I'm Single For The First Time in 10 Years. Halp?

I can deal with being alone, lonely even. But single? Ugh, that sounds like work.

Jan 25, 2014 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

I legitimately have no idea how I became a serial monogamist. All I know is that I’m apparently going to have to start liking guys with beards.
 
My first kiss was with a dude in a Marilyn Manson t-shirt under the Seaside Heights, NJ boardwalk at age 14. It was romantic as hell and I regret none of it. It was also the most action I’d get for most of my teen years. 
 
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 Hi, I’m emotionally damaged. Wanna make out?

Instead of sneaking out to meet boys, I spent my Friday nights watching embarrassingly awful horror movies like "Vampires: Los Muertos," otherwise known as Bon Jovi’s foray into the vampire genre. (Seriously, do yourself a favor and Netflix that mess RIGHT NOW.)
 
I never quite grasped the concept of flirting, and would usually resort to being somewhat of a dick to any guy I had a vague amount of interest in. Basically, if I’m a huge jerk to you, I’m probably in love with you.
 
Just to lay it all out there, I’ll quote 21 year-old me in a journal I recently found: “Why can’t I just be nice and flirty like other girls? Don’t most girls inherently know how to do that?”
 
And yet, from age 20 through age 30, the longest I stayed single for was approximately two months.
 
I’m not gonna lie, the prospect of being single is completely terrifying to me. Being alone, on the other hand, is something I can handle. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy being alone. But to me, the term “single” reflects a lack of relationship, along with the search for a potential new one. I can deal with being alone, lonely even. But single? Ugh, that sounds like work.
 
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, even a tad hopeful at this single life I’ve heard so much about. It seems to involve large quantities of awkward encounters, which happen to be my specialty. But it also implies a lot of unspoken rules that I am totally clueless about.
 
I wanted to do a little “research” in the “field,” so I did what every other adult with ADHD seems to be doing these days and downloaded Tinder. 
 
But instead of using Tinder to chat with hot dudes, I take screenshots of my favorite terrible photos for my collection. (I’m obviously going straight to hell.) Occasionally I message guys with "Arrested Development" quotes or to let them know I can kill a man in 11 seconds or just a bunch of dragon emojis. Not very many of them message me back.
 
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One of my favorite Tinder matches.

I can’t even begin to imagine using a dating site for realsies. 
 
I guess I just don’t GET dating. Is it like a job interview? Do I bring pepper spray? Can I show the dude my Tinder screenshot collection? Should I text him Ice Cube lyrics? While I get that the right dude will accept whatever weirdness I present, I genuinely don't know how to approach new people without immediately scaring them away.
 
And getting naked with a stranger? DUDE. NO. First of all, how can I verify that they’re up to date on all their shots? Like, can I ask for paperwork? How am I supposed to know otherwise that I won’t contract chlamydia or the clap or whatever? Have new STIs cropped up in the past decade that I’ve been blissfully unaware of? Because holy shit, that’s terrifying.
 
This, of course, is assuming I even get close enough to want to touch a stranger. I am horrendous at small talk and try to avoid it at all costs. I can’t even fathom sweet talking my way into some weirdo’s studio apartment.
 
Christopher Meloni is my spirit animal, so I’m guessing the dangerous quantities of "Law & Order: SVU" I watch have deeply affected my psyche. But how in god’s name am I supposed to go home with some stranger who, for all I know, might gut me and use my blood to reproduce various neoclassical paintings?
 
Let’s say I do wind up liking a guy. Is it OK to just be like, “Hi! I’ll probably make out with you because you have tattoos, but I don’t want to hear about your day, goals, kids, or whatever else in life matters to you. However, I would not mind seeing pictures of your dog.”
 
And what if I LIKE LIKE someone? Aren’t there weird rules surrounding that, like I need to seem interested but not TOO interested, then wait three days and if he doesn’t call, I’m supposed to burn a lock of his hair along with some sage and then flush it down the toilet? I really have no idea what the hell I’m doing here.
 
One thing I do know for sure -- if and when I’m ready to actively date -- is that I’m going to have to accept The Beard. Ten years ago, no one under the age of 40 had one. These days, Gandalf-length facial hair no longer ironic, it’s both trendy and widely accepted. I have sensitive skin, guys. How am I supposed to deal with the inevitable chafe? 
 
I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m nowhere near ready, or even vaguely willing, to enter the dating game. I probably shouldn’t even be trusted to care for my totally autonomous cats at this point. 
 
So tell me xoJaners, is dating in the year 2014 as bizarre as the ID Channel makes it out to be? Is anyone else as overly paranoid as I am? Have you ever actually asked a dude to submit his health records to you? Please quell my fears. Or just exacerbate them, whatever.