Dating, as many women will tell you, can be a great, steaming pile of suck.
Men can be so rude, so thoughtless. They text you late at night with one thing on their minds. Or they don’t text at all. They’re losers. They’re players. They’re immature. They’re assh*les.
But, what about us?
It’s easy to point your finger in the male direction for the general demise of dating, but that overlooks a solid half of the equation: women.
And, frankly, I’ve seen some dating behavior from my friends that makes me think we might be earning more than half the blame.
A friend arranged to meet an online date who drove an hour and a half to take her to dinner. She showed up 20 minutes late, with an entourage of girlfriends in tow.
She then told him she’d already eaten and she and her posse left 15 minutes later when she decided he was boring. She never saw the guy again.
A guy friend told me about a woman who spent the entire second date talking about how she was still in love with her ex and then let him pick up the tab.
Another girlfriend said "yes" to a guy she had zero interest in because she couldn’t afford to eat out and he’d offered to treat. Then, she ordered the most expensive thing on the menu.
One woman showed up for a blind date, but when she caught sight of the guy carrying a few more pounds than promised, she bailed before he saw her.
We slam men for minor imperfections -- one friend immediately dismissed a nice guy she met at a park because “he had Hobbit feet” -- even imperfections we’d want them to overlook in us, like bad breath or a beater car or the absence of a six-pack (or any pack).
We ghost them after a few dates; or worse, sometimes in the midst of an actual relationship.
One girlfriend of mine rules guys out after about two minutes, based on their initial conversation, depending on whether they were wordy or nerdy or dumb.
But you know what? Dating is terrifying.
Is it so hard to imagine someone who’s nervous about meeting you might have temporary verbal diarrhea, or that he might inadvertently try to show off his encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel movies? Or that he just might be unable to come out with anything remotely witty?
God knows, I’ve had plenty of dates where I couldn’t seem to shut up about inane things; I’m nervous I blabber. But give me a few minutes to relax and I can actually be fairly interesting.
As are most of us, if we take the time to get to know someone.
I’m not saying giving every guy a chance will result in true love, but at least you’ll find out by seeing who he actually is when he’s not worried about what kind of snap judgment you might be making.
Frankly, the best guys don’t always burst out of the gate at top speed. Sometimes the sprinters crap out before the finish line.
It’s the slow, steady ones who win the race.
Our standards can be insanely high from date one. Who can offer their best in the swipe-left knee-jerk dismissals most of us make on the spot? How do you even know who this person is?
Look, I’ve done a lot of dating. I know that after a while, you grow armor to protect yourself against some of the appalling things men do in the dating world.
I’ve had guys openly scope out another woman’s boobs while sitting at a table with me. One guy ignored me for half an entire date because his cell phone didn't stop ringing (and he didn't stop answering it).
Another stood me up when he had to meet my family for the first time and then texted me a lame apology hours later, in the middle of the night.
You get defensive. You do.
But to turn around and do that to someone else -- even if it feels like a solid preemptive move -- isn’t the way to find a guy who won’t do those things.
There really is such a thing as karma. If you’re crappy to someone, I promise you, sooner rather than later, someone is going to be crappy to you.
And having a string of guys in your past who did you wrong doesn’t give you retroactive credit to pay the nasty forward. That’s painting every new guy you meet with the same dirty, matted, tangled brush of the old ones.
If you want someone who is considerate, kind, thoughtful and real, you have to be those things. And not just with that one magical man, but with all of the men you go out with.
And not just with your girlfriends. With everyone, just as you are hoping your mythical perfect guy will be.
Like attracts like and you get what you give. If you find yourself complaining about all the douche-canoes you’ve been meeting, maybe it’s time to check the way you’ve been dipping your own oars.
Phoebe Fox is the author of "The Breakup Doctor" and "Bedside Manners," part of the "Breakup Doctor" series (from Henery Press.) You can find her at www.phoebefoxauthor.com, or on Twitter @PhoebeFoxAuthor.