(Author’s note: Surprise! I resurrected My Week In Tinder for one night only, so you can listen to me read this essay aloud because my one true love is the sound of my own voice.)
Are omissions of fact lies? What if you didn’t ask for any information, but I provided it because I could, because I tend to overshare, and purposely left something out? I did not leave it out to be hurtful or deceitful; I omitted it because it did not seem relevant. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it was relevant. And maybe, to some extent, remains relevant. Was this a lie? You tell me.
For Valentine’s Day last year, I wrote an essay called “A Brief History of Men I May Have Loved (And Who Didn’t Love—or Even Like—Me Back)” that charts almost two decades of largely ill-advised romantic infatuations. After exploring the who-what-when-where-and-how surrounding six instances of unrequited love, I concluded that I was hopeful that my tendency to emotionally invest in men who, more often than not, don’t even like, let alone love, me back had run its course. One year later, I am happy to report that I have not emotionally invested in any men who were clearly not even a little bit interested in me.
Last Christmas, I published the first episode of my podcast, My Week In Tinder. A little bit less than a year later, I’m deciding to end it. This was not an easy decision to make, or rather, admit that I had already made. But, as Joan Didion writes in her essay that serves as half of the title of this one, “It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.” For those who have been active listeners, you’ll know that my last episode was almost five months ago. I had planned to do a summer recap episode, replete with a parodied version of “Summer Nights” from Grease that I was going to sing with a backup karaoke track, but I obviously never got around to it. And I’m sorry about that, because it was really clever.
While the impetus for my podcast was clear, and remains clear to me almost a year later, its ending is murky. If I’m being honest, with not only you, but also myself, I made the decision to end My Week In Tinder months ago, but have had trouble pulling the proverbial trigger. My difficulty in ending something that I created, something that received far more (and surprisingly positive) attention than I anticipated had a lot to do with why. Why do I want to end this? Why have I lost interest? Why did I even start in the first place?
Here’s the cheat-sheet version of the answers to those first two questions: 1) Because it is no longer, to borrow a phrase from Marie Kondo, sparking joy. 2) Because I’ve lost interest in the premise, which is largely rooted in dating men I meet through Tinder or OkCupid or Bumble, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam (emphasis on the nauseam). The third question—Why did I even start in the first place?—is both the easiest and hardest to answer. Ultimately, I know why I started. It’s just difficult to talk about.
Vaguely insecure but charmingly self-deprecating artsy-type seeks creatively-inclined adult male (human), preferably steadily employed, in the New York City area for something in between a one-night-stand/friends-with-benefits situation and a full-blown, instant relationship. (This is possibly called “dating,” a retro trend that apparently died out around 2008.) Alcoholics, narcissists, misogynists, mansplainers, doctors, codependents, neo-Nazis, or any combination of the aforementioned need not apply.
(Note: Nearly all names have been changed. This is not to protect the men I am writing about, but to protect myself from further past, present, or future humiliation.)
Wanting what I can’t have has been a recurrent theme in my life. I’ve wanted my curly hair to be straight; I’ve wanted my practically translucent skin to be just a shade or two darker (read: not vampiric); I’ve wanted my neuroses to seem charming, not terrifying.
My romantic history is not free from this curse: I am unrequited love’s bitch.