I make my way through the crowded bar with my phone out in my hand, pretending like I’m doing more than studying the face on the screen. “Are you James?” I rehearse, trying to remember the height and hair color as I scan the room for a familiar face–in a, “we just matched on Tinder 24 hours ago”–kind of way. To hell, I sigh after a half-hearted search, order my own beer. My fourth date in a month. At this rate I’m two away from a frequent flyer card or an awkward conversation regarding Six Degrees of Separation. “I need a man,” I grumble.

“…and you had one,” Gramma starts, again with this tired song and dance. “How is he?” I pretend I wasn’t listening. “Who?” I pick around my plate and bite my tongue. “Hmph,” she sighs. Pretending she hadn’t asked.

“…oh stop it,” a week later: Mom’s on me again, “it’s not like you don’t have options. What about that stud–”

“No students!” I roar.

“Or that guy in the band?”

“Haven’t been out with him again,” I reply.

“I haven’t heard anything about Kevin lately…”

Yeah, she hasn’t read anything about him lately, either, since I logged into her account and blocked him. I was still trying to decide whether I was dateable–I wasn’t–and it didn’t help that she was updating her “Barn Wedding” Pinterest board. That was the final straw: Pastoral pomp is so passé.

I like to call that phase, “The Month Lauren Committed to Getting Back Together With The Ex, Couldn’t, and Panicked.” Three weeks, really, but I’m rounding up. Approximately 23 half-whimpered declarations of, “I need a man” followed.

What I needed was a plan.

So I grab my laptop. “If you like Piña Coladas…” I typed. Scratch that. I needed something more robust. And so it began.

“Seeking a man who can handle a woman who knows what she wants.”

There. That’s it. Direct and to-the-point. I’m a second away from posting when I reconsider. What do I want? It would be helpful if I knew. Back to the drawing board.

“Seeking a man who can handle a woman who mostly knows what she wants.” I stop, adding for good measure: “Not a revolutionary idea.”

Ha! Now I’m laughing. Revolutionary? Far from it. This is why guys claim to need a manual. I roll my eyes, starting over.

“Seeking a man who can handle a woman who has changing ideals and desires, hopes and dreams, and some of the time knows what she wants but most of the time is her own biggest obstacle to getting it.”

Commend-All-Delete…I’m getting closer, I can feel it. I open a new browser, start a Google search:

“Therapist near me”



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