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He was the man of her dreams — until reality set in

He was the man of her dreams — until reality set in
(Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times)

There's the agent, the athlete, the vegan lawyer with three cats, the gluten-free tech start-up guy, the promoter, the hot German, the writer and a few shameless guys who asked me out because they believed I could help their careers. Some of them lasted weeks, others months, but none of them lasted. That's the thing about dating in a city driven by the industry — the only things men take seriously are themselves and their careers.

Nonetheless, I started 2014 with the goal of finding a man. Having checked off the "career" and "good friends" boxes, I finally felt ready to commit to a relationship. One day, my father texted to say he had given my number to the son of a friend from our home state of Connecticut. My potential date was an MBA candidate working at a tech start-up in Santa Monica, and I immediately assumed he would be like every other Dave Cook setup: a safe and socially awkward computer nerd who would inevitably treat me like a princess.

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A week or two went by. Then one day I got a text from an unknown number with a Connecticut area code. It was my safe and nerdy dad setup. He proposed that we grab a drink one night that week. I responded coolly, saying that I had plans every night — which was true — but suggested that he might want to join me and my best friend that evening to watch "Captain America" at the Marina dine-in movie theater.

I thought my strategy was brilliant. My best friend is a guy. I had a male buffer to soften the awkwardness should the blind date go awry. The dad setup accepted my third-wheel offer and suggested I check him out on Facebook.

I was floored to see my dream man on the screen in front of me. Why had I been such an idiot, insisting that my friend tag along?

That night at the movies, I kept the conversation flowing among the three of us while maintaining a ladylike demeanor. I enjoyed "Captain America," laughing and gasping at the appropriate moments while casually sipping a beer — the same beer my date ordered. After the movie, we hugged and went our separate ways but made plans to hang out that weekend.

I stayed up all night thinking about him. I hadn't done this since high school. All I wanted to do was make him like me.

Our second date was fun. We had a couple of drinks, talked about our Connecticut high school experiences, played the name game, talked about world travel. Then he brought up marriage and children. That was the next thing he wanted to cross off. He was determined to find a wife, move back to Connecticut and start a family. He hated L.A. and had no desire to stay here past the end of the year.

I told him I wanted the same thing.

I was disgusted by hearing that lie come out of my mouth but wanted so badly to be liked that I apparently was willing to say or do whatever would elicit the most positive response.

On our third date, I thought I would show off by taking him to a performance by one of the bands I manage. He told me he didn't really "like" music and spent the entire time being star-struck. I spent the entire time downplaying how passionate I am about music and what I do.

On our fourth date, I invited him to a party I was throwing with a friend. A natural social butterfly, I spent the entire night with him on my arm talking to each and every person. At some point, he made a comment about how he didn't like that I had so many guy friends and he left. I started to feel bad about myself: me, the pretty girl with the good job and great friends.

We saw each other a few more times. On each date, I made sure to dress the part of a perfect Connecticut housewife: pearls, A-line dresses, curled hair. I always felt extremely anxious when I was around him but assumed it was because I liked him so much.

Over the course of a month with him, I had gone from loving my city, my job and myself to feeling like none of it was good enough and all of it needed to change in order to get this man to love me.

I was losing myself.

When he left for a three-week business trip, I hit a wall. But his absence came at the perfect time because it gave me the space to realize that I was forcing something that wasn't meant to be. This man wasn't my life partner; we had nothing in common except a shared home state and good genes.

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I dove back into my career and started writing more. I spent more time with friends. In focusing on the positives in my life, it opened the door for positive people and situations.

I continue to date and date a lot. I've become more aware of what I will and will not put up with in a relationship. And nothing in my plans calls for a move to Connecticut. I'm completely myself and at home in Venice Beach.

Cook works in music and entertainment marketing.

L.A. Affairs chronicles dating and romance in contemporary Southern California. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs. If you have comments or a true story to tell, write us at home@latimes.com.

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