Jumanji: The Millennial Dating Game

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

Photo by Emily Long

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Dating as a 20-something isn’t easy. Some would say it’s like playing the lottery.

I would disagree with this statement.

Instead, I would argue it’s more like being stuck in a game of Jumanji for 26 years, as it seems nearly impossible to achieve a healthy relationship with someone of the opposite sex.

It isn’t completely impossible to find the love of your life — and for those of you who are, in fact, thriving or happy or in your perfect place or wife-ied up — congrats. (You lucky bitches.) But for the majority of us, it’s really, really hard.

So I’m here to tell you, as a seasoned player in the millennial dating game, the types of characters — rolls of the dice, if you will — you should avoid:

Roll #1: The Former Flame

This is your ex-boyfriend, or the guy you hooked up with six months in college that would never call you his girlfriend because he ‘just couldn’t have a label right now,’ or even a one-night stand. You may have loved him at one point in your life, but let’s look at the tense of that verb: love-d. That is past tense.

Remember, there was a reason you broke up or only hooked up once. It just wasn’t right.

BUT, the Former Flame stole a piece of your heart, even if it was the tiniest of slivers, and hearing his name makes you weak in the knees.

He will reemerge in your life at the most (in)convenient of times — Thanksgiving break, for example — take a trip to your city ‘to visit you’ although he oh-so-ironically has a Bank of America business convention there and will absolutely make sure to text you on your birthday. (And in my case, he’ll come over on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve, for Christ’s sake!)

Don’t take the bait. There is no reason to open the can of worms of Dating Past; you must think about yourself and your future. Be selfish. Remember how hard it was to close that chapter? Do you really want to relive that again?

The sex is probably past boring at this point anyway.

Roll #2: The Hot Guy from the Bar

Let me break this down for you in a few short sentences:

He’s hot.

You’re drunk.

You’re both horny.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a bit frisky with Joe/John/what’s his name? you just met at the bar. (Although I’ll recommend you keep things over-the-pants.) But here are some things you should know:

He probably won’t text you.

But he may add you on Snapchat and request a nudie. (But won’t reciprocate the favor.)

He won’t remember your name, but he will remember the pale pink color of your Hanky Pankys.

The sex will be great. And it is okay to forever store him in the deepest crannies of your spankbank.

This guy was in his prime in college, a time inundated with drunken hook-ups. But you’re past that now; there’s no need to be anxiously waiting around for a text that may never come. And, come on, we’re adults, not desperate sorority girls and fratstars.

Roll #3: The Guy You Met on that Dating App

Now let me preface this by saying I have no experience whatsoever with dating websites, and I do not mean to put those down. I’m referring to smartphone apps, like Tinder, Hinge and Grindr that millennials are well versed in using. (Don’t lie.)

These are the apps you swipe right if you think he’s hot, and left if he’s not. He surfs, plays guitar, loves to travel AND has two profile pictures with his mom. This is too good to be true!

While I have never used Tinder, I recently downloaded Hinge (similar to Tinder, only you and a match must have at least one mutual Facebook friend) and have struck out three times. Badly. Let’s just say I went on dates with a boy missing a front tooth (I did notice he only smiled with his lips in his pictures) and Seth Rogan’s doppelganger. When he was fat.

When it comes to the Dating App Guy, I have one word for you: no. Just no. Do not get stuck in this game. Sure, it boosts your ego knowing someone finds you attractive. But it’s also really freakin’ creepy that you know someone is exactly eight miles away and is not only willing, but DYING to sleep with you.

Stop wasting your time on this bullshit. (And yes, this is the time when you pause reading this extremely informative article and delete these apps off of your phone. You’ll thank me in the long run.)

Roll #4: The One Who’s Perfect on Paper…Who You’re Just Not Attracted To

This roll is the absolute worst. (Well, maybe second worst, because #5 might barely have it beat.)

This guy is perfect. On your imaginary checklist of things you want in a guy, he not only meets every single criteria, but exceeds them, causing you to turn the page over and add a ‘Bonus Section’ to your ‘Ideal Husband’ list.

He’s perfect. But you just don’t like him.

I have encountered only one of these guys in my life. He isn’t just smart; he’s brilliant. He’s passionate about everything he does, and especially about me. Dangerously good-looking, successful and well-off, cultured and well-traveled. The list goes on and on and on…check, check, check and some more checks.

And, may I add, he has the body of a Greek god and a deliciously thick accent.

He is my dream man…only one thing — and probably the most important thing — is missing: the attraction.

After years of trying and convincing myself how perfect he was (because, well, he was) and taking an ultimatum weekend getaway trip to a foreign country to figure out, once and for all, if I could pursue a future with him, I realized it just wasn’t right. No matter how hard I tried, I just could never like him that way.

This sucked. It sucked for me, and I imagine it sucked even more for him.

If you ever happen to encounter the Perfect Guy You Just Don’t Like, trust your gut. You can’t force something now, and you most certainly won’t be able to later in the relationship.

And please, for his sake, cut it off.

Roll #5: The One Who’s Perfect on Paper…Who Just Doesn’t Like You

Yep, this one’s definitely worse than #4. Think of all those things I just listed in my description for The Perfect Guy You Just Don’t Like. Then apply those qualities (checked boxes, if you will) to a guy you actually DO like.

But here’s the catch: He doesn’t like you.

Like I said, this one’s the absolute worst.

Maybe he did like you at one point (in my case, he did). He is perfect and treats you like a princess. He takes you out on weekly dates to thoughtful, unique hole-in-the-wall restaurants. He ALWAYS pays; he is, after all, a gentleman. And a consultant. And a busy one at that, who, despite his long hours, can always manage to make time for you.

You have a real, adult relationship with him. The kind that allows you to slowly see an ambiguous outline of the prospect of a future.

And then he dumps you…

You become desperate, different, delusional. Your mind goes haywire, a pinball machine on crack. What did I do? What’s wrong with me? Is it because I said ________ or _________? Or didn’t say __________ or ___________? Is it because that one time I blew him off to watch ‘Ladies of London’ with my roommates? Or because that one time I called him five times in a row when I was drunk? Is it because of that night I didn’t meet him at the bar in Wrigleyville? Yadda yadda yadda.

This one stings the most. You never really have closure, because as soon as this perfect abnormality of a man walks into your life, he disappears with an explanation as simple as “he’s moving on.”

Here’s my advice: Never, ever text him or call him again. He’s not playing hard to get. He just doesn’t like you.

Delete his number. Don’t write it down anywhere or save it in your best friend’s phone. Don’t even save it in your best friend’s phone under a fake name. Delete it.

And — maybe most importantly — know that the ‘perfect’ guys on paper really aren’t as perfect as you think. Who needs a checklist in this day and age?

Role #6: The Keeper (TBD)

And then there’s lucky #6. I haven’t rolled this one yet. Personally, though, I don’t think it’ll be as easy as rolling a dice. Meeting the right person is much more than chance, and it’ll take time, love, will, trust, friendship and an abundance of patience.

But when that lucky #6 ‘happens,’ I’ll know: He’s a keeper.

At times I’ve been bummed I haven’t met #6 yet. But then I realize that I’m not the outlier — I’m not the one in a million, I’m one of a million.

Remember, we’re all in the same boat. You’re not alone when you think you’re alone (and highly single). Eventually, our times will come to date the right person and we’ll escape this Jumanji game commonly known as dating as a millennial.

And fortunately for us, we won’t be trapped in a board game for 26 years.

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