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L.A. Affairs: Why I stopped blaming men for everything wrong in my relationships

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It’s not that we’re terrible people, we just don’t know how to commit.
(Hanna Barczyk / For The Times)

When they say dating in L.A. is hard, they are not kidding.

I moved here with my then-boyfriend, and now ex-fiancé, from New York City. After four years together and four months of being engaged, I ended things. I immediately found myself in a rebound relationship, which I’d promised myself I wasn’t going to do, but it felt harmless at the time. Almost like a safety blanket. He was a friend of a friend and five years younger. We met at Jumbo’s Clown Room, because I’m a classy gal.

Somehow, another year and a half passed before I realized I needed to get out. The relationship was going nowhere, and so was I. I was finally hurled into the world of dating all over again, but for the first time in L.A, and in my mid 30s.

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I found that the world of dating had changed drastically while I was away from it. There were these things called “Tinder,” and “Bumble,” and everyone I knew was using them. I’m an old-fashioned gal — or maybe I’m just old — but I still have not used a dating app to meet a man.

Instead, I go out dancing to Davey Wayne’s and throw my number out at the dive bar like Skittles: “Here, taste the rainbow!” I take home strangers from bars and consider myself lucky when they don’t end up murdering me.

And worst of all, I always end up dating the one person I always swear I’m never ever, ever, going to date again, a comedian.

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They’re the worst type to date, in my humble opinion. I should know, as I am one, and I’ve dated more comedians than I’d like to admit.

Dating a comic when you’re thirsty is like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. You’re just going to end up with a bunch of junk you don’t actually want or need.

It’s not that we’re terrible people, we just don’t know how to commit. And not all of them, of course. In my experience, it seems that most of them are just plagued with your classic case of Peter Pan syndrome. They just don’t wanna grow up. Because growing up means changing your ways, and if your ways are going out nightly and making people laugh, well, that’s not an easy thing to give up. Committing to someone else, would mean not being fully selfish. And, as we know, stand-up typically involves just one person.

The first guy I dated, we’ll just call him “The Idiot,” turned out to be a sociopath for sure. We met on the most auspicious of days, Valentine’s Day. He was sitting a bar stool away from me at one of my favorite local haunts, the Black Cat. After three months together, he ended it by ghosting me. This was my first experience with such a thing, and it burned.

The guy after that lived in New York City, but came to Los Angeles for months at a time. He was perfect. No strings needed to be attached.

Then there was the seven-month long “non-relationship.” We were comedy buddies who just started making out after shows. On our first date, he told me he did not want a relationship. He had just gotten out of one and wasn’t ready for anything serious. I was in an ambivalent place about the whole thing, so I went with it. Of course, I was just fooling myself. Once again, I spent months of time and emotional energy on a relationship that had no future. I got out.

I tried to convince myself that some people just aren’t cut out for relationships, even though I’d find myself desperately wanting one.

The problem was, I just couldn’t dismiss this as one more bad relationship to blame on a man who was emotionally unavailable.

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I finally realized I was emotionally unavailable.

I had shut myself off to the possibility of a new love and an actual relationship after breaking up with my fiancé. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to invite the possibility of that type of hurt back into my life. I realized that closing myself off to a potentially good and healthy relationship was actually doing me more harm than good. But I couldn’t help myself. I was caught in a loop.

At this point you’re probably asking, “Why? Why is this so hard for you?” Well, there’s an answer to that. And it’s one I have tried to avoid, but when it constantly stares me in the face, I have to stare back. I hate to boil it all down to one thing, but I can. I was adopted when I was a baby. And although I was adopted by the two most amazing humans ever, that doesn’t discount the fact that I feel “abandoned.” I was, after all, left behind. I wasn’t chosen.

It doesn’t take a therapist to see the dynamic: I try and take the power back by either leaving first, or not opening myself up at all to someone else. That was the reason why I left my fiancé. I would describe him as the love of my life. But I was too afraid to give my heart away. So I sabotaged it. I had an emotional affair with another man. Nothing physical ever happened, but I thought, “If I can feel like this for someone else, then surely I can’t get married.” I ran back to New York City for a spell, to distance myself from it all, from my fiancé. I went out nightly without him. Anything to not have to face that man, and the truth about how I felt deep down inside, about myself. I kept my heart locked up tight.

So, today, I’m trying. It turns out, I’m still not that good at it. (Don’t worry, I’m definitely in therapy.) Part of the problem is, I’ve gotten rather used to being single, and I must admit, I do like it. I like sidling up to bars and seeing who’s around. And I love being able to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want.

Sure, I get lonely. And there are certainly times that I think I’ll probably be alone for the rest of my life. But, I know I can always call up a friend to split a bottle of wine with me at Little Dom’s on a Monday night. And just when I think I’ll never meet anyone again, bam, someone enters my life, and there I am, on a third date at Crossroads Kitchen gazing into each other’s eyes, and thinking, “Maybe this one will last ...”

The author is an actress and stand-up comedian. She is on Instagram @iamerinalexis

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.

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MORE L.A. LOVE STORIES …

I’m black. He’s white. Here’s what happened

I went on a bunch of blind dates with total losers

I was sleeping alone in a stranger’s bed — and falling for him

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