By Karis Stephen
When it comes to love, all I have ever wanted is a meet-cute. You know, the unexpected love-at-first-sight type of meeting that kicks off a whirlwind romance. In fact, cut the ensuing romance—I don’t even need that (though it would be preferred). I just want the meet-cute: that suspended moment in time where the stars seem to perfectly align in order to bring two romantics together (preferably in a local bookstore or quirky thrift shop or the indie coffee shop on the corner). I want to be carried away by the butterflies in my stomach, to feel this close relative of magic that makes people write beautiful words and make dreamy movies. I want to feel this unseen force that resembles the countenance of fate.
go to a different coffee shop in my neighborhood as often as I can, order an iced almond milk latte, perch in the comfy chair by the door, and read a fairly well-known book in the hopes of striking up a literary-based conversation with a handsome stranger.
I have looked high and low in search of a romantic encounter. I go to a different coffee shop in my neighborhood as often as I can, order an iced almond milk latte, perch in the comfy chair by the door, and read a fairly well-known book in the hopes of striking up a literary-based conversation with a handsome stranger. One time I browsed around the big box sports supply store under the guise of contemplating new tennis shoes, waiting for a basketball-wielding prince charming to point at a pair of Nikes and say, “you would look great in those.” I have even ridden public transportation just for fun, going nowhere in particular, waiting for an unassuming-but-wildly-attractive guy to take a seat next to me and strike up an unimportant conversation about the weather. No such luck.
Instead, I’m in these public places getting the generous thumb workout that accompanies mindless swiping on a number of unfortunate dating apps. The world of online dating is no joke—it requires attention to detail, prior research experience, and quick decision-making. On second thought, it’s kind of similar to the skills required of that job I applied for last week. Yet, despite the massive amounts of time and effort I have poured into this part-time position, it’s been completely fruitless. I’ve come out of online dating with a few withered flings, a couple entertaining stories, and a whole lot of ghosts.
And I know I’m not alone. I’m in group-chats with fellow single friends who are also mourning the profound loss of meeting someone in an ‘organic way.’ We go out on first dates with people from dating apps—the ones who appear decent and nice—and we’re usually left confused, unsmiling, and completely hopeless. I know it can work (I have friends who are online dating success stories), but leaving my love life at the mercy of an algorithm just feels a little too manufactured for my impractical taste buds. Plus, there are so many frogs using these platforms. I don’t want to kiss frogs anymore.
So, here I am, a girl who is clearly whisked away by the beauty and mystery of romance, holding onto my final few shreds of starry-eyed hope, writing this personal essay about my deep-set desire for a meet-cute. Thus, my resolution: I’m giving up on the apps for now, but I’m not giving up on the chance of chance encounters put in motion by something like magic.