The Neverland Of Dating: How I Found Myself In A Sea Of Peter Pans

by Samantha Lang

It's 2015 and I’m closing in on turning 30.

Thirty is not scary, but it does cause me to pause. It's the long, deep, “Is that a wrinkle," or, “You don’t look a day over 29,” stare in the mirror pause.

The surprise was when that pause turned into a morning when I realized my perspective had changed. I’d never tell her, but maybe Mom is right; maybe I do want things I swore I never did.

If it is one thing people love to tell young, driven, single and slightly stubborn, “I will never,” women, it’s that they will one day wake up and want the fairytale.

They will one day wake up and not only have finally grown into the glass slipper everyone was waiting for them to fill, but will also want to wear it.

I promised everyone I would never wake up and want the fairytale — the husband who looks better with age, shared vehicles, names, accounts, friends and therapists — or the house so large you need an intercom to say sweet nothings (how romantic).

I swore I'd never want grocery aisle fights and 2.5 children (I already have the dog). No way was that fairytale going to be a competing interest to my c-suite, boss lady, run the world, corner office dream.

The, “just wait, one day you’ll want it all,” statement is by far the most annoying thing a person can tell Beyoncé’s “run the world” fan club president.

I was being honest every time I rebutted this foreshadowing. I was truly happy being independent and single, but then, I woke up one day to my glass slipper fairytale complex while I sat in my closest as I picked out that day’s suit.

"Wait a minute — when did I purchase those glass dreams?"

Don't get me wrong; single is good. Single is fun(!!). In fact, single is downright amazing after a 12-hour day of crushing a career. But, single is no longer my forever dream.

But, neither is Neverland: The land of modern dating where I woke up with a new pair of glass slippers and a hobby of playing catch and release with Peter Pan and his Lost Boys.

If I knew I would be stuck wading through fairy dust, I would have ordered the glass combat boots, not the stilettos.

What is Neverland?

Neverland used to just be a fictional location featured in the works of J.M. Barrie. It was the pen-to-paper scripted home of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys. Well, Barrie was a psychic because today, Neverland is a reality.

It is the Southern California relationship ideology. A culture that is quickly spreading beyond our sunshine-state border and into the minds and hearts of historically chivalrous or mature states.

Yes, your Midwest man, southern lady of charm and East Coast power couples are now falling victim to the shiny-object syndrome from which Neverland’s foundation is built.

How do you know if you’re dating in Neverland?

Well, the blurred lines are hard for anthropologists to decipher. Peter Pans and Tinker Bells still value the idea of good first impressions. These are impressions that could last for a first date, a few months or all the way through a marriage, kids and divorce, but it’s the day the switch flips and the wings come out.

It can be obvious from the start or can manifest as a mid-life crisis. Neverland does not discriminate by age, upbringing, level of education or career. It’s a playground mentality open to all. It's the nightclub that opens in your backyard and never closes.

Dating in Neverland means you’re swimming in a sea of flakes, fade-aways, hookups, the intimidated and non-committals. Neverland’s culture is texting only, sometimes for days, and then never again.

Neverland is instant gratification. It's swiping left and wishing you could do it in-person while on a date. Oh, wait, you do— while your date is in the restroom. I’ve seen it happen!

If you’re a Pan or Bell, you constantly have one Cole-Haan-dressed foot in the door of a possibly healthy relationship, with your other fairy slipper out in the grass is always greener world.

Neverland is lazy, but somehow simultaneously complicated. Are we talking, seeing each other, dating, defined, exclusive, open, closed, in love, out of love, out of love but still texting, hooking up or not hooking up but wishing we were? What the f*ck are we?

I’m tired of guessing, but you hate talking about it, so can we just implement a universal 90-day probation period and then require monthly progress reports? You can just leave them on my desk. I’ll review and have my assistant send you revisions.

The current dating ritual is actually more complicated than just having a healthy relationship, and we all know you like “healthy” because heaven forbid people enjoy food AND eating it, too.

Neverland is filtered and not just for the 'gram. I live in a city of beautiful people, so your game has to be on point just to be placed in someone’s dating (texting) queue. The options are endlessly pretentious.

I’m a big fan of wanting to better yourself, but in Neverland, a spiritual journey means Burning Man and dating “Molly.” Everyone’s paying for his or her vegan diet out of a fully leather LV wallet or saving the planet by putting his or her Tesla on credit.

Men say they want “easy going” and down-to-earth women, but end up chasing Tinker Bells. Women, well our lists are just too damn long. No wonder we end up dating Pater Pans; we narrow the window too much with our “must haves,” so the only one able to fly through is Rufio. Stop playing Wendy, girlfriend!

I constantly hear arguments from men that they are just taking their time, making sure their sh*t is together before dating or taking time to explore and grow as individuals. That’s great and definitely not what Neverland is. We applaud your maturity.

The storybook reality is home to those who have their lives in order but are terrified of commitment and/or are searching for everlasting hookups, all the while still dating.

Do not ask someone on a date if you’re not ready for what dating is. There are sites for hookups. Save your dinner money and interview questions. Use those sites, not my time.

Being a Peter Pan means you're failing because you never even tried. You’re too afraid to date the type of person you secretly want to take home to Mom or have be the mother of your children. Yikes, I said the C-word: children.

Sorry, don’t freak out. I forgot that having a family was so last year. I didn’t see your sign that said, “The human race ends with Generation-Y.”

Stop being a victim of your own “too cool” factor. Grow up, go get what you want and make your life equivalent to your dreams. We know you have dreams and aspirations; Peter Pan and Tinker Bell will eventually grow out of their wings and into the glass slippers she said she never would fit into.

Neverland leads to great stories, but who are you planning to share them with when you’re 80 and too old to chase your Bell? You’ll be alone, Captain Hook. Just you and your single buddy, Mr. Smee, running out the clock you long ago threw to the alligator.

Neverland needs to go back into the books and out of my backyard. Until then, these glass slippers look just fine on my shelf.