If there’s one thing everyone looking for romance knows, it’s this: It’s a jungle out there. Indeed, you’re probably well aware how chaotic and tumultuous the dating scene can be. And the road to finding a long-term monogamous partner (for those who are looking) is riddled with detours, dead ends, and more than a few red flags.
Recently in conversations about dating and relationships with some friends — some of whom are single, some in relationships, some married — I began to notice a trend. An archetype, if you will. Whether you’ve dated just a few people or dozens, there’s one very common type of person it seems everyone has crossed paths (or shared beds) with. Including you. To best make my point, I’ll paint you a little picture. See if this sounds familiar…
You meet someone. Through a mutual friend, or a dating website, or a coworker’s friend, whatever. By their online profile or the way your friend describes them, they sound great on paper. Cool job, amazing friends, great sense of humor. You agree to go on a date. Why not.
You grab a drink or coffee and immediately hit it off. There’s chemistry. They’re charming, funny, smart, curious, and most importantly, super interested in learning more about you. They’re genuine and fun to be around. You talk for a few hours but it feels like 10 minutes. You hate to part ways but already you’re thinking about the next date, and you can tell they are too. You end the evening patting each other’s foreheads for several minutes before calling it a night.
Cut to a few days later and by now you’re basically inseparable over text message. You spend all day exchanging photos of deformed baby alpacas. Clearly there’s something there. It’s only been a few days and your roommate is sick of hearing about them already. You can barely contain your glee every time your phone lights up with the next infant alpaca born with 2 noses.
The second date does not disappoint. You spend an entire Saturday afternoon standing in a used car lot, playfully slapping each other’s shoulders with eucalyptus branches. You go on a long walk along the river and stand on the shore taking turns to see who can spit the farthest. You wish the day would never end. Everything seems to be going so well. When you get home that night, you’re so happy you do a somersault in the living room and break your roommate’s great grandmother’s antique vase.
A few weeks go by. It’s a Sunday morning and you’re hanging out at their place, intimately rubbing egg yolks into each other’s palms. Everything seems to be going well and then out of nowhere: the first red flag. You’re telling them about a recent situation where half of your softball team has been possessed by the spirits of the crew of a doomed fishing vessel that sunk off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts in 1832. As you’re telling the story all of a sudden they blurt out, “I don’t believe in softball.” Just like that. Caught off guard, you attempt to press them on this point but they refuse to budge or explain themselves. They just don’t believe in softball. Not good.
It’s a couple months later and, for the most part, things seem to be going well, but the little red flags and contradictions keep piling up. They can recite from memory long passages from War and Peace, but they can’t make their own pesto. They claim their uncle is a cobbler, but they only own 6 pairs of shoes. Their favorite color is blue but their favorite fruit is oranges. One sunny afternoon you’re lying together on a blanket, looking up at the sky and assigning each cloud its own gender and occupation, and then all of a sudden they get up and leave, claiming to have a doctor’s appointment they forgot about. But you can’t shake the feeling that they’re lying.
And then: The Mount Kilimanjaro Fight. You know the one. We’ve all been there. You’re at the local VFW hall, watching a high school rockabilly band and dancing along, wrapped head to toe in Christmas lights, when out of nowhere they propose carrying an entire yurt to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro together and then constructing the yurt there and getting married inside the yurt. You patiently explain that you’re not ready to take that step yet, but they’re persistent. For weeks it’s just “yurt this” and “Kilimanjaro that.” Finally you strike a compromise. You’re not prepared to get married in a yurt atop Mount Kilimanjaro, or at all, but they can move into an apartment adjacent to yours and you’ll take it from there.
So now you’re neighbors who date. It seems to be going well. Every other night you blast Gregorian chants through the wall at each other. You start to imagine a future together. You haven’t seen your roommate in months.
But for some reason or another over time the spark fades. You’re at a big license plate swap downtown trying to find a ’72 Oklahoma plate to round out your Oklahoma collection but they seem distant and bored the whole time. They say a cloud is a male obstetrician, you say it’s a female carpenter. And so forth. Eventually you reach a conclusion together: You’ve grown apart. It’s nobody’s fault. But it’s over.
Everyone who’s ever dated has inevitably dated this person. It’s almost like a rite of passage — something we all have to go through before we finally meet The One. But in the end, maybe that’s what makes it all worth it. Thank you for reading and relating.