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Lawrence and I were sitting on her couch in the west village, lamenting over the absurd fashion party we had just been to. It was at a sports club and had a cash bar. The swag bag had dressing in an aerosol can it and we were dismayed.

The conversation quickly took a turn to the subject of men as I sipped my glass of discount wine and she rifled through her movie selection.

We’ve both been on Tinder for a few weeks and have been getting rather weary. Lawrence asked me what she should do about a certain finance guy she’d met but was far too short and ten years too old.  She said he seemed nice, but—there always seems to be a “but.”

I suddenly wondered: why does there need to be a “but?” Why am I agreeing to spend time with these men who are always “nice, but,” “funny, but,” “charming, but?”

Lawrence pointed out that we have amazing fathers, which we do, and how our mothers are so lucky. Could we ever be that lucky?

Right then and there we made a decision. We weren’t going to deal with the models, the uneducated, the short, the boring, or the unmotivated boys anymore. We decided that there wasn’t going to be a “but” anymore.

The truth is: you get what you think you deserve

I don’t deserve a “but.” I deserve what I want. I don’t want to lower the bar anymore.  I don’t deserve to go on these endless dates and have relationships with men who don’t deserve my time—with men whose flaws I don’t want to look past.

So, why do we continue to look past the flaws? How we see ourselves is reflected in our relationships. I’ve seen it in every relationship—or kind of relationship—I’ve ever had. I have tried so many times to make something work because I have an idea in my head of what “he” looks like. How do you break the endless cycle? How do you break these habits? It’s like we’re trying to fill a cavernous void inside ourselves that we think constantly needs to be filled. Wanting to be loved is natural; we all want to be validated, to have someone in our lives who thinks we’re special. We all love love. That’s a fact that many of us try to deny but it’s really just the truth.

Of course, there are times in everyone’s life when they want to be alone. I’m truly enjoying the single life right now. I am finding dating exhausting and time consuming when it should be fun and easy. Dating shouldn’t be a chore. But I do want to find love one day. I want to find my perfect person and have a family and a brood of interesting and independent children.

I know that I’m nowhere near finished with the mistakes of my youth, but I know now that I’m not going to be happy if I keep lowering my standards and allow all of these “buts” to come into my life.

I’ve been through a lot over the past few years. Little by little I’ve become stronger, learned to work as hard as I can for everything that I have. I’m starting to understand who I am as a person, a writer, and a woman. I am starting to realize that the person I am should be reflected in the person I want to date. Maybe the first step is really, concretely deciding what I deserve.

I deserve a man with as much ambition as I have. I deserve a man who wants to treat me like a lady, but who understands how independent I am. I deserve a man who will love me even when I’m crazy and drink too much. I deserve a man who really, truly, heart-stoppingly loves me.

The real me.

The me with the messy bun, the nature shirt, and the unshaven legs. The me that drinks diet coke at 8am and dances until 4 o’clock in the morning to Tegan and Sara. The me who gets inside a bed sheet on laundry day and dances to “Eye of the Tiger” at my cousin’s apartment downtown. That’s the me that a man I deserve is going to have to love. He’s going to have to be able to sit on the couch, for hours on end, with Lawrence, Macks, and I while we tell incredibly offensive jokes and explicate sexually pervasive stories. And he’s going to have to be okay with it—no he’s going to have to love it. I’m a wild, complicated, nervous, wonderful person and the love that I deserve is going to have to deserve me. Because you know what? I’m really f*cking great.

I know that I’m going to make a million more mistakes and sleep with the wrong guys and go on a thousand more dates with guys who aren’t the man of my dreams.

But when that man does come along, you better believe he’s going to be a man who deserves me.

He is going to truly deserve me.

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