We're single and it's our own damn fault.
If you ask my friends how they'd describe me in terms of my views on dating and love, they'd all tell you that I'm a hopeful romantic. I was born one of those natural optimistic, cheery people — the kind who go after what they want, believe in themselves, and thank their lucky stars that it all works out.
My heart is full of passion and determination, gratitude, and a handful of sassy independence. I've applied all of those things to my (successful) career, to moving to New York, and for a while, I had the same faith in my love life.
But four years of being single in this city has started to make me think differently about finding the right person. Or, rather, about how truly difficult it really is.
In an effort to not sound as bitter as I feel, I'll start with this: I still believe there's a "someone" for everyone, but I've also started to question just how much work goes into finding this so-called life partner.
I'm going to call you out, men: you need to try harder. And even though I feel like I've definitely tried my best, women need to be better about what we put up with, what we settle for, and what we accept from men.
You're not completely to blame, but your lack of effort and your desire to stick it into anything that'll let you, we're both losing out on love. Here's why:
1. Mobile apps have made us all incompetent.
In any bar or lounge I stopped by on a Saturday night, a dozen men would hit on me. I'd dance with a few. A few would get my number, and some would actually text to set up a date.
Today, my single friends and I will go out, and I'll watch as every person — male and female — decides to swipe on a lighted screen instead of looking at the attractive people around them. I've watched my friends do this (myself included) when the guys are too busy playing on their phones or talking to their buddies to strike up a conversation.
I get that apps help smooth and speed up the process of meeting someone, but when you're in a social setting, why not actually be social? Do you need a messenger to greet someone, or are you capable of saying, "Hi, how are you? What are you drinking?" without hitting send?
When did we start relying so much online that we forgot how to be offline?
2. Saying "hi" has turned into having sex.
I wish I could hug Aziz Ansari for calling out men for their online messaging habits. "Hi" isn't a way to start a conversation, unless you just stepped into a meeting with your co-workers and you're greeting them.
Also, saying I have nice tits isn't a way to see if I want to get a drink. Sure, if you want a quick lay, I imagine that men must see some success from hitting on women in such a vulgar, ridiculous way, or they wouldn't keep doing it.
But, here's where I challenge women: if you want to have a one night stand, that's totally fine (I've done that, too), but call men out on their bullsh*t. Even if you do sleep with them, remind them what they're doing to the age of romance. Because, frankly, they're killing it.
Case-in-point: I went on one of those amazing first dates that went absolutely nowhere a few months ago, and the guy kept calling me beautiful. It was nice, but what surprised me was how very little I hear that from men.
I hear "You're hot" and "You're sexy" and "We should go to your apartment after this drink," but true compliments? I've basically forgotten that they exist. How have I become so complacent about accepting that "that's just how men are" that a compliment floors me?
3. Nobody wants to put in the effort to get to know someone.
I know that statement sounds whiney, but it couldn't be more true. Now, before all the haters get to this comment section, let me be clear: I have a healthy self-confidence.
I'm 26, in great shape, have a career that inspires me, friendships that support me, a busy passport that keeps me on-the-go, and a pretty active social life. I'm not worried about being "out there" enough, but I'm concerned about what it takes to get noticed.
I'm not alone either: my friends of all different shapes, sizes, personalities, and backgrounds all experience the same issue. There seems to be a lack of men who actually want to put forward the effort to get to know someone.
You don't have to buy me a drink or take me to a restaurant with 5 stars on Yelp. You don't really have to do much, other than care more about what my ass looks like in those jeans or if I swallow or spit.
Trust me, there's a lot more to me than that, and to every single woman that you'll go out with. Why not take note instead of betting all your odds on something easy? Aren't you bored already?
4. Relationships are scary.
But why? Why is a relationship so scary?
I'm not sure if we've all played up relationships to be these controlling, manipulative things where men have no freedom and are left at the mercy of their girlfriend's french manicure on their dangly balls. But if we have, can we stop that nonsense?
A healthy, mature, adult relationship brings so much more than just someone who will have sex with you when you have morning breath, and watch Game of Thrones with you.
It's about having someone who stands by you, takes shots with you at the bar, wants to travel the world with you, wants to meet your friends, and wants to build this awesome life alongside you.
It's not about control or changing your Facebook relationship status, or counting down the days until we get engaged; it's about finding a partner. Is it that we — men and women alike — put a little too much pressure on the "perfect" relationship instead of giving people a chance?
There's so much fear and stereotypes surrounding relationships that we just avoid them altogether. But why not try? What's the worst that could happen? Can we make an agreement?
Men have become lazy about dating, and in a way, women have let them. And sure, we've also probably been a little complacent ourselves, too.
But if we keep going down the digital path to dating where we send a message into the dark, hoping for something meaningful to come back, we might all be waiting around for a while.
And if we keep making our conversations — and our actions — sexually-driven instead of romantically inspired, how will we ever get past sleeping together to get to know one another?
Here's a proposal:
Dudes, try a little harder. Have something more to say. Look at women as more than someone to sleep with or look at or flirt with or use to pass time.
And ladies, don't let men get away with their negative behaviors when they happen. Don't be afraid to be "bitchy" or "too much" and say how you feel.
Men aren't the only ones to blame; it takes two to make this work. But it can only work if we're both working to be better people by respecting, acknowledging, and valuing one another.
Not just images on Tinder or unsaved numbers on our iPhones, but true, in person, real people. Who might just find love ... if we try.
Lindsay Tigar is a 26-year-old single writer, editor, and blogger living in New York City. She started her popular dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, after one too many terrible dates with tall, emotionally unavailable men (her personal weakness) and is now developing a book about it, represented by the James Fitzgerald Agency.