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L.A. Affairs: That moment when I tell my date about my purity ring

My boundaries? Totally valid.
My boundaries? Totally valid.
(Kirsten Ulve / For The Times)

I’ll set the scene for you real quick: It’s 8:17 p.m. on a Sunday. I‘d spent the entire day in my pajamas, only leaving my bed to venture into the bathroom (because obviously) and the kitchen (even more obviously) as I embarked on yet another lazy evening stewing in the blissful awareness of my singleness. In retrospect, it was like training for this self-quarantine.

Like many girls are all too familiar with, I’m sure, this led to the inevitable creation of an online dating profile. The second guy I allotted a right swipe to was Anthony. Mind you, I was being relatively picky because I had zero intention of doing anything.

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The swiping right was fine, but then I had to go overboard with the whole “Hey there :)” situation.

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We exchanged numbers and not .25 seconds later my phone lit up. I answered. Like a moth to a flame.

We found ourselves having those rare conversations that occur between strangers. The ones that flow without rationale and are devoid of analysis or much thought at all.

He made me laugh and feel beautiful without being anything close to objectified, which is really saying something in this Tinder world. We talked for two hours. Two. Hours. With a complete stranger.

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His voice was deep in that way in which you can hear him say anything — “Hello,” even — and an involuntary lip-bite occurs. It just occurred again as I typed that out and started reliving it. So yes, it started with a sexy as hell “Hello” and then just spiraled from there.

We made plans for Friday night.

He’d said, “I’ll pick you up in 20 in my lime-green Camaro. It’s an acquired taste, so you’ve been warned.” I slipped on my lucky maroon pants and white tank top. Waiting in my driveway in Westwood was that outrageous car he warned me about, but also a handsome gent sitting inside.

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We drove down Sunset Boulevard and, because I often feel like I’m watching my life instead of living it, it all felt like some Hollywood movie moment. Surrounded by the city lights on either side of us, I had to alternate from gazing at his handsome face and taking in the views of the city. He pulled up to Pink Taco and valet-parked. He wrapped a muscled arm around me as he guided me inside. There we talked about our past relationships, religion, politics — all the forbidden topics.

Before I could order my second margarita he pointed to that gold ring on my left hand and asked, “Is that some type of promise ring?”

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I was so surprised that he even noticed.

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Turned out that this boy not only saw my tiny ring on the half-phone-screen-sized picture from Bumble, but then still swiped right, texted me, called me and even asked me on a date.

I found myself back in that familiar moment — the one where I explain the tricky truth behind that golden band given to me by my mom a decade earlier, when I was 12.

This wasn’t just a piece of jewelry meant to keep the “bad boys” away. It was a promise. A promise to God and to myself that I would keep as many pieces of my heart (and body) for the one who would cherish me for longer than a night. I had no doubt God had something so beautiful in store. I just needed to be patient — and find someone whose patience mirrored my own.

As I sat there, I waited for Anthony to gracefully bow out of the race.

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Spoiler alert: That’s not what he did. When I finished explaining he didn’t try to challenge why I was doing it. He didn’t ask if it was hard. He didn’t ask if I thought I would change my mind. He didn’t ask what the limits were, or even if I’d ever broken them before with someone else.

He smiled at me and said, “Honestly, I think that is the coolest thing ever ... I respect you so much for sticking to it. Don’t ever change your mind about it.”

I know it would be so much more romantic to say that his answer and our chemistry were parallel in perfection, and that we are still together, heading toward a wedding day.

The reason time hasn’t erased this evening isn’t because I fell in love.

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His reaction to my purity ring stands as my measuring stick for the boys who have followed.

It all looked perfect and in the moment; on paper, there wasn’t a single thing wrong with Anthony. But we didn’t have sparks. Sparks are not to be confused with butterflies, two very different things. Sparks are passion. Sparks are fearless. They are the click or connection that makes the difference between a friendship and a romance. They are something that you don’t really find often. To me, sparks are necessary for a forever love.

After we said our goodbyes that night, I never accepted another invitation to meet up again.

For the first time in my dating history, though, the lack of a second date had nothing to do with its inevitable lack of sex.

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That night, though, proved something to me — something city life and L.A. players made me question more each day.

I hold this story close because Anthony stands as the boy who reminded me what I was worth, at the moment I desperately needed to hear it.

Ladies, they exist.

The ones we are looking for, they really do.

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The boundaries I chose for myself are valid. The standards you’ve set, well, they might be different than mine but there’s a reason you’ve chosen them. And they matter.

Anthony was my stepping stone. He reminded me to be hopeful. Choosing to have sex to fill someone else’s needs wasn’t going to bring me the love I so desired. In the chaos of Los Angeles, maybe you need that reminder too.

The author has relocated to New York City to teach at Columbia University. She is on Instagram @lexi_zeeman

Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.


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