Reject Pile: I’m in Love with All Fiftyish of You

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The Reject Pile is where I publish any pieces I’ve written that didn’t quite come together the way I wanted them to, don’t really fall into a genre that’s easy to pitch, or were just rejected too many times but I still want to have a home. If you’re going to have a website you might as well use it to do whatever you want including self publish.

I wrote this piece last summer in a moment of frustration with modern dating apps (let’s be honest, that hasn’t changed much) and my own personal shortcomings. At the same time I also happened to be reading about how gamification has infiltrated so many different areas of society (read this book if you want to learn more! It’s great and slightly terrifying) including apps like Hinge and how easy it is to doomscroll away your own search for happiness.

There aren’t too many places that publish satire essays and in the end I couldn’t find a home for this piece. I like it, I think there’s something here, it might go on just a little too long, but if I’m being honest the real problem is that the piece just isn’t quite all the way there for reasons I don’t fully understand. Maybe one day I’ll give it a rewrite and shop it around again. Until then enjoy! Or don’t?

Dear Fiftyish Women Languishing in My Hinge Profile,

I love you.

It’s so freeing to finally say out loud. I just can’t hide the way I feel about you any longer. I feel so giddy, I just want to shout it from the rooftops; I’m in love with the fiftyish women languishing in my Hinge profile and I don’t care who knows!

I knew I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on the fifty or so of you. There we were: me swiping left like a gambling addict at the slots, you slowly increasing in quantity like a telethon thermometer through sheer probability and inertia. Then suddenly that glorious 50+ likes badge lit up my screen, along with my fragile ego, and I knew I never wanted to lose you. It seems so fast; it’s only been a few days for some of you, weeks for most of you, and months for the few of you so beautiful it terrifies me too much to either match or reject you so instead I’ll keep you in dating app limbo for all eternity. But to me it feels like a lifetime. This relationship is the best ethically non-monogamous and non-communicative thing that’s ever happened to me.

Before I met you I had given up on love. My heart was missing a piece. But then you walked into my life. Then left for a couple of days, probably because one of you deleted your account or because I finally swiped left on the girl whose prompt said we would get along if “you think it’s okay to puke and rally.” Then came back. For the first time I feel safe and also trapped in a vicious dopamine feedback loop. I mean how lucky am I? What are the odds that out of the thousands of people trapped on this dating app within fifteen miles of me I found the nearly three score of you who thought I didn’t look like a murderer or someone who sends dick pics? Before I met you I was all alone; I didn’t understand the meaning of love. But now I’m slightly less alone in a completely illusory way and understand the meaning of love even less.

How do I count the ways I love you? I love your laugh, your smile, your brown/blue/green eyes. I love the way you reach out throughout the day, typically during your lunch break but also when you’re bored at work or on the toilet. I love the way you don’t care about my height or maybe just realized how much that would limit your dating pool. I love the way you make me feel hotter, smarter, and more successful than I am or ever will be without any effort required on my part. I love knowing out of everyone you chose me, possibly in a moment of quiet desperation and without making any real commitment. And I know you’ll keep choosing me, because I’m just middle-of-the-road attractive enough that at least fifty people thinking “eh sure why not” isn’t totally unrealistic.

Being with you has changed me in so many ways. You make me want to be a better person. Not in any actionable way, more in a vague undefined way where just thinking about being better feels like I’ve done the work. You light this fire inside of me whenever I think about you. A fire that might be a reflection of my desperate need for proof of my value in modern society that allows me to suppress the fear that I will never be good enough for any of you but somehow also elevates the belief that I am better than all of you and leaves me paralyzed.

I’ll admit I’ve had my doubts. How could someone as wonderful as the little over four dozen of you want to be with a schmuck like me?

Sometimes I worry that you don’t know the real me. That you’re in love with a fantasy of me that doesn’t have the beer belly and weird thumbnails I cropped out of my photos or exist. That when you do meet the real me you’ll notice my thumbnails or I’ll say something to point them out to get it over with and you’ll look at them but a little too long and won’t say anything but I’ll know you’re thinking about how weird they are, and you’ll leave. And that’s when I remember I’m fine with you not knowing the real me.

But other times it feels like you’re the one who changed. That the waterfall of photos I’m scrolling through today isn’t the same group of half a hundred people I fell in love with. Who is this gaggle of women that lists loving The Office as a personality trait and has a relationship preference I still don’t completely understand even after rereading the definition online three times?  What happened to the twelve and a half quartets of people who loved going out but also a cozy night at home, whose loved to travel and very conveniently also had lots of money?

But none of that matters. All I know is that I feel safe when I’m with you. Probably because you don’t know any of my hopes, fears, insecurities, or traumas that I am convinced would scare anyone away. I know this won’t be easy. Neither of us are perfect and one of us is a collection of digital artifacts I’m projecting my insecurities onto. But I’m ready to put in the work if you are. And by work I mean brainlessly glancing at you long enough to somehow convince myself I’m actively dating. No matter what the future holds, I want us to face it together. And who knows what adventures lay ahead? Definitely more mindless swiping. Just know that I will always love and cherish you. At least until my parents set me up with the daughter of a family friend or I find someone who can give me a Raya invite.