I once read an interview with Wendy Newman, where the romance guru confessed it took her 121 first dates to meet a long-term partner. At the time, I balked. How could dating be that hard? Weren’t people who took forever to find someone just too picky? Well, I was wrong. Dating is harder than Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer’s heart! As the old adage goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. However, to extend the metaphor, a lot of those fish will give you mercury poisoning, which is something I didn’t always appreciate.
My disbelief when I first read Newman’s story is attributable to the fact that I was partnered at the time. A few months later, my life very different: I exited a long-term relationship and had to learn how to date after a four-year hiatus. Once I downloaded Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge and OkCupid, I suddenly understood Newman’s plight; dating is a numbers game, and one that can take an awfully long time to win, even if you aren’t holding out to meet Donald Glover.
Here’s a list of reasons why dating is so much work, it’s basically an unpaid part-time job. I hope it will make single people feel seen, I also hope it will persuade partnered people to stop judging single folks for taking “too long” to meet someone.
1. You Have to Present the Best Version of Yourself
When you’re working, you want to make a good impression. You’re trying to curry favor with your boss so they’ll continue to give you money in exchange for your time. That means being on time, being polite, and not coming to work covered in crumbs from the croissant you ate on the subway (that last one is hard for me). Similarly, dating requires us to put our best foot forward. That doesn’t mean outright lying about who you are. But it does mean showing someone why they might want to stick around for the times when you’re hangry-crying because the slow cooker is taking too damn long to cook dinner.
Telling our wittiest stories and smiling our brightest smiles every time we go on a first or second date is draining, just like a paid job. But to add insult to injury, dating is something single people aren’t paid to do. Rather, they have to pay to do it! Ugh!
2. It’s Time-Consuming
Many coupled people naively assume single people have all the time in the world. But the truth is, singles’ schedules are often more complicated! In addition to having demanding jobs and meeting familial obligations, single folks make time to get gussied up and see strangers they met on Hinge in the hopes of one day splitting a mortgage. So never expect a single person to reschedule a date to attend your Superbowl party or your daughter’s dance recital. Why? You have no idea how long it’s taken them to find a mutually agreeable time to meet that dude from Tinder! If you encourage an uncoupled person to cancel a date, you could be standing in the way of them meeting their true love (Yes, it’s unlikely you’ll meet your soulmate on Tinder, but miracles do happen!).
3. Dating Requires Its Own Wardrobe
Unless you’re fortunate enough to work from home, you probably have designated work clothes. Whether it’s a uniform or business casual, paid employment usually requires you to put on pants. And not just any pants, but workplace appropriate pants. Well, dating is similar in that regard; it comes with a dress code. First dates are typically casual, which necessitates buying clothes that aren’t a stodgy pantsuit or sensible heels, but also make you look effortlessly stunning. That’s why most women I know have a separate wardrobe made up entirely of denim and athleisure items; it’s not because we’re rich, it’s because we’re trying to look cool to prospective paramours by dressing like a Fabletics model. Not only is dating like having a second job, but you may need to take a second job just to finance outfits for Date Night.
After investing this much time and money into finding The One, of course you won’t want to settle. Channel your inner Wendy Newman and go on as many dates as necessary!