A Real-Life View of Modern Romance

This first date is not going well
Not me.

Hey, I’m Adam. I am a single dude in my mid-20s who’s navigated the modern dating world for three years. At first, I only talked about my dating life to my close friends and family.

Later, I opened up for two reasons.

The first was that I assumed by telling more people I was single, they would say, “Oh, I know someone who is single that you would like. I will get you her number, sir.” That has not been as successful as I’d envisioned. In fact, the opposite has rung true. Someone I know tried to set me up with someone that wasn’t exactly geographically convenient. Then, I used the information I received and found her on Facebook. I not only wasn’t attracted to her, but we had very different religious beliefs, which is a dealbreaker for me.

The other reason was that dating is dumb, really.

Like in early August, when I messaged a woman through a dating app. She sent me her number so I texted her, and a day later, she told me she’d been in the ER with pneumonia. After giving her a few days to recover, I asked how she was doing, only to never have gotten a reply. I followed up a few times to no avail. That’s fine. I later put together that the person who Facebook was suggesting for me to add as a new friend was probably this person, and her pictures suggest she had a kid – a detail not mentioned on her profile. (But, one that many single mothers use as a source of pride and inspiration).

Zoidberg gets it (GIPHY)

Or, there was the one who told me on our way to dinner that she’d been divorced – a detail she didn’t lie about on her dating profile, but also didn’t outwardly own up to. (After hearing her side of the story, albeit briefly, I’ve relaxed my ruling on divorce from DEALBREAKER to WAIT AND SEE.)

Or, there was the day I had two dates – a lunch date near me and a dinner date an hour north of where I live – which was mentally exhausting, confusing, and a total bust because I only saw one of them a second time and neither of them a third time.

Many of my friends tell me they don’t understand modern dating, and how could they? Most of them are married or engaged, having spent a solid portion of their college years with their spouse-to-be. My (married) friends Jon and Christine told me a few weeks ago that they’d been to four weddings this year for some of Christine’s long-time friends. Four!

Nobody can relate to my plight. No matter who I talk to, they all shake their heads and say, “I don’t know how you do it.”

I don’t know, either. But, I’m glad that I don’t feel like the only one who’s in this conundrum. Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg wrote a book on the subject, Modern Dating, that I really, really want to read.

Sadly, Eric Klinenberg is not Jean-Ralphio (GIPHY)

Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt from the book:

Today’s generations are looking (exhaustively) for soul mates, whether we decide to hit the altar or not, and we have more opportunities than ever to find them. The biggest changes have been brought by the $2.4 billion online-dating industry, which has exploded in the past few years with the arrival of dozens of mobile apps. Throw in the fact that people now get married later in life than ever before, turning their early 20s into a relentless hunt for more romantic options than previous generations could have ever imagined, and you have a recipe for romance gone haywire.

I see so much of myself in the full excerpt at that link. I am the guy who compares real people to my idealized expectations they’ll never live up to. I am the one with strict filters. I am that bozo who could become a stud.

And, somehow, despite this – or maybe because of this – I am the exception amongst my group of friends, always a third (or fifth) wheel. I’m comfortable in that role now, but it hasn’t always been the case.

A recent text conversation with my friend Sarah urged me to open up about my dating adventures. “I think it would be insanely popular,” she said. “I’m all for it.”

I’m sure I’ll regret this latest idea in the not-so-distant future, but here I am. I’m reading a book on vulnerability right now (Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly), and the spirit of Brown’s arguments seem to fit with what I’m doing. I don’t know how great this will be, but it will be daring to expose so much about myself. Maybe I should even use her book as a backdrop as to her definition of vulnerability. After all, there’s nothing more vulnerable than meeting someone who don’t know and hearing things you didn’t expect, sometimes in places you’ve never been (like a recent excursion, in which I planned a date at a frozen yogurt place I didn’t know had existed until last night and then found out had actually shuttered two months ago).

This post will explain how I intend to work with this project. (I haven’t named it yet – other than “The Dating Project” – so if you have a catchy name, let me know so I can use it on the email digest).

The Ground Rules

Here’s the deal: I can only do this with a few basic rules.

1. No real or screen names. I’m not here to embarrass or exploit anybody, so I’m only going to refer to people by their jobs, primary interest, a some combination of the two, or some other non-revealing descriptor. For example, The Attorney, The Sex Therapist, The Account-erina (a ballerina/accountant – thanks, Aaron), etc. That will be the furthest I go in identifying people.

2. I won’t talk about anybody I’m currently talking to. Like I’m going to sabotage future dates. To be more specific, let’s look at the reasons for this:

A) It’s awkward – “I’m glad we went out tonight. btw, you’ll totally be on my blog tomorrow when I write up how our night went.”

B) Nobody’s paying me to do this, so it’s not worth the awkwardness.

C) I’m not getting crazy exposure like is the case with 30 Dates in 30 Days or this dude who wrote for Mashable and used all kinds of dating apps that aren’t even available in my area, or anybody else that’s doing these types of experiments in lifestyle magazines.

3. No pictures.

Check out this idiot on POF smoking a bong
Unless you’re this dumbass I saw the other day

Well, that one doesn’t count. But, believe it or not, first date selfies are a thing. Just imagine leaning in for a kiss and the other person putting on the brakes and saying, “But first…”

4. No intimate details. Hi, Mom.

If you want to follow this project and be the first to know when I publish a new blog, sign up at this link below. I’ve set up a special feed so that you only get this content. I’ll also be separating my feeds to talk about DDPYoga and martial arts specifically, so if you’re signed up for this project, you won’t learn about what else I’m writing about unless you choose to. I have no clue how often I’ll post, but I have no shortage of things to talk about.


By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.