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Dating realization #4,819: I am a terrible person.

Should you ever become misinformed and start perceiving yourself as a kind-hearted individual who feels that all human beings have inherent worth, rest assured that you can always correct this delusion simply by doing some dating.

The unfortunate truth, as you will surely discover, is that you secretly think you are better than almost everyone, and that you are so convinced of your own amazingness that you will probably be forced to die alone, wearing a smug and superior expression that will hopefully remain more or less intact despite spending the days subsequent to your expiration alone with your hungry, unscrupulous cats.

Thankfully, they have an autofeeder that will continue to dispense their meals three times a day until the batteries run out or until you are discovered by your landlord, the latter of which is extremely likely to come first.

You are no one’s fool.

The other good news is that in today’s world, you can just parlay your newfound sweeping disdain for your fellow men into some sort of feminine-empowerment riff by pretending that this simply means you have standards.

Not automatic and withering scorn for anything with a penis! Standards!

Is it possible to be humbled by the realization that you think you are better than everyone else? Only someone with my neurotic chops could be capable of feeling insecure about my arrogance. Lucky for me, I have a black belt in both paradoxical and circular thought, so throughout the dating process, I’ve managed to simultaneously become both increasingly chagrined and increasingly self-confident.

Something tells me the Dalai Lama would not be very impressed with any of this. He would also not be very impressed with this list I’m about to write.

I’m sorry, Dalai Lama. I really am. It’s been deeply demoralizing to fully grasp my own eminence.

THREE REASONS I AM BETTER THAN YOU

1. You are greedy.
I once asked a guy to coffee only to be told that he had “been hoping for something more serious.” I have never been able to get over this. I still chuckle over it fondly, shaking my head at the endearing foibles of mankind as I sit around alone in my sweatpants, covered in cat hair. Hoping! For something more serious! Listen, if I ask you out, and you are interested in me, the only decently strategic response is to accept with enthusiasm and then act as if the chai latte you’re drinking is the most transcendent mixture of syrup and hot milk to have ever warmed your gullet. Duh. But you blew it, so now I’m just going to have to drink tea alone in my underwear while watching the cats fight.

Pushiness is not sexy, and I have not been sitting around just waiting for an opportunity to be useful to someone like you. Take what you’re offered, emotionally and sexually, like a good sport, and there’s probably more where that came from. Scowl and express your disappointment that the person you like isn’t acting exactly as you desired or expected, and you seem entitled. Among other adjectives.

2. You have it backward.
Most men seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am concerned about whether they think I am awesome. I can’t really blame them for this, because some of them are operating on old data they gathered in high school, when girls were insecure messes so desperate for validation that they probably would have gone to the prom with a middle-aged gangland pimp if it meant that someone would ring their doorbell at six and tell them they were pretty.

Wake up and smell the dried corsages, boys: that was a pretty long time ago. These days, women, or at least any women you should want to date, already like themselves just fine, so they aren’t bound to fall all over themselves with excitement when you offer them some lukewarm and slightly condescending compliment, such as, “Hey, you’re kind of smart.”

Well, regardless of whether that’s true, I’m guessing we’re too smart for YOU, if that’s the best you could come up with.

See? Withering scorn, like I said. I am so sorry.

At any rate, let me enlighten you: If you are the instigator, if you are the one doing the pursuing, they aren’t worried about what you think of them. They are worried about what they think of YOU, this near-stranger who has stepped onto their radar and is now blocking their path to the vending machine. So don’t be surprised if we don’t melt into your arms the moment you flash us a dimple and ask us out as if you’re doing us a giant favor. Uh, who are you, again? And why do you merit the application of a flat-iron and the dragging out of the decent panties?

It’s incredible how often men expect me to feel excited that a guy, ANY guy, wants to have dinner with me, whether I know anything about him or not. Not only was I doing just fine without you, but you are standing between me and my Twix, and if you knew me better, you would realize the extent to which your life was in danger based on that fact alone. So the next time you offer me a compliment, try to sound sincere, not condescending. Better yet, do or say something interesting enough that I’M now the impressed one. Now that will get my attention.

Otherwise, I’ve got a hot date with a book and a Snuggie tonight, because that’s how elite humans spend their time.

3. You don’t know how to wait your turn.
If there is one single, crucial dating concept that single men and women everywhere need to grasp, it’s this: WAIT YOUR TURN. The failure to apply this simple rule in dating is staggeringly universal. If you are still single after years and years of sighting that spark of interest in someone’s eyes, only to wind up baffled and empty-inboxed, it’s probably because you don’t wait your turn.

They tried to teach you this in preschool, but you didn’t listen. Why wait for someone to text you back when you can text them forty times instead? Why e-mail once when you can e-mail four times: once to say you had a great time and to ask them out again, once to make sure they got the last one, once to apologize for the first two and promise that you aren’t really a stalker, and a fourth time begging for another chance long after the object of your affection has fled the country and joined the witness-protection program?

Some people try to be clever about it, by e-mailing and then texting and then posting on Facebook, because these are DIFFERENT MEDIUMS and that means that they really only technically contacted you once on each medium.

I hope this absurd logic cheers them in the dead of night as they struggle to drift off to sleep, cold and alone, clutching their phones in their hands in hopes of that return message that will never come–a realization they will only make after several false alarms in which they think that maybe they have an exciting and romantic e-mail but it turns out to just be something from Overstock.com.

Listen, you can’t charm your way out of it. You can’t joke your way around it. You can’t make up ridiculous excuses about how you would normally never e-mail a second time, but you just happened to find a stray button in the parking lot of the restaurant on your way to your car, and you thought it might be from her sweater.

You are being impatient and disrespectful. You are communicating that you want dating to happen on your schedule, that you have no impulse control, and that you do not grasp the basic tenets of give-and-take that are so key to a relationship.

The privilege of setting the pace of this interaction is not yours alone, so don’t claim it as such. The TWO of you set the pace, and too bad for you if you don’t find it quick enough for your liking.

Sometimes, they aren’t going to respond, even if you do it right and just send that one, disciplined, not-too-desperate-or-infatuated e-mail. But if they didn’t answer one e-mail, are they really going to answer five? And is the annihilation of your pride worth the slim chance that they will?

I certainly won’t. I’ll be too busy dancing by myself in my living room to really terrible Top 40 music while fashioning guitars out of my helpless pets. If you were wondering how the better half lives … well, now you know.

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