On a Thursday afternoon in February, you find yourself in a diner on the Upper East Side with one of Manhattan’s premier matchmakers, looking at Bumble profiles over the tuna salad special.
“So, how is Bumble?” she asks.
You cringe just enough so that she won’t notice, sliding into a more socially acceptable shrug. “I…didn’t really have any luck.”
She reaches across the table and says, “Give me your phone--Let me see your profile pics.”
Then she takes control, swiping frantically. “He’s cute!...Oh, look at him! So cute, right?...See? The more you swipe right, the more the app works in your favor.” Wink.
Like some warped, 2.0 version of the Dating Game.
You try to wrap your brain around the disjointed pieces: Matchmaker. Bumble. Tuna salad. Thursday.
The only cohesive strand: “What in God’s name is happening right now?!”
Match. OKCupid. Plenty of Fish. Even a hot-second fling with Tinder.
You always dove in with a bold-yet-devil-may-care attitude: Grooming or not, packing a punch with provocative wit, keeping it genuine-but-light, and trying not to commit the ultimate faux pas of calling someone by the wrong name--because once was enough to scar you for life.
And, in the end, you inevitably dropped anchor into the same mangled mess of it all: Riding the tumultuous online wave, trying not to judge yourself for participating, and waiting for apathy to set in after spending precious free evenings with random dudes you met on a dating app.
In the Dating Olympics, you would crush the 100-meter sprint: A blindingly brief, yet impressive, run.
Yet here you sit, two nights after Tuna Salad, feeling like Sisyphus in WWE: Trapped in an endless cycle of pumping up for one more round in the ring.
So, after a few glasses of wine and far too much reflection, you pick up your phone, tap on the Bumble icon and swipe a few times, just for good measure.
Luckily, one of your “chosen ones” also swiped right. He is cute, his glasses portray at least a modicum of intellect, and you know absolutely nothing about him other than his age: 44. Twelve years older. Perfect.
After a brief text exchange, you suggest meeting that very afternoon. You justify the spontaneity as a sign that you are excited to meet him, and part of you is. But part of you just wants to get it out of the way.
If you have learned one thing in this whole dating scene jungle, it’s this: Heed the popular advice of a little brand called Nike, and just do it. After all, chemistry remains a VIP on that sacred internal checklist—and best to experience that apathetic “Meh” in person sooner, before attachment complicates a smooth exit.
Still, even if a bit jaded, you deep-down-wish for that simple-yet-profound, not overly rose-colored, not overly pragmatic, one-word, intuitive “Yes.” You still want your guy.
As it turns out, Current Bumble Guy is on-board with your left-field suggestion of meeting at Paper Source, so you meet him outside the store and awkwardly stumble on his foot as you go in for a hug. You chuckle over witty birthday cards, chat over craft beer, and text throughout the evening.
And, as it turns out, Current Bumble Guy, unlike his predecessors, proceeds to goes all in. He meets you at a wine event because, as he puts it, with a twinkle in his eye, he “just happened to be in the area”. He takes you to hear his friend play at Rockwood Music Hall. He cooks for you, and you spend the next day walking through Central Park, strolling around the Met and reciting The Giving Tree at Barnes & Noble before candid conversation over more craft beers. You love and hate the fact that you are living a rom com.
Three weeks in, he tells you he loves you--and adds, “You can’t say it until you mean it. And it’s okay if you’re not ready.”
He wants honesty, right from the beginning. And you honestly aren’t ready. So, in the spirit of honesty, you just say, “I’ve been burned before.”
Yet, somehow, over the next few weeks, you let yourself love him. Somehow, you reach that simple-yet-profound, not overly rose-colored, not overly pragmatic, one-word, intuitive “Yes.”
And you tell him you love him, too.
Over happy hour drinks five weeks in, you tell him that it’s perfectly okay if he sees other women while you’re in Italy. You tell him the truth: That you feel kind of guilty going into this whole thing knowing that you are leaving the country for two months.
You don’t tell him that, unlike him, you did not delete your Bumble profile the day after your first date. You also leave out the part about deciding to let what happens in Italy stay in Italy.
His response jars you: “Why are you telling me that?! Is it because you want to see other men? I don’t want to see other women. I love you.”
You sit, dumbstruck, as you digest. Your tongue trips over itself as you fumble delicately for the most honest-yet-reassuring words.
Your mind flashes to a scene from a fantasy film (okay, be honest, Frozen), where, in one pressurized blast, the debilitating spell breaks and all of the blue sadness crumbles to make way for the blinding, sparkling, rainbow of hope on the horizon.
And though you just want to dance in the sunshine of it all, you don’t quite know what to do with it. It can’t be real. You’re just having fun, aren’t you? You don’t trust it.
You also understand the enormity of this moment and, for the first time, you care whether or not one of you f*#&s this up.
One week later, you leave for Italy.
One month later, he visits you, and, in the picturesque town of Corniglia, he proposes--just nine weeks after your first date.
And, somehow, as crazy as it all is, your first thought is a simple-yet-profound, not overly rose-colored, not overly pragmatic, one-word, intuitive “Yes.” He’s your guy.
Now, exactly five months after your first date--including your two months in Italy--here you sit, in the tiny fourth floor walk-up in Hell’s Kitchen that he painted blue just for you, buying things like fruit baskets and shower curtains and getting to really know each other.
Leave it to the romantic to choose the antiquated timeline, the way people used to live romance, before the modern mish-mash of dating for months and months and months without really having a clue as to where it’s headed; before “taking a step back”, or being “not ready for commitment”; before changing your mind about the whole exclusivity situation; before believing that the person is wrong, or the timing is wrong, or both; before falling off the face of the earth because you suddenly just can’t deal with it.
Yes, you have been burned.
But some people don’t play games. Their feelings don’t amount to a disjointed and amorphous bottom line. They keep it simple and true.
Some people love you so much, and that’s it. That’s the bottom line: They love you so much, they want you, and they want only you.
So, you decide, in a split out-of-body second in a tiny Ligurian oceanside village, to choose your guy.
As Will Smith put it, “There’s no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A.”
And, sometimes, Plan A is a simple-yet-profound, not overly rose-colored, not overly pragmatic, one-word, intuitive “Yes.”