, well . . . “finds you.” And although this may be hard, I fear that the alternative may be worse. Because with each potential suitor to whom I give a small piece of my time, energy, and attention, he inevitably takes a piece of my heart; so that when I meet Mr. Man, I fear I won’t have anything left.

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  • Mademoiselle

    This was well written, and I like the idea of a thoughtless date, but really it just sounds like she’s not over some guy she may have loved and lost (and I’m thinking she had more to do with the breakup than he since she’s the one lamenting and comparing men to her ex). Dating never feels right when you’re holding on to the past.

    • Gell0h0h

      Yess to this statement! “Dating never feels right when you’re holding on to the past.” YES YES YES! LOL.

    • Stanley

      That is exactly what is going on here.
      She’s looking for her ex in someone else’s body. She may never find that. And I’m afraid she may never find anyone unless she let go of her ex (which I think is the one that got away).

    • Bella

      Oh yea why didn’t she mention how they broke up?

  • YouHave2Wonder

    Loved this article. The emotion and thoughts your shared are all too familiar.

  • Your first two sentences told me all I needed to know. ” Tonight, I’m wondering.
    I’m wondering when and if I’ll ever find him.” As strange as it may seem to women, men find interest and challenge in women who are about something besides looking for, or even worse, waiting for, some dude. That night you wrote about in your opening sentences was a waste of time. To coin a phrase, “Get a life.” Construct a life FOR YOURSELF out of YOUR OWN passionate interests. It doesn’t matter whether it’s art. music, sports, charity work, community volunteering, politics, writing, fashion, science, spirituality or WHATEVER. THEN, and ONLY THEN, will the dude show up. And he will show up because he has met a passionate, exciting woman who knows who she is and is happy to embrace HERSELF FULLY. So instead of spending another moment wondering when and if you’ll ever find HIM, spend that time finding and learning to love yourself.

    • Pseudonym

      I hate that people think “Love yourself and he will come” is a great one-size-fits-all piece of advice. There are fully together women (like me) who already have a life (and a wonderful life at that), love themselves, have hobbies and life passions and all that you recommend as the “solution” to singledom and they are still single simply because they have yet to find the right partner. I like having a romantic companion to wake up and talk to. I like having a romantic partner to share my wonderful life with. And there’s also the sex that I like a lot, too. [bow-chicka-bow-wow]! I would like to be married and have a family and- for years now- I’ve had every aspect of my life satisfied except the romance department. So, it’s not so simple as “Just love yourself and get a life and when that happens you’re guaranteed that a boyfriend/husband will just show up at your door bc you’ve earned it.” That’s not the way it works.

      And it’s okay to be honest with your feelings and wonder if and when you will meet a special someone to share your life with. Especially when it seems that everything else is in perfect order. No need to assume the author must be lacking a life just because she would like to have a boyfriend in it.

    • Pseudonym

      Honestly, I just wish I could know whether or not I will get married or have children. I actually think its the uncertainty more than anything that annoys me. If I knew the answer was “yes” or “no” I could construct my life accordingly. I can buy a home or not, move overseas or not, adopt children or not. Seems I can control every other aspect of my life except this one piece.

    • 2013

      @ Pseudonym

      I understand your frustration when it comes to this era of your life. Finding your “soulmate” or someone that you’re madly in love with is hard to find in this world because so many people’s intentions aren’t good when it comes to relationships. But I think you’ll find the “one” for you.

    • Sighs…your preaching to the choir! Sometimes I feel like the type of love/romance I want just doesn’t exist anymore so why bother to keep searching and getting disappointed. I would like to think I am realistic with my romantic needs but my friends always say…you were born in the wrong era…lol

    • sheworkshardforthemoney

      @pseudonym what an amazing comment. This is my life word to word.
      Stranger who knows noting about me,
      Girl, Are you single?
      Girl u need to get out there live your life
      WFT you don’t even know me

  • Tallulah Belle

    It is humanly possible to never ever find the right man and to “die alone.” I know plenty of women who never found true love and have stopped looking. It is not our God given right to find love and be happy from a man in our lives. Many of us will grow old completely unfulfilled by “the right man,” without true love and alone. It can happen and it does. All. The. Time. Do note, however, that worse things can happen.

    • Anthony

      Tallulah Belle, some of the loneliest people are married to partners they never really wanted or loved. Marrying or committing because it was the “right” thing to do is life choice that many live to regret.

    • truth be told lonliness in marriage is worse than lonliness while single

    • Great comment. Having been in a long-term relationship that didn’t work out, I know for a fact that I would rather be single than miserable and lonely in a relationship. The issue wasn’t a lack of love, but one of incompatibility. He’s 11 years older than I am and as time went on, he just wanted more and more to spend night in and night out watching TV – and other issues.

  • MsT-Mac

    I am new to Clutch, coming over from MadameNoire. I read the comment section on the story about “male trolls” on female sites. I saw the complaints the women had and I see their complaints are grounded in truth. Tim shows up today on this story and reveals that he doesn’t have a clue about women and how we think. This lady clearly said she began to wonder if it was she that was “not enough.” This lady clearly said that she just didn’t feel the connection and chemistry that she’s searching for. Yet, Tim comes away from the story with the opinion that this lady is some kind of egomaniac who feels that no man is good enough for her. Tim actually got the conversation off topic, turning it into a men vs. women discussion. We can’t even share our feelings and lament our frustrations in PEACE. If a man has to comment, he should be engaging women here, asking for their ideas and having an actual discussion. Instead, Tim comes in and drops poison into what could be a “sister to sister” discussion.