New Romances, Part I

August 1 – August 7

My second year spent living in this city has come a long way from the hazy, carefree episode of 2015. The days are windier, I’m drinking less and going out with new faces along with old; and still, I’m coming across little places of San Francisco never seen before. It’s strange. Not that it’s any worse or better than the summer before. Just different. Just the same, essentially. Same apartment, steady job, single. Well, maybe that’s a bit different.

2016 and my love life have seen a complete surrender to the modern age of romance. When I was so adamant on finding love in real time, real places, in the hands of fate– I caved. My last resort was in my last relationship coming to a complete halt after starting off the first 6 months of this year to an uncertain yet happily constant start. But just as that ended, here I was again, single and back to square one that I saw myself standing in for all of 2015. So now, I traded in these hopeless romantic ideals of Nora Ephron build-up for a quick-working profile on a dating app. Why? I was doing well on the scene, wasn’t I? In finding guys interested– yes.

In finding love– no.

That is what I do want. The whole casual dating is really why anyone– at least in San Francisco– goes out. Something quick, something instant. Something to discard the next morning or within a week. That’s not love, so on the scene is definitely where I will not find it, at least in this city. Besides, any of the guys and gals you do meet are, as a friend said it best, “are on all on dating apps.” So I guess I can’t be left out of the loop, gyp myself of options, even if the options are looking grim. They’re better than what’s literally, out on the town.

I want to say right now that the purpose of this essay (series) is just to stay true to the spirit of this blog. Here I go, telling all about just another week in the City by the Bay. But it is also an extension of an ongoing struggle wholly relevant to the modern age in which I write– modern romance. The idea of modern romance sprang up right around the time I moved out here, right when my long-distance boyfriend broke up with me, right when I was thrown into a thriving scene of young go-getters wanting to make it big in Silicon Valley. Most of these go-getters became my closest friends, my confidants, and with that, confiding in their struggles of being single. One of these days, over lunch in the office, they were discussing Aziz Ansari’s new book, Modern Romance: an Investigation. I gave the book a glance myself later on, and found it to be nothing short of the sad realization of how strange and unnecessary all the struggles of a single adult now can be. How simpler it really was less than 20 years ago. With a better understanding of the paradox of choice that Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg explore– searching for The One while trying to obtain as many “choices” to choose from for being the One, and yet being ultimately unsatisfied at settling from having so many choices– none of this doesn’t make me an expert, and I proclaim that is essay is no validation of such. This is just my experience, one of many across this generation just genuinely trying to settle down.

So here I was, giving myself a shot in the modern romance. And it wouldn’t be as instant of a game changer as I anticipated it to be. First, choosing the platform. I heard good things about Coffee Meets Bagel especially in regard to serious daters. The founders were three Korean sisters, and their appearance on an episode of Shark Tank whose offers they rejected. At almost a $1 billion value later, P was going to give her shot at love finding the “everything bagel” to her coffee (I still vaguely understand the metaphors here). And I was going to give CMB business by acting like their services in a very unbusiness-like institution was a business proposal. Pitching myself to a potential Prince Charming. I still may not have believed it, but I was bored. I was alone. I had nothing to lose but that dignity I maintained in resisting dating apps for THIS LONG.

From other people’s trials and errors, I chose the right photos (polaroids, candids, and sparklers) and gave upfront quirky and truthful facts on myself (I am a Hufflepuff and English major and like being anywhere near dogs– the more detailed and weirder, the easier to weed out genuinely good matches). Age, ethnicity; then, thankfully– preference. Even preference gets me a little anxious if just online dating wasn’t enough.

CMB has gotten the controversial stamp of casual, assumptive racism if you mark “no preference” when it comes to what race you’re looking for. Black people with black people, Asians with Asians. As taken from a Buzzfeed investigative, a rep confirmed that,

our data shows even though users may say they have no preference, they still (subconsciously or otherwise) prefer folks who match their own ethnicity.

I guess that from observances, even in a place as diverse as the Bay Area, people of races do tend to be together– Asians especially. A long time ago I wrote an ugly and pretentious Tumblr post about how irked I was at the all-known Asian Clique phenomenon I noticed growing up– don’t know what I’m talking about? Just watch Mean Girls. I don’t care to look up that piece ever again (except maybe to delete it) but I remember it went something along the rant of how society is so diverse so why can’t Asians mingle with other people outside of their race, we’re not segregated anymore so make an effort. But little did I realized, growing up, the really segregated one was me. It wasn’t a matter of race snobbery; I was the snob, the snob who grew up privileged among the white people. For living in a predominantly white and Latino Concord, California, what seemed diverse was just me being the lone, awkward, token Asian. Come high school, when Clayton Valley High fused together all students of various backgrounds, I didn’t realized that all the Filipinos and Asians hung out because, well, that’s just who they grew up with. That was their neighborhood, their grade schools, predominately whatever race it was there. They just all happened to be the same. I was never the same, I grew up differently. I grew up biased, a twinkie that at times now feels like Frankenstein. And now in this realization, that followed my dating preferences, too.

As the floodgate opened on my first day, no matches at noon, only potential suitors in the Discover tab of the app. Here you get a variety of profiles that you can send over to friends or, bean-willing, you can hit up for yourself. It also showed a bunch of profiles that expressed interest in you despite what your preference was. In these there was no lack of interested men– but the men who were interested were in fact, all Asian. I feel bad, but each one I ignored. Asians were definitely not my preference. And I don’t say that without feeling my soul die a little inside each time. If only it were that easy to date men outside of my ethnicity without the smallest complex, the awkwardness of physical appearances and cultural differences being the only gap in the bridge. In reality, the interracial relationship field sees more Asian women and Caucasian men than any other mix. THE MOST. And while the uncontrolled factors of today may vary with each taste of the respective guys and girls, the controlled factor is history, the eroticism in hooking up with Asian girls for misconceptions of their submissiveness and exotic “other” mystique. Oh, I’ve met some of these guys. They’re the worst, and tone-deaf. And on my end, Asian women are gold-diggers, looking for any white guy with influence and money. It’s not a widely- spoken perception but it still is the case with some in the Asian community. Mix those two together, and you grow up realizing that your taste in men might come across as making you look cheap or superficial– sometimes at worst, a whore.

Once when I thought I was cool and progressive for dating outside of my race, there are times where I feel like I really should be dating an Asian guy to not get the weird stares from other Asians or people thinking that whomever I’m with might have ordered me by mail. When I was in college, single and semi-transparent about my dating misadventures with my parents (we’re that close), my dad would always ask me why I just find a “good” Asian guy. Citing the reasons of high divorce rates and episodes of Snapped or Forensic Files as evident to how crazy and murderous relationships with white people could get, he was convinced that I would be well taken care of staying within my race (he has since stopped watching both shows). Perhaps, I wouldn’t know as I’d never dated an Asian guy. Then again, I never tried. Race aside, psychos were psychos, unordained by their genetic makeup if they decided to go nuts, or just that their infidelities/violence were just a product of their own individual character. Simple– I prayed I just never met anyone like that.

What I did pray for was just someone like me. But they didn’t have to look like me– identify with me. You can’t just change your preferences and tastes if that’s all you ever grew up with. In my case, as I realized with how I felt so uncomfortable being around other Asians in high school, I found that naturally I was drawn to what I was comfortable with. In this case, the status quo just happened to be American guys, as they were all I ever knew. You could expand on the macro-societal ideals of Euro-centric beauty standards but we’re talking about me, my city, my neighborhood, my peers. I wasn’t thinking about nor aware of these oppressive Westernized standards during my puberty. What I saw I liked, the simple truth. For being an American girl, I just wanted my own American guy– that’s all that should really matter. Nothing more complex than that. Because that’s all I see myself ever– not a whore, not a gold-digger, not an exotic other, not any different than my fellow American singles. Just another one. Just another girl.

I was simply a girl, standing in front of a phone screen, asking the gods to just find her a decent guy who happened to be her type and who just weren’t looking for a fetish. What I wanted was simple to ask– it was a matter  of what I would end up getting.

Follow up in NEW ROMANCES, PART II.

 

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