I’ve decided to turn my “Notes from the Single Life” post from a few weeks ago into a small series. This is the second installment…
There’s a certain expectation that, as a single girl in my mid-twenties, I’m supposed to be fully immersed in the world of dating, moving from one guy to the next with ease until I finally hone in on Mr Right, or at least Mr Mostly Acceptable. By this point, I’m supposed to be a pro at the process of the first date, the second date, the all-too-important third date. I should find at least some degree of enjoyment in getting dressed up on a Friday night before heading out to the bar to catch the eye of a guy over the rim of a martini glass, and I should have flirtatious small-talk perfected into an art form.
Except… I don’t.
To begin with, I’m just flat-out bad at the process of dating. I loathe going to bars. You’d have to drag me kicking and screaming into any kind of place with a dance floor, and even if you got me inside, I’d just end up gluing my back to the wall and planting my feet flat on the floor while surveying the drunkenly gyrating crowd with a scowl on my face. I’m bad at small talk. I don’t mind having actual conversations with people I don’t know, but the kind of small-talk usually associated with scoping out a potential date tends to turn me into an awkward example of social ineptitude at its finest. And if I do somehow manage to make it to an actual first date, I’ll spend the entire evening going through my mental checklist of acceptable qualities and characteristics – and very few men have ever received a passing score.
Of course, even if I did decide to enjoy dating, there’s another, bigger problem at play. Being single in Victoria is absolutely nothing like being single in, say, New York or San Francisco or some other large and glamorous metropolis packed full of buzzy restaurants, upscale lounges and the constant influx of millions of new and interesting people required to ensure a continuous supply of potentially datable men.
Here’s the primary problem: The pool of available men in Victoria is very, very small. This city’s population tops out at about 350,000 people, most of whom are either elderly or happily settled into the nesting and family-making stages of their lives. Now take the remaining population – the smallish handful that actually fall into the acceptable datable age range – and discard well over half of them, because Victoria is home to many more women than men, and then cut out another substantial chunk; all the desirable men who have already been snapped up by fast-moving females on the market for a boyfriend.
What’s left? Theoretically, by the end of this process of elimination you’d have a decent-sized selection of eligible men with a wide variety of careers, interests, styles, goals and personalities. But this is Victoria. What you’re actually left with – other than the requisite handful of utterly classless university-aged guys required to keep the city’s nightclubs afloat – are three distinct categories: Hemp-loving hippies who walk around in patchouli-scented clouds while proclaiming the benefits of veganism; waif-like plaid-wearing hipsters with too-tight jeans, excessive facial hair and absolutely no muscle mass; and fanatically green-conscious tree-huggers who would love nothing more than to spend the rest of their lives stomping through the wilderness in a pair of muddy hiking boots.
There is absolutely nothing desirable about the men in any of these categories. And the handful of men who actually fall outside of this categorization system tend to be so fraught with strange quirks or odd emotional issues that, frankly, they’re just not worth the effort.
Besides, Victoria is such a small city that you don’t so much stop dating someone as you start avoiding them – with a limited number of restaurants, stores, parks, beaches and coffee shops, every man you date and discard becomes another person that you’ll awkwardly come face-to-face with as you’re waiting for your morning latte or reaching for an avocado in the grocery store. There are only so many people in a single city that you can attempt to avoid at once, so picking your dates wisely is a must.
I once went on a date with a guy I met at a coffee shop near my apartment. He seemed normal enough at first – solid job, decently attractive, and able to actually carry a conversation – but halfway through the date he started talking about how one of our next dates would consist of a trip to the northern tip of the island, where, upon arrival, we would hike to a campsite in the middle of the most godforsaken wilderness imaginable and spend the night sleeping under the stars. Tree-hugger status? Confirmed. Strange quirks? Also confirmed. I spent the next three weeks deleting his text messages and steering clear of a large radius around the coffee shop of our initial encounter, which, frankly, was annoying enough that I began to wish I had never agreed to go on the date in the first place.
Add a few similar situations to the list (guy seems normal enough; we go on a date; guy reveals previously unknown membership to one of the aforementioned categories or an excess of strange emotional issues; awkward post-date avoidance phase begins) and I eventually came to the conclusion that it was easier just to simply not date at all, at least not while living in Victoria.
Because, really, is acquiring a boyfriend actually worth this much trouble? Right now, it’s not highly likely.