I would just like to start off by first saying that I am no love guru. I got out of a serious 2.5 year relationship at the end of 2007, then moved from Atlanta to Austin to Dallas to LA all in 2008. I have been dating and in a number of short lived relationships ever since then. Essentially, I don’t know shit about dating, which is why I have been dating in LA for almost 10 years. However, through all my trials and tribulations I’ve learned a few things about dating in LA, and this is what I’ve learned through my experiences:
Define the relationship. “The talk”. “What are we?” At any point in every dating cycle, you will eventually get to the place where you must define your relationship. Are you two just dating, dating exclusively, or in a relationship. This is the one town I’ve lived in where the gray zone is infinite. You’re always somewhere in between seeing other people and dating exclusively. I once dated a guy for 6 months, half of which was international long distance, flew half way around the world to see him, and found out we were in the gray zone.
Then there are times where you are already in a relationship and didn’t even know it because of his noncommittal behavior. You don’t know where you stand in your relationship with him, so you don’t know if you’re allowed to call him out on his behavior. This one time I found out I was in a relationship because he called me his girlfriend in a complaint email he sent to an airline acting as my lawyer AND boyfriend. Expectations change the minute you realize you’re in a relationship.
Point is, there is no definitive time or duration in a dating cycle that is the perfect time to have “the talk”. But most of my stress and paranoia in dating are relieved after I know where I stand in the relationship. I feel like most women usually start the conversation after three months of seeing someone, but there could be a +/- 2 months difference for each individual.
One of the best things about dating in LA is that there are many choices. If someone doesn’t work out you can quickly find a replacement, even within seconds (i.e. Tinder, Bumble). One of the worst things about dating in LA is that there are many choices. Too many. There are so many men and women to pick from that no one ever sticks around to see if anything can actually happen. It is possible to play the game and actually date someone for 3 months and it leads to nothing.
We’ll find little things we don’t like about the other person and find an excuse not to date them anymore. I know I’m personally guilty of this. I had dated a guy that was PERFECT on paper. My parents would have killed for me to end up with him, but I just couldn’t get over him constantly clearing of his throat. It was like nails on a chalkboard to me. I felt like he had permanent loogie. Was this indeed a deal breaker? Probably not. But I decided it was enough of a distraction for me to find someone better.
I think we move on too quickly rather than waiting it out to see if you find something nice about the person that takes away the distraction. I would complain to my girlfriends about something I don’t like about the guy, and they would immediately call it a red flag and tell me to dump him. All too quickly would I agree, and the relationship would end. I think if I had more patience, I wouldn’t have been single for so long. (Please don’t misread this as settling. I don’t ever want anyone to just settle. I’m a hopeless romantic and believe in find Prince Charming and true love. But this isn’t the 50’s anymore, and Prince Charming doesn’t come packaged like they use to. We have to fall in love with what we have now, and that could come with some kinks.)
CHICKEN OR THE EGG
Somewhere in the LA dating scene, someone became an asshole and someone became a bitch. It’s like the chicken or the egg. Did the asshole create the bitch or did the bitch create the asshole. Not sure who started it first, but this epidemic had spread like wild fire. Suddenly guys felt like they had to be assholes to get chicks, and women felt like they had to be bitches in order to keep their man. The sad part is that it’s all too true.
I remember once joking with my girlfriends that we would have to drive out to the California state line and find guys to date there before they’ve been tainted by LA. I wish I would have just been okay with just dating, but I felt obligated to play “the game”. I had to make myself busy and unavailable, and could only answer the text or call after 3 hours or 3 days. I would make plans with my girlfriends and get super dolled up, and send him sexy selfies while we were out partying to make it seem like I was having so much fun without him. Then drunk dial him at 1:30am. Why ladies? Why do we do these silly things that are not necessary, and set ourselves up for a floozy relationship?
I’d like to think that this behavior stems from youth and immaturity, but in reality, it’s just the vibe of LA. Everyone has Peter Pan Syndrome, and no one wants to grow up and have a mature relationship. If we can all just learn to play nice with each other, we might not have so many bitches and assholes out there.
Because dating was so bad for me in LA, I tried dating long distance…three times. Yup. THREE times. The first guy was someone I met briefly 9 years ago, but had a mutual friend and sort of kept in touch. He lived in Texas at the time, but then moved to San Fran and reached out. I knew SF was 6 hours away by car, but it was only a short 45 minute plane ride. The back and forth trips didn’t last too long and the relationship crumbled within 6 months of being on and off again.
The second guy was someone who I met in LA, dated for 3 months then found out he was leaving the country for 6 months for work. (Read more on GOING THE DISTANCE). Long story short, we didn’t work out either. You would think that I have learned my lesson after the second time, but no, third time’s a charm.
Guy number 3 was introduced to me through a mutual friend. We hit it off immediately, but I found out once again, about 3 months in, that he was going to go on an around the world trip for 2 months. I don’t know what it is with me and guys who want to leave the country after 3 months of dating me, but it wasn’t something I wasn’t already use to, so the two of us agreed to stay in touch while he was on his excursion. We texted just about everyday and did video calls whenever he had decent reception. I waited for him for 2 months, and it has paid off. We are still together, and have also agreed to not take trips longer than 2 weeks without each other.
I not saying long distance is for everyone. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and trust. But if you can get over this hump, everything else is a piece of pie. I have a friend who met someone long distance, dated him long distance, and is now married to him and they’re still long distance. If you want to be with someone, you make it work. No matter the odds.
Photographed by Stefanie Meier