My early 20s in New York City felt like “Girls” meets “Sex and the City,” with more awkward Brooklyn hipsters and fewer expensive shoes. At 6 am the morning after Halloween, I was sitting in a car with my friend and her boyfriend and we had just spent the night dancing, drinking and partying away at some swanky midtown rooftop club that we couldn't afford. I had to work in the morning so we decided to pull an all-nighter in hopes that I would sober up enough to be a halfway-functioning waitress.
Waiting in the car for the sun to rise, we began discussing relationships. My friend and her boyfriend had only just started dating but had already known each other for quite some time. Her boyfriend started talking about how although they had been friends for a while, he knew the minute he met her that she was someone worth waiting for and holding on to.
I asked him what it was that made him think that. He said, “there are two types of girls in this world: girls you lust after and girls you fall in love with.” Fueled on vodka and post dance endorphins I boldly asked, "What category do I fall into?"
Her boyfriend replied, "Lust. You are a classic example of a girl men will lust after, with your giant boobs and even bigger eyes. Men see you and instantly think sex."
Never considering myself any more attractive than the average woman, I felt extremely flattered at first. I blushed and quickly fantasized about myself as a famous sex symbol, like Marilyn Monroe or Megan Fox. I snapped back to reality when I realized what the followup question should be: "So then, what does that mean for me and love?"
What my friend's boyfriend said after cut through me like a knife — he said that I don't naturally have the "thing" that instinctively makes men want to fall head over heels in love with me. The "thing" that makes bad boys want to reform their naughty ways to say "I do." The "thing" that makes men drive across the country, run after cabs, ditch his friend's poker night and take me out to breakfast the next morning.
Instead, the "thing" that I have sends their minds straight to the bedroom and that's about it.
I felt a wave of memories flood over me, drowning me in one-night stands, failed first dates, endless bar conversations where his eyes never met mine and an history of almost loves that never came to be. Jealousy began to flush over me as I watched my coupled friends stare lovingly at each other.
My father had always told me: "Remember, there are guys you date and guys you marry" I always just laughed it off, but never really thought about what happens to the guys you just date. Do they ever find love?
I had never considered the same would be true for girls, too. My heart sank as I thought to myself, "Am I the girl you date, but don't marry?"
After that night in the car with my friend and her boyfriend, the thought has always lingered in the back of my mind, "Will I ever be loved? Or is my life all sex, no brunch?"
My 20s have been an interesting time for romance, filled with online dating and meet-ups and friends of friends and work flings. Nothing has seemed to come to fruition in the happily-ever-after kind of way. At times, I think that my friend's boyfriend was right and that I should just accept my role as a loveless temptress, embrace it and maybe even, I don't know, use it to my advantage to cause White House scandals, or something like that.
But even as I write this, I can't fully believe it to be true. Just because no man has yet to commission airplanes to write messages for me in the sky, my love story has hardly just begun. I feel I may just be hiding behind this "sex only, no brunch" wall that I have put up to protect myself from letting someone love me. Because let's face it, my seductress role is much easier for the girls who fall in and out of love at a moment's notice with their hearts open and vulnerable, while mine is protected.
As young adults, we are bombarded by new and exciting ideas of ways to date and interact. We are bright, independent and motivated individuals who are glued to our screens but obsessed with connections. Love is not always as easy as meet, court, date and marry. We crave whirlwind romance and unconditional love, but we are often not as open to letting it happen naturally.
It's been six years since that night in that car and I think I have learned the answer to that lingering question: My life is and has always been filled with love. People are constantly falling in love with me and I with them. I just had to broaden my idea of what love is. It may not be like what I had seen in movies or read in books, but what it shows me is that I am not fated to be stereotyped as a particular type of person, but instead, that I have the capacity to encompass it all, to seduce and to be loved, to be smart and witty and fun and most of all, to be me.
As I embark on my late 20s, what I have come to realize is that there is one person with whom I need to fall in love to truly have it all — and that is myself. Once I love myself wholly, I can break down those walls and allow someone else to love me, too. So long as I keep my heart open, my life could be filled with sex and brunch.
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