L.A. Affairs is our weekly column about the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles -- and finding romance in a wired world. If you've got a story to tell, we want to hear it. We pay $300 per published column. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs
My project started out as a way to mend my heart. I'd been absolutely crushed a month before, and I needed to get out of bed and away from the Peanut Butter M&Ms. I had a long-term goal in mind, find a husband, but I'm not sure I ever really believed that would happen. But I was ready if it did. I'd been ready. I just needed the right guy.
It was a Friday when I came up with the notion to go on 40 Tinder dates in 40 days and blog about it. The following Tuesday I posted my first entry, and I went on my first date the day after that. My friends warned against it. "You'll be exhausted," one said, and another announced, "It'll backfire." But once I've set my mind to something, I'm like a pit bull with a rib-eye steak bone.
I had rules, of course: a date a day for 40 days, all arranged through Tinder; a blog for each date; no "funny business"; and a maximum of three dates with any one guy (I have a tendency to jump into things really fast, even when all signs point to no, so I figured this would help me to stop diving into empty pools.)
The first few dates were tough. That's not to say I didn't enjoy them, but I put a lot of pressure on myself and the guys. What if this is the one? What if he doesn't look like his pictures? What if he thinks I don't look like my pictures? What if, what if, what if?
This line of thinking resulted in some nerve-induced intestinal pain and late-night tears. Not fun.
But by Date 4, I noticed a shift in my thinking. I stopped looking at each encounter as some monumental event and began regarding my dates as simply an opportunity to connect with another person, to hear his story and, I hoped, share a laugh or two over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and mushroom flatbread.
And, man, did I hear some stories. There was the farm boy from Pennsylvania who could balance wheelbarrows on his chin and had won a car on a game show. The coffee-store owner who did stand-up six nights a week and had also won big on a game show ("Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?," a show I also happened to appear on in 2010).
There was the actor from New York, and the actor from Texas, and the actor from Indiana. The death-defying surfing and skateboarding documentarian, the writer for Glamour and the New Yorker, the entertainment lawyer and the production designer and the doctor who'd just returned from a year in Latin America. I met so many interesting guys, I wondered how I would ever be able to keep them all in my life. (I couldn't, which was one of the small tragedies of this experience.)
I should also mention the places we went, the food we ate and the cocktails we drank — because I fell in love with my city all over again. I basked in foodie heaven at Orsa & Winston; sampled Esquire's cocktail of the year, English Milk Punch, at Faith & Flower; and got hyped up on fair-trade lattes from Graffiti and Cafecito Organico.
And my experiences weren't confined to Los Angeles. One of my dates, a hedge fund executive I nicknamed the Cab Driver thanks to his three-month stint driving taxis in San Diego, flew me to New York for our third date, a wild evening filled with Thai takeout, Rebel Bingo and the surreal interactive theater experience "Sleep No More," based in part on "Macbeth."
The craziest part? We never even kissed.
Not every date was a winner. Some were downright terrible, like the finance guy who confessed he cheated on all of his girlfriends and just wanted to party. Or the other finance guy who dropped a bomb as soon as we sat down at Gyu-Kaku: "It's my 30th birthday." But even in these dates I found value. After all, they made for great blog entries.
By the end of the 40 days, I was indeed exhausted, as my friends had predicted. The final weekend, which included 10-hour days on the set of a short dance film I was producing, left me feeling like I'd ridden Scream at Six Flags 20 times in a row (I once did this for a commercial I appeared in — it's exactly as awful as it sounds). But had my idea backfired? Not even close.
I may not have locked down a boyfriend in those 40 dates, let alone a husband, but I did come away with something even more valuable: a full heart. And this has allowed me to fall in love again. With my city. With new restaurants and bars and coffee shops. With writing. With humanity. And, most important, with myself. Now I really am ready.
And you know what? Date No. 42 just may be the one.
Amy Main is an actress and writer who blogs at fortydatesfortynights.com.
For the record, Jan. 10: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect website address for Amy Main's blog.
L.A. Affairs chronicles dating in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.