Recently, while I was talking with one of my best friends, we both discovered something: We're difficult to date. This is not because we're not nice or because we “play the game.” We're difficult to date because we're journalists.
Journalists can be intimidating, scatter-brained and slightly neurotic at times. We're usually sleep-deprived, occasionally loud and always checking our email. We almost never have time for anything other than breathing, drinking and the occasional nap, so dating is practically non-existent.
But it's not impossible. So for those of you brave enough to take on that task, here are some things you need to know:
1. If we give you our time, we must really like you.
We don't have a lot of free time. By not a lot, I mean literally none at all.
If we're not writing, we're editing. If we're not editing, we're brainstorming our next pitch. If we're not brainstorming, we're interviewing. If we're not doing any of those things, we're probably dead.
But in the off chance that we set aside those tasks for a night out with you, just know that a lot of planning went into it. We rearranged our schedules for that week in order to make time for you, and we don't take that lightly.
2. We'll never go behind your back to find things out.
Because we don't have to.
We know how to ask just the right questions to get the answers we want without you having a clue what we're after. We've had to go around stubborn sources all our professional lives, so a simple “Where were you last Saturday?” has nothing on us.
3. We correct your grammar because we care.
Really, we do care. But mostly, it drives us batsh*t crazy.
Proper punctuation and spelling is everything to us. While it might be cute at first when you ask us how to spell something, after the fifth time you use “your” instead of “you're” in a text, we won't be able to hold our tongues.
I'm not going to say it should be required that SOs of journalists read the AP stylebook, but I can think of quite a few incentives for a properly placed comma.
4. We'll drag you to see every political drama or documentary there is.
Don't get me wrong; our personal movie preferences will still be in there. But we'll also feel a responsibility to see every political drama and documentary that's released, whether it's on the big screen or on Netflix.
In the same sense, we won't be able to “Netflix and chill” because whatever we're watching probably requires a focused mind. Don't even think about making a move during "House Of Cards." We'll miss Frank's plan to take over the world.
5. We might cancel on you last minute.
Like, really last minute.
We're in the car, on the way to the restaurant where we've had reservations at for weeks. Suddenly, our editor calls and tells us about a spur-of-the-moment press conference we have to get to. Or maybe we're actually at dinner, but then, a source calls us back and says this is the only time he or she is available to talk.
So we leave, step out or make you mute the show. The romantic moment we're in the middle of suffers a cruel and painful death.
Ultimately, we're never operating on our own time. We are always on the clock.
6. But we are always on time.
We're on time because we have to be. Our lives are literally driven by deadlines that we absolutely can't miss. However, don't mistake that as being prepared.
We might be on time to meet your parents, but we were driving 20 mph over the speed limit and doing our mascara at the red light down the street. In our lives, timeliness and franticness go hand-in-hand.
7. We might not talk to you for, like, a week.
But it's fine. I promise.
We're not ignoring you -- well, not really. Odds are, we haven't slept in days. The only person we've been in contact with is our source. Don't take it personally.
We can't see straight, words are starting to not make sense and if one more person tells us he or she needs something from us, we're going to lose our damn minds. So, we haven't talked to you because it's for your own safety. Just trust us on that, OK?
8. We will always want a glass of wine. Or a shot. Or both.
We'll want a drink without even knowing we want a drink. So, after a long day spent chasing down people who don't want to talk to us or looking at spreadsheets for a pattern that might not even exist, a simple glass of wine and a high-school-style make-out session goes a long way.
9. We have tough skins.
Trust me: We can handle it. We've heard stories we never wanted to hear. We've had to write about things in the world that are so dark, no one else wants to think about them. Our job is to see through the fairytales people try to spin and see the truth for what it is: ugly.
We'll always be straight with you, and we expect you to do the same. Don't try to tiptoe around our emotions. All it will do is piss us off.
10. When we're running ourselves into the ground, we need you to tell us to take a break.
We don't see it. In our minds, we're doing what we have to do to get the job done. But you can see we're at our wits' end, and that if we don't get some sleep, our bodies will literally shut down.
So, we need you to grab us by the shoulders and tell us. We care about you. We care about what you think.
Why else would we constantly ask you to read our pieces, even though you know nothing about them? So be straight with us. We'll listen.