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‘Bad Decisions’: A Modern Woman’s Take on Online Dating

‘Bad Decisions’: A Modern Woman’s Take on Online Dating

  • Culture
  • Life
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Two weeks ago, one of our male contributors wrote about how he used to be a fuckboy. This week, a female writer muses on what it’s like to date guys like him.

“Start with Stranger Danger,” he said. “Then Starfish, then Hypebeast.”

When I was approached to contribute this piece on dating fuckboys, I asked Paul if I had really spent the last year scraping the bottom of the barrel of assholes on Tinder. While he didn’t exactly answer my question, I got the point.

“You gave them codenames?”

In response, he only shrugged. “I’m calling you Tswift if this gets published.”

I winced, because it’s kind of true. There’s no easy way to appear well-adjusted when writing about exes or ex-dates (they’re not the same thing).

Cry about how painful it was and it’s a pity party. Confess that ending things was a relief, and it comes across as false nonchalance. Concede that there were good times, and all your ex’s friends will gleefully forward him the article and boost his ego by concluding that you’re still desperately in love with him.

Do any of it publicly, and you’re Tswift, except without the penthouse in NYC.

I could have told him all of that. Instead, I smiled politely, got out of his car, and didn’t look back. I looked to work, as I’d always done.

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For me at least, the term ‘fuckboy’ is such a messy, inadequate word because my ex-things were, admittedly, all fundamentally decent people, if not really bad ideas.

Case in point: Stranger Danger started telling me that he loved me about three dates in. Did I know it was a line? Yes. Was I aware that I was merely the latest iteration in a long line of girls who all possess roughly the same physical features? Yes. Did I drop him like the bass in an ODESZA track? No.

He was still interesting and very intelligent, and he was a sweetheart when he was around. For the time being, that was sufficient.

Was I surprised when he gently informed me, after I returned from a three-week long holiday, that I was a great girl but he wasn’t ready for anything close to commitment? No. Not in the slightest.

I’d known that I was on the rebound. Dating him had been a welcome distraction outside of turning document drafts, especially since his hours fit nicely around mine. At some point, I’d realised that I was parking my emotions in someone I had already judged to be emotionally unavailable—just because he had already become a convenient presence.

I could have told him all of that. Instead, I smiled politely, got out of his car, and didn’t look back.

I looked to work, as I’d always done.

It is not often that one is blessed with the ability and circumstances to enter into a career of her choice at a workplace that supplies her with all the tools she requires to flourish. When one finds herself at such a place in her life, every opportunity to go to work and prove oneself is a gift.

I took that gift.

But boredom set in whilst I was waiting for research portals to load and for government websites to finish maintenance. I re-downloaded Tinder to cope with it when I ran out of Candy Crush lives.

Sometimes, Paul would flirt on my behalf whenever he was bored and wanted to watch the world burn. His natural curiosity also led him to conduct the necessary due diligence on matches. (For instance, one of his friends’ cousins dated Starfish, which was how we discovered why he deserves the codename that Paul had scathingly assigned him.)

And then he’d buy me drinks and get his girlfriend to give me a pep talk whenever I ignored his findings, went out with the men anyway, and everything went belly up.

Some people might say ‘strong independent woman’ with a sneer, but if that’s who I want to be, what’s wrong with that?

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“You admitted that Hypebeast is boring,” Andrea huffed, the last time this happened. “Why did you even bother?”

I shifted a little uncomfortably in my seat. “He’s cute, and I’m very shallow.”

Andrea made an impatient noise in the back of her throat viagra bester preis. “Everyone you have dated – with the exception of Stranger Danger; I guess that’s why y’all only ever met after work – is cute. You’re cute. Cuteness doesn’t mean anything. Why are you pickier about your clothes than you are about the men you date?”

“You attract people who waste your time because you’re looking to waste theirs,” Paul then said, firmly but not unkindly.

I recoiled.

It hurt, because it is very true. My work is my priority; it always has been. There is no shame in this, because I’d fought very, very hard – and my parents have sacrificed much – to get to where I am right now. I want to be excellent in my field, and given the finite number of hours a day and the way I operate, that leaves very little time or energy for me to spend on social interaction – let alone the extra effort I’d have to rustle up in order to build a new relationship.

And if I do only attract men who look at me and only consider how pretty I am – do I really want to expend effort on convincing them that I’m far more than a pair of liquid eyes and a nice laugh?

My epiphany hit me more aggressively than I had ever been hit on.

“I’m not ready to date,” I finally announced.

Paul and Andrea clinked their glasses against mine as I determinedly deactivated and deleted all social apps on my phone. Some people might say ‘strong independent woman’ with a sneer, but if that’s who I want to be, what’s wrong with that?

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Jen Lin