This city is different from other cities in many ways. Most of the people you meet have moved here from other places, looking for career opportunities. So when you date, there is this implied question of whether or not you can help each other get ahead. Whenever I met a single guy, the first thing he wanted to know was what I did for a living, then where I worked, and who I might know.
Networking and dating are co-mingled in this city, so it’s hard to separate who’s looking for what. To be more clear: many guys I met were aspiring actors, writers, ambiguous producers, entrepreneurs, and the like, so they were always looking for someone who could provide them with a contact or opportunity. Or failing that, a quick hook-up.
I asked the obvious question: how does anyone actually form a relationship in this town? Is everything about career ambitions?
When I asked my girlfriends about this challenge, they rolled their eyes and laughed. “Welcome to L.A.” they said sarcastically. We’d all dated guys like this, who were interested in getting ahead but not in being boyfriends.
Then one night as my roommate and I were drowning our sorrows at the bar down the street from our apartment, two really good-looking guys approached us. One introduced himself to my friend as an investment advisor and the other reached his hand out to me and said he was a producer. Of course he’s a “producer,” I thought. Whatever that meant. I was silently cursing my roommate for flirting with the banker – a guy with a steady job – and leaving me with yet another career climber.
“Hey,” I said, sipping my beer and limply shaking his hand. My eyes were focused on the bartender as he juggled glasses and filled orders. I hoped the producer would get the hint and leave me alone.
He pulled up a stool and sat next to me, making a joke. I didn’t laugh. I shot nasty looks in my roommate’s direction. She was laughing with her banker, oblivious to my torturous experience. Still, the producer persisted. He ordered me another drink. He flirted. He asked me what I liked to do on the weekend. I wondered briefly why he was trying so hard. What was the point? I wasn’t going to play his game.
At the end of the night, he asked for my number. I gave it to him, thinking I’d never hear back.
He called me a day later to ask me out. I was impressed that he called instead of texted, so I half-heartedly agreed. We went out to dinner. Again, he seemed more interested in me – what I wanted to do, what kind of food I preferred, what my family was like.
There was no talk of jobs, or meetings, or scripts. Nothing remotely work-ish. I pinched myself, wondering if he was messing with me.
Things progressed from there, and pretty soon we were dating. He took me out, he shared his thoughts with me, and we tried new places together. I kept thinking work would come up like it had with other guys, but it didn’t. Each date, I was surprised yet again.
We didn’t last longer than a few months, but he was a wake-up call for me. I was making all kinds of assumptions about guys in L.A., based on some bad experiences. When I met the producer, I thought he was just another career-obsessed man. I didn’t even bother to get to know him – I was pretty rude, in fact. If he hadn’t been so persistent, I would have never known what a great guy he was.
He gave me a chance, even when I didn’t do the same for him.
Here’s the thing when you’re dating in L.A. Yes, you will run into guys who only care about their careers. But you will also meet guys who want girlfriends. You have to be open, otherwise you’ll miss opportunities you didn’t know existed.
The truth is, as frustrating as the L.A. dating scene might be, you have to keep your eyes and your heart open. Because it will also surprise you.