The generation of 20- and 30-somethings right now are what we’d like to call the aging millennial set: people whose parents met through arranged marriages or happenstance meet-cutes at coffee shops, yet they themselves are now flung in the oft-dramatic throes of internet dating, or worse, dating apps. Here, our intrepid columnist Jilly Hendrix shares her notes as she comes of age in NYC, maneuvering through the perils of work, friendship, and love in the digital age.
It’s 5 a.m., and I’m at an underground deep-house club in Brooklyn kissing a guy who doesn't want to date me. I’m certain of this because he locks eyes with me when no one is looking and only shows me affection when we’re alone. Naturally I have already decided our wedding invites will be hand-drawn, because midcentury is too overdone.
Our hook-up relationship began after meeting through mutual music friends one drunken night when I first moved to New York. I had just started my DJ career, and I spent most of my evenings with house-heads at clubs consuming too much alcohol and trying to feel “the scene.” He was just my type: fancy jeans, hip glasses, a suave haircut—and confident. So confident, in fact, that he bullishly forced me to question my every stance. (Do I really need a condom, or should I just take the morning-after pill?)
It all began with a G-chat relationship (like all mature mid–20-something relationships do), reminding me of my seventh-grade love connections on AIM as JILLERZ4. We shared music, complained about the workweek, and passed along funny Reddit articles. I would try to get him to commit to plans outside of the internet and our late-night run-ins, but he had an excuse for everything. One night, he cancelled on me because his mom delivered a bag of Craisins—and he needed to eat them.
The more unavailable he was, the more obsessed I became with trying to win him over, trying to prove I was worth loving. Being mistreated by him was like a drug. I craved the self-loathing that came along with being dismissed.
I once heard a friend ask him what was going on between us, to which he responded, “I’m not interested in her; she’s just there when I’m drunk and I’m like, That happened.”
You would think that hearing someone refer to you as a drunk booty call would be enough to make a girl think twice, but it only fueled me to fight harder for his love. Over the next few months, my attempts to change his mind hit new lows. He didn’t invite me to his birthday dinner, so I staged a run-in by planning a girls’ night at a bar across the street. I used my VIP hookup to get center stage right tickets to The National only to have him cancel on the day of complaining of a “light sore throat.” I even made the trek to his neighborhood (a 45-minute subway ride from my apartment) hoping he could spare a few minutes to share a cup of joe on his block, only to be ignored.
It was clear: I had become a romantic masochist. After months of dealing with constant rejection, I found comfort in the pain of trying to win over a guy who wasn’t interested. And to be honest, it was an all too familiar experience.
My first real boyfriend referred to having sex with me as a “chore,” and in his breakup speech, he declared that nobody would ever love me. Instead of writing him off as an asshole, I believed him. I fell into a pattern, seeking out guys who routinely devalued me, ultimately creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I was comfortable with being treated poorly because I knew how to navigate the emotions that came with being mistreated. It didn’t bring me to tears when I got kicked out of a guy’s apartment because he had to wake up early for adult softball practice.
What I didn’t know was how to handle being treated with respect. Having a guy send me an Uber before a date gave me such crazy anxiety I took a Klonopin and cancelled. Thinking you’re beautiful requires that you believe it, but for me, it was much easier to convince myself that my waist wasn’t small enough.
Ultimately our “relationship” ended. I wish I could say it was because I became the self-loving, confident woman I now strive to be. But really it ended because he got a girlfriend and I was still indulging in my masochistic run.I didn’t know then that I needed to reverse the narrative in my brain, not the guy’s. It’s a new narrative I’m still figuring out how to write.
You would think this was the end, but there's more. Tune in next week to find out what happens.