I’ve always had a thing for people who don’t like me. Men, especially. Like, a sexual thing for anyone who definitely isn’t interested, can’t possibly be interested, and will never be interested in me. I’ve fallen in love with practically every shiny gay man I’ve brushed up against at the Abbey, every moody open-mic comedian in Hollywood who’s cornered me into a conversation, some hot lady from my Bikram place in downtown. Best friends’ brothers, girls with girlfriends: traditionally, these have been my prime targets.
I’m not a total piece of trash. I do try to stay away from these kinds of ethically ambiguous, HR nightmare type of situations, but I definitely have a type, and my type is unavailable and uninterested. “Bad boy” probably isn’t the right word because it’s tacky and reminiscent of some kind of ’80s teen movie and also because I’m bisexual and I’ve met and fallen into horrible unrequited crushes on “bad boys” who aren’t boys.
Unfortunately, that’s not a real thing because if anything, it’s the opposite.
I’d guess that I only meet half as many people who might be interested in me because biphobia is real and most of my OKCupid messages are invitations to sad, straight three-ways that I promptly reject (but later try to swoop in to save the girlfriend. Girl: Get out!) And, in keeping with my personal tradition, I’ve always rejected people who do seem to be interested in me at least three times before they either give up or I eventually realize they’re cool but now they’re dating someone else. Like I said, it’s tradition.
There was the much older than me and unemployed trust-funded “playwright” I met as a fresh-out-of-USC intern at a DTLA theater company. The hot lesbian club promoter who asked me out for what I thought was a date but turned out to be a promotional “ladies night” event with 300 other ladies in a packed bar in Silver Lake. And possibly the grand queen supreme of all L.A. unavailables: the guy in a band with a small following based in the Valley. Who was also my neighbor. Don’t do that.
The thing about people who are unavailable, though, is that they’re always hot, and they’re always really, really, cool. And dating them can be fun and wacky! The minute I leave their dingy Koreatown apartment, they disappear without a trace and I never know when they’ll resurface, like magic. They’re always ready to make insane plans at 2 a.m. and invite me to a Los Angeles Lady Arm Wrestlers event which I think is like, so cool even though they know I have to get up early tomorrow.
I never know if this person actually even likes me or if they’re doing coke in the bathroom while I wait to introduce them to my friends, finally. They know where to go and who to go with and they always have cool friends or know a guy who can get us in somewhere. Oh, but they never introduce me when we go out in public together? Who cares? I’m a mess anyway and this is silly and whimsical fun.
I always had a ton of wacky stories about how I was in a weird, undefined sex thing with someone for six months and was ghosted after I asked where the relationship was going. Or how my heart was being shattered because I found myself in a poly thing that ended up being a cheating thing. I’d listened to a sad-sack self-help audiobook sitting in traffic on the 405 on the way to see my therapist, and for a while I thought I was making progress but the Botox in her forehead made it hard to tell if she was proud of me or mildly uncomfortable.
My friends had come to expect these weekly recaps of some ill-advised hookup, but it was always the same story: I was way into them, they never texted back, they never wanted to hang out in public, or they stopped talking and only resurfaced to ask for nudes. Oh well, that’s just what I do!
But then, as always, there would come a time where I would get sad. I’d always get my feelings hurt and think I was a failure because this person didn’t like me. That was the part that attracted me to them in the first place.
Chasing after people who flat-out ignored me because I thought I could make them like me was cute and fun until I started hating myself for it.
There was always a part of me that wondered why anyone would want to bother with me, anyway. After all, it was easier to focus on something or someone outside rather than at myself. I was afraid of what would happen if I actually liked someone, and if I actually liked myself, so I pushed people away who actually did like me.
I thought there was something wrong with anyone who’d like me, because I didn’t like me.
This all came to me as I was sitting with my friend at our favorite ramen spot in Silver Lake when he asked if maybe the reason I was only interested in unavailable people was because I didn’t want to be with anyone, really, because really being yourself in front of other people is scary. When you pursue unavailable people, you don’t have to talk about your feelings or fears or be yourself.
When I saw myself the way my friends and the people who love me see me — at that very moment with my cheeks stuffed with greasy noodles looking like a chipmunk wearing winged eyeliner — I saw that I actually am really cool and fun and that I should like me too.
The thing that happened when I stopped depending on other people to make me happy is that at first, it hurt. I cried in my room a lot (and still do) because L.A. is a huge city full of attractive people finding their soulmates over Naturewell green juices on Sunset every day and I don’t like feeling alone.
But then I remind myself that I’m going to be OK. I’m already OK.
Now, I’m not trying to find love or attention from anyone really other than myself. I’m learning to accept love from others, and from myself.
Liking me is so much better. And I don’t even like juice.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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